Andrea and Emily
Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Emily and Andrea

Happy New Year.

I don’t know if you know any lesbians, or bi women, or women who date/sleep with other women but reject traditional classifications of sexual orientation, but if you do, you should always ask them how they met. Of course, a great number of lesbian couples – as I will refer to them here for the sake of shorthand, please don’t write in – met the ‘usual’ ways, in a bar or a pub, online, though friends, at a wedding over a quiet drink somewhere, or dinner. Regular stuff, yes. But sometimes, no often, a lesbian origin story will be unlike any other ‘how we met’ anecdote you’ve ever heard. There might be car chases, or some kind of catastrophe; there is almost always some kind of wall-climbing incident and a minor injury. It will likely be boisterous and momentous, or packed full of secrets they refuse to divulge no matter how much Mateus rosé you slosh into their cut-glass beakers that they bought in the gift shop of a museum you’ve never heard of in a city you’ve never been to. If they choose to tell you, it might be breathlessly recounted like a campfire scare story or relayed matter-of-factly like it was a trip to the big Asda, but, however it’s told, if the moon was right and the levels of attraction aligned, it was probably a night to remember, brimming with chaotic energy. As one of my (now happily married, hello Adele ❤️) lesbian friends often good-naturedly remarked when she was on the dating scene, ‘Lesbians, they’re f*cking mad’ (no idea why lesbians were a ‘they’ and not a ‘we’). Why this is, I’ve no idea – perhaps some lesbians would care to enlighten me or correct me – but my inkling is that without a man present to ruin everything, women are freer to be themselves. The boring heteronormative ‘rules’ and mind games that permeate through much of dating culture – even gay dating tbh – are brushed aside, irrelevant. Even the shyest of all the wallflowers has to let loose at some point and, like I say, if everything lines up as it should, that might just be during a date with another woman.

This is all leading up to me saying that this week’s Guardian Blind Date features two women. Emily on the left and wearing a belt, is a 24-year-old photographer and brewer – not at the same time, I assume – while her date on the right and more trustful of gravity to keep her slacks up, is Andrea, also 24, a student. Here they are in full.

Emily and Andrea
Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Yes, they do look a bit like a ’90s cartoon reimagining of Cathy Gale and Emma Peel from The Avengers, or like they’re featuring in a Sunday Times magazine piece about young up-and-coming multimillion-dollar jewellery thieves with large YouTube followings, don’t they? Either way, these outfits are great and they seem to be glad they’re here with us. Read what happened on the date on the Guardian website, then read it again, and perhaps one more time just to be sure because quite a lot of it is just random words tied to spaghetti and flung up at a ceiling, before coming back here for some attempt at analysis/review/recapping/whatever the hell it is that you actually read this for, I’ve never taken too much time to try and understand the appeal, tbh.

Emily on AndreaAndrea on Emily

What were you hoping for?
To meet someone who appreciates me for the gift to humanity that I know I am, and ideally looks like the reincarnation of Boudica.

Emily appears to hanker after a date with a godparent or her favourite art teacher.

What were you hoping for?
A free meal with someone who tolerates me.

AKA going to your parents’ house for Christmas.

First impressions?
Like the radiant sun in the form of a human being.

Okay so we are two answers in and already I feel like I do when I wake up at e.g. 6:30am and get up because I might as well and make myself a cup of tea and sit on the sofa and think ‘well, what shall I do first now I have all this wonderful day ahead of me’ and then sink back into the cushions and realise that actually it’s too early and I could’ve done with another hour after all because my head has that telltale ache from getting only six hours’ sleep rather than my preferred seven. Translation: tired.

First impressions?
When she waltzed in with a bouquet of orange flowers (£5 from Tesco), I must admit she struck me as being a bit too much.

I thought you weren’t legally allowed to accuse anyone of waltzing in anywhere until you had at least one teenage child under your belt, so this is unexpected. Did Emily also ‘treat this date like a hotel’ or perhaps play her tapes too loudly? Arriving with flowers anywhere but a hospital bed or your mother’s house on the third Sunday in March could probably be construed as ‘a bit much’ but I suppose if you are on a date that has been constructed in the name of content you may as well lean into it.

May I also say that £5 is a HUGE amount of money to spend on flowers for a stranger – especially ones from Tesco – at the age of 24. Anything more than graveyard daffs is sheer extravagance.

What did you talk about?
We spent most of the night discussing philately and how deeply involved I’d been in that community from a very young age. It was only when our desserts arrived that it became apparent that she’d spent the entire conversation confusing philately with fellatio.
Our shared appreciation for Carole Baskin’s wardrobe. I would love to see Emily in a bit of leopard print.

Philately/fellatio: One of my least favourite corners of the internet is the ‘didn’t happen’ brigade. Ob you know the ones, there’s a special Twitter account and everything. Their USP seems to be spending their finite days saying ‘DIDN’T HAPPEN’ in response to… just about anything, no matter how believable it may be. It all seems a waste of time to me – wouldn’t they be better off trying to make something happen themselves, in their own miserable lives? Anyway, once their shared brain cell lands in the head of whoever reads the Guardian Blind Date, they will love this philately/fellation confusion. For the sake of argument, I am willing to pretend that this mixup did happen and wasn’t just a) something that would’ve been cleared up within seconds of a quick googling b) one of the lamest misunderstanding jokes since Joey accidentally proposed to Rachel on Friends or c) an answer concocted between the two of them over WhatsApp on the bus home.

Carole Baskin’s wardrobe: I didn’t watch that show, but I do love leopard print. It goes with anything! But it goes best of all with… more leopard print!

Bet Lynch in leopard print Coronation Street

Any awkward moments?
It was a crushing blow when she rebuffed my advances.

We are jumping ahead in the timeline a little here, I feel but, well, it’s an age-old stereotype but sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason: lesbians tend not to hang about.

Any awkward moments?
There was a miscommunication on a certain topic but I don’t feel comfortable disclosing the details.

Cate Blanchett giving f**k me eyes in Carol

I’m not entirely sure how much longer I’m supposed to pretend that I’m not totally and utterly onto them here.

Good table manners?
Aside from noticing her picking off my plate as I made my way to the toilets…

Assuming these answers are real and not just the results of a computer simulation to work out what happens when someone mixes tequila and Night Nurse, this would be a very gross thing to do if Emily had not definitively finished, and rather dumb in what we like to call ‘the middle of a pandemic’. In the inevitable write-up about this write-up, when Emily and Andrea reveal themselves to be investigative journalists from Vice doing an exposé of how the Blind Date column is put together, this is the part where they’ll mention that I’m 45 years old.

Good table manners?
Considering she picked up the entire steak with her bare hands, I’d have to say no. But who am I to judge?

Okay, so I know we’re on the edge of our seats wondering where this spinoff of Cards Against Humanity is going to take us next, but I thought I’d take a quick detour over to the menu of the restaurant to see what kind of steak Emily – who appears to have been raised by Baloo – grabbed in her hands. They do a steak haché (a hamburger, basically), or a flatiron steak (with frites, the dependable pre-theatre dinner choice of your parents if they’re from Swindon and sacrificed having a third child for a second car), or a fillet steak au poivre. Which one do we think it was? I’m going with the flatiron steak, very thin and easy to grasp, and if you picked up the steak haché you would just call it a burger like everyone else, and the fillet steak might be a bit slippy and more likely to be bloody if you had indeed asked for it rare. In fact, we have NO word on the cooking level preferred by Emily here – a detail I feel lost without. As Victoria Wood famously said, a biscuit is funny but a Garibaldi is funnier. Details, mesdames. Details.

Best thing about her?
I was impressed by her liberal outlook and enthusiasm for my more niche passions. It would also be rude not to mention her sexy cackle.
The fact she’s utterly outrageous, yet so self-aware.

Rachel Weisz in Disobedience

Think of this as an intermission, possibly the most normal answer we are going to get. But who cares about normal? Andrea likes Emily’s outrageousness – although thus far all we have to go on is Emily picking up a steak with her bare hands – and Emily appreciates Andrea’s sexy cackle. Much rather a cackle, I feel, than a chuckle, or a titter, even a giggle. A good, throaty, unbridled cackle – it can’t really be beaten, except by a hearty guffaw.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
Should she be so lucky.
No, I’d like to keep it discreet.

Ruby Rose giving a "really?" look

Good luck with that. Okay, so I’m going to pretend this is all totally real, otherwise I’m just sitting here and wasting my time.

Describe Andrea in three words
Fiery, seductive, sensitive.

Fiery, like a vindaloo eaten in a restaurant at the bottom of a volcano.
Seductive, like the thought of Boris Johnson getting his tie caught in a paper shredder, off-switch just out of reach.
Sensitive, like a man who thinks infidelity is a brand of Viagra, but uses hand cream after he sanitises so he can’t be all that bad.

Describe Emily in three words
Vivacious, sultry, precarious.

Vivacious, like Su Pollard in a karaoke bar.
Sultry, like Jessica Rabbit in an oyster bar.
Precarious, like Jeanette Krankie on a high stool in a wine bar.

What do you think she made of you?
Mellow, sensitive and generous (I brought her flowers).

Guess again.

What do you think she made of you?
She kept forgetting my name and calling me Boudica, which made me think she’s not that interested. But then she said she loved me.

In the try-hard stakes this is Geri Halliwell offering to stand in for an injured Jayne Torvill just as she’s about to go on and skate to Ravel’s Boléro.

Did you go on somewhere?
I went home. She went to see her ex.

the favourite: olivia colman collapses

This is like two separate pilots playing at once, one for the BBC and one for Sky, both looking for ‘the next Fleabag’ but reluctant to commit to the lead character actually saying the word ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ in case they decide to introduce Andrew Scott – or whoever is picking up his castoffs now he’s scooted up a couple of echelons – as a romantic diversion in season 2. And then this scene removes all doubt: going on a date, then dropping in on your ex, is serious LGBTQ energy.

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
I suggested we kiss over dessert but she reminded me of the pandemic.
Well, she still tried to kiss me.

Rachel McAdams rolling her eyes

Horniness doesn’t evaporate just because there’s a pandemic, you know. If the Guardian really wanted these dates to go with a literal bang rather than a figurative one, they’d request daters isolate for two weeks before and after the date just in case. A month devoid of all human contact and living at the mercy of the internet, Deliveroo, and bizarre substitutions in your online Tesco shop are a small price to pay for the ultimate spectacle of going on a GBD and being not only DTF but actually able to. And what are you here for, if not to have something to tell your grandchildren, or your friends, or the content producer at NewNowNext once you do eventually go viral?

You can’t blame Emily for trying, I suppose – assuming she asked from a safe distance, rather than lunged – but you also can’t blame Andrea for knocking her back because Covid-19 is literally real and is killing lots of people. Please wear a sodding mask please please please.

Marks out of 10?
8.35.
Marks out of 10?
4.5.

Natasha Lyonne rolling her eyes

These are weird scores and Andrea’s is especially low. The flowers, maybe? The steak? We don’t know. Neither dater has let us in on their feelings unfortunately, so I couldn’t even tell you whether they had a good time or not. Although, in this case, I don’t necessarily think it matters.

The Blind Date has lots of different audiences who want very different things: romantics, who punch the air with joy when it goes well; sadists, who thrive on daters ripping each other to shreds (I’ve noticed a decline in this section of the audience in the last two or three years); those who come for the one-liners, or the weirdness, or the reflections of themselves, or the hope, or the hopelessness. I suppose a Blind Date works best when it’s a story that unfolds in front of you, whether heading for disaster or not. There’s room for everything, and some weeks, you won’t get the date you want. You might feel cheated. Even if the two daters are only appearing in the column for attention – which is probably the best reason to do it, in my book, tbh, because true love looks very tiring and you can get some nice photos done – it should feel natural, like it has a point.

But this is exactly the point here: two women living their best lives, being utterly ridiculous and over the top and kind of… odd – well, okay, maybe just one of them was, while the other endured it. All this, plus getting a magazine to print it – and a free meal! What other space would be available in a national newspaper for (one of) them to let their hair down like this?

It’s better to make history rather than try to repeat it, and while it may not be up there with the greats – like Lizzie and Tom‘s thunderbolt, Ty and Rachel‘s double hangover, Joanne and Morgan‘s gatecrashing and lost lingerie, and Jonathan and Matt‘s shirtless sex-Uber – at least they made you look. If we need anything, it’s distractions, and more of them – they did what they had to do. Slightly over-egged chaos by numbers. The campaign for the GBD to become a lesbian origin story content farm starts here.

Would you meet again?
We’re going to Russia in the spring.
Only if she dresses in leopard print.

Oh ffs. That’s enough now, though.

Kristen Stewart from Happiest Season

Right, please can I get on with my book edits now? Thank you. ❤️


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About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most of the things I say are merely riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments. Daters are under no obligation to get along for our benefit, or explain why they do or don’t want to see each other again, so please try not to speculate. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. I want to know if I’m right about the flatiron steak and also that this entire thing was just a bet.

Cilla Black exposing journalist

• Emily and Andrea ate at Aster, London SW1. They were photographed separately for this image. The date took place before London’s tier 4 restrictions. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com.

15 Comments

  1. Reading this week’s blind date I thought, they don’t need The Guyliner! but this is an essential commentary, I agree with you about the steak.

    We need a spin-off ‘Emily meets . . .’ column.

  2. They look really good together in the photo and even their answers suggest chemistry. Call me naive, but I think you might have been had.

  3. I can’t believe that this was a real date; it sounds more like a ‘dare’. It was quite evident after the first 30” that they were going nowhere, together, that is. This really was a waste of Guardian money and time. I think we don’t need to wait for wedding invitations for those two.

  4. Emily is fabulous – a force of nature, cocky as hell, and I love it.

    The energy – of being on a date with someone a leeetle prissy, and knowing it’s not going to go anywhere… And just saying, fuck it: let’s double down on the flirting, steal her steak, troll the Guyliner and just generally lean in harder to the whole ridiculous experience.

    Brazening it out in the Guardian, play-acting obliviousness (What do you think she made of you? “Mellow, sensitive and generous”) when you KNOW the answer is the opposite and you’re going to get slated in print to millions: that is gutsy. It has panache. She deliberately sets herself up as a caricature of pride and ego so that 4.5 punchline hits harder.

    The easy way out, to try and save some dignity when you know a date hasn’t gone well, is to take the “At least I’m self-aware” route, and say something self-deprecating, or acknowledge the awkwardness, or just generally be tediously British and fumbling and give a polite 7 at the end.

    This isn’t that: it takes risks – with wit, irony, in risking being misunderstood; in risking appearing an asshole. It’s absolutely a performance, but ultimately, in taking all the risk, Emily makes herself far more vulnerable to ridicule than Andrea — and that’s brave.

    Needless to say, I have a tremendous crush.

  5. She retconned the Boudica answer after seeing Andrea.

    I once told someone I had to go shopping because I only had condiments in the fridge, and some time later she asked me why I keep condoms in the fridge so I find the fellatio/philately skit totally plausible.

  6. Oh hell, how did I not see this already? Yes, lesbian couples. Exhibit a) met as the result of a threesome – them both and the trans male lover of one of the party; b) they met in a TREE (some lefty protest or other – I’ve a man and the kind of job which precludes me from being arrested, so I can no longer revel in that sort of fabulous, righteous squalor); c) they knew each other for years – both on the arms of various men at various gatherings. Both finally acknowledging the main reason they turned up at those things. d) Nope, I’ve run out – I’m not cool enough to know that many people, let alone lesbians, let alone cool lesbians (I also know significantly, relatively more uncool people, both gay and straight). I simply thought I’d statistically outdone myself, but Justin, I find your take on it, incredibly plausible. Thanks, in a way… 😀 xx

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