I often describe a first date as a combination of a job interview, riding a rollercoaster and a trip to the dentist. After all, sometimes it’s a great success but sometimes it’s just downright painful. As I continue to analyse the process of dating I can’t help but think back to my younger self and how I used to handle meeting people for the first time. It can be daunting even now at the age of 30 so how on earth did the moody 18 year old me get by?
My process was always the same. Fifteen outfit changes, countless hair styles, shots of vodka and desperate attempts to memorise the conversation topics written on my hand (always remember to rub these off!) By the time I’d left the house I was a tipsy, nervous, over-dressed, walking hair spray factory. Sometimes the stress of it all would even lead to tantrums, swearing and door slamming, when I was getting ready for a date it was safe to say no one dared get in my way. My Mother would also say she knew when I was going on a date because she could hear me jumping up and down, to this day I still don’t recall what this was, but apparently when I get excited I do this subconscious jumping on the spot thing a bit like a boxer about to start a fight – we all have our quirks I guess. I always find it incredible how such a simple thing like meeting a nice girl for a quiet drink can turn us men into such vain and irritable monsters – unless that’s just me of course?
One of my worst habits on dates was always not listening, not because I wasn’t interested in what they had to say but because I was too busy thinking about what I was going to say next. I was a terrible one for over-thinking. That’s something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, don’t over complicate things just enjoy the company of a stranger, regardless of attraction or a potential future just make the most of the moment.
One of my more awkward first dates was indeed a blind one. I’d been at the house-warming party of a friend and apparently had asked her roommate out on a date. It was only the next day however that I made this discovery when my friend asked where I was taking her. I thought it was a wind-up at first, I had absolutely no recollection of her roommate at all and alcohol usually didn’t affect me in such a way. Sure enough a couple of days later I was on my way to meet ‘Ang’. When I saw her I had to seriously question what I had been drinking at the party, not in a nasty way, she just wasn’t anything like what I’d usually go for. When I asked her what she’d like to do she said the cinema. This is always a major no-no for me, the cinema in my opinion completely defeats the purpose of a first date but ever the gentleman I agreed and off we went. She wanted to see the latest ‘Narnia’ movie, we managed to get tickets but the cinema had rather limited seating. As we walked in, the movie had already started and we couldn’t see spare seats anywhere so I had to do that embarrassing thing where you get a member of staff to come and guide you with a torch (it always makes you look like a pair of hikers lost in the woods at night). As it happens there were no two seats together, I laughed and got ready to leave but Ang promptly proclaimed “this will do.”
So not only am I sat in a dark movie theatre with zero opportunity to actually get to know this girl, I was sat in the row behind her! To add to my misery an old school friend was sitting directly behind me and said hello, I tried to explain that I was on a date but the only people sitting next to me was two old men and a large group of Asian tourists – great start to the night this was turning out to be.
I have to be honest I was a little tempted to leave, it was the most ridiculous dating situation I’d ever found myself in, you could hardly even call it a date at this point. The movie ended and we finally went to the pub, as we chatted I realised I had absolutely nothing in common with this girl. I couldn’t quite believe I’d just sat through that movie for her and in the process made my future high school reunion that little bit more awkward. As I said goodbye she leaned in for a kiss, I had to laugh it had been the most awful of nights how could she possibly think a kiss was on the cards? But as I had given up on life by this point, I duly obliged.
I guess it’s a similar position many of us have found ourselves in, perhaps not the finer details but the whole process of getting ready, being excited and generally just looking forward to the night and then it turns out to be like more painful trips to the dentist. Never be disheartened though, for every Narnia date there are also the spectacular ones, the dates that remind us of why the tantrums, door slamming and endless outfit changes are completely worthwhile. One of my best ever dates ended with a 3am slow dance in the rain to a busker in an empty Glasgow street, it was like a scene from a movie (not Narnia). That’s where I believe the beauty in dating comes from though, when you step through your front door you have absolutely no clue as to what the night has in store for you, whether it’s a movie sat in separate rows or slow-dancing to one of your favourite songs. I think it’s kind of amazing actually.
So to anyone soon to be embarking on a dreaded first date, don’t panic if it’s not what you hoped for. One day you’ll laugh about it and perhaps you’ll even write about it. Whatever happens though, I truly believe that your 3am slow dance is waiting just around the corner, be patient.