Tonight I went on my first first date. Some of you might be surprised by the fact that a magnificent specimen of womanhood such as myself managed to get to the age of 27 without embarking on a single first date. (If you’re wondering, yes, I have kissed boys and yes, I have been touched under the clothes before. Several times, in fact.) The things that made this unbelievable and highly improbable fact possible were as follows: All of my high school “relationships” were of two distinct breeds – the frigid, non-contact variety that existed before I had my first pash at the end of Year 10 (late bloomer), and the awkward aftermath of drunken hook-ups that occurred after that, when the hungry she-beast had been stirred within me. Then, of course, as the old broken record goes, I was in a serious long-term relationship from the age of 18 to 26 as a result of deciding to make out with one of my housemates. And so, here I am, 27 and home from my very first first date.
The Selection Process
It was with some trepidation that I actually finally selected a suitor from my online dating site and agreed to go for coffee, after having cast aside the vast majority of men who had expressed any interest for a multitude of reasons – too old, too beardy, too young, too bung-eyed, too bad at spelling, too serious, too immature, to dumb to crop ex-girlfriend out of profile picture et cetera. I settled on my choice for the following three reasons:
1. His height, which according to his profile was 6’3″. I am 181cm tall. This makes me taller than the average height for an Australian male, and while I’m not at all bothered by my height, I cannot help but feel that some men are bothered by it. It makes things awkward. As I am already awkward, I decided my first first date should be with someone taller than me.
2. His age. At 31, I figured he was more likely to pick up the bill (of course, I would kindly offer and be gallantly declined) and I thought I would appear to him, as a younger woman, charming, youthful and fun.
3. His spelling, grammar and punctuation. I could not bring myself to go on a date with someone who has not mastered the use of capital letters.
As the afternoon ticked by and evening approached I felt a sense of dread. Although I knew that it was only coffee, and coffee never leads to sex, no matter what George Costanza would have us believe, I still felt like I had an enormous amount of grooming to do before I would feel like I was presenting the best possible version of myself. This made me feel overwhelmed, so I had a little nap. When my alarm went off at 6pm, I began performing in one of those idiotic half-asleep pageants where you’ve somehow managed to convince yourself that it is a whole 12 hours later than it actually is and begin getting ready for work before realising that it’s night-time and you’re a complete tit. I remained in a confused, groggy state until I was forced to turn off the hot water in the shower in order to shock some life back into me.
After the shaving, plucking, blow-drying and straightening there was scarce-little time to try on everything in my wardrobe, reject it and toss it onto the bed in an increasing state of panic and ill-temper. Eventually I settled on a slightly quirky, retro and feminine look and, after a final last-minute lipstick decision and shoe-change I was running only 15 minutes behind schedule. (Of course, I know that men do not notice things like shoes, or earrings, or whether the outfit in question calls for a pale pink or rosy shade of lip gloss. But I was hoping my attention to detail would present a complete package that had some kind of undefinable wow-factor.) And so, I made my way to the cafe where my date would no doubt be waiting.
As I drove to meet my date, I wondered what appropriate first date greeting etiquette entailed. A handshake? A hug? A kiss on the cheek? As I have mentioned several times before, I am what I like to call ‘awkward’ at times. I am not naturally a cheek-peck person and I always have an anxious moment when someone leans in, wondering if they are going for a hug or a kiss, not wanting to do the wrong thing. I once kissed my ex-boss on the earlobe because I realised too late that she was going for the cheek-peck, and I’d already overshot the mark. As you can imagine, that was incredibly awkward.
I decided that I would confidently and breezily go in for a peck, like this was my millionth first date and I was oh-so comfortable with the whole thing. But when I got to the cafe I realised I had another problem. I had only seen one photo of my date, and I wasn’t sure if the guy standing out the front was him or not. Luckily, he was engrossed in his smart phone (thank you, technology gods!) and I managed to sneak past him and immediately sent a text asking where he was sitting as I was inside and couldn’t see him. Turns out the phone guy was my date, but when he approached I hesitated on the cheek-peck and he went for the hug, then I changed my mind and went for the peck. It wasn’t great.
The date itself was surprisingly easy. I talked, he talked, I pretended to listen while adding up the pros and cons about his attributes and characteristics and deciding whether I wanted to see him naked. I presume he did some similar pondering of his own. I asked him about his work, he asked me about my family, we compared tastes in music and movies, we shared anecdotes about our friends – it wasn’t ground breaking, but it was simple and painless. I couldn’t believe I had been so resistant to dating during high school. It turns out it’s a piece of piss. Talk, listen, talk more, smile, laugh etc. All fairly natural patterns of human behaviour. And I didn’t snort-laugh, or do an accidental chair-fart, or spill coffee on myself, or any of the other hundred things I imagined going wrong according to my recent comedy-of-errors type existence. It was just a pleasant evening with a nice guy.
Of course, a date that begins awkwardly is bound to end awkwardly too. We did the cheque-dance as anticipated, which I graciously let him win, and he offered to walk me to my car. During the walk, as my mouth babbled something about Bruce Willis playing harmonica, my mind poured over the possible end points to our evening. Would there be a kiss? I was certainly not going to initiate anything. Surely a kiss would be a bit presumptuous after a very civilised coffee date in a brightly lit cafe. But, how else does one say goodbye and end a date? We were at my car. We stood grinning at each other like fools, saying things like “well, this was fun…” and “yeah, we should catch up again.” Then it ended with the same awkward hug-cheek-peck-hug thing that it began with. My signature move.
As far as first first dates go, I’m assuming I did ok. While I kind of had the faintest feeling that if all my future dates were like this I’d never have sex again, I also quite liked the thought of another human person taking enough interest in me to bother spending time talking about things like why I gave up learning piano and why Step Brothers is a better Will Ferrell movie than Anchorman.
So that was my first first date. For the sake of this blog, I kind of wish it had gone terribly – but for the sake of my future dating confidence, I’m glad it didn’t. I think it would be hard to put myself back out there if, like my friend Billie’s first date, he had taken me to the park to throw apples at ducks, taken a tab of acid and stolen my bike, then turned up at my house 6 hours later asking if I wanted to go ice skating. Ok, so that didn’t really happen – but you get my point.