So here we are again. An unprecedented second date with the guy who, aesthetically at least, really isn’t my type (see the first date). I’m curious to see whether he’ll be able to maintain the level of charm he laid on with a trowel during our first date. On first glance, he’s ticking all the right boxes. He arrived at the chosen pub before me, and has a drink waiting – he’s remembered my ‘usual’ from our first meeting. He looks keener, cleaner and more dashing than he did on that first date, like he has harvested some information from my brain thanks to that end-of-date kiss at the bus stop and is tuning himself in to my particular predilections. Still no hair, though, of course.
If I were less of a cynic, I’d be knocked off my feet. I remain firmly upright, however; I’m not about to lose my head over someone recalling my favourite lager.
Knowing someone really fancies you is quite an unsettling feeling in a way, almost a dangerous power to have. I know I can say anything, act any way at all, and he’ll still lap it up. Sometimes it can be tempting to take advantage and be more playful – in the way a lion is ‘playful’ with a gazelle – but my date is so overwhelmingly nice that the prospect doesn’t appeal. Instead, I distractedly drink my pint while his dilated pupils threaten to devour me at any moment.
It is only our second date, but I feel like I have known him much longer. He seems to second-guess what I’m about to say, and when he does let me speak, he completely agrees with me. Are we already so in sync that there is nothing left to discover, or is he just going along with everything and trying to impress? I should be lapping this up, but I feel a bit like an old emperor being toadied to or placated by loyal, but frightened, subjects. He’s not rolling over or anything, and there are a few sparks of challenge coming up in the conversation, but this is almost going too well. It doesn’t feel authentic.
While we walk home – to my home – I feel a little empty, and not just because I forgot to have dinner. My date is too compliant; he likes me to a level you shouldn’t after only spending a total of six hours with me. While I’m not in the business of badgering men who have no interest in me at all, that old chestnut about ‘the chase’ isn’t just a cliché.
The farmer has left the door to the chicken coop wide open; the lid is off the sweetie jar. So why aren’t I ploughing ahead, enjoying the spoils of my victory? Because I have no battle scars to show my toil; the true winner here is my vanity. He believes he has done everything he can to make me fall head over heels in love with me. He is wrong. He has, in fact, done rather too much.
I unlock my front door with a heavy heart but a painted smile. My date steps over the threshold, but only a cup of tea and a shake of the head await him. No surrender.
I let him stay, but I already know the way this is going to go; my mind is made up. Nothing really happens save for a few drunken kisses and then we sleep.
The next morning, I make him another, final, cup of tea while he stands behind me and wraps himself around me, his arms like chains across my bare belly. I am meeting a friend for lunch and so have to leave. He sets off with me, brightly going through his list of plans for the day, not quite daring to ask to see me again. That, I know, will come in a text later.
At the fork in the road, it is time to say goodbye. A peck on the cheek, a sincere smile and then we walk off from each other. As I walk away, I think maybe it isn’t too late – perhaps I could see him again. But when I think of the realities – of his fitting into my life or getting on with my friends or him managing to stay so bright and breezy when he has had a prolonged taste of the real me and a selection of my particular idiosyncrasies – I realise my first instinct was the right one. This is the end of the line.
And the text does come, just an hour later. I send the reply straight away. I don’t want to give him false hope or leave him dangling; that’s not my thing. He replies immediately, shocked and puzzled and looking for answers. Nothing I have to say will be of any use or help so I reply vaguely, but as kindly as possible, and hope that will be the end of it. Only one more text comes through:
“Shame. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Not sure you ever will though. You don’t seem the type who even knows what that is. x”
Truncated versions of both parts of this post originally appeared in my monthly column in Gay Times magazine. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.