Back on the dating websites, I had been messaging and chatting with a young woman who had described herself in her profile as a waitress and a dancer. I must confess that I did briefly wonder if this combination was a euphemism for something akin to stripping, but it turned out that she was a student with a part-time job and a passion for salsa.
By this time I had learned a couple of things. The first thing: It seemed that some women preferred the man to ask them out on a date rather than vice versa. I'm pleased to report that this time I managed to ask her out before she asked me to ask her. We arranged to go to a salsa dancing night - it would be my first time and probably her thousandth, but I hoped that my positive give-anything-a-go attitude would make up for my likely lack of ability.
The second thing I had learned: before meeting up with someone from the internet, it is actually quite useful to have seen a photo! I had managed to use a scanner in a local library to scan a photo of myself to email upon request. She requested, so I emailed. We were chatting online again and she made agreeable comments about my photo and then emailed me a photo of her. It was a nice photo. Unfortunately, my computer picked that particular moment to crash as spectacularly as it could manage. It took me half an hour to coax it into logging back onto the site and by then she was long gone.
I was worried about how this might have come across to her. It must have looked as if I'd abruptly left the chat without comment as soon as I'd seen her photo. Not a reaction which anyone would hope for! So I sent her an email apologising and explaining and complimenting. I think she was touched by the email - I got the chance to show that I cared about her feelings. Perhaps my computer did me a favour in a strange way! Our chatting continued - she was really fun to spend time with online and I hoped that the same would be true offline.
The night of the salsa date arrived. Walking through a dark alley towards the bar I spotted her coming towards me and maintained eye contact as we neared each other. As we met I smiled and was just about to say hello when I suddenly realised: That's not her! Keep walking, just keep walking. I might have really scared that poor girl, eyeballing her down a dark alley. Sorry!
Once in the bar I managed to find my real Salsa Dancer date. She was somewhat quiet and shy in person (and so was I, which can make for a tricky combination) but once the salsa dancing started she was transformed into a confident, lithe, sensual woman. Wow, it's true what they say: confidence is attractive. If only I could keep up! I couldn't, of course. I had the co-ordination but not the grace - the structure but not the form. I think I managed not to step on her feet at least, but I did feel like I was holding her back. Still, I think she appreciated my effort, and on parting we talked about doing it again.
The next day we talked on the phone and she admitted something to me: she hadn't quite entered her correct age on her profile. Her profile had said 18 (I was 22) but she told me that she was actually 17 and still had over a year of high school ahead of her. She could tell that I was initially thrown by this and our phone conversation ended soon after.
I wasn't sure what to do next. I went back and forth with it in my head. I was really enjoying getting to know her. But 17 was too young - wasn't it? But it was only one year younger than I'd previously thought. But couldn't she have been more upfront about it? But the site had an 18+ rule so she couldn't have come clean on her profile. But she could have told me in one of our chats...
I saw her in the online chat section of the website a few hours later. By then I was 90 per cent sure that 17 was too young (but 10 per cent hoping that it somehow wasn't.) I wasn't sure how to break it to her, but she saved me the discomfort by bringing up our age difference first and talking as if we were just friends now. So I went with that.
We had some more fun chats and I even went to the salsa night with her again the following week. Our contact lessened over the following weeks. She invited me to salsa again but I was busy. She made a point of telling me when she turned 18 and I did actually think "Should I ask her out again now?" but then she didn't reply to a text of mine and I took that as a sign to let her slip away.
If I were to cross paths with Salsa Dancer again, I would say: I hope I didn't seem like too much of a jerk by pulling away when you made a difficult admission to me. I hope you went on to meet a great guy with dance moves I could only dream of!