In a diary that’s looking busier than I think is strictly necessary (seriously: when’s a gal supposed to find time to curl up on the sofa with tea and cupcakes and the new Grey’s?), one imminent slot is filled by a second date with a guy with whom I recently had a couple of bottles of wine.
Much like the oft-deemed “difficult” second album, second dates are, I find, tricky things.
The first date - if you’re not crashingly bored by the whole process - has a certain frisson of excitement about it, largely generated by the glorious potential of the unknown. All discoveries are yet to be made; there’s a plethora of interesting questions to ask and answer; and your store of witty (you hope) anecdotes is replete. And, if the interesting questions and witty anecdotes yield nothing, you’ve got the old stand-bys of families, jobs and holidays to fall back on. Awkward pauses and conversational clangers can be put down to nerves and brushed past.
Not so, the second time around.
You know enough about Chap (or indeed Gal) in Question that you’ve come to the decision that you want to see them again. Immediately there’s a soupçon of pressure: this isn’t just another first date to be written off (done so, if we’re honest, by text) as an Unsuitable - there’s at least some curiosity about future potential, and now the onus is on to be at least as charming and fabulous as you were last time.
By this point, and if the first date was at least a bottle of wine (and yes, that is how I measure time), you’ll have used up the standard conversations, and are going to have to come up with new and interesting things to talk about.
You’ll also be expected to have listened enough last time round that you remember the answers - something of a weak point of mine, especially once I’ve got to the almost-inevitable third glass of red; asking basic questions that have already been answered (with lengthy and detailed anecdotes) won’t endear you to anyone.
You’re not even sure that the success of the last date wasn’t just a symptom of the two bottles of Rioja and whether you’ll actually like Chap in Question when you’re sober - or whether he’ll like you.
And if, Heaven forefend, you’ve had to postpone your scheduled evening get-together due to suddenly-arisen work commitments with the result that it’s now due to happen in daylight, you won’t even have the opportunity for a couple of stiff drinks in quick succession to take the edge off (people apparently frown on hard liquor during the day. I say they’re not using their imaginations).
It’s a wonder that I’ve agreed to this thing at all. Maybe I should just cancel and watch that Grey’s episode instead.
Lamb Wrap at F M Mangal, Camberwell
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