One of the things that enjoyed most about living with Dragonforce was going to gigs and festivals and being able to get drunk, bounce around being punched by sweaty strangers and have an awesome time without the need to babysit anyone or feel bad for having fun. I’ve been to gigs with girlfriends before and it’s sapped my enjoyment if I can’t be where I want to be or feel guilty for being where I want to be and having to keep running back to check they’re ok.
When I last saw Jen we spent a lot of time swapping music recommendations and I invited her to join me at a filthy electro rock gig I had the following week. This was real make or break stuff. Seriously, had potential to be a bit moshy so it really could have been ‘break’!
Having spent the week with an ambivalent mix of excitement and trepidation she arrived at mine looking suitably attired for a gig: leather jacket, flats and some rather slinky jeans. Also her accidental Princess Diana haircut had now grown out to a fiery, slightly shaggy, rock chick cut. I was so proud that I wanted to take a photo to start an instructional “Dummies Guide to Gig Going” manual.
Because I had insisted on buying the tickets, she insisted on buying the booze. After the support band we settled into a comfortable spot in the crowd (after I’d finished mincing around, fretting that we’d not get where I wanted to).
When going to gigs with Dragonforce we used to use fluro wristbads to find eachother in a crowd. Her being about 5′ 10″ helped too. Despite being at a tiny venue with Jen, there was a not unreasonable chance of losing her as she is 5′ 3″.
As it turned out, she was brilliant. After the initial surge when the crowd sorted itself into ‘dancy’ and ‘non-dancy’ people, I slotted her into a space in front of me where she had a good view. We bounced around threw embarrassing spazzy shapes with abandon. She was gleefully absorbed in dancing whilst I would bound off for the odd song for tussle , then come back dripping with sweat to see her grinning at me. or whilst I fought off the bodies that would ricochet too near to us and I was worried about her getting hurt (I needn’t have been, she can look after herself)
She was even highly amused when, after kissing me, I unconsciously wiped my hand across my mouth because of sticky lipstick (hers, not mine… Wow, I’m really building myself up as a hot date)
I don’t think the night could have gone better. The more I date her, the more I feel like I’ve discovered a partner in crime. This is five dates now. FIVE! Look at me being a grown up and taking it slowly!
Marriage percentage: 57%
I would ordinarily add WAY more for that kind of excellent gig performance but she is already very high as it is. Is that a fair approach? If I had put on the 15% (at LEAST) that would otherwise be worth then we’ll be almost over the 70% and that leaves little headroom before we hit 100% and I have to propose.
I at least need to ask her more about her cat first.
“The last girl that I loved she was a low and lusty liar
She set my heart on fire but made me choke
Her beauty was a sight to see, but she didn’t save it all for me
I found other fires by following the smoke.
I wish that she had either cared for me or let me be
But she chased me from mind and from my home”
Frank Turner, ‘Substitute‘
There is one person to whom at least part credit should go to for this wager, someone who is to some degree responsible for the strange situation I now find myself in. This is the story of Cupcake and this tale is rather timely because, as of a few days ago, it is now longer since we broke up than the total time we were together.
This dating lark is all rather new to me, which might help to explain why I am so bad at it. For most of the last 15 years I’ve been a serial monogamist and have usually been in a long-term relationship.
Hallowe’en 2007: I was single and looking as unpalatable as I usually do at this time of year; torn flesh, exposed teeth and an unhealthy pallor. I was introduced to a girl with an incredibly cheeky smile, naughtiest glint in her eyes and rocking a surprisingly sexy corseted zombie outfit.
Through the magic of Facebook I got in contact and plucked up the courage to invite her out for a drink. We got on well, VERY well. In fact we saw each other for 4 days of the following week.
I still clearly remember the moment I fell in love with her. We were sat in an old rustic beach front pub and I was listening to her talking with my elbows on the table and head cupped in my hands. The feeling suddenly hit me and for a moment my head swam and I all I wanted was to hold her in my arms and make her feel safe and loved forever. I’ve never had that happen before, or since for that matter.
For 7 glorious weeks I was the happiest I had ever been. I didn’t care that she was grumpy in the morning or that talking to her when she was putting eyeliner on was a major crime. All this was inconsequential and I could see myself still making her tea or breakfast in bed to alleviate the morning grump-head for decades to come. It seems such a fleeting period of time now but those 7 weeks were monumentally significant.
I got on brilliantly with the family, in fact it turned out that her mum was my 6th form chemistry teacher! She said to me that she hadn’t seen Cupcake this happy in years and she felt like she had got her daughter back. I even spent most of Christmas with them.
I’m not the sort of person to rush into big commitment lightly but for the first time ever I found myself on the verge of proposing. Cupcake used to look my in the eyes and say “Marry me”. I always held her back and said “yes” (although I do know that this doesn’t actually count).
We were inseparable, joyful, and very much in love.
Then, with the violence of caesium dropped in a glass of water, it all suddenly blew up in my face. There was a cancer in the ointment: cupcake’s ex’ ‘Ed’.
Ed and Cupcake had a relationship for a few months, just prior to me meeting her. Despite initially denying it, Ed had been getting it on with Cupcake’s closest friend on the sly. Throughout the first couple of months she was fuming with him, he even called her up on Christmas eve to shout abuse down the phone at her over a perceived misunderstanding. Basically he was a cunt.
I have never had any problem with any girlfriend’s being in contact with their exes. Marshall‘s friends used to comment that she was very lucky that I was so laid back. I judge people as I find them and I DEFINITELY did not like Ed.
Skip to January 2008 and Cupcake has the ills so I am nursing her at my place. I had to go to work so I equipped her with all the pharmaceuticals, distractions and comfort food that she could need and left her to recuperate in my bed.
When I arrived home something had changed. Apparently Ed had reconciled with Cupcake, apologised for screaming at her down the phone, for cheating on her with her closest friend and a myriad of other misdemeanours and suddenly it’s as though all the anger and hurt she felt had never happened. He was still with her (now ex) best friend but wanted to be super chums with cupcake again.
I was not OK with this as all I had seen was him upsetting Cupcake. That night texts were pinging back and forth. She would break midway through conversationwith me to reply to messages.
Whereas we used chat via text during the day, suddenly replies were sparse. She said she was just busy at work. In an attempt to be magnanimous I didn’t protest when she said she was planning to meet Ed and that circle of friends for afternoon drinks. We had previously arranged to eat at mine early evening so I had prepared a meal. She didn’t call me until 10P.M., drunk.
It was clear to me what was happening. I was losing her to someone who had treated her with contempt and then dumped her. She denied it, which left me in a vacuum, unable to piece any other explanation together for everything I was experiencing.
After a week of not really sleeping and having no appetite I cracked. Whilst she was in the shower I picked up her phone and read through her messages. Almost all between her and Ed and were absolutely unequivocal in their tone. There was no misinterpretation possible.
Looking back now, I should have ended it then but I just couldn’t see how something so right could suddenly have crumbled in my hands and was convinced it must be possible to reclaim it
Instead I tried to fix it. Much to my shame torturing myself with texts became an obsession. I wasn’t eating or sleeping properly and all sorts of other complaints were flaring up. It came to a head and I basically gave her the ‘me or him’ ultimatum. The fact that she wouldn’t even commit to one or the other should have been the biggest prompt I needed to get out.
We stayed together for a total of 18 months. That was 16 months too long. Although I didn’t recognise it at the time, the trust was broken beyond recovery. The ‘Ed situation’ waxed and waned but even at best was only in remission. At my worst I lost a stone and a half and looked wretched and under slept.
As if that wasn’t reason enough Cupcake gave me more reasons to distrust her. On two separate occasions (that I know of) she snogged other boys whilst she was out. The first time she denied it. When I called her on it she was utterly repentant. I made it clear that trust is more important to me than fidelity and I understand that people do stupid things and she promised to tell me if anything happened again.
That might seem strange but if a partner comes to me and ‘fesses up that they have done something silly then I trust them more because I know they will be straight with me in future. The second timeit happened she lied about it again to the point of deliberately making me feel bad for questioning her.
The final nail in the Biscuit/Cupcake coffin was a boy that she worked with who I could see was trying to slime his way in. Without even trying I found a conversation between then when I opened my laptop and she hadn’t cleared the screen. When I picked her up from work that night, no one else there would look me in the eye because they knew.
The positive bit about this is that I got to enact a classic movie cliché as I flew around the house (where we lived together) stuffing emergency packing into a bag and storming out. If that had happened after 8 weeks it would almost have been worth it. I recommend that you try it. If you’re not actually breaking up then just try packing for holiday REALLY fast and only look to see if you have enough pants when you get to your destination.
For me the sadest part of this is my loss of unequivocal trust. For a year and a half I became a person I didn’t like: supicious, highly strung and eventually controlling. Ultimately there was wrong on both sides but the things that cupcake complained about were a direct result of my behavior change from not being able to trust her. I have never been like that before and I hope never to again.
One valuable lesson that I have taken away from this whole experience is to cut my losses and not flog away at a relationship that is making me ill and unhappy. It sounds obvious but I just didn’t recognise it when it was happening.
Since breaking up with Cupcake and moving in with Dragonforce, then Toast, I have had some of the best times of my life. It’s been almost everything that life should be about, friends, fun, joy and a lust for life. All I’m looking for now is the right person to share it with.
“Well I’ve had many different girls inside my bed
But only one or two inside my head
These days I cuddle up to my guitar instead
But oh, what I would give, not to stumble but to really fall in love
And I could substitute my singing for the sound of someone sleeping next to me”
Frank Turner. ‘Substitute‘
Friday night night was something of a last minute plan. With Dragonforce now in Quatar, I agreed to meet a man I barely know to go drinking on the rock scene. Toast then gleefully announced that the planets had aligned in his favour and he *would* go to the ball come to London after all.
“You two really are a right pair of pussies.” – FleetStreetFox
In a ‘come one, come all’ spirit, I threw the invite to join us open to all who I thought might fancy it. I was joined by FleetStreetFox who, prior to meeting us a week earlier had scathingly taken us for a couple of inept morons. Whilst that may well be the case, we were clearly shaping up to be a likeable couple of inept morons at least.
“Your joint state of pathetic romantic anxiety would probably not help you get invited to any [threesomes]” – FleetStreetFox
With Toast planning to hook up with us after meeting Betty Page I attempted to coerce Scalene to join us to in an effort to reunite the anonymous blogger quartet from the previous week, but he was otherwise engaged on a non-romantic encounter.
“You three would make the world’s least successful and most inept sexual tag team.” – FleetStreetFox
FleetStreetFox was again living up to her moniker, dressed in figure hugging black and leather; serendipitously the unofficial uniform of the rock scene, so she fitted right in!
Alternately pouring caustic scorn on the perceived fashion crimes of the venue’s incumbents and confusing Toast by replying to his Betty Page updates on my phone, she was thoroughly enjoyable company once again.
“Biscuit would have to be Soggy Sam. Liable to wilt under pressure.” – FleetStreetFox
After a while I even managed to overcome her reticence and enourage her onto the dancefloor, which felt like a deleted scene from “School of Rock” where Jack Black teaches that it’s easy to dance to rock music after all.
Then something utterly surprising happened. Standing at the top of the stairs we were face to face intently discussing something that has long since ceased to be important. The next I knew, we were kissing! Blimes!
Leaving for home shortly after, we grabbed a taxi back to mine as she had previously arranged to crash in the spare room. There may have been unspecified further hijinks but, being a gentleman (and fearing for my vital organs) there will be no further details.
Or at least someone attempted hijinks but I was having none of it because I’m not that kind of boy.
” I still think that eventually one of you, or Scalene, will elope with the foxy FleetStreetFox.” – Molly Bennett
“You will have to arrange a lobotomy too. And get several bottles into me.” – FleetStreetFox
Throughout the night, I had taunted her that every time she rifled through my phone/facebook/email messages (ever the tabloid journalist) I was deducting from her final marriage percentage.
With this in mind, and obligated by the rules to provide a M%. I can officially declare the final figure.
Marriage percentage: minus 13%
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable night with great company! Now, if she could just refrain from trying to find out if I am conducting an illicit homosexual affair with my ‘advisor’ or am hiding a body under the patio then she could have retained the previously healthy score. She can’t say I didn’t warn her!
*runs away and hides… and changes name…*
If there is a lesson here, then it is surely the following: We might APPEAR to be utterly hapless twats, but we are at least personable with it!
“I am NOT ‘an opportunity’, neither. I’d be a fucking lucky break, especially for one of those twats. JESUS.” – FleetStreetFox
At this very moment (of writing, not you reading it) I am sat in a house surrounded by the boxes and detritus of moving house. I am supposed to be moving in an hour, but I am doing very badly!
In my very first post on this wager, my second stated goal was:
“2. Move to LONDON”
It’s taken 7 months since I wrote that first post but here I am on the cusp of a new epoch: I am about to fulfil that very goal! Admittedly that was supposed to be preceded by “1. Get a job in LONDON.”, but that’s not the point. I still have my old job and will reverse commute until I can remedy that. Dragonforce is in Qatar and the only thing between me and the Emerald City is my acute ability to procrastinate.
I fully intend to take the gold paved motorway to London into my new life of high flying parties, stylish well cut suits and montage sequences of highly successful dates (including at least one where I sneakily dab ice cream onto the nose of the object of my affections* as I offer her the delicious dairy treat, followed by her faux outrage and my contrived laughter).
Admittedly I will probably have to take Toast shopping with me to point out the difference between shiny shoes and brightly coloured sneakers, but that’s not the point either.
The downside of this is that I may not have an interweb connection for a couple of weeks, but I’m sure we can find a way to feed reports back.
So; worldly possessions on my shoulder and a healthy desire not to get stabbed in the face by a city yoot’ in my heart… here I go!
Wish me luck. =D
*Object of affections may or may not be Alison Mosshart.
No, I’m not referring to the removal of cattle. Instead this seemed like an ideal moment to take a breahter and intertwine all the current loose threads into a big, fat bloggy rope.
…crappy metaphor? Anyway…
There are a number of girls currently in the picture whether they are aware of it or not.
- Stripy Dress – After all the recent adventures and camping debacle, she is still the one who I would currently like things to work out with the most. She’s not the easiest to get close to but I’m still allowing a degree of latitude. Maybe it’s a chemistry thing, I don’t know, but she still sparks something inside me that most others have failed to.
- Irish Girl – Irish Girl definitely needs a better moniker but she is one of the pair who I met on the streets at the tail end of the last big London trip. Because Stripy dress has been blowing a little hot and cold I have decided not to concentrate all my energies on her, so have booked a drink with Irish Girl next week.
- Cola Lollies – She’s not out of the picture yet, even though she’s leaving to work in China for 6 months. On Saturday she’ll be at a mutual friend’s wedding. The venue allows people to camp overnight so there will be drinking and partying to the we small hours. I have offered Cola Lollies one of my spare tents as she has nowhere to kip. However, I still can’t shake the feeling that I should fancy her more than I do, being gorgeous and generally awesome, so keep holding out hope for more of a spark. The other interesting part about this wedding is it is the first time that I will socially be in the same place as the ex, Cupcake, since we broke up June ’09. Cupcake will be there with her new love so this could be a very interesting dynamic. It is fancy dress and I will be sporting a variety of large and threatening objects. Y’know, just for effect.
- Local girl from recent date – I know, I know… I wasn’t going to see her again. The thing is she’s nice and so I have amicably been returning the odd text. I don’t really want to give her a ‘no’, I’m just kind of hoping that my imminent move may make logistics impractical and so let it go it’s own way naturally.
- Leia – This is the future colleague who Dragonforce will be working in Qatar with. Although barely worth a mention due to the whole ‘moving to the Middle East’ thing, DF is convinced that she is perfect for me so we have struck up Facebook chats. If ANYTHING is going to happen with this one then it is going to be a very slow burner, but worth mentioning now for context.
- Scarlet – Although she is currently living in Oz, there is a high likelihood that I will see her at Christmas. She’s not really sure what her plans are but certainly nothing is happening soon.
- Wildcard – This is a girl who a mutual friend enthused that I would get on with very well and who was supposed to be attending the London rock club on the same night I was some months back. Unfortunately some sort of trouble with her horse meant she couldn’t make it (maybe it threw a shoe or broke down on the way). Today we have ended up making contact on Facebook due to an enthusiastic bands/music conversation on a friend’s page. Unfortunately she is now ‘in a relationship’. BAH! However, relationships break down and I seem to get on with her so will stay in contact and see if anything develops.
So… what next?
Tomorrow night I have a date with Stripy dress. We have planned food and I am going to do my best to keep us off the booze to see how she is with me when sober. After all the recent uncertainty I hope to get a little clarity tomorrow so need a level head. Hopefully I should know by the end of the night whether there’s any real potential.
Knowing me, I’ll probably just become mesmerised by her eyes, drink too much, do some ambiguous kissing and come away even more confused than I started.
Having left you on something of a bad soap inspired cliffhanger in part 1, I should take a step back to expand on some things that I was too rushed to write about properly.
I said that Stripy Dress blew hot and cold. Through all this it was actually quite useful to have have Dragonforce’s (slightly sickening) festival romance a yardstick. There was a stark contrast about how comfortable they were with each other compared to how sure of myself I was around Stripy Dress.
I just really didn’t know what was OK and what wasn’t and found her indirectly dictating the terms or our liaison. She certainly got friendlier with a little booze down her but, as nice as this was, is never a good sign if it’s not replicated when sober.
I’m not one to beg for scraps of attention so gradually this behaviour grated. Because we had such a good time on our first date I knew that she could be so much more than this and just kept hoping that she would snap out of this demeanour.
Catching up to the end of part one, I had gone back to my tent to stock up on booze before heading to Silent Disco (best thing EVAR!). I was taking her to task over being difficult and grumpy. She was actually a little affronted about this and protested. We tood and froed over this and then, instead, we were kissing. Then we were kissing a LOT. And then… well… the aforementioned hijinks.
It would be fair to say that this was something of a surprise! The hijinks was great and I think I enjoyed the post-hijinks cuddling up just as much (I’m skirting round the subject but apologies if this is too much info!). She snoozed a few times, which was no mean feat as we were both crammed on my tiny 1 person camp bed.
However, 1 fact remained: I had come back for booze for Silent Disco and I was determined to rendezvous back with the others for silly dancing as I was in no mood for sleeping. So, possibly ill mannered, I whispered my goodbyes, tucked her into my bed and toodled off for some serious dancing.
At this point there may be several readers who are judging me. DF made me feel, quite frankly, AWFUL for doing the sex and then leaving. However getting in my pre-emptive defence; I had said all along I would be leaving for silent disco and I did not just splash and dash, I stayed for all the lovely stuff after for a good while and made sure she was firmly slipping to the land of nod before I left.
On my arrival back from silly dancing I was blissfully pleased to discover she was still there… although in retrospect, this may have more to do with the fact that it was dark and she did not have her contacts in to find the torch. Hmm. Genuinely though, it was a joy to cuddle back up and to snooze together.
After some slightly warmed but still a little too distant behaviour on Sunday she was feeling rather ill so sloped off earlyish that night. She was actually feeling pretty rubbish and I did feel sorry for her. So after eventually retiring to the campsite I replied to a text to her to say she was welcome to come and cuddle up if it helped then went to bed.
About 2 hours later I was woken with a start as I was lightly prodded in the chest. Opening my eyes I saw Stripy Dress who had received my text somewhat belatedly. Despite all the uncertainty and levels of fuckwittery I was genuinely pleased to see her… once I had gotten over the shock of being woken.
So we cuddled up and it was lovely. Actually, what happened is that my improvised bed construction intended for 2 only really housed 1 so most of me was relegated to makeshift bedding formed of rugs, bubble wrap and a hoodie. But I was still genuinely very happy to have her there.
Since the festival, and the journey home with her almost intolerable friend, we’ve spoken about the whole festival experience. 2 interesting things emerged:
- It turned out the she was as pissed off by her grating friend as we were and that made her substantially grumpier all weekend.
- She has a (genuine) medical condition which generally makes her tired and so has to slope off early and which she needs to get sorted.
YES, I KNOW that I’m making excuses, none of this excuses the level of grumpy behaviour I saw but I want to see if the girl who I went on the date with is the real Stripy Dress or if she is the grumpy one. Toast is worried she may be high maintenance. He may well be right.
The next step is to see her next week, preferably with minimal or no booze involved, and see how it goes. Today she left work early as she has the ills and is feeling rubbish so I posted a small aid package as a joke consisting of chicken soup, snacks and tiny toys to keep her entertained in case she is stuck in bed. Basically, it’s both comedy genius (if I DO say so myself) AND a very sweet gesture so if this is not received well then it’s a dealbreaker! I will let you know the official M% after any next date but currently it has plummeted until I can re-evaluate the grumpiness.
and now the p.s….(not related to Stripy Dress)…
In an interesting twist, DF has been meeting the people who she is going away with (for those who are not in the loop she soon leaves to work in Qatar for 2 years). I received a string of excited text messages about a very pretty girls she was with who described her perfect man as ALL the things I am and then proceeded to describe everything I love about girls in herself. Seriously, down to the really ridiculous stuff (and any girl who professes that they have ‘blow job lips’ gets EXTRA points in my book!)
I asked DF to just propose on my behalf and I’d meet her in Vegas at the Star Wars wedding. She replied that she loves Vegas and has always wanted to get married there. She said she would dress as Leia.
She has not only just ticked off EVERYTHING on my ‘list’ but has added new things that I didn’t even know were there. We’ve not even spoken yet but have set the date… for 2012.
2012… because, like Dragonforce, she is f***ing off to Qatar for 2 years!!! ARGH!
So, festival camping together after a first date… fraught with potential difficulties and bountiful with opportunities? A quick way to find out what someone is really like or a situation so removed from reality that nothing is really meaningful?
Well, yes.. to all of the above in some measure.
Dragonforce was worried that camping with Stripy Dress and her previously unknown friend would spoil her weekend. Thankfully she made a friend in the queue who blossomed into something of a festival romance. This largely stopped her worrying and meant that she had something to keep her occupied when she wanted to wander off. Whilst I would have been fine otherwise, this did afford a little extra time to get to know Stripy Dress better.
Unfortunately, Stripy Dress’s friend turnout out to be one of the most boring and socially awkward people I’ve met. Thankfully he had a habit of disappearing for periods at a time. Sadly he always eventually returned, but I was thankful for the respite, however long!
Before I went I thought this could have gone one of two ways: elated or heartbroken. Confusingly it was neither.
As I’ve previously mentioned, she hit all the buttons that others should have done but somehow didn’t. I hadn’t been this interested in someone for over a year. We had a great date and I found her funny and sexy. I was more worried about how much of a spaz I would come across in a festival environment as I tend to really cut loose: bad dancing, heavy drinking, running round like a child with balloons and sweaty, stripped to the waist and peppered with mosh-pit bruises. I didn’t, for a moment, even consider that she might come across in a bad light.
Whilst this weekend may only have shown me her festival behaviour, I came to a definite conclusion: Stripy Dress is grumpy!
She was the first to admit that she didn’t like camping but she really didn’t seem to make much of an effort to cheer herself up. She definitely had her moments and had so much potential to be cheery, but just didn’t want to seem to join in.
The other thing that was very annoying was that she blew very hot and cold. At times I definitely had the feeling I was being yanked at the end of a chain. In my younger days I might not have spotted this but thankfully I am old enough to suss this kind of behaviour quite quickly.
I’m generally the kind of person who will cut everyone a lot of slack. If it’s someone I like I’ll generally make excuses for weird behaviour and try not to be judgemental. However I have a definite threshold of bullshit. Despite the prevailing grumpyness and apparent game playing I did have some good times with Stripy Dress, there was hand-holding, chats and kissing. She could be quite lovely and affectionate so I gave her a lot of rope. Unfortunately she eventually hung herself with it.
Saturday morning DF and I told her (nicely) she had been a grumpy shitbag and to cheer up. After that she was actually a lot better for most of the day. Unfortunately, Saturday evening she saw her ex boyfriend (from a distance). She is not fond of him and the break-up was quite acrimonious but this sighting sent her into an introverted and aggravated mood and clammed up.
Eventually I had enough and told her to either let it out or to man up or she was going to totally spoil her time. Sadly, she chose to skulk off back to the tents to wallow in her torment.
As far as I was concerned that was it as I have no time for people who insist on making themselves miserable. I promptly forgot about Stripy Dress, ignoring a text to knock at her tent when I got back, and set to partying the night away. When I popped back for more booze later I largely ignored her and headed for my tent to stock up for more drinking and dancing.
She made a beeline for my tent and wanted to be all lovely again. I was having none of it and took her to task for being difficult and blowing so hot and cold. She protested but I insisted and was determined not to be swayed from this point.
The next thing I knew we were in the middle of hijinks… the naked kind. BLIMEY!!!
There is clearly more to this story but I will have to finish later as I am presently due out of the house. I am, in fact, due out on a date. Not a date with Stripy Dress but with an internet date.