Updated: Aug 16, 2021
His name was Valerio and he was an Italian stockbroker. He had elegant taste in both cocktails and women (obviously)he was also well dressed. That, unfortunately, was where his pros list ended quite abruptly.
He booked the Ritz for dinner, classy. He offered to pick me up, also classy. I declined as I was working in Mayfair and frankly, wanted him to know I was a girl who was about her business and arrived on time, which is very unlike me, and grabbed a glass of champagne at the bar.
Valerio was over an hour late with no hint of an explanation.
By then I had befriended the bar tender and together we had adopted a mild hatred for my future date based on his horrible manners.
Eventually he swanned in announcing his surprise that I had been able to "get in without him", which was the nail in the coffin for me. The bar tender gave me a look of horror and showed us to our table.
We sat and looked at the menu for a moment then a waitress came to the table to take our drinks order. Valerio proceeded to order me a wine which would go with the fish he thought he would order for me. Whilst I am aware in some dark corner of 1963 this would have been perceived as wonderful manners, in 2010 Mayfair, he got a raised eyebrow and shut the hell down.
I ordered another glass of champagne, he said I couldn't have champagne because the starter he had pre booked would arrive soon and it wouldn't pair well.
I was on the brink of a dramatic exit when my bartender friend strode in like a knight with a shining ice bucket, miraculously cocooning a perfect bottle of Perrier Jouët. Valerio proclaimed he hadn't ordered any such thing and he should take it back immediately. My bartender told him I'd paid for it and it was staying. Spending the next few hours with Valerio suddenly seemed a little more enticing.
One hour and half a bottle of champagne later and "enticing" was off the table. What had landed in it's place was a proposal of sorts. Valerio who, for context, had been behaving like a total wanker thoughout our starter and main, out of the blue wondered "how long it would take" for me to marry someone. I looked at him bemused, certain that despite the champagne I had made it quite clear that I hated his guts and was just hanging on in there for the promise of The Ritz famous pistachio soufflé .
Valerio was not joking, he was on a schedule and he wanted to start a family in the new year. It was August.
I quickly skipped over the question, making a note to ghost the shit out of him forever (after the soufflé) , and we finished our meal.
In good news, the soufflé was exceptional. In bad news this wasn't close to the worst move Valerio made on this fateful evening.
We retreated to the lounge for me to polish off my bottle of PG. After a few minutes I excused myself to run to the bathroom and found a clammy Italian hand down the front of my top. I was a little tipsy by then and, in any case, am quite dramatic by nature and did a muted scream. Valerio declared that he "thought it would be erotic", which made it one hundred times worse and I flew to the ladies.
I let him know I was leaving, and he asked if I wanted a lift home. I did not. Valerio didn't leave it there "but I have a Ferrari" . I insisted I was taking a cab, regardless. Did he bow out gracefully? No he didn't. Valerio let me know he was confused because he had imagined we would drive home together and enjoy his sauna. He said "imagine telling our future sons (yes sons not children) that their parents fell in love on the first night they met".
Presumably we would omit the detail of the sauna where they fell in love, and potentially the boob grab.
I never saw Valerio again, but I did hear from him, indirectly.
It was a few days later and I was at work. My boss, takes a call and is looking over at me bewildered and also like he was about to piss himself.
He puts the phone down. I find out what's happened.
Valerio had called my work and asked if he could book me out of work for a fortnight. "Why?" my boss wonders. Valerio's planning to to fly me, himself, in his plane (which he specified) , to Milan to meet his parents. After spending a few days with them we were to go to Barbados to celebrate our engagement.
My boss said he couldn't possibly spare me.
I'll end this on a simple note.
What. The. Actual. Hell.