One sunny afternoon last April, I had the crazy notion to roller-skate to a client meeting.
My starting line was Primrose Hill, and as I kneeled to tighten my laces, a guy staring at the park map struck up conversation.
‘Wow, you’re skating?’ he said. I nodded, avoiding eye contact. He was so handsome, I was embarrassed.
He asked me how to get to Regent’s Park, and I pointed with an outstretched arm (it was plainly illustrated on the map he was gazing at).
I bid the handsome stranger goodbye, rolled downhill, and picked up speed at an alarming rate.
The park was teeming with rich yummy mummies and celebrity dog walkers. To avoid disaster, I hurled myself onto the grass resembling a violent stop, drop and roll. A noughties popstar lowered his sunglasses as his dachshund judged me.
The handsome stranger came running over. My pink dress was covered in grass stains. ‘Are you alright?’ He helped me up. ‘I’m Simon, by the way,’ he said.
I thanked him, and wished I’d left the conversation there. Wish I’d never laid eyes on him again.
Except, stupidly, I explained I was off to a meeting. ‘A work meeting?’ Simon looked confused. I asked if he was skiving. ‘I pulled a sickie to make the most of the sun,’ he coyly continued. ‘Since you know the way to Regent’s Park… can I accompany you?’
I gladly accepted and skated alongside him with my left arm locked into his right arm. I needed anchoring.
We became acquainted. Simon had grown up in London, was obsessed with football, and came from a big, religious family.
I decided to get the tube at Baker Street, since my chaperone situation was ending there. I didn’t fancy skating through central London, grabbing tourists for support and ending up in a meme.
Simon took off his sunglasses for the first time and asked for my number. His blue eyes hypnotised me. He texted later that day: ‘So good to meet you, Mia! Let’s meet this Sunday?’
We agreed to meet at a pub at 4pm. I sent Simon a text at 10 past four. I waited until half past, and accepted my fate – I’d been stood up.
I woke up on Monday to a triple text from Simon – I found it odd that he didn’t use WhatsApp.
He was sorry. He forgot he had a football match and didn’t check his phone. I didn’t buy it at first.
But in his third message, he wanted to make it up to me – was I free tomorrow night? Sure, I had a spare ticket to a gig.
Simon didn’t mind being in the mosh pit with me. He made it clear that he wanted to come back to mine, but I said it was too soon. We shared an electric kiss.
We spent spring and summer having fun on weekly dates in pubs, parks, gigs, and dinner at my place. He met some of my friends – but I never met his. I presumed he was taking things slowly, which suited me after several whirlwind romances, but I had been single for one year by that point.
I wasn’t suspicious of him because he didn’t seem very experienced in dating. We slept together and he sometimes stayed overnight, but often made excuses after sex to go home. It didn’t make me feel great, but I wanted to believe he was a decent guy.
Fast forward to September, my friend, Ivy, was keen to get the lowdown on my love life. I sighed, pensively.
‘Simon acts like the perfect gentleman on dates, but whenever we hang out, his mind is elsewhere. He whips out his phone whenever I leave the room.’
Without a word, Ivy grabbed her phone and opened Facebook. ‘What’s his surname?’ she demanded. Fortunately, for us, his surname was rare.
‘Is that him?’ Ivy proffered her phone. I nodded affirmatively. I never looked for his socials before this because I asked if he used social media and he said no. I believed him.
Ivy quickly navigated from his profile picture to his photo albums. There were photos of him with another girl, but they emitted sibling vibes to me.
‘Who’s she?’ Ivy zoomed in on the girl’s face. She was standing next to Simon, beaming. They were at a wedding. It was from a couple of weeks ago – I remember he was unavailable that weekend.
‘I reckon it’s one of his sisters,’ I said, desperate. Ivy frowned: ‘Mia, I don’t think this is a sister.’ Ivy scrolled through the photo comments. ‘Such a cute couple!’, one said – ‘When’s your wedding?’ said another. Photos and comments went back five years.
We both erupted into screams. My neighbour responded by thudding his ceiling.
Had I been the other woman all summer?
‘Who’s she?’ Ivy zoomed in on the girl’s face. She was standing next to Simon, beaming
Ivy sensed my despair. ‘You’ve done nothing wrong! He’s the cheater,’ she said. I sank into the sofa feeling used and guilty.
‘Do you think I should tell her?’ I said. Ivy weighed it up – it was morally the right thing to do. ‘I doubt you’re the first girl he’s cheated with,’ she added – then paused. ‘But, do you really want to get involved?’ I was torn.
I did not meet him again after this discovery and made out I was busy for a couple of weeks when he asked me out. I imagined myself in his girlfriend’s shoes. I worked up the courage to tell her.
I decided to contact his girlfriend on Facebook. I sent her screenshots of our imessage history going back six months. She immediately replied with her phone number.
‘I don’t believe you,’ she gasped through tears. I could hear Simon in the background (they lived together, apparently) he was incensed and fiercely denied everything.
After what felt like a lifetime, he finally admitted to the affair – with a crazy excuse that he was sleeping with me to get a job in the music business – an industry I’ve been working in for years.
When I ended the call, he bombarded me with threatening texts. I couldn’t sleep that night – my flatmate was out of the country and Simon knew where I lived.
Luckily, his threats didn’t amount to anything, and his girlfriend swiftly became his ex – she got in touch months later to thank me.
I bumped into Simon on a train a few weeks ago, it gave me the chills – but this time he pretended not to see me.
Mia Pratley is a pseudonym
So, How Did It Go?
So, How Did It Go? is a weekly Metro.co.uk series that will make you cringe with second-hand embarrassment or ooze with jealousy as people share their worst and best date stories.
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