Date with Smidgen
October 25, 2011 § 36 Comments
Uncut version from yesterday’s Times:-
The man of the date before last, the one whom I call Smidgen because he was just a smidgen on the horizon a while back, asked me for a second date.
The first was relatively recent and ostensibly made to discuss a project we have in common. It took place in a cafe, and as the hours passed, I began to feel a certain disenchantment. Then a few days later, another email came through and the disenchantment gave way in my mind to a certain enchantment once more. I switched gear and decided to think in terms of the positive things, of which there are plenty, rather than the negative. These include his age – near enough to mine, give or take a couple of years (a huge plus). Humour. Warmth. Intelligence. Proximity. No ex or late wife with whom he is in love. Really, all good.
So I made an effort. Make-up; scent; even contemplated a beauty treatment or two, but thought that might be tempting fate, so passed. As I walked into the cafe, he was sitting at the front waiting for me gallantly imagining I didn’t wish to penetrate the crowd alone. He gave me a huge hug, which I swear lingered a tad longer than a mere hug has any right to do. It was a good first step.
“Oh, Simon might join us,” he mentioned jovially as we wandered through to a quieter table. Simon is a friend of his whom I don’t know. This was less good. I wanted to say, Why? But just smiled and said, “Great,” though I didn’t mean it for a moment.
Before Simon arrived, we started talking animatedly. Body language experts would have had a field day because body language was out in force that night. Even after Simon arrived, Smidgen and I were the Body Language equivalent of a goddamn airline safety card: the little taps on each other’s knees to make a point, like the oxygen mask falling automatically; a lingering, locked look, like the clunk-click of a safety-belt; a squeeze of a hand, like the little puff to the life-jacket. Text book.
Conversation roamed all over the shop, and beneath it the usual sub-text going on in my mind. Why on earth did he bring his friend? What exactly is Simon bringing to the table? Moral support? It’s not as if Smidgen and I don’t know each other well enough to meet up on our own.
Or am I so stupid that I need to give up all pretence of intelligence? Was Simon his decoy? His buffer? Had I read every Body Language sign, in primary coloured pictures that even the functionally illiterate can understand, all wrong?
After nearly four hours, and with Simon firmly ensconced with his umpteenth glass of red wine and not looking as though he was going anywhere fast, I decided to cut my losses and feign exhaustion.
As I left, I was the beneficiary of a second lingering hug before going home alone, the personification of Confusion.