Firsts and lasts

The first date is the equivalent of doing an audition in front of one judge or having a job interview, where not only do you have to say the right things, but also multi-task by trying to sip a drink, without spilling it, or eat without dribbling, at the same time.

I have never perfected the skill to do this well. There are probably people out there who have job offers left, right and centre and others who do first dates so well, that they spend their entire lives just doing first dates – maybe their downfall is going for a second date. Like that difficult second album, as they say about musicians, it’s a massive uphill challenge.

Having said that I have not had a first date of disaster movie proportions…yet, but a few I would rather forget:

Teenage desperado

This was not just a first date for him – with hindsight I deduce that this was his first ever date. It was the late 1980s, he wore the front section of his hair pointing upwards, rather like a cockatiel. I think that was the main reason I agreed to go out with him – crazy and interesting hair.

But that was where the crazy and interesting stopped with him, as I discovered he was actually quite dull.

We met in a well-known pizza outlet. His hair was freshly coiffed, held up by sugar and water or an extra strong brand of hairspray – there were plenty about in that era – and he smelt overpoweringly of aftershave to the point that I felt light-headed from inhaling it.

Conversation ran dry over a few rounds of ‘what music do you like’ and ‘what are your favourite films’. So instead we sat staring at each other, occasionally nibbling a bit of pepperoni pizza. After that, he held my hand across the table and looked at me with a really rapt, intense expression. This was all the more awkward when I clocked a couple of kids I happened to know, out with their parents, at a nearby table. They kept glancing over at us, giggling and mimicking the now over-long hand-holding.

We followed our lunch with a walk in the park, him almost cutting off my air supply by putting his arm around me extremely tightly. Then, the big moment, the kiss. He placed his lips on mine and pressed down really hard, not even moving them. It felt like a slow motion punch in the mouth. I made a mental note to avoid that again and made excuses about my mum wanting me home for three so I could jump on the next bus out of there.

I avoided his calls for the next fortnight, before he eventually gave up on me. Poor, naïve, inexperienced boy – I only hope someone could be bothered teaching how to kiss properly.

New Year’s Eve panic

We’ve all done it at some point, or maybe it’s just me. New Year’s Eve is looming, no man on the scene with whom to share the festivities. Solution – settle for the nearest male species that shows an interest and hope that it is human.

So, it was the early 90s, I was out with a female friend at a local rock nightclub. Most of the men were long-haired and wearing black tee-shirts, tight jeans and boots and largely fitted the description of the type I was attracted to at that point in my life. Luckily my taste improved in the years to come.

We had been dancing to a mixture of grunge and cheesy rock songs. Then, something terribly 80s and ‘cock rock’ blared out from the speakers. Being a little tiddly we decided to have an ironic dance/mosh. But at the corner of my eye, I noticed a tall, dark haired chap watching me. He sidled over and started to dance near us – not ironically; he clearly liked the song.

I played along and danced with him, then couldn’t shake him off for the rest of the night. He was ok- looking, but had the features of American actor Kevin Bacon, whom I didn’t really fancy. I decided, though that he was tolerable and I could have done much worse, so I agreed to a kiss and to go out with him New Year’s Eve which was only a few days away.

We drank, we chatted, it was all just ok, nothing exciting. We then visited the same night club for last part of the night. I considered doing the ‘you’re a nice guy but I’m not looking for a relationship’ spiel, but seeing as it was New Year’s Eve, I decided it would be unduly harsh to ruin his night. So instead I fake smiled through the evening, despite secretly wishing I had stayed in.

I was grateful for this decision when we left the club and discovered it had not only snowed, but the ground had slightly frozen. I have never been one for walking on ice, as it transforms me to an 80-year-old with osteoporosis, who fears falling and breaking bones. So I was grateful that ‘Kevin Bacon’ was around to prop me up on my tread-less winkle-picker boots. I had to lean on him to shuffle and slide across town to the nearest taxi rank, but fortunately, I still lived with my parents at that time so he didn’t try to come home with me.

Out of place

Ever felt like things are set against you, just through the finger of fate, rather than the person you are with?

I met ‘A’ through a dating site. We had corresponded a few times and seemed to have a great deal in common, so was really hopeful about our first date.

We met in a local pub. I wasn’t overwhelmed by his looks and there was no obvious chemistry, but I felt these things may improve through conversation and a few drinks.
But the pub, normally a cosy, traditional sanctuary from the outside world, seemed to disagree.

First, we sat in a room upstairs and started our conversation. All well and good, until we spied a PA being set up, drum kit being assembled and guitars plugged in. It appeared that tonight of all nights a local thrash metal band were playing just a few feet from our table.

So, we moved to a table downstairs and resumed our chat. After about ten minutes, a couple of people from a nearby table got up and walked towards us. Had we accidentally spilled their drinks? Were they long-lost relatives? No, what drew their attention was the wall above our table, or more precisely, the picture on the wall above our table. Neither A nor I had given it a second glance as we were just grateful to find somewhere else to sit.

But on closer inspection, the image, or rather sight, was that of a collage of  pictures of women’s genitalia and boobs – not the sort of picture you would expect on a pub wall. Whatever happened to old pen and ink sketches of men in Victorian clothes, old mirrors with vintage soap ads on them and copper kettles hanging from the ceiling?

So, our onlookers were making comments like “ooh – that’s rather odd” and “blimey, that’s a bit of a naughty picture” while we were sitting beneath them feeling rather awkward and starting to blush a little. We tried to laugh it off after the viewing had finished, but it placed a cloud of unease over the rest of the evening. I felt so bad about the way things had turned out that I agreed on a second date, somewhere far safer – a ten-pin bowling alley. But the magic was never there, even without any irritating distractions.

So who knows where the finger of fate will point next?