I’d always imagined my first date to be the most romantic day of my life, as a young teenager. A table for two with a white cloth, nervous laughter scattered intermittently between occasional awkward silences and of course, the inevitable first kiss.
At sixteen, I was yet to have this experience. Locking tongues in noisy hallways and securing a hand job with that overly generous friend-with-benefits had been accomplished. But hand jobs don’t require first dates and although my initials were proudly engraved in the Hall of Lad Culture, I was yet to find love. That feeling of inexplicable joy, that uncontrollable tightening of the stomach, a flutter of the heart. I was beginning to feel like I was missing out on something.
Luckily for me, thanks to the wonders of social media, I had met a girl. Not just any girl – a Greek girl (the importance of this will reveal itself later). After having briefly spoken at a New Year’s function, hugged slightly too awkwardly and taken a selfie to put on Snapchat, thus boosting my ego, I asked her the question I had never asked a girl before: do you want to go out with me?
The date was set. We were meeting at a shopping centre which had a cinema around the corner. Sorted. When the big day arrived, I was up at the crack of dawn, given that I could barely sleep all night. As this was taking place in the days before I could legally drive, I required a parent to take me to my destination. To preserve my own sense of masculinity, I decided my father should be the one to take me to my date. I arrived, bid my father goodbye and entered the wilderness of Merry Hill’s retail park to find my Juliet.
That’s where the Shakespearean romance ends. Remember when I said she was Greek? This meant that any form of romance soon became a contract. As with any contract, there’s always a bit of small print you forget to read. In my case, it was the condition that stated we were never to be alone. Even on the first date.
I shan’t go into who set these rules…the fibres that hold together peace within the Greek community have never been strong. The important thing is that this would lead to the most awkward first date the West Midlands has ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments when her entourage of a dozen boys and girls (yes…a dozen) were merciful enough to leave us be. In this precious window of time, we constructed our own romance. Walking endlessly round the shopping centre as we shared our hopes and dreams, breaking into nervous laughter as we realised just how much we liked each other…and yes, that inevitable first kiss. Bar the lack of tablecloth, my fantasy about a romantic first date was coming true.
Alas, ´twas not meant to be. The entourage soon returned and I suddenly found myself buying fifteen tickets to see a six o’clock production of Up!. I don’t know what was more disturbing for me, looking up between cheeky snogs to find a cartoon child staring back into my eyes, looking away to then find a mother of two young boys frowning at me from across the cinema, or knowing that every time I kissed my date, her friends were watching, wide-eyed, swivelled round on their seats in the row in front, casually munching on their popcorn.
But luckily for me there were to be more dates, with fewer guests and more time together. Against all odds, I got what I’d asked for. I’d stopped listening to my penis and had found my heart.
How fitting it would be if I could tell you this unlikely love had carried on to this day. But you know how it is in this plastic world. To quote Charlie and Selena, we don’t talk anymore.