When the phone went at 6.30am following my first date with Sports Nut, there was pretty much only one person I wanted it to be. And, to my delighted surprise, it was. Battling our respective hangovers, text messages were exchanged for most of the morning, until we got into our offices and exchanged emails instead.
It progressed in much the same vein over the next 48 hours until, with after-work messages suggesting we were both in the same vicinity, I called him. Being within five minutes’ of each other, a decision was made not to wait until the following week for date number two (already scheduled), and to hit the pub then and there.
“Urgh – I didn’t think this through,” he said, as we sat down with drinks. “But I may as well just admit it, because you’ll have noticed anyway: yes, I am wearing the same jumper as I was on Tuesday.”
I smiled, and breathed a sigh of relief – the scruffy shirt/jumper combo I was rocking was definitely not a sanctioned date outfit either.
For an impromptu date, it was great. In fact, for any date, it was great. Really great. We covered a whole raft of stuff that we hadn’t got round to on date one (parents and families; what we want out of life; how amazing CJ from the West Wing is). And after a couple of drinks, with Sports Nut’s hands wrapped round mine, I felt something that I’ve not felt in a very long time: utterly petrified by the fact that I really quite liked him.
The fear was so strong that I did something I’d rarely do: I told him.
“It’s not something I really do,” I explained, as he brushed his thumb over the back of my hand. “Just... falling for people like this.”
I thought back to Minor Celeb: despite being together for nine months, at no point did I even countenance the fact that we were in a relationship. Emotional distance – whether a good thing or not – is something I’ve learnt to cultivate rather successfully in most of the dalliances I’ve had. I’m sure there’s a whole world of therapists out there who’d tell me it’s not a healthy way to conduct oneself, but hell: I’m British. I can pull off a little reserve, especially when it comes to matters of protecting the heart.
“I’ve been burnt, and have no intention of letting it happen again. And I’m quite scared that there’s burning potential here.”
He looked at me with steely grey-blue eyes. “Look, I tend to go into these things all or nothing. And I like you too...”
And then, in terribly terrible rom-com fashion, he kissed me. And I didn’t really stand a chance.