Sam is wearing a black shirt over a graphic T with black trousers; Yolanta is wearing a pink bustier over faded jeans
Composite: David Levene/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Sam and Yolanta

Roll up, roll up as we slowly crawl toward the end of winter. Today we have Sam, 29, a therapist, and Yolanta, a 31-year-old advertising creative, both of whom drink a lot of bottled water, I imagine.

Here they are from top to toe:

 

Sam is wearing a black shirt over a graphic T with black trousers; Yolanta is wearing a pink bustier over faded jeans
Composite: David Levene/The Guardian

Read what happened on the Guardian website – no mid-date selfie this week, I wonder what happened – and then return here for a light sprinkling of vinegar. Or sugar! I’m versatile!

Sam on Yolanta | Yolanta on Sam

First impressions?
Stunning, great smile and worth the wait! She was a little late …
I was 10 minutes late and he was very early, but he was so nice and didn’t make me feel bad about it. He had a calming energy and was easy to talk to.

Ooh. Lateness. As regular readers may know, I’m not a huge fan of it, especially on dates. Like most irrational, petty grudges, it comes from my own experience of being left sitting in underwhelming pubs waiting for dates to arrive while after-work drivers tipped Kronenbourg down their necks and had competitions to see how long they could passive-aggressively call each other ‘mate’ before a fight broke out. (Can you still get Kronenbourg, or have Peroni and Moretti and Madri finished it off?)

Anyway, I think I could forgive someone in a pink bustier anything, and it was only ten minutes (according to Yolanta) and the other first impressions are SO sweet – I like the ‘calming energy’ note especially – that it’s a sign that when you get good vibes off someone it really doesn’t matter how late they are.

What did you talk about?
Lots, we were there for four hours. Yolanta’s ever growing list of talents: Danish stool making, scriptwriting, painting, magazine and film editing. And the time she met the Queen.
He’s travelled to some really awesome places and so have I. Fixing up his houseboat, which looks epic. My love for courses – I showed him my scar from a recent woodworking class.

Yolanta’s ever growing list of talents/My love for courses ✅ – Ah, they’re doers, everyone. They do things. Extra-curricular. I always admire people like this (from afar, silently, with a glint of envy) because I don’t do anything apart from write and read and throw a kettlebell in the air every now and again. I am both in awe of and suspicious of people who not only have time, but choose to fill it, with stuff that has nothing to do with the rest of their lives. When I still used to go to parties or friend people on Facebook, I’d be amazed by these randoms dropping in details of the dance class they regularly attended, or the lido swimming they did, or pottery or macramé or whatever. I’d be like, ‘Oh, poor you, is your sofa not comfortable?’

Fixing up his houseboat, which looks epic – Isn’t this the second houseboat owner in a row? Hang on, I’ll go check. Yes, last week, Tyla lived on a boat, so I wonder why she wants matched with Sam. Maybe they both stipulated ‘no boat owners, one is enough’. I suppose it’s like those gay men who date someone completely identical – could never be me. First of all, I find myself semi-repulsive on about five days out of seven so I couldn’t look at a doppelgänger all day, and it’s just nice to have something different, isn’t it? Maybe if you’re a boat dweller you crave a relationship with a regular house person so you can have a shower without having to hold onto a handle in case a jetski speeds past (not that you get those on canals, I guess), or, just once, you want to turn over in bed without knocking something off your bedside table and causing your entire house to rock for fifteen minutes.

Most awkward moment?
I was quite early, and she was a little late, so I spent a fair while sat at the table alone wondering if I was about to be stood up for a Blind Date.

Okay, so maybe he wasn’t that cool with it after all. But, fair enough, being stood up on a Blind Date would’ve been a nightmare (and has indeed happened, as you can find out in this piece I did for the Guardian years ago).

Good table manners?
Impeccable.
We were as bad as each other: we didn’t take ourselves too seriously.

I had a quick butchers at the restaurant website and their tagline is ‘The Butcher’s Theatre’ and further down the website it says ‘We like to call it the butchery with tables’ which sounds to me like be that final nudge to vegetarianism I’ve been crawling toward for years. The menu is basically MEAT and is terrifying. I don’t know if this is the ideal venue for a first date – just reading the menu caused my right ventricle to fur over with lard – but as long as they enjoyed themselves.

Would you introduce them to your friends?
Yes.
My friends are inquisitive and emotionally intelligent, so they’d get on like a house on fire.

I really like Yolanta’s answer here. She’s read the GBD column before and, like me, rolls her eyes at people who claim their coterie is far too chic and exclusive to handle any incomers. ‘Yes of course I would, my friends aren’t fucking idiots, and life is not an episode of Gossip Girl or that baffling series of You that’s set in a fantasy version of South Kensington.’

Describe Yolanta in three words.
Intelligent, engaging, beautiful.

INTELLIGENT, like an AI programme trying to analyse a Guardian Blind Date but falling at the first hurdle because it doesn’t explode at the mere mention of a negroni or a sharing platter.
ENGAGING, like a TED Talk by Jake Gyllenhaal in a pair of yellow Orlebar Brown springer swim shorts. What’s the talk about? Radiator maintenance. Bell jar bonsai. I don’t know. Who cares?
BEAUTIFUL, like she is!

Describe Sam in three words.
Adventurous. Kind. Empathic.

ADVENTUROUS, like a puppy who’s worked out just how long you take to go to the toilet and how much of your house they can destroy in that time.
KIND, like the person at work who takes all the buttons and Euros out of the charity tin left on the reception desk before sending it over to the charity.
EMPATHIC, like Claire Rayner on TV-am, educating me about the perimenopause while I ate my Rice Krispies, rapt, before school. (We were talking about Claire Rayner last night, and what a kind voice she had. You don’t hear many of those on TV now, do you? Everybody’s screaming.)

What do you think Yolanta made of you?
Strong eyebrows apparently … I think that’s a good thing?

I have NEVER forgotten someone saying to me, aged about 15, that I had tempestuous eyebrows. I’ll be honest here and say it sounds like Yolanta might have been grasping for compliments, but maybe she doesn’t believe in sitting there weighing up someone’s physical attributes like they’re a prize heifer at a county show.

Did you go on somewhere?
No, but he walked me to the station in the freezing cold, which was sweet.

Yolanta had a 5am call for a shoot, apparently, so no sambucas or aftershocks in a skeevy bar for them.

And … did you kiss?
No.
I don’t kiss on the first date and he didn’t try to, which I appreciated. I like to take things slow to be sure about the connection before anything physical.

I know I usually say ‘fgs just snog’ to daters but I like Yolanta’s vibe here. Especially now we live in a covid world, where bagging off with someone in the street may have deeper consequences. A few years ago, I might have said ‘oh might as well’ to many things but now I’m a little more selective and perhaps even cautious. After a good two years of having little control over our own lives, maybe it’s good sometimes to set your own pace.

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
I would have dressed up a little more. (I live on a boat and can’t power an iron so felt a little scruffy.)
Honestly, it’s hard to think of anything.

I mean, if Yolanta did come to the date in that amazing pink bustier then, yeah, anyone is going to feel scruffy beside her. The exact phrasing of ‘power an iron’ fascinates me. Is there no electricity on the boat? ‘Powering’ it sounds quite specific, as if you have to let the charge swell, like those pads on an emergency crash trolley (you know the ones from Casualty where they scream ‘CLEAR!’) Anyway, as someone who falls in and out of love with ironing, I will concede that you should maybe run an iron over your Uniqlo separates when you’re going on a date.

Marks out of 10?
9. Loses a point for the late arrival, but otherwise a great evening.
8.

Shame Sam had to drag up the lateness again – it really does become something you can’t get over if you let it 😬 – but a 9 is a very high score for a date with no snog. Yolanta’s 8 is the internationally agreed score for a very good date with no physical contact, so well done everybody.

Would you meet again?
Yes, we exchanged numbers.
Yes, we exchanged numbers.
a wheel of fortune board saying I've got a good feeling about this
CBS

A rom-com waiting to happen? Let’s not rule it out…

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Something to remember about the review and the daters that I put at the end of every review

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, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. 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. Do you… not own an iron? Does it use up all your, errr, boat battery? I need to know how this works just in case I write a houseboat into a novel one day.

Yolanta and Sam ate at Macellaio RC Soho, London, W1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

 

8 Comments

  1. I really liked them, but I thought it sich a shame that he kept circling back to her lateness. That would put me off when reading it, if I were her. But I’m still rooting for them. Maybe it became an inside joke or something….

  2. It’s unchic to be late to a date but it’s worse to let your date know you were “very early” as Sam apparently did, to make her feel worse about it. Bad vibes imo

    1. I completely agree, I’m getting bad vibes from Sam as well. What also bothers me is that while he apparently pretended it wasn’t a problem (“he was so nice and didn’t make me feel bad about it”), he then felt compelled to complain about it in his review. Bad vibes indeed.

  3. While I deplore unpunctuality, here’s a bloke who’s shown up in a ratty unironed T-shirt and complains when a stone-cold fox in a pink bustier arrives a mere 10 minutes late. And she seems like a sweetheart too. He should be thanking his lucky stars.

  4. I have a feeling that if they had a second date he’d ask for the bill, produce a calculator and say ‘Well, Yolanta, while I had only one glass of wine I couldn’t help but notice you had two, so that’s…’

  5. It’s one thing to mention it once. Mentioning it three times in about 300 words is a passive aggressive grudge.

  6. I thought these two were adorable, and I’m rooting for them. I fell like the repeated mentions of her lateness were more about editing/templates than passive aggressiveness on his part — but I’ve been married for 25 years to someone who is always late, so I have a particular, and hopeful, perspective.

  7. I thought her answer about her friends was a really nice compliment to him – they are inquisitive and emotionally intelligent so they would get along like a house on fire because he is too.

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