My friend Josh had invited me to this networking business breakfast he goes to, saying I might get some copywriting work out of it.
I don’t really want any copywriting work but according to Matthew Hussey we must say ‘yes’ to every invitation because you never know where it will lead and who you will meet. It also gets you out of your comfort zone and used to interacting with people.
On the way there Josh broke the news that all guests need to stand up and talk for a minute about themselves. He said that I could tell them that I was a writer looking for work or I could tell them about the blog and that I was looking for a date. I think he was joking but as soon as he said that I knew I had to do it.
So that’s what I did. I stood up in a room of 25 suits, wearing a sticker with my name scribbled in blue felt-tip at 8am, and told everybody about the blog. I explained that I was currently following a book called ‘Get the guy’. They tittered… I was undeterred… ‘So if anyone wanted to take me out, then let me know,’ I said. I just blurted it out like that.
A year ago I would sooner die than do this – now, well, it’s just a Thursday morning. I felt embarrassed but not much actually.
There was a burst of shocked laughter. One man coughed as he half choked on his coffee. I’m guessing I’m their first guest to ask for a date. Usually people are there to pitch their website or design services. Maybe offer a spot of book-keeping.
But they were lovely. ‘Good for you!’ said an older man at the head of the table. ‘I’d take you out but I don’t think my wife would like it,’ said another. An older women announced that she too was looking for a date and that all interested parties could form an orderly line. It was funny. A room full of stuffy business people instantly became lovely, human people.
I sat back down and a man next to me passed me a note on a piece of paper that read: ‘I’ll take you out…’ He was suited and smiley. We met for a coffee later that day and we had a great chat. He’d had a really interesting life and I was glad to have met him but we’re probably looking for different things.
I felt the same way about my Sunday lunch date – the management consultant I’d met through Tinder. He was a clever, interesting man and we had masses in common but I didn’t feel a spark. But we still have a great afternoon together.
And I guess that’s what it’s all about – just being open to people and encounters and trying not to get too hung up on whether it’s going to end up as the love of your life or not.
And I’m realising that, actually, I might be very good at first dates. I can talk to pretty much anyone – years of being a journalist will do that and the blog is a good source of conversation – but where I fall down in date number 2.
Which brings me to the Mad Scientist on Friday night.
We went for Eithiopian food. Randomly. It was my suggestion. There’s a place locally and I’ve always been curious about it. (Anyone remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Harry says…”Hey I didn’t know that they had food in Ethiopia? This will be a quick meal. I’ll order two empty plates and we can leave”?)
He was already there when I arrived. It was nice to see him. His hair didn’t look as mad as I remembered. He was wearing a nice shirt. I felt shy and awkward saying hello. He went in for a kiss on the cheek and then I moved away while he was going in for the second cheek kiss. ‘I never know whether to do one or two,’ he said. ‘Sorry,’ I said.
Then we went to the table and I felt very self-conscious about everything – about walking in front of him, about him looking at me walking… I went to sit down just as he was moving around the table to push my chair out for me.
‘You’ve ruined my moment,’ he joked. ‘I’d been practicing my chair move all day.’ I stood up again and said, ‘You can do it now’. ‘No, it’s too late,’ he said, smiling. I slipped my coat off my shoulders and he said ‘Now you’ve ruined the coat moment too’. He was teasing me but I still felt embarrassed. Do guys still push out chairs and take jackets?! The thought had not even occurred to me… arghh….
We ordered drinks and started talking. The waitress must have come up five times before we actually looked at the menu. A good start. We ordered a big pancake thing with lots of different food on it. The idea is that you share and break off the pancake and eat with your hand. It was delicious. We found out that we had a shared love of spinach. We talked more. The next thing I knew it was 11.30pm – we’d met at 7pm. I can’t even remember what we’d talked about. Nothing, everything. He was nice. A bit weird, but I like weird.
He asked me what I was doing the next day and I told him I was on a course at 9am (which I was) and he said ‘So shall I walk you home then?’ (forget shopping local, dating local is really handy). He put his arm around me as we walked up the road and I felt self-conscious again. More like frozen, actually. My body was rigid.
He said he’d had a nice time and I got embarrassed. I didn’t say anything. ‘Did you have a nice time?’ he asked. ‘Er, yes…’ I was MUTE.
I get SO awkward as soon as things turn romantic, it’s pathetic. Most people like that heart beating moment when you fancy someone but I HATE IT. I get scared and self-conscious and I want to run away – unless, of course, I’m really drunk, which I wasn’t.
Matthew Hussey says that a big part of dating is ‘being comfortable with allowing an atmosphere of sexual tension.’ I AM NOT.
He writes: ‘Women who aren’t comfortable with this will often deflect a man’s affections and immediately change the subject when he tries to communicate his sexual desires. Sometimes she’ll deflate the tension by closing down when the conversation veers into more intimate territory. This is fine is you are not interested in pursuing something more with him. If you are interested, it can stop momentum cold.’
THIS IS WHAT I DO. I STOP MOMENTUM COLD.
Hussey says that there are lots of successful woman who can talk to anyone – but what they are TERRIFIED OF is being playful, flirty and feminine. So there. That’s me.
Hussey keeps writing: ‘All men have had this experience: they meet someone they find beautiful, but then in conversation she’s a hollow shell. She might be friendly, and pleasant enough to talk to, but just connecting isn’t flirting. Flirting is what puts someone on the radar. Without flirting, a date is just two people having a conversation.’
Flirting makes me cringe so much my teeth blush.
Mad Scientist walked me home and we had a short kiss before I bolted up the steps to the door. ‘OK, night!’ I said like I was saying goodbye to my grandmother. When I turned around after opening the front door, he was already walking down the street. I didn’t blame him.
I had that depressing, but ultimately familiar feeling, that I now liked him more than he liked me.