It wasn’t a particularly exciting night. In fact, it was more ordinary than most. As always, I’d finished work and made my way home to indulge in an evening of secret eating, binge watching television and potentially sifting my way through a series of new matches on Tinder. Wild, I know. It was on this ordinary night that I began chatting with Martin. He caught me hook, line and sinker almost immediately with a bit of witty banter. I’ve gotta admit, a good sense of humour has always worked for me, as opposed to the highly predictable and ridiculously cliche “hey how are you”.
So, as with the beginning of any online liaison, we continued to talk. His pictures showed he was a handsome man which of course, ticked a big box. That was, obviously, in the hope that his photos were genuine and I felt at this point, we’d been chatting a lot so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was pretty refreshing to chat to someone who actually had something to say. Normally, when I say chat, I mean text. It seems my generation aren’t all about the actual talking but it’s something I’ve learned to live with.
Martin was coming across as being funny, and interesting, and a generally good conversationalist. A trait that in some instances can be few and far between but no, not now, we were getting on like a house on fire and really getting to know one another. It was great. He told me about his family, his past, his present, his future, in short – I couldn’t shut the guy up – but I liked it. Natural progression of the whole dating process from then led us to arrange a date and I was excited.
I guess first dates call for pretty commonplace venues and activities – a Friday night drink (a perpetually standard choice for the masses) or a Tuesday evening coffee (for the more confident persons amongst us). Martin chose not to adhere to these social dating stereotypes, much to my surprise. He suggested dinner. Whoa now, dinner on a first date? Surely this was a monumental mistake. What if we didn’t have chemistry in person? What if he didn’t like me? What if I didn’t like him? I genuinely sat and stared at my phone for a while leaving him with nothing but two blue ticks.
For once in my life, I put logic aside and thought “f**k it, what’s the worst that could happen?” and replied to his message to confirm that, yes, I too thought dinner would be a good thing to do for a first date. How horribly wrong I was. We made the mutual decision to meet at 7pm on a Wednesday evening at a well-known Italian restaurant in the city. At least, I thought to myself, if the date wasn’t great, it wouldn’t be an entirely wasted evening as I’d have indulged in all sorts of pizza and pasta over the course of the evening. A winner in any case.
The day came and by this point, I was really looking forward to it. Although we hadn’t met, our chemistry seemed nothing short of predominant through the number of messages we’d exchanged over the course of the week. I put my gladrags on, well, a pair of jeans, heels and a nice top, and made my way to meet Martin at the restaurant. For once, it looked as if I was going to be early which was a real turn up for the books! As I approached our meeting place, I could see him stood outside. Great start. There’s nothing worse than having to wait a while for someone who may or may not show up so already, I felt a little relieved.
I got to the door, he looked up and we both smiled whilst exchanging pleasantries. Little did I know that was about all the interaction I was going to get that night. The very kind waiter sat us down at our table, and I began the conversation with a strong opener “So, how are you?” I said. “Fine”, he said.
Fine? Is that it? No returning the question? Okay, odd, I thought, as a tumbleweed seemed to drift metaphorically across the table. “How has your day been?”, I said. “Alright”, he said. Am I being punked? Is this a joke? Our online conversations flowed with more pace than the wine did from the bottle to my glass, and this is what I’m being faced with in person? Surely not.
The same waiter came over to our table to take our order. “What do you fancy?”, I said. He disregarded my question, looked up at the waiter and said “I’ll have the calzone. We’re not having starters”. He placed his menu back on the table and looked at me, as if to say ‘your turn’ without actually saying it. I just couldn’t put my finger on the situation. Was he being rude? Was he ignorant? Was he incapable of conversing? I was yet to find out. I felt like a right muppet nonetheless though. I’d invested all this time in getting to know him and now, he seemed like a completely different person – not one I wished to spend an evening at dinner with for that matter. “I’ll have the carbonara”, I said.
When the waiter left, we sat in complete silence. The room was buzzing with laughing, chatter and a generally happy atmosphere, yet the bubble that surrounded our table for two was more awkward than anything I’d ever experienced, and that’s really saying something! “So it’s good to finally meet ay!” I said. “Yeah”, he said. What on earth was I meant to do in this situation? If I continued to ask questions to urge a response, I’d feel more like an interrogator than someone of romantic interest. I looked at my watch, this was going to be an incredibly long evening.
No matter how nervous or uncomfortable one might be before a date, there’s no way they’d act this way. This genuinely must be him. All front. The life and soul of the party behind the texts, but in person, he had the personality and conversational skills of an amoeba. God, why oh why didn’t I go with my basic instincts – never have dinner on the first date! I was trapped. The hour and a half we spent in the restaurant together felt like a lifetime as I continued to try and revive the dead chemistry between us. There was no hope.
We parted ways at the end of the night and as a pretty inactive person, I have never felt the need to run so much. I could not get further away from the situation that left me totally bemused. He just wouldn’t talk. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, sure, we’re in a day and age where technology has taken over but surely, not to that extent. I started to feel like I’d been misled. So charming over texts yet so indescribably dull in person. Oh well, another one bites the dust, I thought as I made my way home. I took my phone out of my pocket to reveal a new message, from Martin: “Thanks for a great night, was so lovely to meet you! I’d love to see you again!”
Deluded. Totally deluded. I never thought I’d say this but it turns out small talk really is a big deal. A huge part of getting to know one another is talking, and if you can’t do that, is there really any hope for you to form any sort of relationship? Awkward silences really aren’t something I look for, so in future, I’ll know to sneak in a phone call before meeting anyone. Oh, and I’ll scrap the whole first date dinner thing too because no one, and I mean no one, has the right to come between me and my carbonara.