Closing the door – that’s the hardest part when you’re single, and live alone. Whether it’s a slam, a satisfying click or the comforting slide into the latch after a hard day, the shutting of the door is very final. It won’t open again, not tonight. Not unless you get a sudden nine o’clock angst that you should be doing more with your life, having more fun, and run back out to the off licence or to meet a drug dealer or a Tinder hookup. It stays locked. You stay home. Nothing changes.
Nobody will come through it, carrying bags of groceries, good-naturedly whingeing about the traffic or their boss or the Tube or the weather, chucking the kettle on, turning the TV down one notch because you had it too loud, and chucking you under the chin before asking how your day was. Just a closed door. The world beyond it. You within.
And this is why people go on dates. This is why, night after night, week after week, year upon year, into infinite millennia, hopeful, yet defeated, singletons sit in All Bar Ones swirling a chunk of lime round a gin and tonic with a cocktail stirrer, listening to Toby or Jessica or Jamie or Zoe talk about that time they befriended a yoghurt maker on their gap year in Patagonia. This is why they accept that clumsy attempt at a kiss, an ill-focused, half-hearted slobber that’s supposed to invoke passion but feels more like an invocation of Article 50. This is why, after date three, they invite them in for lacklustre sex, and weak coffee the next morning, and a cold sore three days later. This is why they get married. The door. Always closed. That stupid sodding door.
Hoping to find someone to fiddle with their latch this week are Lucy, 27, a jewellery studio assistant, and 26-year-old business analyst Vik. I mean, if you squint hard enough, you can practically see the hashtag they’ll pick for their wedding watermarked over their faces can’t you? Read what happened on the date, roll your eyes a bit, stub out your Senior Service and come join me back here for some scalding hot tea.
Lucy starts. She’s in pink. Vik is in blue. Don’t @ about me this.
I am all for aiming high, but Paul Newman was like some other-worldly being when it came to good looks. I’ve been on this planet a long time, and dated many, many Guardian readers and the number who came even within 10,000 sexometres of Paul Newman was precisely zero.
Also, I’m not really into fancying people who are, like, dead now. It’s a tiny bit weird.
Here you go. Treat yourself:
A winning smile. I, sadly, have a smile that came in fourth but tried very, very hard and would like a rosette, please.
Why doesn’t this sound like a compliment? Look, we’re pretty early on here so I’m going to play nice and hold my tongue but if this is going where I think it’s going then please have some Aloe Vera handy.
Like they’re not even in the same room.
How much are you betting that while she tried to locate this Oyster card – it’s at the bottom of your massive bag, Lucy, where you left it – she stood right in front of the barriers, while the rest of London convulsed and drove itself into a mindless frenzy because we simply cannot be delayed longer than 1.5 milliseconds because we are, generally, awful? £100? £1,000,000?
Our first mention of Pokémon Go in the Blind Date column – truly the carbon dating of the non-scientific, beige arena! I don’t play it and I don’t particularly care if other people do – it’s not like I don’t walk around staring at my phone all day anyway. It’s just that instead of trying to catch virtual… are they animals? I have no idea. Anyway, instead of doing that I read hot takes on Twitter and status updates on Facebook from Sean and Tracy who I went to school with and now live in the flats at the end of my mum’s road. No, not those flats. The other ones.
However. People into gaming trying to convince those who aren’t why gaming is amazing – just don’t bother. We are honestly not interested, as when you reel off all the names of the Pokémon and say things like Pokestop and Pokegym, all we can think of is how we can not only never fuck you, but also potentially go back in time and unfuck every fuck you’ve ever had, on behalf of your previous victims.
Oh look it’s table manners and oh my God.
They went to a Japanese restaurant on the date, so sharing is kind of understandable if they got sushi, or whatever. But you have to eat loads of that stuff to even feel half-full, like TONNES, so if you are eating it with someone who is what you might call an inconsiderate sharer, you are very likely to have a grumbling belly the rest of the evening. This may explain why Vik is distractedly giving his answers like he’s trying to bat a fly away from him while he sunbathes – he’s ravenous.
Can’t find her ticket at the barrier, ‘shares’ and nicks all the food. Is Lucy short for LUCIFER?
You have to be supremely confident with chopsticks to even pick them up on a first date, let alone eat with them, so I’m assuming Lucy knew she had this wizard skill and wanted to assert her power very early on, and good on her for that.
“Interesting travel tales.” Contradiction in terms, sweetie.
That’s it? Her bird tattoo? I mean, mate, I know she hogged the sashimi and showed you up with her chopstick twirling, but the best thing you can say about a woman is she had a nice tattoo? You’re totally voiding her personality or any other interesting character traits in favour of something she paid to have drawn upon her? I don’t know – it’s a bit like someone coming to your wedding and saying the best thing about it was the starter or the front teeth of your second groomsman.
Hang on: “chirpy” earlier on, “bird tattoo” now. Either Vik has an avian fetish or he is trying to stealthily communicate, with the debilitating terror of a hostage, that Lucy is actually thirteen budgerigars standing on top of one another in a raincoat.
Well, of course you would. Unless your date is a huge sociopath or wears a Donald Trump wig because it’s better than their own hair, you should, on the whole, be able to introduce them to anyone. Similarities are important; they can create quick bonds and make for good times. But you tend to find stronger, more resilient, eternal connections are made from the very things that stand you apart from one another.
Fun game, almost as fun as Pokémon Go: reread this answer and then, straight after sing “man-baby” to the tune of Goldfinger. “Man-baby! Wah-waaaaaah-wah. He’s the man, the man who’s a man baaaaay-beeeeee.” It never gets old.
I am literally done with this weapons-grade clean-shirtism. How long have we got left?
Dashing. Wow. Lucy, I’ll forgive it all. The Oyster card, the food sharing, all of it a mere memory, if you will promise we can get married and you will call me dashing every day for the rest of our lives because that is a compliment I would KILL to own.
Dashing. Amazing. I’ll even overlook the ‘chatty’ – what did poor ‘talkative’ do to be so roundly ignored by millennials?
Is Vik describing Lucy or is he talking about a zebra finch? There is something not quite right here. Vik’s answers are very detached, like he’s reciting them off cue cards or translating someone else’s answers out of Swedish. Lucy’s enthusiasm seems completely at odds with Vik’s slow trudge toward the gallows – what’s going on?
It seems Lucy is just as confused, because this isn’t an actual answer – it’s deflection, another way of saying “I have literally no idea”.
I’m sorry, but “happy chappy” is one of those terms I really want to see languish at the bottom of a bin for all eternity, along with: cheeky chappy, top geezer, classy bird, not a happy bunny, know what I mean, hun, hunni, chic when people mean chick and not actually chic, lads, alright lads, rofl, the boy, date night, oftentimes, happy holidays, ‘Beefa, sundowners, cheeky negronis, happenstance, voddy and coke, tidbits, titbits, what a coinkydink, the answer may surprise you, the perfect response, love trumps hate, all lives matter, hardworking families, your children’s future and PIMM’S O’CLOCK.
Oh wow, I love this. My Yorkshire grandma would’ve said this.
Gosh, getting old is awful. How I miss being the apple of someone’s eye and sitting at my grandma’s kitchen table, eating Weetabix with hot milk with my favourite spoon – every child should have a favourite spoon, my cousin and I used to FIGHT over who got to eat cereal with this spoon. Now I can’t eat Weetabix because of the gluten or whatever and I don’t know who got that spoon in the end and there are bills and Brexit.
It’s more what they don’t say than what they do, isn’t it? It’s like when you look back at people’s diary entries for the day man landed on the moon in 1969, and it’s all the usual trivia of the era, like work and mates and dinner, and then a small addendum about the big event, the one we go on and on and on about here in their future. There’s a moon landing in this date somewhere and our intrepid reporters have either missed the scoop or are wilfully covering it up.
Oh shit. 6. Six. The gentleman’s zero. Six is nought, it really is. It’s a vacuum disguising itself as a happening. Is it face-saving? It sometimes is. Did Vik think Lucy wasn’t interested at all? Or is this about bloody Pokémon? *opening strings to Goldfinger begin*
And Lucy marked him nine. A 9 is a brave mark; she liked him and wanted him to know she thought he was a good guy. We’re going to be in a magazine, she probably thought, I don’t want to damage any potentially fragile sensibilities by totally throwing him under the wheels of a burning hot Routemaster. So, a 9, for a nice evening. You can feel the tyres bumping over her, can’t you? For it is Lucy who has ended up under the 148 to Camberwell Green.
Sometimes when you don’t know what to say about something, you should just stop speaking, so I’ll let the daters finish things off with the killer question: repeat performance?
Photograph: Alicia Canter and Graeme Robertson 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. If you want to give your side of the story, and tell me what the holy hell really happened here, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.
Note 2: I recently lost out on some regular work and am actively looking for work/commissions/anything. If you enjoy this blog or other stuff I’ve written, please do get in touch with me. Asking here is the most mortifying thing I’ve ever done, but I have bills to pay and writers don’t earn that much. If you have something, please contact me.
Note 3: The Blind Date blog will be taking a break during August.