Thirst. How did we get it? When did it arrive? Have we always had it, but kept quiet? Did the advent of social media and the ability to express ourselves at every opportunity awaken a huge beast within us?
Like putting toothpaste into the tube, it’s hard to recant once you’ve shown the world just how thirsty you are for its gaze. Shirtless selfies on Instagram, long missives on Facebook, tweeting every breath or, even, writing a blog just like this one (self awareness klaxon) – most of us like to know someone’s watching. Pretending we don’t like the attention always seems a hollow complaint, like Mel C (for example) when she says she hates being famous. What did you think being in the Spice Girls would bring you? A job on the Clarins counter in Debenhams?
Warren Beatty, chastising Madonna in her Truth or Dare documentary, seemed a ridiculous and prudish dinosaur when he said, “She doesn’t want to live off-camera, much less talk… What point is there of existing off-camera?” but most people agreed he had a point. Times have changed. Warren would now be decried as a share-shamer. Maybe we all need a Warren in our lives to tell us how ridiculous we are. We’d ignore him anyway, adding another filter to our couples selfie in Five Guys, but at least we’d know he was there.
Queueing up for a great big vat of water and hoping it’ll quench that thirst for good today are Patrick, a 24-year-old PR assistant (wow what are the chances, eh?) and Giuseppe, 30, a graphic designer. I long for the day we have someone who works in Saxone and another who dresses as a chicken and hands out flyers for KFC on the high street. Prick the media bubble.
You see? You see this, homophobes? This is why you need a gay man or two on your life. No hoping for ” a tasty meal and lovely chatter” for these two, like all the other greige throw-my-jumper-over-my-shoulder-and-hang-loose heterosexuals – although Patrick nearly chucks it away with the “good conversation”. They want to get DRUNK with someone HOT and they don’t want to be MURDERED. Now, we’re cooking.
“Definitely lives in Hackney.” I wonder what gave it away. Perhaps Giuseppe arrived on a fixie, or walked in waving his library card.
I have an irrational dislike for the phrase “easy on the eye”. I mean, I am vainer than Jeffrey Archer staring into the webcam during a Skype call with [REDACTED] but if there’s one compliment I can’t stand, it’s “easy on the eye”. Maybe it’s the “easy” part. It’s all so passive, so nonchalant. I don’t want to be easy on your eye; I want to make your eye work for it. Take me in, focus on me, drink absolutely all of it in until you want to poke your eyes out to give yourself some respite. Easy on the eye? You wish.
We’ll let “he seems nice” slip away into the pneumonic coma it deserves and instead move on to the “he’s almost as blond as me”. I have literally zero times in my life arrived on a date and marvelled at a date’s hair colour and its similarity, or lack thereof, to mine. And this is back even when my hair wasn’t greyer than a badger’s arsehole. But blond people, well, they hate to be outblonded. I started writing something about Tiger Tiger here but thought better of it and deleted. I will leave it to your imagination.
Whatever, whatever, Negronis. Negronis. They’re back, unexpectedly, out of context, like Cannon and Ball doing a winter season at Bridlington.
I refuse to believe anyone enjoys negronis. I have sat in bars and restaurants opposite good friends, people I thought I really knew, and watched them chuck back a negroni like it was A-lister jizz or whatever elixir Cher drinks. “How can you not like them?” the negroni lover will say, as if it’s unreasonable of you to be reluctant to drink a cocktail that tastes like a coffin.
I sometimes think negronis are God’s way of telling you that the person who orders and drinks one should never, ever be fucked. If you’ve already fucked one, try to unfuck them as quickly as possible.
Even my dog, which I am yet to actually buy, yawned at this one. Anyway. This is Xavier Dolan:
He’s kind of like James Franco, but 10 years younger and with full access to a nail brush.
Oh look someone just walked in as you started watching Broadchurch for the first time, told you who the killer was, and walked out again.
I wonder where they kissed. The restaurant, maybe?
Kissing in a bar is fine, to be encouraged, even, but I could never accept canoodling over dirty dinner plates. We didn’t amble out of the cave and invent the wheel just so you could maul each other over a half-eaten chateaubriand, darling.
Oh, Patrick is a sex gay. You get those on dates, sometimes. I have been that gay on dates sometimes. Good for him. We’re funny things, aren’t we? One date I could be shyer than a parlourmaid being shown an aubergine for the first time, other dates I’d make Casanova blush.
Who we are, and whether we get our sex out, depends on the person we’re on a date with. If a guy starts asking you about sex –something I really can’t stand talking about on a date because I would rather show than describe – then it means he fancies you. How you respond to that is rather up to you.
Let’s take a peek inside Giuseppe’s brain:
Ah. Looking good for Patrick, then.
One of my huge secrets is that I absolutely destroy every tablecloth I ever sit at. I don’t know how; I don’t behave like a messy eater. But somehow I manage to get at least £4.50 worth of each course all over whichever over-starched square of cotton happens to be draped over my poor unfortunate table.
Haha, if ordering tagliatelle on a date isn’t code for “come meet me in the toilets for a quick nosh” then I don’t know what is. FILTH. I love it.
More important than dick size or being kind to animals.
Ever since it was pointed out to me that the “sure” in answer to this question sounds like it was said with gritted teeth, with all the sincerity of a doctor’s receptionist wishing you a merry Christmas, I can’t get it out of my head.
“Sure I will. If I ever see him again. Which I won’t. But sure.”
AFFECTIONATE like a cat that wants you to get off your arse and empty its litter tray. SARCASTIC like no other gay man ever. SEDUCTIVE like a mixtape by Leslie Phillips.
FUNNY like the gay best friend in a ’90s romcom who dies halfway through to teach the much less entertaining straight main character a valuable lesson about life, love, and loss. EASY-GOING like a person who can’t be arsed to make a decision ever. SMILEY like a fucking emoji. Smiley. Jesus.
Is today’s Guardian Blind Date sponsored by a joke shop? Have you ever known “funny” to make such a dominating appearance? I’m not auditioning for a Fringe show, so it’s never really concerned me whether people think I’m funny or not; I just don’t want them to think I’m unfunny. There’s a difference.
Finally, some sexual activity on a date. You can always rely on the queens to bring that trophy home.
I’m just joking. No such thing as whores where dating is concerned. I should know. I am pro-this. Pro-kissing, pro-action, pro humans behaving like humans should do when they’ve had too much to drink. Better this, an inebriated fumble in the world’s most exciting city, than trudging home with your Fitness First gym bag to make a risotto and have an early night because you’re getting up first thing to stand in a room full of “don’t know, don’t care” clean-shirts and read out a series of PowerPoint slides.
Look, I’m as “drop sex into absolutely every conversation” as the next man – as long as the next man is Norris from Coronation Street – but, seriously, is Patrick typing this with his hard-on?
A bottle less? Wh–why? Hangover the next day or… could it be that you woke up the next day with a little more than a monumental wineover, in the shape of, ooh I dunno let me hazard a guess here, a Patrick?
Don’t regret the wine. Never regret the wine. Learn from the wine. Appreciate the wine. Get down on your knees and thank the wine. Because even if the wine was responsible for you slutdropping up against the local vicar, or confessing to your mother you did coke off a rent boy’s belly, or, well, letting Patrick ride you like the slippiest car on the waltzers, it also made you who you are today.
Aw, is it over already? We’ve come all this way with Patrick and Giuseppe, watched them eat like two Tasmanian devils let loose in Burger King, gaped as they bagged off in front of two pensioners and marvelled at their capacity for alcohol. Will we get the happy finish we deserve? Will they see each other again?
Photograph: Linda Nylind; Alicia Canter, both for the Guardian
Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. This isn’t about me thinking these two people are bad people – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they’re great. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally; I don’t see the date in advance so my reactions are my first ones. Thank you to these two guys for feeding the monster – not to mention the beast with two backs. If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.