First dates revolve around first impressions. In a short window of time, you are deciding whether the other person is someone you could become romantically involved with or not.
Could that date be the first of many? Or will those few short hours be the entire duration of your relationship with that person?
I was asked by someone following the blog on Twitter ‘what I have to offer’ the thirty dates, as obviously they know I’m dating 29 other men this summer. It was a question that I found interesting, as it’s not as if I’m already taken – I’m still a single girl! I may have agreed to spend the summer going on a series of blind dates, and I envisage the majority of them going nowhere, it’s not like I’m not on the market for a boyfriend! If I meet someone interesting, I’m more than open to the prospect of a second date. And a third, fourth and fifth depending on the success! The man in question may just have to wait until I’ve turned 30 before I meet up with him again!
After the disaster of the Burlesque Dancer, I made a promise to you all that I would stop Facebook-stalking my blind dates in advance of meeting them, so that the dates end up being properly blind. It seemed a shame for my ‘first impression’ to have been conjured over the internet in advance of the date. But even without sneaking a peak at my dates beforehand, it’s hard not to form preconceptions sometimes. All of the dates have to communicate with me before the date to arrange it, and sometimes even the shortest text message conversation can create preconceived ideas about a guy …
The trouble is, no matter how you form that first impression, it will affect the way that you act with someone. I definitely have varying degrees of brightness. If I’m really attracted to someone, I’m the best version of myself. Think halogen lightbulb bright! I’m bouncy and charming, and sparkling. Me at my brightest. But if someone is rude to me, or offensive, then all lights go out pretty quickly. Somewhere between the two, if I’m talking to someone I don’t fancy, I’ll be polite and interesting, but I definitely think I will sparkle less than I do when I’m flirting. As if someone has initiated a dimmer switch on my personality. It’s something everyone does – you have slightly different versions of yourself for different people. And one thing I noticed in my two weeks of natural highs ‘dating’ Henley Boy … was that I really like the version of me that comes out when I fancy someone. As far as I’m concerned, I truly become the best version of myself.
My blind date last night was introduced to me by Ms Tweedy – an old friend of my former flatmate, who was also in the year above me at school. Ms Tweedy’s name comes from the first night out we ever went on together, as opposed to any relation to Cheryl Cole!
Now, if I’m honest, I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in Ms Tweedy’s blind date selection! A few weeks ago, together with my old flatmate, we had a girls’ night out, where we met up with a group of boys that Tweedy knew from school. When I spoke to the boys, I was really rather bored. It was a Friday night, I’d thought we were just going out as a group of girls, only to realise at the last moment we were meeting up with three guys I’d never met, and I was tired, cranky, far too sober and not feeling overly sociable. I made polite conversation for half an hour, and then ended up playing on Tinder in my handbag, whilst my two friends chatted drunkenly to the boys. On the brightness scale, I was about as dull as I get. There was zero spark, and very little sparkle …
Knowing The School Crush was friends with these boys, I didn’t hold much hope for his company, and made this clear to Tweedy! I asked at least three times to make sure she wasn’t just setting me up with one of the three I’d already met again for comedy value. However when Tweedy gave the Crush my phone number, he was quick to text, and happy to organise a date at short notice. I’d already sacked off a Plenty of Fish date the day before, which I had been feeling less than comfortable with, and knowing I had 25 dates more to cram into just 9 more weeks, I agreed to the Friday night date with the Crush.
This is where I have to confess to something. Based on his male friends, I’d already made my first impression of the School Crush before I’d met him. I wasn’t excited about the date, and I’d had a long, difficult week at work. Frankly by the time Friday night came along, going on a date was the last thing I wanted to do! But I’ve made a promise to complete this challenge, and so I persevered and didn’t cancel. But what I did do, was cop out somewhat ….
Firstly, I went to the gym beforehand. The one part of my life which is being put on a back-burner during this challenge is my regular gym visits. Normally I try to exercise at least four times a week, and I go a bit stir-crazy if I haven’t been to the gym in the last 48 hours. So, as Date Six was closer to home than some of my most recent dates, I decided to squeeze in a quick gym trip beforehand.
However this created an issue with timings, which meant I arrived at my date with wet hair, fresh from the gym shower, and starving (as I had gone straight to the gym from work).
Secondly, knowing that some of my less well-selected blind dates had been improved with entertainment, I suggested a cinema date. Arguably the worst setting for a first date, as it allows next to no chatting! But after five dates, and ten speed dates, in two weeks, the idea of only chatting for an hour was refreshing, and I was tired and in need of a movie-induced giggle.
Essentially, my pre-conceptions of my date, had put me on my dullest level of sparkle. Minimum effort. One of the blog’s Twitter followers even called me up on this during the date, reminding me of my own quote – if a girl turns up to a date with wet hair, the reality is that she’s probably not that into you!
I met the Crush at the Slug & Lettuce bar on the Oracle Riverside in Reading. The original plan had been to meet outside the bar, but with the English heatwave continuing, the front of the bar was busier than the interior. I was early, and guessing he wasn’t expecting to eat so late in the day, I went inside, found a table and ordered my dinner.
The School Crush turned up about five minutes later. His nickname comes (as ever!) with some artistic licence. I really struggled to find a name for him. I toyed with the phrase Rotten Tomato, linked to the popular film-rating site, but then decided that name would be unfair, as School Crush was actually a really nice guy. There was just nothing overly distinguishable about either him or our date. Though like I said, I myself was probably on mid-glow on my own personal spectrum, so maybe he could say the same for me!
There are a number of single-sex schools in Reading. I went to an all girls’ grammar school, and the Crush went to a private all boys’ school that has since closed down. Growing up, it was traditional to fancy boys from one of the three nearby boys’ schools. We’d have school discos with them, and go on trips and language exchanges with them. Most of my male friends while I was at school went to the boys’ grammar school, and I knew very few from the private school. However the year above me, including Ms Tweedy, were closer to boys from the private school, including The School Crush.
Interestingly, it turns out that Tweedy told the Crush nothing more than a simple ‘do you want to go on a blind date with my friend?’ He hadn’t asked her anything about me, and had very trustingly just gone with Tweedy’s judgment (something I blatantly didn’t do!) and turned up at the Oracle literally only knowing my first name!
After introductions, we realised that whilst we had never met, we had a number of mutual friends, namely girls from my school who the Crush knew, and we ascertained that we’d probably both gone to the same school discos. My inner teenager acknowledged that I’d have probably really fancied him fifteen years ago, if I met him at a school disco, and so, with that in mind, The School Crush nickname was born.
Interestingly, after the Burlesque Dancer, the School Crush is only the second of my dates to be older than me. The average age of my dates up to this point is 30 (though mainly thanks to the Burlesque Dancer being ‘over the age-limit’ and 38!) Another age fact for you, the average age of the last three guys I’ve dated in real life is 24. And I wonder why none of my relationships really go anywhere …!
It’s a little ironic, bearing in mind his nickname, but I think the reason I wasn’t overly attracted to the School Crush right now, in 2013, was that he looked rather old! He was only a year older than me, but (as you can see from the maths above) I’ve had cougar tendencies in the past. And possibly linked to that I’m a real fan of thick hair on a guy. I always compliment my male friends when their hair has got so long and bushy that they’re just about to go to the hairdresser! No idea why, but I’d say give me a guy with Wolverine hair over John McClane any day … See what I did? Film references for the cinema date!
So as a result, as I get older, I’ve found I’m not really drawn to thinning hair, or bald guys. Just to clarify, for any Critics out there (!), I’m in no way evaluating bald guys’ worth, or disrespecting men with thinning hair … I’m just saying I don’t tend to find myself attracted to either of those looks … perhaps because I’m still a closet 24 year-old at heart? Who knows? What I do know, was that I wasn’t particularly attracted physically to the Crush, even though he was an attractive, tall, sporty guy.
Anyway, we chatted for an hour in the pub. Me, on dimmer switch dating mode, I ate my food awkwardly whilst he sat and drank. I realised I had chosen probably the smelliest meal on the menu (fishcakes) – God I really hope this guy isn’t blogging about me! I did apologise profusely (about turning up with wet hair, and having to eat whilst we were chatting), and as a sporty guy he seemed to understand my post-gym state. But I’m not gonna lie, looking back at myself, I’m disappointed with my own poor form (and promise to try harder next date!).
After the one drink, it was time to head over to the cinema. We had talked quite easily about school and work, and common friends, and could easily have continued chatting. I realised my preconceptions had been unfounded, he was a lot more interesting than his friends, and because of our wide range of mutual friends, conversation veered away from the back catalogue repertoire of dating stories I’m beginning to form after so many first dates. In fact, I’d have been happy chatting to him for another drink, but the film called.
In my defence, whilst asking to see a film was a bit of a cop-out, I did quite like the idea of a ‘teenage date’, in that going to the cinema was something I actually did on dates when I was fifteen. Going out in my childhood town centre had a degree of nostalgia and deja-vu about it, so it seemed fitting that I went on the date with the School Crush.
We’d decided on the film World’s End in advance, and as we settled into our seats and the trailers began, I realised that ‘dimmer-switch version of me’ had made two major errors that day.
1) I was wearing summer clothes & had damp hair …. and it was absolutely freezing in the cinema.
2) As the trailers started rolling, all for British-made films, it dawned on me that we were watching ‘World’s End’ – a British-made movie starring Simon Pegg, of Run Fat Boy Run fame .. and NOT ‘This is the End’ starring Seth Rogan, from Knocked Up!
The Crush laughed at me as I sat shivering in the audience, trying to silently rub my arms warm in the dark, and apologised for not carrying a coat with me. We laughed in horror as Simon Pegg and the rest of the British cast kicked heads off alien robots, squashed fences, and generally trashed an entire village, all in the name of a pub crawl. At least the film was a comedy, and I hadn’t confused the original film with something darker!
As the credits began to roll, I decided to confess to the Crush about my mix-up, at which point he began laughing and revealed he’d made the exact same mistake! When I’d suggested World’s End over text message (thinking I was asking about ‘This is the End’), the Crush had replied, also talking about the American film!
We tried to get a second drink, but by the time the film finished, it was after midnight and the riverside was closing down. The Crush walked me back to my car, and after we said goodbye, he went back into town, to join all his lad mates who were in town drinking! Not very orthodox date behaviour, but then I guess none of my orchestrated 30 Blind Dates are going to be particularly orthodox?!
We met – At the Slug & Lettuce, Reading
I wore – a blue lace top over a blue vest, blue cropped trousers, flip flops
He wore – jeans and a checked shirt
I drank – Rose & Lemonade, Diet Coke, He drank – Fosters
We talked about – Degrees and whether we would do them again if we had to pay the new fees, jobs, mutual friends, school, school discos, sport
The date lasted – 3 and a half hours
The date ended – because nowhere near was open for a drink, and he was off out on the lash with his mates!
Marks out of ten – hmmm … nice guy. Date ruined slightly by me 1) putting in less effort than normal, 2) not dressing warmly for air-conditioning, 3) picking the wrong film!! So 4/10 for me on this date, but 7/10 for the School Crush, as he did well given the circumstances! He was a really nice guy, who I would happily go watch the real ‘This is the End’ with, but I wouldn’t go on a second actual date with him, as I think we were too different ….
Next date? Date Seven was actually tonight (Saturday) so I will tell you all about it tomorrow!
Next date resolutions? To try to be a shinier brighter version of me for all the remaining 24 dates, because it’s not fair to act like the dates are a chore. I set this challenge for myself, and I owe it to all the guys who have willingly volunteered, to put the effort in, dry my hair, eat some dinner before the date, and be on my sparkliest, most entertaining behaviour (regardless of any preconceptions I may have made before meeting them!)
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx