Morning has broken, and so did at least one heart upon reading today’s Guardian Blind Date column, I reckon. This week we find ourselves staring into the barrel of the date between Luke, 28, who is a software engineer manager and Krissie, 31, who is a pension fund VP. Two jobs I have only heard of in passing, know nothing about and, I am happy to say, have almost no relevance to the date except the fact Krissie works in pensions has a certain irony about it when you read on. (Pedants desperate to tell me I have defined ‘irony’ incorrectly: we already have one Susie Dent; I don’t think there are any vacancies in Dictionary Corner just yet but do keep applying through Monster.com)
Here are our charges in top-to-toe form, complete with Girls Aloud-style hair toss from Krissie:
I’m sure the photographer was thrilled they both wore such dark clothes to a photoshoot. If their outfits were any more sombre, they’d be playing Plague Victims 1 and 2 in the Bubogeddon Live! interactive experience in the London Dungeon. Anyway, habit says I must first divert you to the actual write-up in the Guardian so you can read all the answers I leave out – do return here once you’ve read that through your fingers so we can dissect this particular cadaver.
Luke on Krissie | Krissie on Luke
What were you hoping for?
Someone who shares a passion for adventure. Failing that, someone who laughs at my awful jokes.
This is like on a soap opera when a character says ‘This is going to be the best Christmas ever!’ only for a car to plough into them as they’re placing the star on top of the tree.
What were you hoping for?
A good laugh and a story for my friends.
Confident and easygoing, and she looked stunning.
Smartly dressed, big smile.
‘She looked stunning!’ is such a great thing to say that it makes everything that comes after seem like some kind of one-man Edinburgh Fringe show playing to an audience of three at the least salubrious venue in town. We are being lulled here.
What did you talk about?
Our shared love of travel. The best heavy metal bands. And our experience with dating apps and terrible dates (I won’t share those stories here).
Travelling. Christmas. Movies. Family.
Travel ✅ – Always a bad omen that someone’s about to bore you into the first stages of rigor mortis or, worse, that you’re going to leave your self-awareness somewhere by the roadside on the A65 and are about to spend far too long talking about the time you nearly did ayahuasca in the back room of a 7-Eleven during your gap year.
Terrible dates (I won’t share those stories here) – Too busy making new ones!
Any awkward moments?
It would take a lot for Krissie and me to get embarrassed! Though we were kicked out of the restaurant because we stayed past closing time.
This has very ‘it felt like we’d known each other for ever’ energy, which is always a nice feeling, but it is just that: a feeling, not a fact. There are some things you might *feel* you can say, in the spirit of this newfound camaraderie, but that you should most definitely not. You will understand what I’m getting at in approximately three seconds’ time when you read… this:
Any awkward moments?
When he looked me dead in the eye and said: “It’s OK, I only date older women,” and, “Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over 31.” Spoiler, I’m 31.
I have some wonderful life advice for you. I’m no sage, but this wisdom is, honestly, the best gift I can pass onto you, because it will make people hate you less than they possibly already do. Are you ready?
Unless asked specifically for your opinion, don’t comment on anybody’s appearance in any way that isn’t hugely positive. It sounds like such an obvious thing to say, and I think I’ve even said it here before, but so many people blunder about the place causing untold destruction with throwaway comments that they forget instantly, but the recipient might think of for ever. It is a free country, and you are entitled to have any thoughts you desire. You can make these judgements about how someone looks if you like, but there is no need to vocalise them ever. Because, spoiler: most people are only too aware of what they look like, and have their own hangups or dislikes or just little… things they hope nobody will notice or say anything about. They know they are larger since the last time you saw them, or look a bit gaunt at the moment. They are aware that their hair is grey, or that they could do with buying a new jacket, or that they’re having a breakout, or that they have dark circles, or new wrinkles since you saw them. Mirrors are freely fucking available and believe me, they stare into them. It is very unlikely you can say something to someone that they haven’t already thought about themselves, but the real sting comes from someone confirming those thoughts, they make them real. Honestly, ‘you look great’ is the only thing you need to say unless you’re asked to give actual feedback.
If you’re asked to guess someone’s age, either go totally ridiculous – ‘I was going to say somewhere between school-leaver and Iris Apfel?’ – or fake a heart attack and make sure you look convincing. Flatline if you have to.
Now, I would quite like to know what led up to this statement because I must hope Luke wouldn’t just blurt this out like a toddler on a bus saying – at levels loud enough to drown out the pyramid stage at Glastonbury – ‘MUMMY WHIS DOES THAT MAN IN THE BLUE COAT HAVE NO HAIR AND JUST A SHINY HEAD LIKE AN EGG?’ Did he already know her age? Did Krissie say ‘Ooh you’re young?’ or something – we’ll never know and I would prefer not to start blaming her for it, but I’m guessing he didn’t mean this to sound as… well, like it sounds.
Krissie, for the record, one day, say in a decade or so, someone will say you look 31 and you will drop to the tarmac in gratitude like the Pope landing at Terminal 4. You don’t look 31, no, but I don’t know what a 31-year-old is supposed to look like. 31. Imagine.
Only the most beautiful words, and the very ugliest ones, can stay with someone for ever. Choose wisely.
(I don’t claim an unblemished record in this regard, by the way, but I’ve taught myself over the years wield my word power more carefully.)
Best thing about Krissie?
I suggested we order each other’s cocktails all night. She was all for it.
Like Big Brother producers hiding Nadia’s cigarettes on nominations day to create drama, I have moved this question higher than usual for a reason. Try to imagine this answer as… oh I don’t know, brake fluid trickling out from under an Austin Maestro that’s about to be driven down a really steep hill.
(If someone suggests you order cocktails for each other, I’d first ask why they want to do this, and then if satisfied with that answer – whatever a satisfactory answer could be, ‘it’ll be fun’ isn’t enough – you need a veto list so you don’t end up with negronis – railway bridge-filtered raindrops mixed with out-of-date Robitussin – or mojitos, the dull cocktail for people who think ordering sweet potato fries instead of regular chips makes them an edgelord. And then tell them what you actually want: a gin martini so strong it can activate an Alexa three streets away.)
Best thing about Luke?
UNTIL THIS MORNING, I IMAGINE.
Table manners! You ready?
Good table manners?
Absolutely – eating Japanese food can be a logistical nightmare and she was a seasoned veteran.
10/10 for eating ramen and edamame with chopsticks. But he suggested we choose each other’s drinks (I’d have preferred to pick my own) and kept forgetting what he’d ordered for me.
In my view, they didn’t know each other well enough to be eating edamame with chopsticks in front of one another, but well done on that.
That ‘I’d have preferred to pick my own’, though – says it all, really. Ordering for each other is maybe something you could do when you’ve a few dates under your slingbacks, not on first meeting. Not only is it quite… well, sad really that Krissie was denied cocktail-based agency, but someone’s cocktail choice can be quite revealing. I have been over to the restaurant’s website to check out the cocktail menu and it is really great, so maybe it wasn’t a total disaster, but there’s also a classic cocktail menu for the kind of people who, I imagine, complain about the quality of the baked beans in seaside B&Bs, so imagine if you had all these exciting concoctions laid out before you but your date looked at you and thought, ‘Nah, this looks like a Blue Hawaii face to me’. I’d emigrate. I’d rather someone said I looked old.
Would you introduce her to your friends?
For sure, I think they would get on quite well.
Sure, but I’d remind them all to use a good night cream the day before.
Can I just say that even though quite a few corners of the internet were horrified by this date today, Krissie does seem to be taking it all very well and I don’t for a second think Luke meant to drop so many clangers and he’s probably having a BIT of a morning of it, so I won’t be skewering anyone here today. Maybe.
Describe Krissie in three words?
Adventurous, unafraid, chatty.
Adventurous, like someone who sticks their head in a lion’s mouth and tells them they look 42.
Unafraid, like a man who orders a margarita for you and says, ‘Now, this is a little gem I first tried on my trip to Mexico’ and expects you to be still awake by pudding.
Chatty, like the people on the bus three seats behind you who saw you in the Guardian Blind Date column and want to ask you what cocktails you ordered.
Describe Luke in three words?
Friendly, warm, forgetful.
Friendly, like the barman serving you cocktails pretends to be when you order one that takes seven solid minutes of vigorous shaking, the like of which he hasn’t known since Chariots on Lower Marsh shut down.
Warm, like your negroni, as it sits untouched, somehow managing to glare at you like sentient synovial fluid .
Forgetful, like oh I don’t know this one is nice isn’t it, try some, no I can’t remember what it’s called, it’s a bit exotic for me, it’s a bit minty, know what I mean, I think I might just get a pint next time, have you got any Fosters, oh right okay then never mind.
Did you go on somewhere?
We tried to go to a bar but had left it much too late to get in anywhere.
We attempted to go to a bar, but I feel we were both relieved it was closed.
And.. did you kiss?
Not this time.
No, there was a polite wave goodbye.
Has there been a hilarious mix-up at the printers and they’ve published the answers to two different dates? Am I in an Inception-style alternative universe (check out my very modern references there)? Not this time? Is there an expectation of trajectory yet to climb?
Marks out of 10?
This is like watching someone clamp defibrillator pads to a coffin.
Look, I am going to be generous. It has been a tough couple of years, and many of us have watched or social and perception skills haemorrhage away. Jokes don’t land like they used to. We might act a bit louder and more theatrical than we would’ve two years ago. In an era where it’s been very easy to forget who we used to be, and what it means for who we are now, I am willing to give Luke the benefit of the doubt and also acknowledge how disappointing this experience must’ve been for Krissie. You wait months and months for a date and meet the guy who says ‘You’re old lol!’ I hope he at least told her she was stunning, rather than saving it for the column, when it was too late. But at least Luke had a lovely time.
And isn’t it GREAT to be back out there, just having vaguely SHIT evenings again, making mortal mistakes, and experiencing things you never want to experience again, bad cocktails, magnolia conversations, just because you can, and for as long as this gangrenous, unforgiving Earth decides we get to stay on it?
Would you meet again?
We have exchanged numbers, so maybe. It will all depend on her Blind Date responses.
Lord, stop, HE’S ALREADY DEAD.
Would you meet again?
For a friendly gossip? Sure. Or when I’m next in need of a good ego-check.
If you would like to support my work, preorder my new novel, The Fake-Up, which is out 7 April. Preorders make a huge difference to a book’s campaign and they also make you more fanciable. I don’t make the rules. The book is very funny and there is a sex scene in a toilet.
Or, leave a small tip on my Ko-fi page, but only if you have it spare.
And if you can’t do either of those things, don’t worry! I am grateful for your continued readership, thank you so much.
About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on answers given by participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most things I say are 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. There has been an increase in readers being quite horrible about the daters – this isn’t what we should be about. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments and will report any abusive tweets. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself or assume I agree with you. 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 or fill our feeds with hate. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. I need to know… well, everything tbh.
Going away for a bit now. Please be nice to the daters in my absence.