‘Still Single’ Part 4 – How (Not) To Act On A First Date

We had lots of open, funny chats. My problem is that I’m too open for my own good. Always searching for the holy grail of no-armbands conversation. This is definitely a problem sometimes, in that it gets me in trouble.
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October 26, 2012
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It started with pissing rain...

This was upsetting, mainly because I was wearing my (fake) fur coat and, generally speaking, you can’t help but look like a bit of a knob dressed as a drowned rabbit.

That said, I did have an umbrella, so when I turned up at the pub – before him, I hasten to add – my hair at least wasn’t slapped to my head. His was when he arrived, but he actually looked quite cute for it. ‘Mr Bale’ (thanks to his resemblance to ‘American Psycho’ Christian) was a guy I met in an East London pub and actually had the balls to ask me out on a date. I know! Remember them? An actual date. Fuck me.

To say I was nervous leading up to this date is a massive understatement. I was, to coin one of my favourite phrases, shitting it. ‘You’ll be fine once you get there,’ cried all my well-wishing friends. Turns out, I was more than fine. I was cocky. Nice, but cocky. Was this my defence mechanism?

Now this nice-but-cocky thing is fine when you’re out with your mates, talking nonsense very fast and taking jokes a bit far, etc. It’s perhaps not, however, the sort of behaviour to unleash on an unsuspecting suitor. Not to say I was offensive or anything... the only thing that bordered on offensive, and this was entirely a joke, was when he was telling me about the voluntary work he’s been doing for a children’s Aids charity to fill some time while he’s not working (alarm bells!). ‘I’d go for Aids too if I did charity work’ was my response.

What the fuck? I don’t know what came over me. Now, I think that’s funny, but it’s a bit risky at this stage and I certainly didn’t mean to cause offence, to either him or the cause. Long pause. He looks at me and... laughs! Thank God for that. Am I pushing him on purpose? I’m honestly not sure, even now, retrospectively.

So this stands out as a rather ludicrous thing that I said, along with the next thing, which my best friend could not stop laughing about when I told her. Context is everything, I know, but I can’t quite remember it. Damn you, Amaretto Sours! We were talking about hair. Can’t remember why. And he said he always used to have short hair, or was it long? Can’t remember. Anyway, his hair now, or on our date at least, was kind of ear length and floppy. It was also, unfortunately for him, looking a bit shit. Like a bob. I think the rain was punishing him for being late. Anyway, it wasn’t super shit but it certainly wasn’t how I remembered his hair looking when we met. Now with all the hair history chat that had been going on, I said, ‘So, what’s your plan with your hair?’

Another pause.

Him: ‘Er, I don’t know. Why? Do you think my hair’s terrible?’

Me: ‘Gosh no, no, that’s not what I meant – it’s just cos you said you were growing it [or something like that]. No no...’

Sweet Jesus! What. An. Idiot.

The date progressed along much the same lines – he bought nearly all the drinks – very sweet, especially considering he’s currently, and I quote, ‘a man of leisure’. (Ps. I’ve been out with enough men of leisure to know that I don’t intend to go out with another, so that’s something definitely stacked against him.)

We had lots of open, funny chats. My problem is that I’m too open for my own good. Always searching for the holy grail of no-armbands conversation. This is definitely a problem sometimes, in that it gets me in trouble.

Bumps aside, we did have a laugh. He was pretty hardy to my thunder-and-lightning company; you know, rumbling along for a bit, gathering momentum, then – BAM! – ridiculous/inappropriate comment number 57. Despite this, five hours went by, so I must’ve done something right. We ‘shared’ quite a lot, I think. I, again inexplicably, told him something pretty personal about a member of my family – something that’s been on my mind – and was relevant, I think. Not to him, of course, to me. But still. He told me about his family – an interesting bunch, I must say. We were both bullied at school, which is nice. Him boarding, me comp.

We also, thrillingly, given the fact that I write about relationships, talked about dating etiquette. Again, can’t remember how it came up exactly (though I expect I had something to do with it), but I was moaning about the fact that nobody calls any more. It’s all texting. Interestingly, he agreed, but was under the impression from his friends (er, what do they know?) that the correct etiquette is to text because someone, particularly a someone you don’t know very well, might not want to speak on the phone. Int-er-est-ing.

Then I said, because I couldn’t resist, ‘Well, I didn’t even know if we were going out on this date since you didn’t actually confirm until lunchtime.’ I said this jokingly, but still. I know it is date suicide going in with such a ‘womany’ statement, but this was the thing about the date – I genuinely didn’t give a shit what I said. I was uncensored.

His response was excellent, though, I must say. ‘Awh no, gosh, sorry, it’s just because I was at the gig last night and it all got a bit messy and I wasn’t up till lunchtime. I hope you don’t think I was playing games because I really wasn’t.’

I mean, that is quite an admission. You see, he’d texted me as much when he finally did confirm at lunchtime and I was satisfied with his text. Why I had to bring it up, I don’t know! Anyway, he rose to the challenge, so to speak.

The date ended in charming fashion. It was my fault because I hadn’t eaten earlier and we drank a lot. I needed to eat and fast. So he’s walking me to the tube station and we stop at a little bagel place en route. I’ve had a pint, two cocktails and about four vodkas, so though I’m holding it perfectly well together (actually, really well for me) I’m starving and in need of sustenance. I get my favourite bagel combo, bacon and cream cheese, and set about stuffing it into my mouth. I feel pretty comfortable with Bale, we’ve had a nice date, a lengthy date (five hours of sustained chatting and laughing), so I don’t mind so much stuffing said bagel into my mouth enthusiastically.

So I’m eating the bagel as we near the tube, and I’m thinking, shit, we’re nearly there, I should probably give him an end of date kiss, but there’s no way I’ve got the chance to clear my mouth by then. You know how adhesive a half-chewed bagel can be. Oh God. We’re at the barriers, the last chunk of bagel has just gone in and I’m frantically chewing, attempting to clear my teeth with my tongue and trying to be smiley and witty at the same time. This is extreme multitasking with a high risk of jaw lock.

Him: ‘I’ve had a really nice time. I’d like to do this again some time – would you?’

Me: ‘[Swallow]. Er, yes. [Gulp]. Give me a shout once you’re back from Argentina.’

I should point out that although the date’s been good, and lengthy, and we certainly got on, I’m not fully feeling it. I’m sort of attracted to him, but had I been fully enamoured I would’ve blatantly jumped on him before now. That said, I feel a kiss is in order and might also serve as useful research for the viability of a future date. BUT I’VE GOT BITS OF BACON FLOATING AROUND MY MOUTH!!

Fuck it. I move my head towards his and opt for an ‘extended peck’ – open mouthed but not full-on snog. Contrary to my floating bacon worries, I think I got away with it. Of course, Mr Bale might well be blogging as we speak about the terrible oral manners of the drunk girl he went out with.

Alison Taylor is author of The Still Single Papers. Buy it here for more dating adventures. Alison is tweeting! On Twitter! @lovefoolforever.