Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

When Luke invited me to cook dinner at his place, I was determined to conquer my almost pathological fear of the kitchen. My track record with meal preparation isn't great - I almost burned down my French ex-boyfriend's flat while trying to liberate a lobster, and the last time I had an "aphrodisiac" oyster, my date and I ended up taking turns all night in the loo. The closest I've come to cozy domesticity in the past couple of years is wearing a French maid's outfit and pretending to clean.

So when I showed up at Luke's place with tuna and strawberries, I had high hopes of ravishing him on the kitchen table in a scene reminiscent of 91/2 Weeks. But Luke's brow furrowed when he ushered me inside. "Um, Cat, I thought I mentioned this, but I don't eat meat - or fish." I don't mind vegetarians, as long as they're carnivores in the bedroom, but alarm bells started going off when he replaced my vinaigrette with his own fat-free dressing from the fridge.

A man's manners at the dinner table are often a reliable sneak preview of what he's like in bed. Guys who barely pause to chew will probably have sex just to release physical tension - and as with their semi-digested roast, they'll barely taste you as they go down. Men who eat with their mouths open are much more concerned with how they feel than how their behaviour affects you.

My dream dates are guys with adventurous tastes and considerate manners, the ones who savour every bite. Luke's finicky tastes freaked me out a bit, since in my experience a man so regimented in the kitchen isn't going to be uninhibited in any other room. So after eating my tuna, and watching him shred four lettuce leaves, I fed him a couple of strawberries with my mouth to get us in the mood.

I know that mixing food and sex can go horribly wrong. Once I drizzled honey on a hairy ex and ended up having to cut it out, and a friend of mine still can't really talk about the time she "lost" a banana. So I played it safe by bringing whipped cream. "At least we can have some fun with this," I said, grabbing his tie and leading him into the bedroom. He played along and laughed as we sprayed it on my naked body; but then came the fateful moment when I caught him glancing at the can.

"You're checking the fat content, aren't you?" I said. He looked sheepish. Suddenly, the wraparound mirrors in his room took on a whole new meaning, and during sex I kept noticing him check himself out and suck his stomach in American Psycho-style. Talk about a mood killer.

I felt sorry for Luke, because he wasn't able to let go and revel in the moment - and for me, life without a few vices would be boring and repetitive, much like our love-making that night. So I made some excuses about an early meeting the next morning and went to meet Victoria. I ordered a rare steak and a single malt, and finished it off with a cigarette. It was sheer bliss.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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