It was with a little trepidation that I wandered out of the office towards the City recently to meet The Northerner. It wouldn’t normally fill me with fear: the prospect of a date with a guy I’d seen more than a few times before (let’s face it - if it did and I were still seeing them, there’d be something distinctly odd about the situation). But this was different.
I met him at the tube station where he kissed me hello. “Oh don’t look so nervous - you'll be fine. They’ll love you.”
I was about to embark on a date that didn't only involve the two of us, but a varied assortment of his flatmates and their friends and colleagues. For a dalliance only a few weeks old and as yet unconsummated, I felt it was a bold move. But arriving at the door, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, gave the hair a quick smoosh and in I went.
The way you’re introduced to the friends can be a useful insight as to how the other person views the relationship. “This is my friend, Blonde” would be very different to “this is Blonde, my… er… this is Blonde” (let’s face it: no one ever introduces their date as their date. We muddle and um and ah, contemplate saying “the person I’m screwing” and then cop out and just say their name again). As it was, I didn't get to find out how TN would have introduced me before the birthday girl - one of his flatmates - bore down upon me instead.
“Blonde! Hi! It’s so nice to meet you! Come and have a drink - can I get you a glass of wine?”
I suddenly found myself with a large glass of rosé pressed into my hand (seriously, girls - when did distinctly below-average rosé become the default drink? Yeuch) and swept into a conversation that’s now relatively hazy.
Of course (and as predicted by everyone else), I needn’t have worried. His friends were all perfectly lovely, intelligent conversationalists and thoroughly good fun to spend an evening with whilst knocking back some outrageous cocktails (although I’d like to meet the man who thought putting Absinthe in cocktails was wise. Gods ABOVE, the hangover). Asking questions about who I am and what I do, they seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me – without employing the tone (favoured by The Father) of wanting to know my intentions with their friend.
It seems the feeling was mutual as, whilst TN was helping me into my coat some hours later, the birthday girl scrambled over a table to us.
“You’re not going yet, are you?”
“’Fraid so,” I said, “but it’s been really lovely to meet you.”
“Oh… Well, we’ll see you again soon, won’t we?”
“Well you’re coming to Other Flatmate’s birthday on Saturday, aren’t you?”
“She might do, if you give me a chance to ask her,” TN said firmly, as he kissed her on the cheek and we stepped out into the night.
Whisper it: I think this might not be a total disaster after all.