Romance at the Coffee Club (?)

Online date: Mr. Coffee Club.

After the Serious Spaniard, I was beginning to despair of the Dating Agency’s catalogue of men. The rockstar Tawainese salesman who spent his weekends catching fish with his bare hands and the German electrician who absolutely adored musicals drove me to set up an eharmony account, and even pay for a year’s subscription. God. Tough times.

One rule I have is to not date engineers. They’re a particular breed, and it’s a bit too much like dating my Dad. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Dad, but you know what I’m saying.

So an engineer asks me out. I scold myself for being so close-minded and ruling out an entire sector of the male population (and there are a LOT of males in the engineering world), and pretended to myself I’m fine with dating engineers.

So 7:30pm at the Coffee Club, Paddington was his suggestion.


Trying to be feminine and not taking over organising the date (ie planning something cool!) I hinted at maybe trying out one of the many funky bars or cafes around Paddington, but Mr. Engineer really was keen for the Coffee Club.

The next dilemma was – what does 7:30 mean? Is it dinner? It’s kinda late for dinner (which wasn’t mentioned), but kinda early for post-dinner coffee and dessert, or drink…what to do? Being someone who needs to eat every few minutes, I went for “snack in case it’s not dinner, but could still easily eat again if I had to”. That meant sushi, accompanied by mild paranoia that some post-sushi fishy soy saucy breath might waft his way.

For Mr. Engineer, 7:30 was definitely post-dinner. We ordered a cup of tea each, sat outside in the freezing cold (well, admittedly a Brisbane winter, so some kind of long-sleeved garment required), with the only other patrons being a group of mothers who were simultaneously breastfeeding their infants. Hardly romantic.

It turned out that he was a farm boy (just like my Dad) and gave me a great run down on structures, coloumns, and foundations. All I could think of was how much Dad would have loved him –they were scarily similar. I remembered my rule about not dating engineers.


It also turned out during the course of the cup of tea that Mr. Engineer lived directly across the road from the Coffee Club. What did this mean? Did he expect to lure me into his den after a cup of tea? Was he terribly lazy? Did he have no imagination? Or just hasn’t noticed how much goes on in Paddington apart from the Coffee Club? If this was his idea of a romantic date, what was going to happen after 1 year? After 5 years? There would be no more walking across the road, that’s for sure.

There’s only so long one can spin out a cup of tea, and the wait staff had had enough of waiting around in the cold. Mr Engineer assured me multiple times that he would pay for the bill (all $7.50 of it), and it seemed pretty mutual that there were no sparks. Which is fine. I was in the clear, and happily escaped.

Six days later, I receive an email out of nowhere from Mr. Engineer telling me how much he had enjoyed the date and asked if he could see me again. Was he even there? Isn’t it strange that two people can have such different experiences of the same event…..


2014 update

Since that date, two more men have suggested the Coffee Club as a first date location. Attention men of Brisbane! Call me shallow, but there are so many great places around. Even if you don’t know much about me, a little bit of thought and creativity into choosing where to go out goes a long way with me :)

The fish that John West (and I) rejected

After the midnight Spaniard’s no show, I stopped blindly agreeing to the dates the agency lined up for me over the following weeks. There were plenty of fish in the metaphorical sea, and some had to be thrown back.

Among the dates I declined were:
– A German electrician who just LOVED musicals. (They must have had me pegged as “likes foreign men”, but didn’t really get that liking musicals doesn’t mean we have anything in common, even though “music” does take up most of the word “musicals”.

- A Taiwanese sales man with rock star looks and ponytail (just my look, I was told!) who worked to live, not live to work. He liked to spend every possible second of his free time outside, especially by the water, on the water, sailing his boat, and even catching fish with his bare hands. He just couldn’t get enough of the outside sailing boating life. Small problem was a. with my Irish sun-cancer prone skin I get burnt fetching the mail from the letterbox, let alone being out on a boat all day. b. I have no interest in being out on a boat all weekend. After hinting that the Rock Star Boat Man might like to share his barehanded fish catching and weekend boating with someone who actually enjoyed it, that date thankfully fell through.

I arranged to go into Dating HQ to have my case reviewed (again!), my friends were pushing me to ask for a refund. Miraculously, Marcy no 3 was astounded to compute I really was well suited to someone who liked the arts, was educated, nearly but not gay and wanted kids. 

These people are meant to be pros. Geez.


But wait! The Serious Spaniard returns

Then! Weeks later! Out of the blue! The Serious Spaniard texted. He couldn’t apologise enough about what had happened (well as much as one can in 160 characters or less) and asked to treat me to a night out to make up for his terrible mistake. It was a sneaky date that didn’t count as one of my six agency meetups, and I’m one of those ridiculously optimistic Pollyanna types, so I said yes, though I asked to meet earlier than 9 (or 10!) pm. Which meant eating by myself with Serious Spaniard watching me, as he really didn’t have dinner til 10pm, but whatever. I chose one of my favourite bars at South Bank, The Sardine Tin, which unfortunately not enough people loved as much as I did, for it is no more.

 IMG_0561_edWell, all I can say is that what you give out to the Universe, you get back. He was certainly educated, smart, loved theatre (though found art galleries boring and was “neutral” regarding music, which was potentially problematic), but I realised too late that I had forgotten to add “sense of humour” to my essential wishlist. I’ve never met such a serious man in all my life. I ended up becoming a super ditz, telling stupid stories, tossing hair, giggling at the slightest opportunity, anything I could to get a smile out of that guy, let alone a laugh. Two and a half hours later of listening to a monologue in broken English on the Franco Prussian War, I just couldn’t cope with any more, put up no objection to him paying for the tapas, and bailed.

And so ended the tale of the Serious Spaniard.

Until he texted a few days later saying how much he had loved the date.

But that was then really the end of the Serious Spaniard tale.

Agency Bonus (?) Date: The Serious Spaniard

Recommended soundtrack: Milos Karadaglic’s imaginatively titled disc, The Guitar. Technically Milos is from Montenegro, not Spain, but he’s playing Spanish guitar music, which kinda fits the theme, and he’s hot, so enjoy him. I do. Here’s a little something to get you in the mood.


So as I mentioned, after the Vegan Welder dates, I heavily reduced my man wishlist to: smart / educated, likes some (any!) form of the arts, and would like a child before I die / hit 50, whichever comes first.

The Serious Spaniard’s description seemed promising. Now the way this particular agency works is that after agreeing to a match, Romeo picks up the phone, old-fashioned style, in a pre-arranged timeframe. Juliette must answer the call (or have a damn good reason not to answer), and the star-crossed lovers have a short and hopefully not too awkward conversation settling the whens and wheres of that magic encounter. It’s old school manners, Romeo is meant to make the plans (which is not always a good thing), has to pay for the first date without Juliette being too much of a feminist and insisting to go halves, and is advised not to pick up or drop Juliette home on the initial few meetings to retain decorum (ahem!).

First rule broken was the Serious Spaniard texting me instead of calling. Having been warned that his English was “improving”, I let it go, but his proposal of meeting on a Tuesday night at 9pm in the Queen St Mall was a bit weird. There’s nothing open going on apart from some dodgy tourist shops selling kangaroo memorabilia and ugg boots, and Korean tourists looking for I don’t know what.

Optimistically as always, I mused romantically on Serious Spaniard being new to Brisbane. He must still be on Spanish time suggesting a late dinner on a school night. How could I be a milksop and ask to meet earlier? How dull! I kept the fact that I had to start work the next day at 7am to myself, and applied my warpaint and date costume. Instead of running only-just-on-time as usual, I caught the earlier train so I could casually saunter over to Hungry Jacks without messing up my hair, or stacking it in my high heels (yes, Hungry Jacks is the meeting place in the Queen St Mall. It’s as good as it sounds.) This particular night, Queensland’s “Sunshine State” was far from that. It was raining cats and dogs, and despite my umbrella I was pretty soggy. Panic. Suddenly I wasn’t very glamorous for my Spaniard.

8:55, five minutes before date time, my phone beeped. Serious Spaniard TEXTED, not called, to tell me that his friend had given him a lift, but friend’s car had broken down, and asked to meet in an hour’s time instead, at 10pm. Could he not have abandoned friend and caught a cab? Could he not have just caught a train or a bus instead of relying on personal chauffeurs? Further texts revealed that he was nowhere near the city, so would have been horribly late even if friend’s car hadn’t broken down.

My iPhone weather update predicted unseasonable cold, possible snow even, heavy rain, extreme boredom, high chance of grumpiness and even greater probability of being mugged or unwanted toy kangaroo purchasing, so I was on the next train back home. A large glass of not-at-all-Spanish wine was poured shortly thereafter while watching a documentary on Kathleen Ferrier and bemoaning my unsociable and weird interests. Bingo, another text appeared, asking to meet the following night, again at 10pm in the Queen St Mall? Cue to turn off the phone, pour another glass of wine and turn up Kathleen.

9:01 am, I called the Dating Agency to complain. You don’t pay serious money for this kind of shit. Marcy the Matchmaker was profusely apologetic, and assured me that the Serious Spaniard wouldn’t count as one of my six dates. Good.

Of course, in my world, it never ends there.