Impeccable Table Manners

Rena and Chris

Another Saturday, another couple willingly, inexplicably, subjecting themselves to the glare of the nation.

My relationship with this column is a confusing one as, while enjoy it, I do not understand why anyone would want to be in it. No more than I ever understood any of the men who would email me asking me – begging, sometimes – to take them on a date so I could write about them. I think even Narcissus might look up from the lake in horror at that idea.

They don’t give their ages this week, which is unsettling as Rena and Chris look like the kind of people who could either be 19 or 37. Chris has a beard; Rena has an undercut. Let’s pretend they are both 28 – I liked being 28.

No occupations given online either, so I assume whoever was whacking today’s edition on the CMS in the early hours of this morning had a cab and a bottle of Pinot Grigio waiting. Anyway, read it and see what you think before I wade in. Warning: there are distressing scenes of a table manners nature.

Rena | Chris

Rena kicks us off:

What did you talk about?
Lots – the cereal cafe, cold-water swimming, being vegetarian, the Buzzfeed effect on media, stag dos, London Fashion Week.

These conversation topics are like a time capsule – things you could *only* talk about if it were late 2014 and you only looked at Twitter twice a week. Nobody has been talking about the cereal cafe for *months*. It is the conversational equivalent of Adrian Mole turning up to the youth club in flares in 1983.

Any awkward moments?
I was pointed in the direction of the wrong person at first, but it was a good ice-breaker.

” Yes, I have a kind of bushy beard and could’ve been born any time between 1973 and 1992.” I’d have found him straightaway, wouldn’t you, viewers?

It’s table manners next. Hold on to your hats. Spoiler: I’m wearing black and am adjusting my mantilla.

Good table manners?

Rena. RENA. If, by some remote chance, you’re a regular reader, I’ll let you off. If not, how could you? If Chris says it as well, there will be blood. Actual blood.

Very good. Better than mine.

Crisis averted. I can call off the nuclear weapons. Although, what does this even mean? Who really goes on a date to a Fitzrovia restaurant (I looked it up) and displays table manners anything other than exemplary? Would you even notice table manners unless the other person ate with their hands and/or had sex with a waiter on the table while you ate pudding? No, of course not. Also, the restaurant they chose has a very ugly, annoying  website – even worse than Sketch’s – so I wouldn’t eat there.

You may think we have peaked there with that “Impeccable”, readers, but guess what? Rena is the gift that keeps on giving – get a load of this:

What do you think he made of you?
I had just given up alcohol for Lent, so possibly came across as more strait-laced than is really the case.

Oh, that loud whirring sound? It’s just me turbo-rolling my eyes. Giving stuff up for Lent isn’t “a thing”. We have Dry January now, if you really want to be worthy and have everyone congratulate you for not lifting a glass of wine  to your lips, that most arduous of toils. Come on.

Seriously, You’re on a date. It’s all free. Fuck Lent. Pour me a gin and tonic. Double. No, no lemon or lime – there’s no room in the glass.

It may seem like I’m shortchanging Chris here, but when you have an all-gold, A1 Blind Dater like Rena – an “Impeccable”, no less – you don’t waste any time. Anyway, here’s Chris again:

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully that I’m fun. Basically, not a weirdo.

Chris, who cares what she thinks of you? She gives stuff up for Lent and says your table manners are impeccable; you will always come out the winner here. Or possibly not. Rena’s back:

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I’d have a gin and tonic.


Rena scores Chris a half-enthusiastic 8, while Chris gives her a non-committal 7, which is very ungentlemanly and proves you really need to pre-agree scores for this thing.

And then we get to the final line, which has me kind of feeling like an overprotective mother at the school gate, because I have inexplicably warmed to Rena, my cross-shaped child I have to bear:

Would you meet again?
Never say never…
As friends, most definitely.

Rena’s “never say never…” is polite, dignified, but Chris had to make it clear that beard and undercut do not a couple make with his “as friends”.

What put you off, Chris?  The gin and tonic avoidance? The cereal cafe chat? That in-depth and totally original bantz about the BuzzFeedification of journalism and thus modern life itself?

You messed up Chris. Anyone willing to say your table manners are “impeccable”, which is simply impossible to say of anyone with a beard in my view, is a keeper. Big mistake. Huge.

Rena, you win.


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