- Date: 29.12.2015
- Venue: Central & Co; Cocktail Trading Company
- Participant: Polish Girl
Leading up to Christmas, my two friends and I decided we wanted to all go on separate dates in the same place. The challenge was set: the Monday before Christmas; Central & Co; they had to be new. So, on the week leading up to the event, I went on an inorganic recruitment splurge. I accrued more matches than necessary, but it’s a very addictive game after all. I then adopted the cluster bomb approach: indiscriminately firing out the same message to multiple matches at a time.
Initially it worked, and I engaged several in conversation, swiftly transitioning them to WhatsApp. However, particularly as many were foreign, most were going back early for Christmas. Not necessarily because of this, but more the pre-Christmas fatigue, the challenge ultimately wasn’t taken up by any of us. This would have to be saved for the New Year.
Not one to let hard work go to waste, I maintained communication with my favourite ones over the festive period, and also picked up a couple of organics on the way. I wanted to date them all, which was, logistically, going to be difficult to achieve.
Arriving back in London a couple of days after Christmas, and having to work the few days before New Year, I would have preferred to return to dating in January. However, I realised it would probably be sensible to get one out of the way before this. And I only had one option from my current portfolio as she was the only one in London – she was polish and hadn’t gone home for Christmas. She was actually one of the few who didn’t receive the generic opener; she was quite attractive and I thought it warranted a more bespoke approach. We had a shared interest of ‘Friends’ (the TV show), so I used an old favourite of mine: “Wow, we both like friends, that’s so weird.” I particularly enjoy this one, and she seemed to appreciate the different approach. Although the more and more the chat developed I began to think she probably didn’t get the sarcasm.
So we agreed to a date on the Tuesday following Christmas, which was my first day back at work, and as the day progressed I began regretting it. And the regret was enhanced by how recent conversation had evolved: she was sending increasingly lengthy messages, in a tone that was overly happy and enthusiastic. Perhaps she had always been like that, but, in the initial stages, maybe I was blinded by the newness and the excitement of it all. But as we (electronically) talked more and more she had increasingly begun to grate on me. I wasn’t sure if I’d have the energy to cope.
If the preceding messaging was to be prophetic of the date, then I would ask her a simple question, which she would answer immediately, spending about fifteen minutes telling me how amazing it all was. After she had finished, I would sit there in silence for about half an hour, mustering up the courage to construct another sentence or two, ending with an obligatory question, and then endure the immediately ensuing, and overly enthusiastic, onslaught. If it were a football match, then the post-match stats would show she dominated possession.
I came close to postponing. But, then I asked myself, what would Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love do?
Nonetheless, I wanted to keep this one easy. So Central & Co it was.
She wanted to meet at Oxford Circus tube, so I specified outside Topshop, 7pm. I later found out why she was reluctant to meet at the venue. She refused to use maps, especially on her phone. She said she always got lost using them – “You just follow the blue dot”, I would say – but she had a good sense of direction. A good sense of direction is all well and good, but firstly you need to know how to get to a specific location, it doesn’t just happen by magic.
She messaged just as I was leaving the office saying she might be five minutes late. That’s fine, I said, I think I’m going to be bang on time. Plus, it gave me time to get a jumbo sausage roll. En route I decided to think of new plays I could use, so at least I’d get some enjoyment out of it. I came up with the ‘what’s the most scared you’ve ever been in your life and/or the scariest thing you’ve ever done’ play. (It could be the same thing, but there’s a subtle difference.) This would give me a chance to talk about my sky dive and bungee jump. The skill, as always, would be inconspicuously weaving it into the conversation. So I got to Topshop, at exactly 7pm, and messaged her with an ever more specific location, “equidistant between the two main entrances”. I felt it unnecessary to add that I was bang on time.
As I had positioned myself against the front of Topshop, equidistant between the two main entrances, I noticed a girl next to me do the same thing. She got her phone out, and it appeared she was also waiting for a date. How would she specify her location, I wondered. I had taken the equidistant spot. Good luck trying to succinctly specify your exact position. Then I saw her looking at WhatsApp. The sequencing and length of her conversation appeared identical to my conversation with Polish Girl. Surely it wasn’t her. I hadn’t seen her face. I tried to discretely glance across. She had the same hair colour, but she was a larger size than I had ordered. I turned away, then glanced over at her phone again. Ohhh. The sequencing was exactly the same as mine, but if it was Polish Girl looking at our conversation then it should have been the opposite. What an idiot.
She arrived a few minutes later, and we headed to the bar, leaving the other girl to take the equidistant spot. As we walked there we engaged in initial conversation, and it became apparent that, yes, she was very happy and very enthusiastic about everything, but not to the extent I had feared. She was a toned down version of her messaging personality. A bit like Thingy from Thingy had been a toned down version of what she was like in Thingy. And she looked enough like her photos, and was the size I had ordered. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be such a bad night.
We arrived, and got a table – I hadn’t booked as she struck me as the type of person that would find planning weird, however sensible and convenient it can be – and I asked her what she fancied drinking. She asked what I was going to get. White wine, obviously. She was happy to drink wine. “Well, we may as well get a bottle then”, I said.
“You can choose, I like wine, but I don’t know anything about it.”
The waitress came over, and I ordered a bottle of the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc; well, I wasn’t wasting (under) half a bottle of Marlborough on a young, unrefined tongue.
She asked a lot of questions, which suited me, such as ‘favourite place in London’, and ‘favourite music’. She said she was really into her music, so when I uneasily finished off my list by saying I also really liked Coldplay, I was expecting her to guffaw. “Oh, I love Coldplay. I really like raaack music.”
“You like what?”
“Oh, rock music.”
“Yeah, like Bon Jovi, Queen, The Temper Trap.” Oh, rock music.
But with all the questioning, the conversation was starting to oscillate too quickly, and I was eager to try out my new ‘Scariest Experience’ play. But, to warm up, I thought I’d go in with an old classic, and I weaved flying into the conversation. “Oh I love flying!” replying before I had even had chance to properly frame the conversation. It turned out she loved everything about flying that I hated, and even said she’d like to experience a crash landing, even if there was a significant chance of death. Somehow I didn’t think I was going to scare her with my statistics. I still informed her that I didn’t like flying and was quite scared of it. “So I’m guessing you’ve never done a sky dive?” Boom! I forgave the premature interjection this time; here it was, served up on a plate. I then went on to tell her why I did something I was so scared of, and would hate so much, and how it wasn’t so much fomo, but more fobtimo (fear of being told I’ve missed out), even though I was almost certain I would not enjoy it (which I didn’t). The whole play seemed to go down well, and she was uncontrollably laughing at one point. I’m not sure whether it was at me, or with me, or somewhere in between, but I think the signs from this first run were encouraging. Sure, there was some definite tweaking and fine tuning to be done, but it was a good start.
We got through the first bottle of Chilean Sauvignon, and I suggested we get another. She was happy to get another drink, but not a whole bottle, which made me worry she might cut the night short, like most of my sentences. I asked her if she wanted to stick with wine, or whether she fancied a cocktail. She seemed to be veering towards cocktails, so I suggested we go downstairs to the Cocktail Trading Company: I might have to move quickly on this one, so was probably better I got her down to a more necking-conducive environment.
I had to refrain from eating the nuts on the table as, during the ‘favourite food’ conversation, she had informed me that she was allergic to them. This could have really hindered any chance of necking.
She was sat opposite me, so I was slowly inching my seat round the side until there was significant touching of legs. She seemed to be fairly receptive. But then she went to the bathroom. And she was gone a long time – too long to be discharging purely the Chilean Sauvignon – so when she returned I had lost positioning, and momentum.
Undeterred, I began again. I got to the hand on leg position, and then acted. And, when I did, she seemed slightly shocked, and a bit hesitant; the wheels kissed the runway, but were quickly airborne again. I pulled back and looked at her. She looked at me. She was smiling, so I went again. This time the landing was a lot smoother, and she embraced it.
But a few moments later she pulled out. “You’re crazy” she said.
“No… I’m not”, I replied, sounding like Heath Ledger’s Joker. How had I become the Joker? Still, we kept necking, but she would intermittently withdraw to tell me I was crazy. I was confused. Why would you find someone kissing you on a date crazy? But she gradually warmed to it and seemed to be finding me less ‘crazy’.
It was last orders time, so I decided to settle up. As everyone was leaving she went to the bathroom again. And she was in there for a long time again. The place had emptied, just the bar staff and me left. It was pretty awkward, and a little embarrassing. We all knew what was going on. It was ok for her, she’d probably never see any of these people again. I was the one who had to come back here, with other dates.
When she eventually emerged, we left, and headed for Oxford Circus station. Before we entered I thought I’d throw out the ‘come back to mine’ line. It wasn’t received badly, but she was hesitantly reluctant. There was a glimmer of hope. We engaged in more necking outside the station, which turned quite heavy, before we headed into the station and down to our respective platforms, which were in the same general direction.
When we got to our separating junction I again posed the question. “We’ve got to save something for next time” was her response. There doesn’t have to be a next time. We can finish this tonight. You’re part of the instant gratification generation, aren’t you?
We engaged in more heavy necking, and she seemed reluctant to leave, but I’d already been as persistent as I was prepared to be, and I was feeling increasingly awkward about necking in the middle of the Underground. So I eventually ushered her towards her platform.
I guess there’d have to be a next time…
The ‘Next Time’: The 2nd Date with the ‘Next Time’ Girl