beauty and the beast

That was it, no more Hipster dating for her. Sure, it could be fun, not often in life that her seven stone frame came with a weight advantage, but after the incident in her physiotherapist’s office, that was it for her. She needed to date men with meat on their bones, that didn’t look like a skeleton bisected in the middle with a pair of Calvin Klein underpants when they tugged their skinny jeans off. Her physiotherapist was partly to blame though – who adorns their life size medical skeleton with a goatee and a Che Guevara bandana around the neck?

It was time to date a different class of man, a man for whom the word grooming was only to be applied to an unruly overlarge dog, and only then ever in the sentence “I would never send my unruly overlarge dog for grooming”.

It was possible though that she might have gone the teensiest bit far the other way.

This was not just a beard, it was a neck-beard. Not even that, it wasn’t merely a beard combined with neck-bard, this was a beard-neck-beard combined with a beard-beard sandwiched between a pair of ear-beards. She was – honest to God – sitting down for a Chinese opposite a man who could have starred in the National History Museum’s special top of the pops exhibit for the world’s hairiest Neanderthal.

There were eyes that twinkled as he laughed, and a nose so small and pink that only the word nubbin would do. At least she thought it was a nose, and this was based upon its approximate location relative to the point at which he was inserting spring rolls. The size of his beard, it was perfectly possible he was stocking up on food for winter.

But, oh God. The hair on his face. What about the hair on the rest of his body? You can say what you like about hipsters, but excessive drag in a wind tunnel is not one of them.

People stared as they left the restaurant, and he made the joke: Beauty and the Ogre. She felt she deserved some degree of credit for almost making it through the goodnight kiss. How bad could it be? Squeeze her eyes shut, channel the memory of her Nana Duncan coming in for one of her scratchy chin specials, and goodnight. She blamed her brother for the minor panic attack, for that time he wrapped her in the prickly wool blanket and it went across her whole face and she could barely breathe.

The next evening she was sitting with a cocktail, lamenting her lot, when – for the first time in her life – her jaw dropped. This guy. This guy she was staring at. He was tall, he was well built, and oh God, the face. She knew full well on a scale of one to ten she was a fourteen, but she found herself going over to him, tummy trembling that for the first time in her life he was out of her league.

She asked if she could buy him a drink. He crinkled up his eyes and asked her wasn’t that supposed to be his line?

They clicked. They sat down together and they passed two wonderful hours and she felt moved enough to tell him that no one was ever going to believe this. That the two of them, these beautiful people, and they had the beautiful personalities to match, how likely was that?

He looked at her, his twinkling eyes filling with sadness above the nubbin of his perfect nose.

He sighed, then said, ‘Yes, it’s why I wear the beard on first dates.’