This is a story I’ve been kind of dreading telling… You know when things happen, situations arise, decisions are made and then you’re like “wow, did that just happen?” That was how I felt come the Monday morning after this particular escapade. But you know what? I’m not going to shy away from telling the story, I’m going to own it and chalk it up to that great big wonderful thing you can’t get without fucking up every now and again – experience!

It was my favourite weekend in Vancouver – Rugby Sevens – and as well as bumping into Toronto Dimple Chin, it had been two days filled with Tindering and Bumbling while all the players (and referees – shout out to Mike!) were in town. My friends had made some questionable swipes and started some wholly inappropriate chats but in the midst of that I’d also matched with one of the players on the Japanese team and had been messaging throughout the weekend – yes, while he should have been concentrating on playing.

He was originally from New Zealand, but was playing for Japan through residency rules, and he had pretty good banter, including calling my friend out when she had taken over the messaging for a while and congratulated him on their most recent game, which they’d lost…

We made plans to meetup on the Sunday night, when the tournament was over. It’s always a pretty big night because the players can let loose and the rest of us have been drinking for two days straight. And those sensible among us, always take the Monday off work because, like I say, sensible.

By the time the Sunday night came around, most of my friends were very worse for wear and some of them weren’t sensible and didn’t take the Monday off, so it ended up being just 3 of us who were going to see it out and head to the bar that the players all go to once the tournament wraps up.

On reaching the bar, I remembered why I don’t like going to places like this – the lineup was insane, and I’m too old/mature/boring/lazy (*delete as appropriate) for that shit. In fact there were two lines – one going either way down the street from the door. What kind of merry hell was this?!

Two of my friends didn’t even want to find out, so they sensibly bailed right away. Which left me and one of my best girlfriends, who is one of the best wing women you could ask for. Her husband had already gone home, but she was stoic in her support of my rugby player plans and had already begun finding ways for us to cut the line before I could ask what she wanted to do.

She worked out one of the lines was general admission and one was guestlist. She then found a group of mostly guys about a third of the way through the guestlist line from the door, sidled up to them, confirmed they were on the guestlist and asked if we could piggy back.

This group of fairly fresh faced guys were probably thrown by the random English woman asking them if her and her Scottish friend could join them, that they just nodded in agreement and we duly slipped into the line at the back of their group.

To pass the time waiting, we naturally started chatting to the group who were gracious enough to let us hop on their guestlist group. It turned out they were all students at one of the city’s universities and a number of them were there on baseball scholarships. They grilled us on what we knew about baseball, we responded entirely with answers relating to either cricket or rounders – what can I say? We’re British.

Finally, we got to the door, the guys kindly told the bouncers we were with them and in next to no time we were all inside. Them scattering to no doubt go and check out the lie of the land, my girlfriend and I to the bar. Priorities.

Once we got a drink, we did a walk around the place. I’d only been there once before, on the Sunday night of Rugby Sevens the year before, and I forgot how dingy it was. But that’s where I said I’d see Japanese Kiwi Rugby Player so here we were. But he’d also pointed out to me that once he left his hotel he wouldn’t have any mobile data so he wouldn’t be able to message me and we’d just have to “find each other”. If the place hadn’t been such a hole, it might have been romantic.

It was at that stage I realised what a pain the arse that was going to be. It wasn’t exactly a small bar and it was packed out – hence the massive lines outside. How was I going to know when he got there? How would he find me in amongst the swathes of university students who were just out for their usual Sunday night session and bemused by all these drunken rugby fans and players?

Rather than worry about that we went to the bar a couple more times, engaged in some hilarious people watching, feeling every one of our thirty plus years, and bumped into our newly made student friends from the lineup outside a couple of times. The third time we saw them, the guy who we’d conversed with the most in the lineup asked us if we wanted a drink. He was cute and fresh faced and screamed naivety so we felt bad taking his money and instead offered to get him a drink.

As we’d watched them from afar it was clear he was pretty popular amongst his group, both with the guys he’d gone in with and with a few groups of girls who’d made a beeline for them when they arrived. I was having serious flashbacks to my university days, which were not all that recent in my memory.

Somewhere between that first drink we all got together and the third, after we’d each bought each other a drink (he insisted he wanted to repay the favour), I decided that I didn’t want to stay out much longer. The weekend was catching up with me and seeing as I had no idea what time Japanese Kiwi Rugby Player might turn up, I didn’t fancy hanging around forever, especially when there was a real chance he might not turn up at all, or he would and we’d never see each other.

At round the same time, my wing woman, our new found student friend and I took a picture together and I remember putting my hand on his back and being pleasantly surprised by how muscular it was. Who knew baseball players were so jacked? I naturally then checked out his arms and didn’t find a terrible sight there either.

What happened next is like when the waitress comes to take your order and you can’t decide but you know you’re really hungry and you don’t want to waste more precious time, so you make a rushed, maybe slightly questionable choice.

Somewhere between the back, the arms and the gin, I decided that maybe I shouldn’t bother waiting for the rugby player who was probably having the same conversation with ten different girls over the course of the weekend? Maybe I should just take this fairly eager young stud (yep I wrote that, yep I’m having a Jackie Collins moment again) and be done with it. I was pretty sure he was flirting with me…

Fast forward maybe 20 minutes, my girlfriend goes to the bathroom and I decided… well essentially I decided “fuck it”. I ask him if he wants to come back to mine, he gave a pretty positive response and before my girlfriend returned we were off. I know, props to my girlfriend who being the wing woman she is presumed after coming back to the bar and doing a lap of the place that we’d gone, and so promptly took herself home where I’m sure she wished she’d been hours ago.

While my friend was quite possibly doing her last look for us, with me leading the way and the student grasping my hand, we headed for the door making our way through the crowds. With the front door in sight, I couldn’t wait to get out the sweaty, noisy, dark, dingy hole but being so focused on the exit strategy it was impossible to miss a whole group of what looked like.. um, yeah… what looked like, unmistakably a team of Japanese rugby players.

The next 15 seconds happened in slow motion, I can still picture it in my head. I’m striding towards the street, there’s this whole group coming towards us and in the midst of nine or ten fairly fit looking guys, mostly Japanese, I see a face that is pretty familiar given the number of times I’ve looked at it on his Tinder profile, he looks up at the exact same second, sees me, the recognition sweeps across his face as it sweeps across mine, as we’re both getting closer to each other given that we’re going in opposite directions but in the exact same path, and as we pass by, within ridiculous close proximity of each other, given how busy with bodies the place was, he looks at me, looks down at my hand, looks up at the guy holding my hand and clearly following me, looks back at me and mouths “where the fuck are you going?” with a really confused look on his face.

And just like, with a sort of apologetic shrug, I kept going and we were out onto the street with student none the wiser as to what had just happened.

The rest of that night was a disappointing blur, we didn’t even get McDonald’s on the way home. What kind of a sick joke is that? Instead we got home and both absolutely crashed. The morning however was also an equal disappointment, with some terrible morning sex which I realised halfway through was being carried out while he was still wearing socks. White, ankle sports socks. Who goes out in those? Oh yeah, the guy who was also wearing a baseball cap backwards that’s who.

The sex, was also barely even sex, if you know what I’m saying. I don’t know if it was a hangover or he wasn’t used to strange Scottish women taking him home but he definitely wasn’t the virile mid-twenty-something I had hoped.

Instead we mostly lay and talked about his courses, baseball, his family, his life ambition, he asked a lot about how I could afford to live in an apartment like I did, how I’d got into the job I had now and why I wasn’t getting up for work.

As I explained I’d taken the day off but did need to get up because I was going to meet friends for breakfast – a total lie just to get him out of my place – he stopped me and said “can I ask a weird question?” Oh god, really… “Sure!” “Would it be ok if I showered before I left? Your bathroom is so much nicer than the ones we have on campus.”

Oh dear god, this is what has become of me?! How did this happen? Why did I not take longer to make my food order?? Why was I so hungry???

As he showered and I questioned my life, I was also texting my usual group chat of girlfriends, the wing woman from the previous night and two friends we have in London. Wing woman had presumed I’d ended up going off with student, or had maybe actually met Japanese Kiwi Rugby Player, and the two girls across the pond were wanting all the details of both. In amongst many of the details they asked, they also asked student’s age and just as I was about to reply with “24 I think”, my friend pipes up and in front of my eyes, on the whatsapp screen that had been making me feel better up until that point I see “21”.

WHAAAAAAAAAT?! No! He was not 21… He was not 11 years younger than me… He was not younger than my youngest cousin… He was not more than an entire decade away from me in age!! How had I not known that? At what point had my friend got that information and I had either not heard, mis-heard or decided to not remember? Mother of all that is good in this world, there was a 21 year old CHILD showering naked in my bathroom.

My girlfriends, of course, were of much comfort at this point. Not. The kid jokes started coming in thick and fast, and given what his name was, he was quickly referred to from then on as Billy The Kid. Never before have I ever wished so much that joining that line up the night before we’d not only asked them if they were on the guestlist but if we could, in fact, also pre-check their ID.

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