The Date with the Moon

  • Victim: Sky Garden Girl
  • Venue: Market House; Eckovision
  • Date: 11.12.15

 I met this girl in the Sky Garden (at the top of the Walkie Talkie) whilst out for post-work Friday drinks with a colleague. We were enjoying a glass of Sauvignon, whilst taking in the view(s), when three girls came in, two with suitcases. They came and stood near us, and were taking photos, so we used the (smart phone) age old technique of offering to take one of them all. My colleague even managed to take some on his phone – citing the superiority of the camera on the Samsung Galaxy 6 – which would come in useful in the post-event assessment and pre-date recognition.

They joined us at our table, and I managed to isolate the one without a suitcase, presuming her to be a London resident hosting her visiting friends. I was quickly vindicated. She was from Sunderland, with a strong Geordie accent, un-softened by what was probably a limited time in London, and her friends were down visiting for the weekend. As I sensed a movement back towards the group I went in for the number close, which was swiftly achieved. Textbook.

We kept up fairly regular messaging, and an agreement to a date was promptly in place. We had arranged to meet at 7.30pm in Brixton. It was a Tuesday night, so I opted with Market House. I went home first to change into some skinny chinos and a blazer; I think she was coming straight from work. She messaged at around 6.45pm saying she was probably running a little late. That’s fine, I assured her, proposing we push back to 7.45 or 8pm, and assuming she would return with one of the options. She didn’t. This was a binary proposition I was offering, not a continuous timescale… well, I’ll go with the lower limit, I thought.

Living a five minute walk away I left the house at 7.40pm, fully expecting her to be late. I messaged her en route, informing her of that fact, and asked her if she wanted me to get her a drink. She replied saying she was already there and already had a drink. Well, I’m not late. She hadn’t thought to buy me a drink, which she apologised for, and offered to get me one. Whilst it still usually falls on the gentleman to at least get the first round, I found this rather poor dating etiquette. It’s fine, I’ll get one when I arrive, just find us a table, I told her. She already had. And… where’s the instruction for the location of said table? No further information was forthcoming. Again, poor dating etiquette.

It seemed like she must be lacking experience in the art of dating. On the other hand, these days I often find myself in autopilot, reeling off set play after set play, and finding myself bored by my own regurgitated scripts. I’d recently added a new addition – more to keep myself interested – surrounding a two hundred and fifty mile round trip my housemate made at 5am the other morning (it was always the other morning) to go and see a rare bird (of the avian variety), after reading about a sighting on a bird watchers’ online forum. You couldn’t make this stuff up. This is usually received pretty well, and I even use photos to add colour to the performance. The skill lies in subtly weaving these plays into the conversation.

When I arrived – exactly on time – I slowly walked in, scanning the room. Luckily, quite quickly, I drew down on a target, a dark-haired female, sitting alone, right in the back corner of the room. My eyesight is far from perfect, even with the aid of contact lenses, so I couldn’t be sure. But it had to be her. I approached slowly, eyes traversing the room to ensure there were no other possibilities. As I grew closer she looked up, looked blank for the briefest of moments – but still long enough to instil momentary panic in me – and then smiled. Relief. She didn’t look exactly like the photo obtained by my colleague, but close enough. This would do. When she started speaking I’d forgotten how strong her accent was, but it was fine, I could understand her.

When we had finished with the initial pleasantries I excused myself to the bar to purchase the drink that she hadn’t.

One of the first things we spoke about was Tim Peake, the first British astronaut in space. She was confused as to why it was such a big deal. Legitimate confusion, I thought. In fact, earlier in the day, I had been reading the stories to understand what the big deal was. “It’s because he’s the first British astronaut in space” I told her.

“But there must have been a British person in space before”. She couldn’t believe it.

“I know, I had shared the same incredulity,” I said, “so I was reading about it earlier today. It turns out there have been British people in space before, but they have either been commercial passengers, or have become US citizens and worked for NASA.”

This had started as a good conversation, but I could sense I was losing her, and she didn’t seem to be grasping that there was a difference between an astronaut and a ‘normal’ person, or why a “British person would change to being American”. I was doing my best to explain.

“So where is he going in space?” she asked.

“Just to the International Space Station.” I said, as if he was taking a weekend trip to Eastbourne.

“When will he get there?”

“He’s probably there already; it’s not that far away.”

She seemed confused again, so I felt the need to explain what the International Space Station was. And I think it was required. And when I started referring to it as the ‘ISS’ I wouldn’t be surprised if she was thinking, is there a caliphate in space as well? Not that she’d know what a caliphate was.

“So he’s not even going to a planet then?”

“Err… no… no one has ever been to a planet…”

“Well what did that Neil Armstrong do then?” What?!

“Err… he went to the Moon.”

“Exactly, that’s a planet.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is!”

“No. It’s not.”

“Why isn’t it a planet?”

“Because it orbits the Earth, not the Sun, for a start.”

“Huh? Well what is it then?”

“It’s a Satellite. Objects that orbit planets are called satellites. It’s why the ISS is called a satellite.” I should have left that last bit out; I don’t think this was going in.

She finally seemed to be accepting, but was getting defensive: “You only know all this because you’ve been reading about it today.”

“Err… I read about Tim Peake today… knowing that the moon isn’t a planet is just…” Common knowledge? Not being a fucktard?

I think she started to feel a bit ignorant (I’m not sure why) so I tried to lighten this conversation: “I have read a lot about space though, as I’m generally really interested in it.”

“Yeah, I want to read some books about space.” She said.

“I’ve read most of Stephen Hawkin’s books, which are actually pretty good. You could start with ‘A Brief History of Time’.”

“Is it difficult though?”

“Well, probably skip over the bits that get too mathsy and physicsy, but he explains things like Special and General Relativity in an accessible way, which is good considering barely anyone actually understands it properly.”

“What’s Relativity?” Oh God. This is going to be painful.

“Err… they’re two famous theories that Einstein constructed which have had a massive influence on our understanding of space and time. But I won’t go into detail.”  And then I did… “Special Relativity concerns how different observes can view and experience things differently, such as velocity and time…”

“I’d quite like to go to space”, she interjected, not listening to anything I was saying now, “but I wouldn’t want to go to Saturn – is that the one with all the rings?” I nodded, apprehensively. “Yeah, I don’t think I’d like going through all those rings.”

I decided to skip over General Relativity.

We had one more drink in the Market House before I suggested we go to Eckovision. As we walked there she had to keep telling me to slow down. “Sorry, I’m quite a fast walker, I get carried away.” This was the perfect opportunity to use my ‘professional racewalker’ play, but for some reason I didn’t. I actually didn’t use any of my plays throughout the date. Perhaps it was subconscious, like, in the FA Cup, a Premier League side might drop their standard against a non-league side, either because they are complacent, or the inferior opposition manages to drag them down to their level. Always stick to the script.

Perhaps this was why, when I proposed going out again soon, I got the following response:

I wouldn’t want to lead you on by meeting again, as I don’t think there’s anything between us. But it was lovely to go for a drink, so thank you again!

I usually wouldn’t bother with a reply, but I was dumbfounded, and I just couldn’t refrain:

You’re right, there wasn’t much between us, other than a massive gulf in space knowledge.

And, though one could put it down to lack of experience, I couldn’t let that ‘lead you on’ line slide either:

Just as an aside, if you’re going to ‘end’ something after one date, when knowing very little about that person, I wouldn’t use the ‘lead you on line’ – it can sound arrogant, and you’re assuming that person is capable of being led on by you, or that you’re capable of leading them on. If you don’t want to be blunt, better to go with the ‘I don’t see it going anywhere’ line – it’s a bit more impartial. Anyway, I enjoyed last night. You seem fun. Take care x

Still, you can’t take these hits personally. It is a numbers game after all.

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