“So,” said The Northener, with whom there have now been several dates, as we stood on the tube platform on a recent Saturday night, being one of those disgusting pairings who look smug and canoodle in public. “When can I see you again?”
We’d had one of those dates that left me thinking I was being utterly, utterly daft to let any of the niggles get to me, and that I should just man up and let them go. We’d spent a thoroughly lovely day wandering round the Natural History Museum (an aside: why, when a boy knows you’re utterly immobilised by fear by the mere thought of spiders, will he run his fingers gently up and down your back as you walk past a case of the horrid, dead critters? Hmm? Why? It’s mean), a leisurely coffee and then dinner in South Ken before going on to a bar for late drinks. And, given that he’d been funny and (arachnids aside) charming all day, I didn’t think another date was out of the question.
“Hmm,” I said, mentally scrolling through the diary. “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday are out. Might be able to do Saturday, though.”
“Oh,” he said, “that’s annoying. I’m busy Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Well…Unless…” He looked at me, clearly gauging whether what he was about to say was a truly terrible idea, akin almost to putting a spider down the back of my jacket. “Unless you wanted to… Well, it’s my flatmate’s birthday on Wednesday and she’s having drinks. It would be great if you came along.”
Woah there, matey.
Meeting the friends?! This is rare behaviour in the dating life of the Blonde. The last guy whose friends I met was Minor Celeb (yes - that long ago), and… well, the less said about that the better.
For me, my friends are the family members I got to pick. I would walk on glass for them, and I know they’d do the same for me. Hell, Best Mate has been known to spend evenings sitting alone at the bar, just so she can keep an eye on me, supervising particularly ill-conceived first dates. As I say: they’re important. That being said, they’re a judgy little lot, with pretty high standards and it’s quite obvious when they think someone’s not quite up to snuff.
Given that’s the case, it’s small wonder that one of the most important questions that crosses my mind on a first date is could I introduce this man to my friends? If the scene playing out in my head is one of utter embarrassment as Best Mate quietly raises an eyebrow at something Chap in Question has said, or he fails to grasp the sometimes brutal but always hysterical humour of Boy Whose Job In The City I Don’t Understand, then he’s probably not going to get to date two. Silly? Maybe. But these people are a vastly important part of my life: if they don’t get on with Chap in Question, ultimately, I imagine I won’t either.
So, there I was standing in front of a boy whose arms were wrapped round my back, and whose eager expression would make saying no as appealing as the thought of kicking a Spaniel puppy in the chin. What else could I say but, “Um... Okay then. Sure. Why not?” And hope, to high heaven, for the best.