Where was it? The zing, the ‘ooh la la’, the butterflies, the jitters? Where was the spark? That illusive little creature, which makes a great friendship, conversation or flirtation ‘Pop’!
Drunk and deflated I forced myself into a brisk ‘don’t even think about mugging me, I’m quite sober and confident thank you very much’ march home.
I reached for my phone to make the all-important 2am drunk phone call to an ex boyfriend who is now just an ‘Oh you know, we’re just friends, no, no, I would never go back there’ kind of guy. Who at the same time fluffs my ego and, cushions my fall, after many a failed date.
“But he owns a house!” I wailed. “I’m supposed to like this kind of guy! He did the tiling in his bathroom and he can DRIVE!” I rounded off, my tone more aggressive than was necessary and, my priorities a little fuzzier than usual.
Over Happn, the ‘best for stalking’ dating app, the Homeowner had most definitely popped! His profile was a work of pure genius with a confident tone implying that he just didn’t need to take himself seriously. He was fun, good looking, witty and intelligent, all neatly wrapped up into five or so profile pictures and, a short hilarious bio (“5 A* - C grade GCSEs”).
We bypassed chitchat and generic hellos straight into me giggling off the side of the sofa with my best friend over the quick-fire back and forth. The kind of conversation where, you both try to set the other up for the next joke, but are equally competing for the punch line.
After about a week of cling-clang, joke, joke, pop, he asked me out for a drink. I think I actually fist pumped the air, as though I was walking across the football pitch, at the end of The Breakfast Club.
For me, the online and dating app world, of endless profile pictures has somewhat lost it’s allure. The idea that geographical convenience will procure the love of my life, or at the very least, some decent conversation over a few beers is dwindling into the realms of deeply unlikely. I’m not a pessimist and, my general rule, mantra and go-to-saying for dating is:
‘The more people you meet the more like you are to meet someone worth meeting’
That said trudging out on another essentially 'blind date' to be met by disappointment is getting old...
...Getting ready at the last minute after being totally sure he’d flake out on me it dawned that, as ever, I would be late. The selfish part of my brain that wasn’t expecting the night to go well was ok with this, but the more dominant people pleasing portion was scatting around, throwing on make-up and trying to cram all date necessities into her new tiny Marc B yellow purse.
Somewhere during cramming I left out my oyster card. It wasn’t until I was blindly pressing my purse up to an oyster card reader, getting steadily frustrated and of course drawing an impatient Saturday night crowd, that I realised my mistake. I climbed down from my hoity-high-horse and backed away into a corner to rummage. Moments later I was running back home in heels.
Oyster card in hand I left for the second time, firing off a text to the Homeowner with equal portions apologies and wit. “I really am great at first impression so just hang in there! (Sorry!)”
But as I slammed the door behind me I realised in that instance that I had now left my keys on my bed. I was locked out and wondering if this was fate's way of telling me not to go on another ‘blind date’.
Hammering on the door for my flatmate, five missed calls and 10 minutes later, I was back in and out again.
I sent another text to which he replied:
"No worries. Just in case you can't spot me in here I'm the guy sat alone..."
Almost half an hour late I spotted him through the window at the not yet crowded bar. Ok, yes, he was good looking. Nice arms, staring at his phone (he was normal) bottle of beer, good grey t-shirt. I’ll give this a shot.
Over Happn we may have sparked but over beers, the Homeowner and I were dimming.
The conversation was good and speedy and covered oh so much distance in a short space of time. He was a good date really; he didn’t skip a beat at offering me my next drink, and was insistent on paying but allowed me to get every other round. He cracked jokes and I tried to keep up. He was, I noticed, nervous at a mile a minute.
I couldn’t tell what was missing or if there was anything missing. I liked him, I was warming to him, but it wasn’t quite the date I’d imagined from our on fire, online, back and forth.
As we switched to cocktails I realised that we finally started having a conversation instead of just talking about ourselves ‘interviewesque’. favourite comedians, family stuff, old jobs. I tried to imagine kissing him and found that I couldn’t.
Was I expecting too much?
Is a spark on a first date with a stranger too much to ask? Is it a figment of our Hollywood imaginations? After all, sat opposite someone whom you don’t know, but have essentially already told that you 'fancy', well, are those good conditions to breed romance?
Online dating is a lot like catalogue shopping, then wearing your outfit out to a party, before trying it on.
That first eye contact and conversation, is rarely going to fit as well as that favourite little black dress you turn to time after time, when you just need a decent chat and a hug.
The quick fix dating solution hard wired into our generation and downloaded onto our phones, well, it’s not a bad thing. It certainly stays true to my rule of meeting many people. However I think when we expect dating results circa pre-app and real connection and, slow burning love culminated from friendship well, we’re approaching the new way of first dating it all wrong.
Maybe my date with the Homeowner wasn’t bad, just different.
“Do you think you’ll see him again?” the familiar voice at the other end of the line asked.
“Can I date him just in the hopes of one day marrying onto the property ladder?” I giggled.
“No you can’t. I thought you liked him?”
“I do, I’m just unsuuuuuuuure! If he asks me, yes! I’d like to get to phase two!”
“What’s phase two?”
I don’t know what I replied as at this point I think I feel asleep. The next morning I awoke with shoes still on under the duvet.
So perhaps, when it comes to ‘modern day dating’, from modern day apps, the modern day woman must not lower her expectations, but shift them a little to the left. Maybe a first date is more like a prequel, the thing which happens before the spark. Because, after all ,he was a stranger.
We didn’t kiss. Instead I sort of did this embarrassed little wave just two feet away from him. Luckily that didn’t deter him and he’s been in touch since. All wit and questions in his texts, which I hope is a good sign. Fingers crossed for phase two….