My usual preference for first dates is to meet for a nice meal, but having compromised my dignity on a previous date in a spinach-related incident, I decided to suggest just drinks instead. My new date Eric agreed and we met at a trendy bar in the centre of town, where we experimented with cheap happy hour cocktails.
My first impression was that he wasn’t my usual type. But I decided to heed the preachings of my bossy best friend and keep an open mind. It wasn’t easy. Struggling to find common ground, I found myself disappearing to the toilet to think up areas of conversation, an activity that did not exclude whipping out my Smartphone and Googling ‘Areas of Conversation’.
My last resort was filling silences by taking long sips of my drinks. With a mouthful of liquid I would have a practical reason for not speaking and maybe a touch of Dutch courage would loosen up my inhibitions and kick start the flow in conversation. Alcohol worked. A few drinks in, we relaxed, and his bookish librarian-esque demeanor became less Bill Gates, and more Hugh Grant. The stilted start had turned to reckless giggling, shrill banter and the rest, well, I have a vague image of a slurpy goodnight kiss aimed in the vague direction of each other’s mouths, and stumbling into separate taxis, but not much else.
The next day was accompanied by the hangover from hell. When my friends launched into the traditional, “Well?? How did it go??” inquisition, I blinked a few times, referred to my filing cabinet of short term memories, and found it locked. My mind had drawn a decisive blank. “I honestly don’t know” was the only answer I could pathetically muster. My memory of the evening was a complete blur, and was playing out in my head as if it had taken place on a speeding merry-go-round.
Taking my version of a Sherlock Holmes approach, I deduced that if the date had been on a Wednesday and lasted till two in the morning, without any excuses being made to leave, some kind of rapport had to have been present between us in the bar that night. So, when Eric texted to arrange our next date, I took a there-is-no-reason-that-my-brain-has-retained-to-say-no stance and agreed. I’d decided, as an apology to my liver, to keep this date a sober affair. We decided on a coffee date, and lest I suffer a caffeine overdose, I decided to resist the sip-to-fill-the-silences technique.
As soon as the date started, beyond the polite “weren’t we crazy the other night?” exchange, I realised we were struggling for things to say. I noticed our eyes would intermittently wander towards the clock. When scraping the bottom of the conversation barrel produced a discussion about different varieties of bread, I knew the curtains were falling on our potential match. Two Americanos and a less than steamy debate on the decline of local housing prices later, we bid farewell, him taking a perception of me as, at my best, boring, at my worst, slurring, and I taking with me a lesson never again to assess a date through rose-coloured beer goggles.