Cafe Date

October 11, 2011 § 22 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

A few days ago, I went on a date with a man I have been seeing – in the literal not emotional sense – for a year or so now.  We have a project in common and he sends me emails which make me laugh out loud at my desk even though I am all alone in my house so I feel like a prat when I do.  He is a couple of years younger than me; clever; warm and cheerful; not exactly handsome but a really friendly face, full of humour and vitality.  In the summer he asked me to go and stay with him.  I would have loved to but I couldn’t go the week he suggested.  I hinted I was free at another point, only he didn’t get the hint.  In fact, he never even emailed back to say he was sorry I couldn’t come.

I thought that was odd and disappointing, and rather gave up on him in my mind.  Then came the end of the summer and he was back in the neighbourhood and in touch.  Last week he asked me to join him at a cafe.  We needed to discuss the project, so I went.  I didn’t feel quite the excitement I would have felt some weeks before at the prospect of being with him.  Very unlike me, I didn’t bother to put on make-up, even.  That was quite telling.

We passed a pleasant enough couple of hours or so, sitting in the sweating sun.  We talked easily but I felt a certain flatness.  There was the odd word or gesture that grated, slightly.  He made me laugh, but not as much as before.  While holding a perfectly coherent conversation, my head was a riot of questions.  Do I fancy you?  Could this work?  Are you the man for me?  Do I want to see you with no clothes on?  I have no reason to suppose he wasn’t asking himself exactly the same.  The space between the surface and the subtext on a date is riddled with such disparity it could fill several novels.

Perhaps I was just tired, but for me the beat had gone.  Maybe a glass of wine might have kick-started it again, but I didn’t really feel like having one, and so stuck to a cup of coffee.  All the time, in my head, I was thinking, shall I try to get this into gear again?  Maybe he is keen, after all, in which case, why not?  Certainly, our conversation went joyfully off-piste, from the project to more personal things, and that was promising but I think the moment has passed.  I am not sure I am in need of someone who is off and on; hot and cold; who sends mixed messages.

I suppose I was unwittingly wafting out the famous “wrong vibe” and, surprise, surprise, he hasn’t contacted me since but, then, why would he?  Weirdly, though, I know that he will.

Only, then what?


§ 22 Responses to Cafe Date

  • John says:

    Loved your piece in The Times yy. I think you may have got out of that one unscathed. How often do we meet people when we are single and ask them to spend time with us “somewhere cosy in the country”. Sometimes it works and the there are smiles all round. But when it goes wrong it goes really wrong and you count the days to when you are back at home. I think you may have avoided this and can remain good friends over the occasional latte or even a lunch.

  • Alex F says:


    Must say I enjoy reading your blog, my advice is you need to stop thinking about ‘will it work’. Get back on the horse get used to feeling close to somebody and see how it works

    All the analysis of the situation prior to making a decision is greatly flawed


  • Penny says:

    Hi Plankton. Yet another man thats come out of the woodwork! yes I know its another one that you are not seeing romantically, but there seem to be quite a few men around you, in touch periodically, that you are kind of seeing (or could be possible boyfriends). So you seem to have an interesting life, but I suppose without this variety of men you talk about, you wouldnt be able to write a blog! I think you are luckier than most Planktons, probably its easier to meet men or be introduced to men where you live. I live in London where it is near on impossible to meet anyone! unless its through the internet dating, or through friends. So I wonder if other Planktons are like me, dont really socialise too much with men, not for want of trying, purely because we are not meeting them.

    The guy you had coffee with, the moment has gone, I think. If you had been interested you would have worked out a way to see him.

  • Sarah says:

    I think you’re very optimistic dropping hints to a man. They don’t do hints, you have to spell things out to them.

    I think you’ve got onto a bad footing with this potential One, which is a shame. When I got into misunderstandings with my dearly beloved at the beginning, only a nice chat sorted things out. As we wanted things to work, we took the time and energy, and discomfort, to do it.

    It depends how much you think he’s worth it whether you make the effort to put things right. Don’t wait for him, he thinks you’ve gone cool. The lack of effort with your appearance was probably confirmation in his eyes of your lack of interest in him.

    • John, a gentle man. says:

      Dear Sarah, You will have to go back through the blogs a couple of weeks to uncover this subject, but basically it comes down to signals from the lady, and the man having his radar switched on at that moment. Unless both of these are in harmony, it’s an uphill struggle.

  • Jane says:

    This has got potential girlie! give it a bit of watering, bit of nourishment and a weed then see what happens, he may just have thought you weren’t interested (and not wearing make up pretty confirms that!!). However if he still continues to mess around, throw him on the compost!

  • joules says:

    Maybe I should start wearing makeup. And see this link:
    Seems to make you more likeable. I always think that the extra five minutes asleep would make me better looking – and more likeable as I would be less of a grouch.

  • Erin says:

    Now we’re talking! So much positive about this one : ) I think two things are happening here. Number one, when you turned down his offer to visit, the hint did not register and he took it as you weren’t interested. No email as he was probably a little embarrassed at the rejection. His feelings were then bolstered by your appearance at the lunch. You were sending out a clear signal, I’m not interested in you romantically. Of course the cate felt flat because there was none of that wonderful flirty conversation that makes a date more lively. Second (and PLEASE do not poo-poo this!) you are never going to give anyone an adequate chance while you have this fantasy life with LS in your head.

    Case in point. When I was a Plankton, I had a very good friend whose brother became available. She kept telling me she was going to introduce us. He was an artist, creative type and I loved the whole family and thought what a perfect fit! I had been without prospects for so long that I built him up in my head as the One (sound familiar?) Met a few men or had the prospect of meeting some but I never gave them a proper chance because I was convinced Artist was the one and I was waiting to meet him. My friend kept saying oh, I’ll have a party and you can meet him then. This went on for an entire summer and I waited patiently for the day I would meet my Prince Charming. One evening while visiting my friend, her husband and I were talking about my love life (or lack of it) and I said oh, I was not really seriously looking because I was waiting to meet the Artist (his brother-in-law), who was perfect for me. He kind of made a face and said “I’m not seeing it.” I was really surprised because the vibe I had gotten from my friend was that we were a fit. I said really? And he said no, I just don’t see a fit there. But instead of taking his words to heart (because he had known Artist for years) I just plodded along in my delusion and waited for the party. Finally my friend told me they were having an end of summer party and Artist was going to be there. I felt a rush of adrenaline – finally finally I was going to meet my man and life would begin. Well, we met and he was totally not interested. As a matter of fact, he spent the night talking to a married friend of my friend. I was so deflated – not only that, but I had wasted an entire summer fantasizing about a relationship with him that I had let a couple other opportunities pass me by.

    Fast forward to now – hindsight being 20/20. What did I see in this man? He was broke, on the verge of bankruptcy, a very small troll-like man who I would have had to support and work till I died to keep a roof over our heads. I had romanticized this man into something he was not (not even close) at the prospect of being in a great family and with someone creative.

    Ms. P, your description of the cafe man above – I finally feel some life coming back into you when you wrote about him. I love the fact that you laugh at his emails like a hyena. The warmth of your description – friendly face, humour, vitality – THIS is a man worth pursuing! Your date felt flat because you have your head in LS-ville, and your appearance told him that you only want to be a friend, so of course, no sparks at the cafe. PLEASE I AM ON MY KNEES HERE – make a date with this man or invite him to your house for dinner, anything – get dressed up with face and hair, etc and no hints – let him know without being aggressively blatant, that he is a contender. Please P, don’t let this one get away, or worse yet, scooped up by another plankton.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks Erin, I really enjoyed your (alarmingly familiar) story (quite apart from the outcome, why the fuck are people so SLOW when they say they’re going to introduce you to someone, before they actually do – if ever? Do they have no sense of urgency? Clearly not), and your advice. I’ll let you into a secret: I emailed Smidgen yesterday (with a genuine pretext), and await his reply (although Blackberry is altogether down at the moment, so I am already making excuses for him…!) Will keep you posted. Very best wishes, Px

      • Erin says:

        Yay! Out of the funk hole and moving forward – that’s our girl : ) LOL at your statement regarding the slowness of introduction. After planting the rabid seed, they go merrily on with their lives, oblivious to the fact that their plankton friend is ruminating daily about the introduction because that is the mindset you get in when love life is so barren. They have no clue what it’s like to be lonely, growing older and having to work your ass off to have some semblance of a social life. Like my dear friend Marg always said, it just shouldn’t be this hard. Good luck dear P – looking forward to the day when you are a plankton no more : )

      • The Plankton says:

        Thanks again, Erin. Every word much appreciated. Px

  • parker says:

    Plank, dear, you say you “think” the moment has passed. Ok. Perhaps these moments happen more in our gut. Curious; if you sink into your gut feeling, what i might tell you?

  • parker says:

    sorry that should read “what it might tell you”

  • june says:

    Well plankton here we are again with yet another man in your life. I am with penny on this one,you have a damm sight more than me. I dont live in London ,like her but i do live in a city and its same here, can only meet people on the internet, friends know noone, and my social life though better than was in the small town i li ved in before, does not ever turn up any men. You on other hand seem to have lots, this one sounds a good prospect an d i think whatever you say there possibly is still a spark, think you should see him again. I feel with me and the man who wanted a “lover” we talked online for so long, i built it up to be more than what it was, when we met was an anticlimax, he either just didnt fancy me in the flesh, where as online he had told me i was lovely and couldnt understand why i was alone.or he wanted instant sex which he rightly presumed i wasnt going to give him. This guy to me still sounds interested. get in there girl, he may be the one.

  • EmGee says:

    So this was an informal business date, and you both extended it beyond that to talk of personal matters. Good sign! What a nice way to get to know someone without the pressure of having to be ‘on’ (acting your best, made up, dressed to kill, etc). I agree with Erin that the date felt flat because you had PS and LS on the brain and couldn’t quite stay in the moment. I hope you have more opportunities to get together with Casual Cafe Date, and see how taking time to get to know someone casually works out, in tandem with the hot dates and sparks from other comers.

    Hope you don’t mind my upgrading you from Plankton to guinea pig. 😉

  • Leftatforty says:

    Oh, you had a date! And you call yourself Plankton. Good luck.

  • DAN says:

    Plankton, you should have drank a whole bottle of wine ,

    and then asked him to marry you !

    There’d have been no mixed messages then i asure you ! Ha ! Ha! Ha !


  • Anya. says:

    Plankton, The lodger was a friend who didn’t really do it for me, hence it was ‘safe’ for him to become a lodger. We’d had the odd coffee, been in each other’s company and not really taken a great deal of notice of each other, both in the throes of marriage breakdown. Then he moved in. He made me laugh out loud, was kind, warm, generous and thoughtful. Couldn’t work out if he was weedy. His inherent quietness transpired to be calm strength of character. The fact he wasn’t my usual sort could only be a positive, but I still struggle with that adjustment. He has never done or said anything to let me down. We have peace together and there is a great deal to be said for that. Can’t believe he would have slipped through the net, unless he’d landed in my lap like that. I deliberately kept my make up to a minimum when he moved in and made no special or extra effort – so as not to give off the wrong (‘come and get me’) vibe, but he still found me amazing and beautiful and extraordinary. It would have been my loss to not have let things develop. Sometimes they just do, and the lack of drama is a huge fat relief. Good luck with this one. He deserves proper attention – you not distracted by fantasies. Would you be gutted if he met someone else? x

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Anya, Thanks for this. It’s a fascinating and great story and has really set me thinking. Coincidentally, I just posted today’s post and only read your comment immediately after doing so but it is relevant. I think you’ll be pleased with what I have to say (at the end of the post at least!) As for would I be gutted if Smidgen met someone else? An excellent question and one I hadn’t thought to ask myself. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say gutted, but I would definitely be disappointed, though I need to ponder this more. Thank you. Best wishes, Px

  • Anya. says:

    And when he snogged me, I was impressed. Perhaps leave your decision making ’til then. You just don’t know! x

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