Dating Diary by another anonymous..
I’d recently gotten back in touch with Shane, an old friend from school, who had moved to the same town as me and invited me out for his birthday drinks. His plan was to go to a bar I really can’t stand with all his friends who I didn’t know. Unfortunately, all my good friends were already out in town for Johann’s birthday. Johann being one of my actual-proper-best-friends, my boys, my frères from un autre mère.
Surely that’s not a dilemma. You go out with your proper friends who’ve been there for you for years and who you talk to every day, right? You don’t go out with someone you barely know anymore, just on the off-chance he might have some single female friends, do you?
By the time Johann had tracked me down, I’d noticed that one of Shane’s friends was a cute, curvy brunette. Exactly the type of girl I go for and almost always fail to succeed with. This girl was exactly my type – a cool brunette bob, fantastic dress sense and a top which concealed but clearly hinted at what a more misogynistic writer might describe as ‘a rack to die for’.
Now, it’s either a reflection on what a social magnet I am or a sign of how incredibly indulgent my friends are that instead of telling me to do one or disowning me on the basis that I was thinking with my ‘crotch-brain’ again, they actually came to aforementioned shitty bar. Which by then had to pay to get into. Did I mention that they all hated it too? I love my friends.
Having successfully merged a group of people who had no desire to be where they were with a group of people who had no idea who the other group was or why they had suddenly joined them, I sat back with a cocktail and marvelled at my own handiwork. I am the Rupert Murdoch of socialising; if this town was a commercial enterprise, I’d be under investigation for anti-competitive practices.
It was around this time I noticed the object of my interest, who by this time was starting to look vaguely familiar, was chatting to my friend Ethan. Ethan is a very cool, very smart and very handsome guy. Thankfully for me, he only goes for smoking hot foreign-looking girls and lacks even the slightest ability to tell when a girl is interested in him so I knew this girl’s efforts were wasted. I was sat on a sofa opposite them, desperately trying to look for an in, when she turned to me and said
‘You know, you look really familiar.’
‘You too. You weren’t at our school, were you?’
Recognition flashed across her face as she asked,
‘I know your brother!’
Balls. Whilst my brother was very cool and had a lot of friends, he is also capable of being one of the biggest c*^&s you will ever meet in your life. Being recognised by association with him is something which has worked against me in the past, so this put me on guard.
‘…guilty. Whatever he did or said to you, I’m very sorry.’
‘Ha, no. I used to go out with his friend Jamie.’
BAM. It all fell into place. Of course! Belle looked quite different (don’t we all), and was significantly less annoying (aren’t we all).
This is officially weird now? Think of all the people we know in common.
Also, she went out with Jamie.
Jamie was really cool.
She is definitely too cool for me.
Dude? Snap out of it. She’s still talking to you.
As we chatted for the next hour or so, I was oblivious to anything happening around us. The group mingled properly and moved to a large table, so we relocated to ensure we were next to each other. She’d gone to Uni a year after me, achieved a first (of course), gone travelling, spent two years at a loose end and was now training to be a teacher. Like 90% of my other friends. Annoyingly though, her course meant she was currently living over a hundred miles away.
Wow, she’s really cool. And cute. And still talking to me.
Did you just exchange numbers? I believe you did.
Shit, they’re all leaving? What should I do now?
I know. Definitely text her the second she leaves the bar. That should do the trick.
That was March. Come August, she still hadn’t replied…
She hadn’t replied to the text message I sent in March, but she had accepted my Facebook friend request. Which was a start. We’d been tagged in a photo together – obviously I added her, because that’s The Way Things Go when you’re me.
For the next couple of months, I did my best to keep her aware of my existence by leaving fucking awful posts like this on her wall:
‘Let me know if you’re ever back around these parts. And if I ever need anyone cool to go out in Oxbridge with… I’ll have to ask you if you know anyone 😉 x’
Smooth move, Ex Lax. Neil Strauss called. He says YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
A few weeks later, a big night out was being planned. I put up the standard ‘get involved’ status update on Facebook and headed out to a funky little bar with some of my best friends. I hate the word ‘funky’, but there really isn’t a better word to describe this establishment. It’s one of the few non-chain bars in our town, it’s about the size of a living room and decorated in a colourful, ‘ethnic’ style. It is funky!
Imagine my surprise when, as I tucked into my second JD, I received the following text message from Belle:
‘Hey, I’m out in town tonight with Shane. Are you around for a few drinks? x’
‘Hey! Indeed I am, a bunch of us are at Funky Little Bar. Come on down! x’
When Belle arrived, she looked different. Again. She’d had her hair cut into a much shorter, choppy style with an asymmetric fringe and she looked cuter than a sleeping kitten… but in a really sexy way. She just exuded confidence in a manner which previously would have intimidated me but which for some reason I found utterly magnetic in her. I didn’t want to appear desperate to talk to her, but I’ve heard that ignoring people can be seen as somewhat rude, so I introduced the two of them to my friends and sat next to her to catch up.
Shane can be something of a flake, particularly when he isn’t drinking so I didn’t anticipate he’d last long. After less than an hour, the inevitable occurred and he stood up to make his excuses. Expecting this to be Belle’s cue to make an exit, I must have invited her to stay out with us … and she agreed without even thinking about it.
It’s at this point that the psychology of the rejection-phobe kicks in, so pay attention. Let’s recap. A girl I met once and had a really good time chatting to has made a point of tracking me down on a night out, bringing along our mutual friend as an excuse/validation. She’s chatted to no-one but me since arriving and now that The Validator is leaving, she wants to stay out. All signs point to ‘interest’.
We got two things: more drinks, and along famously. At kicking-out time everyone was moving off to someone’s house for a post pub party; Belle and I picked up a bottle of vodka from the nearest off licence and she came back with me to my friend’s house, with all my friends she’d just met. This girl is absolutely ace.
So what did I do? Brilliantly, once we arrived at the party I basically started semi-ignoring her in favour of talking to my friends. Not because I didn’t want to talk to her but because I’d figured out by now that the socially acceptable thing to do would be to invite her back to mine. Or at least try and kiss her. And I was terrified. Heart racing, dry mouth, unable to relax. Standard issue rejection phobia, check.
In fact, the second time she followed me indoors to try and get me alone we found ourselves in the kitchen away from everyone else and…I went mental. Talking utter nonsense, uncomfortable silences, making excuses to go back outside. I was sending out mixed signals like some kind of catastrophically defective antenna. Eventually, it all got too much for her and she ordered a taxi to take her home as ‘I’m far too drunk to be around people I don’t know.’ she was actually holding her own impressively, given that no-one could quite figure out why she was there if I wasn’t interested in pulling her. Which I was. But was too paralysed with fear to do.
We shared a slightly awkward goodbye hug and she left. I was left to reflect on what the fuck was wrong with me, whilst playing it off to my friends that I was flattered by the attention but wasn’t really sure if I was interested. Of course.
On the walk home, Belle texted me.
‘Sorry about that, I didn’t want to be remembered as the girl nobody knew who showed up and got really drunk and annoyed everybody. Some other time, perhaps? x’
‘Sounds good. How about Friday night? x’
‘Friday it is. See you then 🙂 x’
Promising, right? That’s definitely a date, right? There’s no way, no way on Earth, that I could possibly screw this up.
Well.. when the big night rolled around, I’d managed to convince myself it wasn’t a date. Despite taking a poll of all of my colleagues who agreed that it definitely was (and I work in HR so most of my colleagues are female, before you start thinking it was some kind of high-riving LADfest) by the time I arrived at the bar – late, of course – I’d decided that she was just interested in ‘catching up’ and that this definitely wasn’t a date. A convenient excuse which got me off the hook of having to, you know, make a move at any point.
So we shared cocktail after cocktail, laughing and joking the whole time. She was touching my arm, I was being hilarious and charming. It were just like the movies it were. The bar we were in was one of the more expensive ones in town so we soon moved across town back to The Oak. Second time lucky?
This was where things went rapidly downhill. We walked into the bar and the first person we saw was a girl I’d been vaguely involved with the previous Summer. I say ‘involved’ although I don’t think one date and a hand job really counts as a relationship but I’d not handled rejecting her too well and she’d taken said rejection even less well.
‘Oh. Hi.’ -GLARE’
‘Er..Siobhan, this is …my friend, Belle.’
Brilliant. So you’re out with a girl you fancy more than anyone you’ve met in your adult life, you’re not sure if it’s a date and you’ve decided to take the reins and declare that it isn’t. I’m leaving you, said my brain. I’m finding someone who’s got a clue. I got us some drinks and we sat down in a corner of bar, from which Belle made the mistake of pointing out a large group of my friends in the corner.
‘Would you like to join them?’ she asked.
‘No! I’m out on a date with you. It’s unfortunate that 80% of the people I know have decided to congregate in the same bar as us but fuck them, I want to get to know you better. Much better.’Is what I should have said. Before leaning in to kiss her.
Is what I actually said. Unsurprisingly, she went to leave soon after. As she stood by the taxi, its back door open, she turned back to me and looked me directly in the eye. I returned her gaze, leaned down to bring her in … for a hug, and sent her on her way with the one phrase no-one wants to hear at the end of an alleged date:
‘Stay in touch.’
The post-script to all this is that on her way home, she called me out on my flaky behaviour and told me outright that if I’d been more obviously keen we’d have been going home together. We met up the following day for lunch, which turned into drinks, which turned into an entire evening of the best sex I’d ever had in my life. We were together for almost three years after that.
So next time someone acts aloof with you, don’t assume they’re not interested. Assume that, like me, they’re a fucking idiot.
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