BOOKS, DATING – COVER GIRL, FIRST CONTACT
In which a date actually happens. Sorry to keep people hanging on over the weekend, by the way – I was distracted, not by a series of hot dates, but by social obligations to some people I’d met before, i.e. my friends…
So, to recap: I’ve been handing out my “I like your book, fancy a drink?” cards to random men on the tube for two weeks now, and at last someone’s emailed me in response. Who is it? And what was he reading? And what the hell do I do now?
Heart in mouth, butterflies in stomach, I click on my 1 New Message and read the following:
I was on the Piccadilly Line yesterday reading my book and you caught my eye. You gave me your card before you got off so…this is me saying hello. “
And he signs off with his name (which obviously I’m going to change to protect the innocent – he’s MY SECRET, I tell you …)
Hmm! The email’s short and sweet, with no spelling errors or txtspk (that’s my inner Lynne Truss coming out, you’ll have to forgive her) and a pleasing ambiguity in “you caught my eye”: a very good start, all in all. If only I hadn’t waited several days to check my inbox. He’ll think I’m not interested. I instantly reply to my mysterious correspondent telling him a bit about me and asking what book he was reading. Which one was it? And will I remember what he looks like? I’m incandescent with curiosity.
He gives me some basic info: he’s an actor (score!) originally from Liverpool (interesting), working at a box office in the West End (hence being on the tube in the middle of the day) and he was reading The Liar. A grin spreads across my brain. This is the cute blue-eyed guy I saw on the Piccadilly Line.
I’m a big fan of actors – they’re nearly always fun and far less egomaniacal/insane than most people might imagine. Some of my best friends are actors, in fact. Subsequent emails with further details reveal that he also did a bit of fiction writing as part of his first degree, which is, coincidence-wise, slightly spooky, as that’s what I teach. Surely I can’t have found a soulmate so quickly? This dating thing is going to be over before it’s begun …
Anyway, we arrange to meet up later in the week, after my evening class. I’m always a bit hyper after spending two hours in a classroom talking about books and writing and authors and other (to me) interesting stuff, so whenever I can I try and drag a friend out to have a drink with me so that I can enjoy the post-teaching high over a glass of wine. I dress up purty, teach for two hours, and skip to the pub to meet Piccadilly Line man.
I’ve told him what I’ll be wearing (don’t worry, it’s nothing too saucy) so we spot each other pretty much immediately – he’s bigger than I’d thought (this is what happens when you check people out when they’re sitting down) but I like tall blokes, so that’s fine.
We’d chatted a bit about other books we liked on email and he’s very kindly brought one he’s enjoyed to lend me: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. Awesome! I think – at least if this dating lark doesn’t work out I’ll get loads of book recommendations.
It takes us nigh-on forever to get served, during which interlude I run into the brother of an ex, who doesn’t recognise me, and because he’s an actor too is clearly under the impression that I think I know him because he’s been on the telly. Not so, but why damage his ego? Anyway.
Piccadilly Line man – who I’m going to call Adrian, after the hero of The Liar – snags us a table and we sit down and start chatting. It’s surprisingly un-awkward, mainly because we’ve got a certain amount in common: he tells me about his adventures on the stage (starring in a West End musical tour, no less) and I talk about writing, almost certainly too much. (I told you I was hyper after teaching).
Still, he occasionally manages to get a word in edgeways, and I hear a bit more about his housemate and his not-very-scintillating box office job. I sympathise heartily: the recession has meant that I too am stuck doing something I (along with everyone else in my office) am massively overqualified for, for not very much money, at unsociable hours, in the middle of nowhere. Reader, I bond with him. He’s nice! He’s got a brain and a sense of humour as well as lovely blue eyes. This is going – dare I say it? … quite well.
I buy Adrian a drink back and we head for the tube at about 11 (two drinks was my self-imposed limit – the last thing I want to do is get pissed with a stranger, however charming), where we completely randomly bump into an actress acquaintance of mine on the train. Adrian gets off at King’s Cross and we cheek-kiss goodbye, his lent book clutched in my hand. I am frankly astonished at how smoothly the whole thing has gone, and as I settle down to read the first chapter of The Raw Shark Texts (studiously avoiding looking at what other people are reading, for once) I congratulate myself on my excellent taste.
The only problems I have now are:
a) I’ve worked out over the course of the evening that Adrian’s probably about five years younger than me, and I don’t want to be a cradle-snatcher – or even worse, a cougar (look it up)
b) I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do next. Do I email him? Does he call me? Do I post his book back to him with a short note of thanks, or hang on to it?
I guess I’ll just have to wait and see …