Have you ever had one of those dates where you could tell they put a lot of effort into it but it still turned out bad? Those dates that would have been pretty romantic if everything hadn’t been wrong?
Mine happened whilst I was at uni.
It was the start of a new academic year, and I was about 2 seminars into one of my new modules. I had quite severe social anxiety during those days, and I don’t think I turned up to more than a handful of sessions for that module – I can’t even remember what it was on, I can just picture the layout of the room.
I received a message on Facebook from a guy who said he’d noticed me in the seminar but had been too shy to say hi, and then the next week I hadn’t turned up so he’d decided to send me a message again.
That was how A entered my life.
My first reaction was to think how sweet the message was. My second was to think who the hell is he?! I didn’t even recognise him. The third was to think ok…he’s hunted me down on Facebook, which is pretty stalkerish at the best of times, but especially so when my profile wasn’t the first one on the list when you typed my full name…which he must have got off the register?!
But he looked kinda cute and he’d put a lot of effort in, so we started chatting and I agreed to go on a date with him.
It was supposed to be a pretty casual date. We arranged to go to Richmond Park, and just have a stroll and a chat. You know, the kind of vague date you make when you don’t want to suggest something the other person might not like.
We turned up and found each other, and after the first few awkward attempts at small talk, we really got chatting. We had enough in common that I really began to enjoy his company.
He said he wanted to take me to find a bench in Poets Corner, one of the smaller gardens. It was a musical bench, which was a memorial to Ian Dury, a singer I’d never heard of and who I still don’t really know much about. The idea was that you could sit down and plug in headphones, and listen to 8 of his songs and an interview. I’d never heard of such a thing before, so was pretty interested to find it and see how it worked!
It took us a while to find the bench – I think we were looking for something a bit more spectacular than a basic wooden bench. We did find it in the end though, and got ready to listen to some music.
It wasn’t working.
This was where the first proper problem of the date arose. The bench we had spent a good 40 minutes looking for didn’t actually work. Or at least, we couldn’t figure out how to make it work. We searched high and low to try and find what we were missing, and then turned to our phones to try and Google the solution.
We got nothing.
By that time, A was really flapping. He had been so confident about how this date was going to go, and as soon as it unravelled his shy side really started to shine through. Understandable of course, but it certainly wasn’t helping both of us.
We settled down and tried to laugh it off, and then he announced that he’d brought us a picnic. I’ll be honest, I was really impressed. Nobody had made me a surprise picnic on a date before, and it more than made up for the broken bench.
Until he showed me the sandwiches.
Tuna and tomato.
There aren’t too many safe options for sandwiches when you don’t know someone, but ham or cheese seem to be pretty standard. Instead, he had gone for two of the worst fillings possible. I don’t eat fish or seafood (gross!), and I’m not the biggest fan of tomato. I will eat it occasionally now, but back then it was a big no. So he had inadvertently chosen two things I despised, and put them together between two slices of bread. What are the chances of that?!
My heart sunk.
I think it was at that point that I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I ate the sandwiches out of politeness, and we saw each other for a few weeks, but I never really had my heart in it. I enjoyed his company, but there was never really any romance after that first failed date. The tipping point though, was when he told me he didn’t see any point in continuing relationships or friendships after uni anyway, because everyone would move away and it wouldn’t be worth fighting for.
No wonder he was a virgin!