What’s more distracting when you’re fooling around with someone – the surprising colour of their penis or their cats watching you intently throughout? I never thought I’d find out the answer to that question, but here I was.

As was Canada’s want every 1st July, I’d thoroughly taken to donning some red clothing and celebrating my new home’s birthday on a yearly basis. Actually, that’s a lie, my closet contains almost NO red and yet somehow I still manage to muster a celebration. This year I started the day off on a hike with friends – because the west coast way of life had got me in its grips by then and I was in full on exercise and outdoorsy mode. After an early morning grind, we spent a rainy few hours in a rooftop hot tub drinking beers before deciding on plans for the rest of the day.

We prised ourselves from the hot tub and continued celebrations at a party the owner of my kickboxing gym was throwing in his apartment. He was attempting to date my girlfriend so we’d got the invite – your friend being pursued by someone can be fun for you at times too. It was a lively, interesting group, a few of whom I knew but there were a couple of people I’d never met. Including a friend of the host’s who was a pretty hot, 36 year old Vietnamese Canadian guy that worked in sales, had a thing for motorcycles and seemed to be up for a pretty big night.

I talked to him a little in the couple of hours we were there, while meeting everyone else, chowing down on some BBQ and making plans for our next move. We had another party we had to go to and were meeting up with other friends for that, so we headed off, leaving behind my girlfriend who was having all the moves put on her by the (clearly in love with her) gym owner. Not long after we left I’m told rounds of body shots began, which we realised was instigated purely as a way for him to flirt with her further. Bold strategy, sir.

As we headed onto the next stop, I never really gave Vietnamese Canadian (his short term nickname) another thought but as we left we threw out the invite for them all to join us at our friend’s house party – it was going to be a complete free for all so the more the merrier.

It was only late afternoon at this stage and we probably should have made a stop for some proper food. The BBQ had been great and I remember there being an incredible amount of guacamole but seriously, who eats enough at a party? But as sensible adults the only stop we made was for more booze as we met our other friends and headed toward the house where the next party was.

The weather had cleared up so everyone was in this great big back yard, perfect for parties. There was a tonne of people, a fire pit, beer pong table and an incredible amount of booze. What a way to celebrate Canada.

As night fell and more people came and fewer people left, we got a text from my girlfriend saying the ones left at the first party were going to cab it to where we were. When they turned up the body shots had most definitely taken effect.  But really, who were we to talk? I’d switched to gin and already made a sizeable dent in what had been a full bottle.

From discussions over said gin, as well as friends “Tindering” for me – is it even a verb? And why do they treat it like a game? It’s my actual life! – there was definitely a thought in the back of my head that it would be nice to “meet” someone that night. I would use the word hookup but that would make it seem like I had an intention of something happening which, given the amount of gin I’d consumed, I knew was probably not a great idea.

So when Vietnamese Canadian turned up with my friends I was more than a little secretly pleased. The body shots he’d consumed meant he was all of a sudden much more familiar, and flirtatious, with me than he had been before. We ended up chatting by the back fence, can you say romantic?, and got on pretty well. We spoke about our upbringings and families, travelling and work. Turned out he currently worked in sales but really wanted to get into acting – they don’t call Vancouver the Hollywood of the Northwest without it resulting in way too many wannabe actors being here.

Before we got too far into the hopes and dreams chat, our friends (the gym owner was his friend and the girl he was chasing down like a getaway car was my friend) said they were thinking of leaving and due to some car/key/other logistic that my gin-addled brain couldn’t follow, my conversation partner  said he needed to go with them. Quickly they all suggested I go too and that gin soaked brain of mine thought it was a great idea. So after a seemingly never-ending round of goodbyes with my friends asking if I was sure I wanted to leave with him, we were all in a cab headed back towards downtown.

I should have seen it coming but we weren’t even 5 minutes into the cab ride and gym owner and my girlfriend clearly had designs on heading home together, so Wannabe Actor (new short term nickname) took his chance and suggested we did the same. In the cold light of day now, I look back and know I should have just gone home but he seemed like a nice guy, he was a friend of a friend and they knew where I was going. Having ironed out whatever the logistical dilemma was that we’d all had to leave at the same time for, he and I carried on in the cab to his place.

To preface the next part of the story, I never felt in danger, I never felt unsafe but there was something that made me incredibly uncomfortable almost from the get go when we arrived at his place.  But what happened next also provided two of the weirdest/wtf anecdotes I have from dating. So, you know, every cloud…

The first thing was that as we walked through the door he started saying “hey, I’m back!” and I’m thinking, um.. you could have mentioned you had housemates. Turns out housemates would have been a better alternative. Instead it was two Siamese cats. I’m more of a dog person. And, honestly, a single guy having two cats? It just seemed a bit… odd. But ok, to each their own.

He got us some drinks, cause of course that’s what we hadn’t had enough of by that point, and we started fooling around on the sofa. Try as I might to relax and enjoy it there was something stopping me. Make that two things. The two cats had barely left his side since we walked in and were now sat at adjacent corners of the sofa. Watching. Actually staring. I kept thinking they’d get bored and go do whatever cats do. Seriously, I’m really not a cat person, I don’t even know how they keep themselves busy. But no. For the entire time we were on the sofa, they were about 5 feet away, glowering at me.

As if that wasn’t distracting enough, when Wannabe Actor then decided to move things to the next stage and whip off all of his clothes in what felt like a very hurried but rehearsed fashion, the cats were the last thing on my mind. While wondering what the rush was and also why every last article of clothing had to come off at once (he clearly wasn’t one for the tease) something else caught my eye. Well, I mean it was pointing right at me.

Now, call me sexually inexperienced or sheltered, but for the life of me I couldn’t work out if I was just way more drunk than I’d even realised or if his penis was in fact ombre. I mean it was proper dark, almost black, at the base and then almost white at the tip. It was the perfect ombre, just on a penis. So perfect that I found myself considering that if my hairdresser had been able to achieve that level of blend on my ombre hair I’d have tipped more than 20%.

Was that normal? Was it a Vietnamese thing? I mean, he was tanned but that darkest dark was a surprise. Is ombre a normal penile feature? Was it like vitiligo of the penis? Should I be concerned? Honestly, everything and anything was running through my head.

Then I spotted the damn cats again and that was it. Game over. Lights went on. I had the WTF am I doing here moment. It was time to leave. (Note, quite some time had passed since he’d done his stripper move so it wasn’t like clothes came off, my face fell and I ran. It was a little more subtle, though maybe only marginally.)

I made my excuses, ordered a cab and got the hell out of there. On the way home, I really did start to wonder what the hell I’d been doing, why I’d gone back with him and generally questioning my choices. Let’s just say I was tired and emotional and I’m pretty sure the cab driver was imagining all sorts of traumatic scenes that I’d just fled. Little did he know it was a pair of staring Siameses and a shaded penis.

After a few catch up conversations the next (very hungover) morning with friends, I was reliably informed that such a dramatic shade scale was not all that common on guys. I had found the ombre unicorn, if you will. It didn’t feel that magical but Ombre Catman (new, long term nickname) would go down in history for sure.

A few weeks later, with the cats and blended member a fading (pun intended) memory, Facebook messenger pinged on my phone to bring all those memories jolting back. Ombre Catman said he was sorry he hadn’t been in touch before now, he apologised for how drunk he’d been and hoped I’d let him take me out for a date.

I was pretty close to saying no, but prior to the weirdness back at his place, he’d seemed like an alright guy. And at that point, “alright” was a step up from “meh” so I said yes. He also somehow slipped into conversation that a few days after that night, one of his cats had died and he was devastated. I felt bad for him. Losing a pet is awful, of course, but I also felt so guilty because I’d been cursing those cats every time I told the story since that night.  So, hoping cheering him up with a date might alleviate some guilt, I agreed.

A few days later he picked me up after work for a picnic on the beach. He’d planned it all with snacks, a blanket and wine and in the car we quickly brushed over the events of the Canada Day night, both admitting we’d had more to drink than was wise and definitely more than would have been preferred for a first night together. It was agreed to leave it in the past and start afresh. I was grateful for that.

It was a gorgeous summer’s evening on the beach and it was busy with other people enjoying the sunset and families making the most of warm nights to tire out the kids. The chat was good and while I wasn’t sure I could entirely see the sense in him giving up his successful career to try and pursue an acting career, with no real background or basis, I did actually think there was some potential with him.

At least, I thought there was maybe some potential, until he thought it was appropriate to try and slip his hand down my shorts as we lay on the beach.

There had been some flirtatious touching and play fighting, but despite agreeing to leave the events of our drunken night behind it seems he obviously thought we could just get right back to it. I was surprised he didn’t whip all his clothes off again to be honest. Worse still than just being a surprise to me, it was compounded by the fact that there were people right by us! Families. Kids. People. With eyes! Stroke my arm all you want buddy, but to try and get your hand down the waist of my shorts and between my thighs in the cold, public, light of day, you’re going to need a lot more than a bottle of rose and some cheese.

He seemed taken aback that I was taken aback. As if, the events of the other night had somehow made it ok, like it was his to go after again. I was confused. Should I feel bad? I mean, we had fooled around the other night and then I agreed to go out on a date with him. Was I leading him on? Had I been giving him other signals? Was I just  playing hard to get? Pretending to be a prude? I couldn’t help but answer no to all of those questions.

Why is it, as women, we’re made to feel like we can’t say no. Or we can but need to expect that it’ll get pushback, it’ll be questioned, ridiculed, negatively received. It’s so rarely just accepted. Again I never felt in danger or unsafe, but I just felt a bit icky.

He apologised, half heartedly, more in a “I know you don’t really hate it but let’s all pretend here” type way and laughed. I think the laugh made it worse.

Thankfully the sunsetting of any potential between Ombre Catman and I coincided with sunset on the day and I ensured we were packed up and on our way back to the city as soon as the sand underfoot would let me. I’ve never liked cats and that hasn’t changed.

Next post…

…previous post