When Sex Isn’t Sex

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It amazes me that people are able to separate sex from emotions. I’ve tried having Friends With Benefits before with varying degrees of success, but invariably at some point my vagina convinces my brain that all of those endorphins must actually mean something, and I end up wanting more. Eventually the sex just isn’t enough. For me, this starts to occur around the third or fourth consecutive encounter with the same person. My vagina (which I like to personify with the name ‘Ophelia’) becomes increasingly despotic after each orgasm, and eventually she has me thinking things like, “Who cares if he’s a 21 year old factory worker who sells weed to pay for his Ketamine habit- I think we might actually have something special.” (NB this is an actual thought I have had when Ophelia was running the show. I legitimately considered starting a relationship with someone I would be ashamed to introduced to even my least judgemental friends.)

Of course once the spell is broken – in the case of my tranquilliser-addicted delinquent friend this was with the aid of a mutual case of “OMG, you gave me chlamydia!” – I am perfectly capable of objectively and rationally analysing the faults in Ophelia’s plans. At that point I usually want to die of embarrassment or slap myself in frustration – a classic “How the fuck did this happen again?” moment. But it does happen again. And it will happen again. Every time I sleep with someone who isn’t emotionally invested more than once.

I think part of the problem is the difference between what men and women take from intimacy. Generally speaking, I think guys commit acts of intimacy and affection because they feel nice, not because they mean something. Sometimes a dude just wants a cuddle, not a commitment. The issue is that acts of intimacy force me to lower my guard and make myself vulnerable, so a cuddle is never just a cuddle. It will always mean something to me because I’ve allowed someone in. And yes, I am aware of the irony in the fact that I find it more intimate to let someone in figuratively than to literally let them in (to my lady cave of wonders).

I see a big difference between sex and intimacy, and every time the two get mixed together I wind up in a stolen car halfway to Queensland watching my FWB dig a bullet out of his leg while Ophelia screams “Just drive, bitch!” (Okay, that one I made up. But you get my point.) Sex + intimacy = uh oh. As nice as it is, the hand holding/hair stroking/head kissing/face cupping/deep eye contact just creates way too much confusion.

The other sense of intimacy is the one that occurs naturally between platonic friends. It’s normal for a friend to rest their head on your shoulder, or text you to ask how your day was, or say something sweet to make you smile. But it stops feeling normal when the person doing all of these things is also doing all yo’ nasty bizness.

The verdict? It’s possible I could successfully maintain a FWB in the future. As long as he’s a mute with no arms who doesn’t own a phone and hates unnecessary physical contact. Bring on that guy. I’ll sex him good.

Over

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Regular readers of my blog may have noticed that the posts have dried up a little of late and have contained very little in the way of dating exploits. This is because for the last six months I have been wholeheartedly devoted to a crush I developed on a friend of a friend. Let’s call him Mark. It’s not his real name. I’ve changed it to protect his privacy, which when you think about it is a kind of weird thing to do because anyone that reads this who knows both of us will know exactly who I am talking about. Anyway, we’ll call this the tale of my fruitless crush on Mark. (Sorry for the spoiler. But no, it doesn’t end well.)

Things began harmlessly enough when after a friend’s celebration drinks Mark and I engaged in a night of heavy-duty dance floor pashing, which developed into some lightweight grinding and a mutual admission that we were gagging to go through with the deed, had either of us been sober enough to carry it out. We exchanged numbers, he texted that night and again the next day, and I proceeded to plan our wedding in the spring of next year and worked out how to break the news to mum and dad that I’d fallen for a ginger. Well, maybe not. But you get the idea – I was falling hard and fast, and as the girls from Geordie Shore would say, there was definite ‘fanny flutter.’

We went on a date two weeks later, a stroll around the museum followed by a walk through the park and an afternoon drink in a beer garden. I was more nervous and more awkward than I have ever been on a date. More convinced than ever that I liked him, I was frustrated by the fact that he was so impossible to read. Blessed with a string of awkward social conditions, Mark’s on-date cues were not like those of other guys. I had no idea if he was interested in me beyond the initial attraction we’d felt that first night. I spent the walk back to my car shedding actual tears of frustration, genuinely unsure whether the date had been a total success or a complete failure.

In the meantime Mark’s fledgling career as a full-time entertainer (nothing suss, I just don’t want to put his actual job title on here because then even more people will know exactly who I’m talking about) began to take off. He was busy with gigs every night and filming for various projects during the day. He had been booked on a tour around parts of Australia that would take the better part of a month and would be heading overseas to perform for another month after that. Our second date was supposed to take place a few days before his tour left but he sent me a text a few hours beforehand saying he had too much work to do, and asking to reschedule. Taking this as a sign that he was not really as interested or as invested as I was, I pulled the pin by replying with a text that said we might be better off leaving things as friends. He was very apologetic but confirmed that he was really too busy to catch up before leaving but that we should stay in touch.

About a month later he was still on my mind as I meticulously groomed and dressed myself to attend a mutual friend’s party. I’d kept in touch with some light banter and Facebook stalking and was secretly hoping he would be there. I feel it’s important to inform you here that somehow in the midst of this crush I reverted to the sensibilities and emotional vulnerability of a high school girl, which might help you to understand some of my behaviour and thought processes outlined below.

Mark walked in late, after a gig, by which time I had gotten completely drunk in an effort to overcome the fact that I only knew two people at the party and was mingling with people I had seen on TV but trying to pretend I wasn’t giddy over meeting. He made a beeline for me as soon as he arrived and stuck to me like glue. Before I knew it, he was leading me upstairs to make out on his friend’s bed until – shamefully – we were politely asked to cut it out and come back downstairs. I was stoked that he was still interested. He confessed that he’d been stalking me on Facebook too (romantic, I thought) and had missed me while he’d been gone. But I was determined not to return to that unknown quagmire of middle ground with him, especially after rolling around on a bed upstairs at a party. I needed some form of assurance. I wanted us to be “seeing each other,” not just friends who liked each other and got drunk and made out at parties. His perception of things was slightly (completely) different – he was about to go overseas for the first time, he wasn’t sure what was going to happen, couldn’t we just have fun? No. No, we couldn’t – because I actually liked him and it would make me feel used. As I got up to walk away I fell for the oldest trick in the book: I like you too. I want to be with you.

Ecstatic, I continued to mingle at the party, convinced that we had reached a mutual agreement, that we were now officially “seeing each other.” As I excitedly relayed this news to my friend Luce, she gently grasped my arm and looked at me with earnest and sorrow. “Amelia. He just tried to kiss me in the other room. I’m so sorry.”

What. The. Fuck. I know I said I felt like I was back in high school, but come on! I wish I could say I laughed it off, shook myself free of those feelings and spent the rest of the party with my dignity intact. I really, really wish I could. Of course, instead I cried. A lot. I was literally so black-out drunk that I don’t remember much of what happened after that point. I was inconsolable. I remember crying in the bathroom, in the kitchen, outside in the alley beside the house (at which point Mark approached in an attempt to either console me or apologise and I screamed at him to ‘fuck off and never touch me again’) in the back garden, in the taxi, in my room. I woke up the next day feeling hurt, humiliated and hungover. My eye sockets were so swollen and puffy they resembled testicles, but at least I was saved by the grace of the memory-loss that accompanies such an extreme level of drunkenness. Until I checked my phone.

It was mortifying.

I had sent him no less than four texts since the shit hit the fan, at which point he had apparently taken my advice to ‘fuck off’ and left the party. They were garbled, juvenile and excruciatingly embarrassing. I immediately deleted my message history and sent a quick text asking him to do the same thing, then I crawled into a hole and died. Later that day he texted back with an apology for getting so out of it and asking if I pulled up ok. Part of me was relieved that he was pretending none of it happened. Part of me was outraged that he wasn’t attempting to explain himself. I was rational enough to figure that there were probably huge chunks of information missing from his memory as well, and I made a decision that I would talk to him when I’d had a few days for everything to settle.

After running the entire scenario past two of my wisest girlfriends and deciding that the best and healthiest option for all concerned was to try and pretend the whole night had never happened, I rang him the following weekend. He admitted that he couldn’t remember much and agreed that it was best to forget the whole thing. He suggested we catch up before his overseas flight which was in a few days time, but I wasn’t ready yet. I told him we’d grab a coffee when he got back.

While he was gone, my hurt disappeared and my feelings returned. I followed his updates on FB and smiled when I saw his face on TV. I went on a few dates with guys I met online but my heart wasn’t in it. I still liked him  a lot. I decided to bite the bullet when he returned and called him to organise a date. Nothing too serious, just an afternoon coffee. I left feeling really positive. It was so nice to see him, we had plenty to talk about, nothing was awkward. I took his flirty banter and the light kiss he planted on my lips as we parted ways as indications that he was still interested. I felt like finally, we were on the same page. I was determined not to get ahead of myself this time but I was excited to be in that particular moment of uncertainty where you feel the possibility of something developing. It was a really nice feeling.

It lasted a bit over two weeks. I attended his birthday drinks last night, excited to see him. I’d carefully chosen the perfect token-and-meaningless-but-secretly-the-result-of-very-careful-planning gift complete with last minute gift-wrapping made from a page out of a Good Guys catalogue. He kissed me on the lips, gave approving looks and complimented my haircut. He seemed to enjoy the gift. He gave me all of three minutes of his time, then proceeded to avoid eye contact with me for the rest of the night.

Luce (ever the bearer of bad news – poor thing!) soon informed me that she’d just been speaking to one of Mark’s colleagues who’d informed her that he had been reveling in his newly found fame, regularly hooking up with a different girl after each gig whilst keeping others (myself included) on the back burner. Obviously this was not the outcome to the evening I was hoping for. I was disappointed; in him, in the way things had turned out, in myself for overlooking the obvious earlier indications that there were serious flaws in his character. I was upset that I’d wasted six months waiting for something that was never going to happen and frustrated that I’d invested so much in someone so undeserving.

Now here’s my problem – how do I get over someone I’ve never actually been under? I feel betrayed even though I haven’t been. I feel like I need closure but I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much I actually liked (or, more accurately, like – it’s hard to switch that shit off) him.

I made a start last night by leaving without bothering to say goodbye. Oh, and before we left Luce reclaimed the book I’d given him as a birthday gift. Let’s call it a spoil of war.

Once Upon a Dream

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I’ve been having awkward sex dreams about my male friends and colleagues lately. Of course, I am far too demure to recount the tawdry details of these dreams for you here. Let’s just say that they have featured acts ranging from simple embracing and stroking, to grinding, face-licking make-out sessions, to scenes of hard-core eroticism that feature at least 50 shades of pink (pardon the pun and the rather graphic imagery).

My pattern of behaviour following one of these dreams is always the same: I wake up in a post-coital daze, momentarily satisfied before I am forced to run bare-arsed through some kind of mental and emotional spanking machine of embarrassment and confusion. The embarrassment stems mostly from the complete strangeness of the acts that my subconscious has me perform with the various men in my life. The confusion lies in the awakening of a strong sexual attraction to these people as a result of the rampant dream-humping we have engaged in. From this embarrassed confusion ensues a cloud of awkwardness that proceeds to follow me around in all future interactions with these individuals, causing me to mumble responses to their friendly greetings whilst avoiding eye contact.

The biggest problem resulting from this unending circus of raunchy reveries is that they trick me into thinking I feel things that I don’t really feel. In the past 9 weeks I have developed no less than four completely overwhelming (and troubling) crushes on people I know. These crushes have all been fleeting, gone when the memory of dream-sex has faded beyond a gossamer image of tangled bed sheets and an intangible recollection of satiety; however, in the few days or weeks of their existence these crushes have been fervent, disorienting and completely mortifying, resulting in a disconcerting awareness of my body while any of these people are nearby and causing me to make increasingly awkward shapes with my arms and legs while simultaneously flicking my hair back in an effort to appear nonchalant and sexually appealing in a carefree, effortless way. Hard to achieve, but I think I pull it off. (I don’t.)

The worst thing about these crushes is there is no escape. I spend my waking hours obsessing over the current object of my affection, recalling every encounter I’ve had with them in the last fortnight, desperately searching for pieces of innocent banter that I can turn into signs that they totally dig me, like for real. (For example: “You look nice today” becomes code for “You, me, monkey sex. Now.”) My downtime is spent fervently stalking them on Facebook, playing down the flaws that make them completely incompatible or ineligible as a potential love interest, and staring into space whilst daydreaming about various scenarios where the two of us innocently hanging out as friends suddenly becomes a storm of sexual tension where clothing is ripped and bodies are mashed together as our friends and colleagues look on in horror. It’s all-consuming and thoroughly exhausting.

I don’t know why this pattern keeps repeating. I know that there are no compatible matches among my male friends or colleagues. Even as I stalk and daydream I am aware that I am being completely ridiculous; but it’s nice to have a crush. It’s nice to get that nervous, tumbling, I-just-swallowed-a-jar-full-of-sleeping-moths-and-now-they’re-waking-up-in-my-stomach feeling a few times a day. I’ve been in love before, and I’ve experienced the warmth and comfort of waking up next to the same person every day, knowing that they would do anything for you. But nothing beats that thrill of a new crush; that excruciating awkwardness that takes control of the simplest bodily functions and renders you incapable of remembering how to walk normally or carry out a conversation without nervously laughing after every sentence or agreeing far too emphatically with everything they say. There’s nothing like that bittersweet pain of simultaneously feeling devastated by the fact that they haven’t noticed you yet and blindly optimistic that they will one day.

I guess most people grow out of these crushes as their adolescence disappears behind them, but I think that’s a shame. We sacrifice so much in order to participate in ‘adulthood;’ why shouldn’t we hold onto some of the self-indulgent pleasures of our youth, as long as they’re not doing any harm? I am determined to keep allowing myself to develop intense and ridiculous crushes on men that are entirely unsuitable as potential partners…but hopefully not on any more coworkers. There are only so many photocopy room fantasies a girl can handle.

How to Text Like a Dude: A Man-ual for Social Intercourse

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If you want to have a shot in the game, you need to know the rules. Here’s the inside scoop, straight from the horse’s penis. (Er…mouth.)

RULE 1: LET HIM MAKE THE FIRST MOVE

When you think about it, this actually makes life much easier. If he likes you enough, he’ll text. And if he doesn’t, no amount of flirtation, charm, wit or sexual suggestion on your part is going to change that. Forcing him into responding will only cause you to spiral into depression as you dissect his blunt, disinterested or generally lethargic responses.

RULE 2: TREAT ‘EM MEAN, KEEP ‘EM KEEN

We already know about this one, but it’s the hardest to put into practice. You like him, you think about him, you can’t wait to see him, you’d slap your own granny to spend time with him….but under no circumstances can you let him know this! Imagine you get two texts from two different guys – one that you like, and one that you’re not really interested in. Your instincts are to send something fairly aloof to the guy you don’t like and something far warmer to the one you do, when in actual fact you should send pretty much the same thing to both of them. Playing it cool gives the impression that you’ve got other offers, that perhaps you’ve got a bit more going for you than he first thought. Just make sure you stop short of being cunty or your aloofness will come across as disinterest.

RULE 3: DON’T BE TOO AVAILABLE

There are two parts to this rule. The first is to never try to organise a date too far in advance. Don’t text on a Tuesday and ask if he’s free Saturday night – chances are he hasn’t planned his whole weekend yet, and if by some chance he has then you’re setting yourself up for a disappointing answer. The second part of this rule is to avoid providing alternatives. If he asks you out for a drink on Saturday but it turns out that’s the night of your big tap dancing recital, don’t tell him you’re free Friday night, Sunday, and most of next week. Simply let him know that you’d like to catch up, however you’re busy on Saturday. Let him find a time that works for you. Giving him options is just going to inflate his ego and make him think that his life is more interesting than yours so you’re lucky to be hanging out with him at all.

RULE 4: MAKE IT BRIEF

Keep all texts to a 100 character limit. If he asks how your day was, he’s actually not looking for a response in essay-form. A simple “good thanks,” will suffice.

RULE 5: CUT THE CUTE STUFF

Emoticons. X’s and O’s. Nicknames like ‘babe,’ ‘hun’ etc. And god I hope it goes without saying: baby talk. There will be plenty of time for that shit down the track in the relationship phase. For now, it’s all about efficiency. Say what you need to say, being honest, but not too open. Just like a transsexual stripper, you should leave a little something under wraps to make things more interesting down the track.

RULE 6: KEEP IT SIMPLE

Men are not overly complicated creatures. They don’t typically make use of tone, subtext and subtle innuendo. Chances are that what he said is what he meant. Stop reading over his texts looking for insight into the way his mind works – all you’re going to do is convince yourself that he’s been dropping a constant stream of hints that he’s madly in love with you and then drive yourself crazy trying to work out why he hasn’t asked how to spell your name for the tattoo on his shoulder. There is no subtext. “Cool, I’ll let you know” is not code for “Damn girl, you’re an incredible woman and I want to make the sweet, sweet love all over your sexy body, but only because I totally respect and understand you as a person.” Let it go. And if you can’t detach, delete the texts.

Well there you have it ladies…take it or leave it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to see a horse about a penis. Er, a man about a penis. A penis about a horse. Oh fuck it, you know what I mean!

The Point of No Return

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Meet Dan: Skilful texter. Better-than-average conversationalist. Interested in me.

We met online, and when I met him face to face he was a fair bit larger than his pictures had suggested, but I was determined to be the type of person who puts the aforementioned three attributes above anything as shallow as physical appearance or body shape.

Date three was due to happen over the weekend, but we had conflicting schedules. The first date had been spent getting acquainted over drinks in the mid-evening hours of a weeknight, where the verbal chemistry built over two weeks of texting did not disappoint. The second, after discovering our mutual appreciation of fine culinary experiences (I believe I used the word “foodgasm”), was dinner in a trendy Japanese restaurant. After the tattooed waitress delivered the bill he walked me to my car where he pulled me in for a goodnight kiss. It was decent – medium pressure, slightly open mouth, soft lips, no tongue – on paper, everything a second date kiss should be. But there was no flutter in my lady-business. Not even a tingle.

Ordinarily, by this stage I would have stopped fighting my obvious lack of physical attraction and moved on to new pastures. But Dan was a specific breed of man: a master of the text. He adeptly balanced humour, intelligence and playful teasing in every message. He was really quite charming, and I was beguiled by the mischievous nature of our banter.

There was another reason I hesitated in calling things off, a social experiment of sorts. My personal experience, coupled with anecdotal evidence garnered from close friends, has led me to the generalisation that men with more typically attractive faces and physically ‘perfect’ bodies often make unsatisfying lovers. I wondered if the opposite would be true – whether Dan, more-than-solidly built with a beard that most likely disguised a weak or double chin, would be attentive, selfless and gifted where men more beautiful than he were not.

So date three was set – a late night rendezvous at my house for “wine and a movie.” The true intentions of the evening were thinly veiled and did not elude him, however when he arrived by taxi from his dinner on the other side of the city I did pour him a glass of wine and sit through an hour of Iron Man before a move was made. The first moves were promising. My six glasses of wine (four of them consumed before he arrived) had made me fairly amorous, and he was a good kisser. After around fifteen minutes of making out, when things had begun to drift into dry-humping territory, I suggested we move things to the bedroom.

Things began to go awry when I made a fatal mistake when deciding on the lighting levels. Ordinarily my bedside lamp with its 20 watt bulb is my lighting of choice for such events. Candlelight, though flattering, is too intimate, and I find complete darkness makes things more awkward somehow, what with all the fumbling and the odd accidental headbutt or kneeing. However, as I removed one article of clothing after another while Dan remained fully clothed, I became acutely aware of the discrepancy between our confidence levels. Alas, this was not the only problem. It seemed my theory regarding the sexual prowess of the chunky man was to be disproved in a most convincing way.

After having my breasts squeezed and twisted in a manner reminiscent of an over-excited and inexperienced teenager, I was treated to five minutes of being probed, sucked, prodded and furiously rubbed before I put a stop to it for fear of having part of my vagina chafed off. By this stage I held little hope for a positive outcome, but thought that it might just be possible if I took the reins with a firm hand. So I proceeded to remove his pants.

I was immediately struck by two things. The first was that his pork sword, standing in the shadow of his hefty torso, was really little more than a dagger. And the second was that there was a smell. A violent odour of urine and scrotum-sweat punched me in the nostrils, stinging my eyes and provoking the gag reflex I had spent much of my adult life learning to suppress. With my face at ball-level I was in full olfactory assault. I glanced up to see expectant eyes gauging the distance between my mouth and the offensive smelling love-baton and I realised I was at the point of no return.

I put it in my mouth. My tongue recoiled in horror, desperately pressing my soft palate in search of escape. My eyes watered. I’m sure it was no more than 90 seconds, but it felt like an hour. My every muscle was focused on resisting the urge to throw up. I resurfaced like a dolphin leaping from the water, furiously licking and kissing his bearded neck and cheek, trying to scrape the sensory memory from my tongue.

The rest of our uglies were bumped swiftly and without fanfare. I was in shock. There had been nothing at all in Dan’s otherwise impeccable personal hygiene to suggest that such a sinus-piercing odour was lurking below. Clearly unaware of his repulsive affliction and otherwise underwhelming performance, he lay blissfully motionless. After thoroughly rinsing my mouth and washing my face, I became fearful that he would assume he was welcome to spend the night, and began picking up his clothes and piling them on the bed in a gesture of helpfulness as I returned from the ensuite.

This was evidently too subtle, as he pulled at my arm to come back to bed and began to roll over into a comfortable sleeping position. I coughed pointedly and asked what he was doing in the morning. Nothing much. What about you? Oh, I told him, I had heaps to do on Saturday so I should probably get some sleep. Ok, so we should go to sleep then. Umm, I said, I kind of have this thing about guys staying over…

As we waited awkwardly in the lounge room for his taxi, both aware that the level of regard for one another had become undoubtedly one-sided, I tried to remind myself that there were two guilty parties here. Sure, I was perhaps a little callous and detached following our no-pants-dance, but after all, I had  just been blind sided by the stench of rotting manhood and what I can only assume was a pungent remainder of some asparagus consumed 4-6 hours earlier.

So, what have we learned? Ladies, if you plan on heading south of the border, make sure it doesn’t smell like a Mexican sewer first. And if it does…vamonos!

First Date

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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.

The Preparation

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.

The Greeting

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

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.

The Conclusion

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.