Leo is a student and 22 – that enchanted age where anything seems possible, but you’re still not old enough to realise none of it will ever happen.
His pictures were, to put it bluntly, deceiving and he is not very good-looking at all, but I’m here now and we can at least have a nice dinner. I can tell he’s not a serial dater, as he’s picked Chinese – nobody wants to spend two hours watching a stranger grapple with chopsticks.
He has been flirting with me outrageously since I got here – he’s all coquettish leans to one side, wry smiles and fluttery eyelashes. I am as responsive as a fridge in a scrapyard.
Halfway through a bowl of noodles that I can’t wait for him and his mouth to finish, he licks his lips and puts down his chopsticks and I know I am in trouble.
“I just want you to know – I never sleep with someone on the first date.”
Here we go. I am nothing if not a sadist, so I ask simply: “Why?”
He goes into a long diatribe about how relationships can only be brief and meaningless when founded on sex and that he prefers to get to know someone “spiritually rather than carnally”. I wonder which rock of self-help this bizarre statement crawled out from under.
“So how long do you wait?” I ask. “What’s the magic number of dates before you do the deed?”
“Four,” I repeat. “And then what?”
“After date five, what happens next?”
There is no response. Just a deep breath. I plough on.
“Well, here you are.” I gesture around the room. “Sitting with me, on date number one. It rather suggests that as magic formulas go, your one for having a long-lasting relationship doesn’t seem to be much good.”
He scratches his head. “Eh?”
I should stop, but I can taste blood and, reader, I like it. “Four dates. Risky strategy.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, you’re giving people an awful lot of opportunities to fall out of love with you.”
He scrunches up his face, puzzled. “What’s wrong with my four-date rule?”
I rest my chin on my hands. “If your formula for starting out on a long relationship is not to have sex with someone until the fourth date, why are you single? Where’s your relationship? Why are you here, now, with me, on a first date, imparting your ‘wisdom’, when in fact it is a load of old pony?”
He laughs nervously. “I don’t know.”
“Well, no. Holding out on sex on a first date is your choice, and totally up to you, but don’t think it makes you any deeper or less superficial to keep your Aussiebums on. It just means you are missing out on a shag. If you’re happy with it, that’s great.”
He puts his hand on my arm and smiles at me in a way I imagine someone once told him was sexy. There is a bit of chive in his teeth. He looks very pleased with himself – like a bank manager cancelling an overdraft. “Are you asking me to make an exception just this once?” he says.
My gaze slides glacially to his hand.
“I do sleep with people on the first date,” I smile. “If I fancy them.” Cue dramatic pause. “You’re safe tonight, Leo.”
He moves his hand back. We spend the rest of the date talking about the weather and ask for the bill as quickly as politeness will allow.
Stats: 22, 5’7″, mousey/blue, Norfolk Where: London E1 Pre-date rating: 8/10 Post-date rating: 3/10 Date in one sentence: Bait is not taken.