I Went On A Date
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
I went on a date today.
It was with a girl from Manchester. 20 years’ old I reckon she must’ve been. You know the kind of girl I’m talking about. All female-like and all young-like. The kind of girl who acts like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But let me tell you – it would. Because her mouth was hot. Sizzling, like the rest of her body.
She came up to me after a gig the other night and said I was hilarious. “The funniest one,” she said. She told me her name was Carly but she looked more like Trouble.
“Beat it!” I said. “I know your type.”
She began to walk away. I immediately regretted what I had said.
“Come back,” I said, “I was only kidding. I was doing one of my jokes.”
She giggled. Of course she did. I knew her type.
She came back and we talked for 5-10 minutes. I’m quite the conversationalist, so naturally I led the discussion. The topics I decided to broach included: the interior of the bar, death, and the recent demise of Ant from Ant & Dec.
“Sad news about Ant,” I said.
“Yep,” she said.
“Do you know his surname is McPartlin?” I said.
“Yep,” she said.
“This bar is very cool. Shame we’re gonna die one day.”
Little tip for people in the dating game: always mention death. A cheeky reminder of the finite nature of existence makes the need to find a partner much more pressing. It’s a disguised way of saying, “Get a move on Carly, the clock is ticking. Just pick someone for crying out loud. How about that guy right in front of you?”
After implanting the idea of eternal nothingness into her mind, I had to get the train home. I wrote my number on the back of a leaflet and handed it to her. I carry a bunch of these leaflets in my bag for whenever I’m in this scenario.
“How to deal with a terminal illness,” she said, reading the leaflet.
“It’s worth knowing about. Anyway, give me a text,” I said, pointing to the number.
When I got home, I spent 3 or 4 hours staring at my phone. I was hoping that I had undiscovered psychic powers and that by focusing hard enough I could will her into texting me. Like one of those people who can bend spoons with their mind. Hopefully Carly could be my little spoon one day. But I wouldn’t bend her. I’d display the kind of respect that a sexy spoon like her deserves.
Anyway – I was starting to think that my psychic powers were either at worst non-existent, or at best, very fucking shit. Then my phone buzzed.
A few hours of hard-core staring later, I decided to pack it in and make myself a cup of tea. But when I looked at my teaspoons, they were all – yep, that’s right, you guessed it, gold star for you – bent.
I WAS PSYCHIC AFTER ALL.
Nah just kidding. Could you imagine though?
When I woke up the next day I forgot who I was. Do you ever have that? Like for the first 10 seconds after you open your eyes. And you feel kind of free. All your fears, anxieties and regrets are just gone. I was loving it. I felt like an observer to a brand-new world that I had no stake in. A floating bit of consciousness, untethered to societal expectations, blissfully unaware of even the concept of failure.
But then I heard my brother wanking in the bunk above me and it all came flooding back.
Ah shit. I was 21, unemployed and living with my Mum. And to put the icing on the cake-of-shit that my life was – Carly still hadn’t texted me. And to put the cherry on the icing on the cake – Ant from Ant & Dec had just been handed an £86,000 fine for drunk-driving.
I just want him to get well ffs.
But then something happened, something that had the potential to change my life forever: my phone buzzed.
I knew it couldn’t be Joe this time; I’d blocked his number the previous night after he started banging on about his childhood and something to do with his uncle.
I looked over, saw the screen, leapt out of bed and let out a shriek of pleasure just as my brother did the same. But I didn’t care about him masturbating anymore – CARLY HAD JUST TEXTED ME.
Now, to seem not-needy and not-mental, you have to leave it a little bit before texting back. So 3 minutes and 17 seconds of playing it cool later, I pinged over a casual little reply.
She replied to me and I carried on nonchalantly replying to her and eventually we organised a date. We arranged to meet at a bar called “Hold Fast” in Manchester. I suggested it because I’d been there before and I thought taking her to a place I knew would make me seem cool. Also, the name sounds like an instruction to commit. And FAST. If only it was called “Hold Fast Because Death Is Coming.” Then it would’ve been perfect.
We agreed to meet today at 3pm. I got to the bar at 2:30pm and it was closed.
Shit. I’d made the centuries old mistake of not googling the opening time of the bar.
“Well this is a disaster,” I said to no one in particular. At this point I was next door, in a quirky little coffee shop that had a lovely ambience and the comfiest chairs I think I’d ever sat on. Like armchairs that you just sink into. Proper nice. They had Motown tunes playing and the vibe was chill af. The staff were all bare cool as well. A guy called Darren greeted me when I came in and omfg what a cool guy. He had a beard and was like 28 probably. He even called me “dude”. He was like, “What can I get for you dude?” What a legend. Sipping a tasty Thai tea (served to me by Darren ❤ ❤ ❤ ), I tried to plot my escape from the terrible situation I’d been placed in.
“What on Earth am I gonna do?” I said to no one in particular again. “I’m gonna have to call it off.”
But that’s when a thought entered my mind. It appeared like a flash. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe it was from my unconscious. Maybe it was from God. Maybe it was from no one in particular. I dunno. But wherever it came from, it was 24-carat-gold GOLD.
I can just ask her to come here!
So I did, and after 11 minutes and 28 seconds of nonchalantly staring at my watch, there she was. My heart started pounding with anxiety and love. I don’t think I mentioned it earlier properly but she had blonde hair with like curls in it and it was safe to say she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
I went to greet her but I’d sank so much into my armchair at this point that it was almost impossible to get up. I felt so tiny and the chair felt like this huge cuddling beast, relaxing me into submission. Like I was David from David and Goliath and the chair was Eamonn Holmes. When I finally released myself it was with so much force that the armchair fell back and made a loud banging noise. When I leaned down to pick it up I smacked my head on the table and then my arms started flailing because it felt like someone was attacking me and then suddenly my tea was all over the floor and I was lying in the foetal position hoping she hadn’t seen me and that she’d just leave and go find her actual soulmate because it clearly wasn’t me omg what a pathetic little boy I am.
“Eric?” She said, peering under the table.
“Carly! It’s so nice to see you!”
I got up very nonchalantly and gave her a sort-of hug. My main man Darren fetched us a couple of lattes and we got chatting, the whole flailing, foetal episode thankfully behind us.
It started off surprisingly well. I was telling her about some of my recent stand up success and she seemed really interested. I told her how a lot of people think I’m arguably the best non-professional comedian in the Midlands right now but that I try to not get carried away with the hype.
“It’s all just talk,” I said. “My feet are firmly on the ground.”
Realising that I was talking maybe a tad too much about myself, I switched the focus to her.
“What do YOU think about my comedy?” I asked.
“I think it’s really cool. I could never do anything like that,” she said, looking down. I took the opportunity to blink, having worked perhaps too hard to maintain solid eye contact since she’d arrived.
She then started talking about uni and studying literature and how stressful this term is because she has exams coming up and something about her friend Holly and I was racking my brain to find funny things to say in between but was failing. I was looking straight at her face and my eye contact was back on unfaltering track so at least there was that. But I was getting really stressed with how long it had been since I’d said anything.
What to say? What to fucking say? Just say anything, Eric. How many exams do you have? Who’s your favourite author? What’s Holly’s surname? Something like that. Mention death.
“WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE ONE DAY AND UNI AND LITERATURE AND HOLLY’S SURNAME WON’T MATTER ONE BIT!”
I am funny.
She said she needed the toilet and then she followed up on it by going to the toilet.
9 minutes and 14 seconds later she was still in there. 8 minutes 32 seconds I could understand, but 9 minutes 14?? Something was up; I started to panic. She was either messaging her friends about how badly it was going or she was taking a big stonking shit. I didn’t like the thought of either of those things.
“How’s it going dude?” Darren said.
“I’m not sure, Darren. I feel very anxious.”
“It looks fine from where I’m standing. She’s laughing, you’re laughing. And she’s fit mate.”
Darren winked at me and then walked away.
I loved Darren.
I looked at the door to the toilets. I wanted her to come back so badly. I tried to use my psychic powers again but they didn’t work. I felt sad. Now that my eyes were no longer tethered to Carly’s, they began to wander around aimlessly. Then they fixed on something. It was me. They fixed on me. But not me sat at my table. Me at another table. With a different girl. She looked pretty and I looked nervous. Really nervous. It was so obvious. You could tell I’d put too much importance on this. You could see it from a mile off. My eyes wandered to other tables and I could see myself all over the shop. Sometimes I was the boy, sometimes I was the girl, sometimes I was both. It didn’t matter.
I felt so stupid. What was I doing? All this anxiety, all these little tricks. Bigging myself up, maintaining eye contact, reminding her of death – all just so she’d like me. It was pathetic. I didn’t know anything about this girl. She wasn’t my soulmate. She wasn’t even a person to me. She was just a collection of ideas that I’d attached to her. And I was just a collection of ideas. There were so many things to learn about in life, so many questions to answer. So much growth to do. None of this was important, not yet. It was silly.
She walked back in.
“My favourite part of the day is when I wake up and I forget who I am,” I said.
“I’m scared I’m a failure.”
“Or maybe it’s that I’m gonna be a failure in the future… or… or that I’m not gonna be a failure but that it won’t matter anyway… I’m not sure… It’s just all quite scary.”
“What are you talking about?” She said.
“Look,” I said, “I know this is going badly. I know you’ve just been in the toilets texting your mates about how weird I am. I know I know I know. I don’t want to be a person on a date anymore. If you look around we’re everywhere and we look like fucking dickheads. We’re pretending. I can go if you like, but if you wanna have a proper conversation then we can. We’re here now.”
“Oh… Okay sure.”
When she sat down again I felt like I could see her better. I realised I wasn’t making good eye contact before; I was just staring really intensely at her forehead. But now it didn’t seem to matter. She told me that she likes forgetting who she is as well and that a lot of things scare her. “Like what?” I asked. “Everything,” she said.
“Were you scared about coming on this date?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Why?” I said. “I’m a nobody.”
“So am I.”
I told her that I worry I’m too needy and that it pushes my close friends away. She told me she worries her friends don’t know who she really is and that if they ever found out then they’d abandon her. I told her I’m not sure who I am and that my head tells me to do loads of different things at the same time and I always pick the one that will harm me the most. She told me she’s broken and that she doesn’t think she’ll ever be fixed.
“Eric,” she said. “Can I tell you something else?”
“I just want you to know, when I was in the toilet earlier, I wasn’t messaging my friends telling them you were weird. I would never do that.”
“I was actually taking a big stonking shit.”
We carried on getting it all out until the burden of being who we were didn’t feel like a burden anymore, but just a funny quirk of being human, something that connects us all. I looked at my watch and my train was soon.
“I’ve gotta go…”
“This has been really fun,” I said. “Would you like to see me again?
“Would you like to see me again?” She said.
“I think so.”
“I think so too.”
Anyway, that’s about it.
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