Corey*, whom I got to know through a dating website, struck me as a real gentleman, the sort of guy who holds open heavy doors and pulls out chairs for a girl. That’s why I decided to meet up with him for a casual date. We had a nice, long chat over a simple meal and coffee, both of which he’d offered to pay for. In total, he spent about $20 on me – a nice gesture, considering that many Singaporean men prefer to go Dutch. 

He listened attentively when I spoke and asked the right questions to carry the conversation forward. He knew exactly what to say to make me feel interesting and special, whilst coming off so earnest too. Whereas some men whom I’ve met online spew coarse language and crude jokes with every other breath, Corey never uttered a foul word throughout the five hours we were together. Yes, 5 hours! That’s a lengthy time for any date, let alone a first. 

I’ll be honest, I was completely charmed by this man. So when he asked to borrow $20 from me as our date was coming to an end, I didn’t think anything of it. He said he’d forgotten to bring his ATM card and needed the money to get us a taxi so he could send me home. It was one of those strange requests that doesn’t really compute – after all, I could easily have paid for the taxi myself since he didn’t have the money – but only on hindsight. At that point in time, I handed over the cash unquestioningly.

Moments later, Corey announced that he needed to make a quick detour to the gents’ before leaving. We marched over to the mall’s restrooms together, our spirits high, and I took the chance to visit the ladies’ room too. I hastily fixed my makeup in the mirror, worried he might grow impatient from waiting for me. Men usually take a fraction of the time women need in the washroom, after all. But when I emerged, Corey was nowhere to be found. I scanned the gaggle of husbands and boyfriends loitering outside, thinking that maybe he had a tummy ache.

My Worst First Date: “The $20 Bandit”


So I waited… and waited, and waited. 10 minutes went by. I checked my phone repeatedly. Not a peep from him. By 20 minutes, I was getting nervous. I texted him several times. 

“Hey Corey, waiting outside the toilets. Where did you go?’
“Are you still here?”
“Are you okay?? Are you having a stomach ache?”

No reply. 

I hovered around for at least 35 minutes, texting him several more times before finally calling. He didn’t answer. On Whatsapp, a grey faceless avatar had replaced his display picture, meaning that he probably blocked my number. Desperate, I did what any logical person would do when searching for another human: I logged on to Facebook. And guess what, there wasn’t a single trace of the man there either. It was as if Corey had been a figment of my imagination. 

Except he was real and the $20 missing from my wallet was the only proof I had.

-Carmen*, 28
*Names have been changed.

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