I have a completely inexplicable confidence when it comes to dating. For someone who struggles to say hello when meeting friends of friends, when I meet a guy I like I have no problem with just stating that and asking them out, straight up. All those horrors of dating that everyone else frets and worries about - so do I, but I absolutely thrive on them. What to wear, what to say, what will they wear, how do you say hello, one cheek or two, a hug, shake hands, what? It's fucking incredible for me.
So I met a boy, this being me, I met him via sex. He's the only boy I've ever know who could make grey underwear look good. So you end up in that rather hilarious situation where you're kind of backtracking and going: 'BTW, having just fucked, are you single? Would you like to go for a drink?' You find yourself knowing them intimately but knowing very little about their likes/dislikes/interests beyond that. It's a little surreal but it certainly doesn't discourage me in any way.
So we arrange a first date, and on the day he has to reschedule. He's very apologetic about it, and says can we get a reschedule in the diary at the time, which shows a genuine desire to not just fob me off. I say it's okay, my colleague will probably be happy I'm free to stay late at work instead - we're doing the BAFTAs a few days later and its all rather manic. He clarifies that the reason he has to reschedule is he's doing design work for the Opera Awards. I burst out laughing - we clearly speak the same language when it comes to getting stuck late at work!
Take 2 rolls around, it takes a bit of back and forth to decide where, I run through plans A B and C before D proves mutually agreeable and more importantly, accessible for both of us (he seems to live somewhere that doesn't just have a constant route into Z1/2 - uh oh!). I think of four different places we could go, I arrive early and he gets stuck at work 15 minutes late and so I wander around the area checking out the Friday night queues (~2-3h) to get into anywhere that might take our fancy. I plan and plot and devise all the permutations necessary to make the outcome look easy and effortless. It's not, it's through actions like this. But I find these kinds of actions easy; second nature, so I barely even register that I'm doing them. I ring my best friend before I go - a ritual, a pep talk, a nerve settler. A part of me remembers I used to ring my boyfriend before going on dates with other boys and how perfectly okay that was for the two us.
He arrives and we head off. The bar I was banking on is a no-go. So as two aimless gays are wont to do in Central London, we start drifting Soho-wards. Then inspiration hits me and I divert us to somewhere better, somewhere definitely date-worthy; a little show-offy. He already knows the place. That's a good sign - he's not intimidated and knows some of the hidden gems of London.
We stumble through some conversation. This is the bit where I actually have to try. I have to focus. I asked him out. I devised the date; it's my responsibility to not let it fall flat, to drive it forward through that awkward phase till it becomes clear it's either good or bad. So I dig deep to remember all the tricks I've learnt, what to say, how to react, what to pick up on, what to offer as conversation points of my own. This bit isn't easy for me, but he's just as hot as I remember, and he's smiling, so it's enjoyable.
He asks what I get up to when either of us isn't overworked or just naturally keeping ourselves very busy. I concede I'm a geek - I play video games, I read comics, I even hesitantly admit I play tabletop RPGs like D&D.
He asks what Edition.
The slight tension between us vanishes. A kindred spirit. We curse 4th Ed and pretend it doesn't exist. We compare hilarious character stories. Conversation becomes free and easy, it ranges wider (he loves 80s movies - I'm instantly sold on him), we get animated, On the way back to the tube a woman in front of us jokingly comments she's never known anybody talk so loudly - another sign we're enjoying each other's company. The answer is obvious; I'm not hedging my bets in any way, but brave, confident and forth right once more I hazard the second date question before the first one even ends. He says yes in principle; we both agree it may take quite a bit of negotiation to find free time in both of our constant work and social schedules. But he agrees. He leaves smiling. We're talking the same language on a lot of things, and it's a relief to us both.
My friend rings me on the way home. He asks me who walked who to the station. He knows me so well. He knows I know how to end a date. He can hear me smiling and bouncing and dancing. I'm flying. I couldn't stop it even if I wanted to. A mental switch suddenly flicks in my head and I'm struck by the awareness of it - this guy is just potential, it's only first date territory, with an agreed to second one - but I've always stated I take better care of myself when I have someone else to do that for, than when it's just for me. He's just potential, but I want to see where it might go.
There are no bad dates. There are dates you get good stories from. Hilariously bad stories you shop around your friends for pity with alcohol and ice cream and movies. But at least you have a terrible warning story to tell for years to come. And sometimes, dates are fantastic and better than either of you hoped for or believed might happen.
This is why I love dating. All that potential, possibility, agony, emotion, from just 2 drinks. I already know where I want to take him for a second date.
(Weirdly, I don't have this confidence when it comes to asking a girl out - there I'm just as useless as everyone else. Although admittedly the Aries in me would be incredibly turned on by any girl forthright to ever ask me instead.)