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Monday, 3 December 2012

#8 - Expecting the expected...

And so it begins...
After yet another disastrous date with an unsuitable man (see #7 - Making and exception that leads to a date with a sex pest...) I was beginning to wonder if online dating was going to work out for me. I had persevered through bad dates, boring dates, dates that didn't happen, dates that my date didn't turn up for and dates that, though perfectly acceptable ways to spend an evening, did nothing to my lustbox to indicate that I would want to spend another four hours of coffee and cake with them. I was running out of enthusiasm for the whole dating shebang, and so decided that, after completion of my already arranged dates for the month, I would take a well deserved rest from the London dating scene (and start cruising animal shelters for particularly large, evil looking cats).

I had two dates arranged for the following week: one with a man who was taking me salsa dancing, and one with a man who was taking me to Trafalgar Square to play twister. Both dates had made first contact with me on okcupid, and were almost polar opposites in terms of personality, looks and background. Both date nights were suitably interesting and different to maintain my interest, and I was looking forward to the chance to finally play twister on a London landmark (after being cruelly disappointed when the man who offered to play twister on the underground with me never called). I was also impressed by the offer of a salsa dance lesson, as after two years of swing dancing classes I had failed to meet even one single eligible man who was taller than me. Overall the week looked fairly promising, even if the men themselves turned out to be as disappointing as previous fare (see #6 - discovering how unsatisfactory being shallow can be....)

Salsa dancer was a french engineering student on the verge of completing his Masters at London Imperial, with a penchant for asian food, cheese, chocolate and dancing. His profile also told me that he spoke French and English fluently, and was learning Mandarin with considerable enthusiasm. I could tell from first glance that he wasn't really my type, in both looks and personality. Although very attractive in all his pictures, and certainly more than a match for me intellectually (I suspected he was in fact much more intelligent than me, a slight problem for someone who plays scrabble as an extreme sport) I couldn't work out why he had contacted me? It was obvious to me that we were not very well suited, but I figured we should at least try a date before I wrote him off as yet another failure to communicate.

Twister man on the other hand was a winner from the word go - he had a creative background, and a lovely smiling bearded face. He was a little taller than me, and his profile was full to the brim with acerbic wit and snappy one liners that sold him to me from first contact. When we exchanged messages there was sparkle with every reply, and I was thoroughly excited about going on a date with him, to the point where I was considering cancelling with my date with the french man, as it was starting to look like a fruitless activity.

My manners got the better of me in the end, and I turned up to meet l'homme francais the following week outside Bar Salsa, which is less than a minutes walk from my flat (thus ensuring I wouldn't have far to walk if I wanted to bail on the date). When he turned up I was initially a little surprised at how quiet he was - from his clothing to his conversation he was very reserved, and in the 20 minutes we spent chatting before our dance class I got the impression he found me very unimpressive, boring even. When we took to the dance floor to begin I was grateful to get the chance to dance with other people for a while, as they all seemed slightly more pleased to talk to me than my date!

After being passed around the dance floor in the circle I finally made it back to my date, who seemed a lot friendlier than 20 minutes previously (possibly because he had spent 20 minutes dancing with all the other women in the room?) This rather unfair thought aside, he also seemed a lot more relaxed, and by the time we finished the dance class and were dancing by ourselves I was starting to enjoy the date. I discovered that although his English was very good, we didn't quite understand each other all the time, especially when trying to talk over the salsa music blaring out all around us. I began to appreciate how difficult it must be for him to talk to someone if he has to concentrate hard just to work out what they're saying, but I had a solution... 

We ordered a couple of cocktails (the caiprinha is one of my favourites, as it is almost impossible to fuck up...and when in Brazil...) and settled on a table to continue to attempt to get to know each other. Then it hit me, like a ton of cachaca flavoured bricks. The man in front of me was, in fact, really rather sexy. A very good dancer and extremely confident after a drink, he took me for a spontaneous spin by the bar, nearly sending me flying as I attempted to keep up with him (something I would struggle to do even with sober feet). By this point I was breaking the rule I had set myself about not getting drunk on dates, lest I lose my powers of reasoned judgement, but I was having a really good time! It was a very good date so far (one I suspect he had used on previous occasions to ensure success) and despite my initial presumptions that we would have nothing in common, and that I would not find him attractive, I found him utterly charming, from his accent, to his dancing, to his excellent kissing technique (ok, so it was an extremely good date!) When he asked if he could see my roof terrace, I found myself agreeing instinctively as I chatted about how I found the flat, and the girls I lived with, and how we were just going to see the roof terrace - nothing more - ok buddy?

When I woke up the next morning, I was initially a little concerned that upon our return to sobriety he would resume his reluctance to answer questions with full sentences. Thankfully, this was not the case. I have often argued that sex is an excellent ice breaker for the more shy and/or anxious among us (I do not include myself in this description...I'm more of an ice-breaking facilitator...) and this certainly seemed to be true of my french man. We went for a late breakfast at the coffee shop next to my flat, where I demonstrated my knowledge of the overpriced coffee machine making our drink (it's beautiful, but I have it on good authority that they are a bugger to repair) and he made himself look even more gorgeous by ordering a hot chocolate and a muffin for breakfast, while I drank my black coffee and stealthily ate the banana I had secreted in my handbag.

As he walked me to work he seemed a little uncomfortable - we were arranging to meet up later that week (YES!! Second date!! I knew sex would work eventually!) when he stopped and told me in a most matter-of-fact way that he was leaving the country in two months, and couldn't get into anything serious. I blanked for a moment, as I had not considered him to be long term dating material up until that point anyway. I told him I too was not interested in anything serious at that point, and we should just see how it goes...no pressure. He brightened up considerably, and as we said goodbye I felt for the first time in a very long time, that I met someone worth knowing.

I cancelled the second date.

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