The story of my ‘just right’ date began with a predictably middle-class meeting at a dinner party.
We were sat next to each other at the dining table (at the insistence of a benevolently adamant hostess), and, like a scene from a romantic comedy, we were soon giggling and blushing (or in my case, mostly snorting) in the candlelight. We spent the evening acting like a couple of kids – sneaking salt into water, flicking peas – we even managed to persuade one unfortunate gentleman that a giant wheel of brie was in-fact an unusual type of cheesecake, (he proceeded to serve himself a generous slice).
This guy wasn’t my usual type (narcissistic arsehole), so I didn’t expect to find myself thinking about him incessantly for the next few months. I spent evenings back at my University house cocooned in my duvet, my hand turning to literal ice as we texted late into the night. All of a sudden we seemed to have a million in-jokes, which snowballed out of control until we were giddily talking utter nonsense, and my cheeks ached with laugher. Until then, I’d only experienced that brand of wild mirth in a group of girls, having been far too self conscious to expose my truly strange brand of humour to a man, (who was bound to exclaim “I just don’t find girls funny”, anyway).
My boyfriend at the time (gym buff) was not best pleased. He might’ve had the body of a Demi-God, but no amount of squats or lunges could compete with that connection, and I think he knew that (somewhere very, very deep in his protein-fuelled skull). He took to jealously peering over my shoulder when I checked my phone – to the point that I claimed it was my cousin texting me, and changed the name in my address book. Was this wrong of me? Probably, but I didn’t feel too remorseful, given that he was a prolific cheater. ‘Why did you stay with him?’, I hear you ask – the simple answer being: I was young and knew no better, (that, and I didn’t want to bump into him awkwardly post-break up at the Uni gym).
We continued to text occasionally as I my time at University came to an end, and even when I then travelled to Italy for a year. However our paths didn’t cross again until my return to the UK, when we were both invited to a mutual friends’ house in Devon. I was a bag of nerves, spending at-least 2 days planning my outfit (you don’t want to look as if you’ve tried, but also it must be perfect in a sort of ‘effortless’ way).
The day arrived and it felt like Christmas (except that on Christmas day, I don’t usually spray perfume all the way from my toes to my eyebrows). We drank and ate in the Devon sunshine – it should’ve been glorious; yet he seemed reluctant to engage in conversation with me, or even make eye-contact. I felt a total fool, the fluttering in my stomach turning leaden as I left that evening – I chalked it up to a total misunderstanding on my part.
‘Well you’re an idiot, aren’t you’,
I chastised myself in my car mirror, (if the police ever bugged my car for some reason, they’d have a real laugh). Having resigned myself to a life of spinster-hood (side-note: why is spinster such a horrid word and bachelor is so sexy?!) I decided to spend the remainder of my summer abroad.
It was in the departure lounge that I received a text from him – my face lighting up to match my phone screen. It seemed that we had both got the wrong idea from the Devon trip – my resting bitch face having betrayed me yet again (must learn to smile more – but not too much, like a lady from a 1960s hoover advertisement…will practise in mirror). That message began a summer of waking up at the crack of dawn and falling asleep with my phone clutched to my fist – fighting desperately against the time difference, if only to talk to him for 5 minutes. We arranged to meet in London a few days after I flew back.
If the moment we met at Waterloo Station was on a DVD I owned, it’d be scratched to f*ck. I’ve replayed and relived that moment a thousand times (but don’t worry, I won’t make you vom with the details). The rest of the day also bears that imperishable glow of a childhood memory. We wondered aimlessly, not caring where we were going – talking about nothing and everything, laughing until my mascara smudged. We ate the best ice-cream I’ve ever had and got tipsy on cocktails in Covent Garden, we sat on the edge of a fountain in Trafalgar Square – making up life stories for the people going by. It was sickeningly perfect, and magical, and incomparable to any other date I’ve ever had.
I’ve wondered since then whether there’s any way of predicting how a first date will go, and I’ve come to the following conclusions (it was an extensive and highly academic study):
- dates usually prove to exacerbate your initial impressions of someone (e.g. if you found him at all cringey when you met, this will only worsen upon dating him)
- there’s no smoke without a fire – do not date men who your friends have warned you against
- you will just know that you have a connection with someone from the moment that you start speaking to them – 99.9% of the time, this is the recipe for a ‘just right’ date, and hopefully the start of something wonderful
Finally – dates like the one I have just described don’t come around very often, so when they do, hold onto them (and make a DVD of it if at all poss.).
P.S. If all of your friends seem to be constantly dating, and you feel as though you’re the only one not having a fabulous time – it’s worth remembering that they are most likely enjoying the company of a Gaston/ Daniel Cleaver/ Mr Bean (in other words, you’re far better off enjoying time with your best friends, laughing into hysterics and avoiding all unsavoury encounters with ‘too hots’ & ‘too colds’)