Last week I shared a very cringe worthy first date. I haven’t been on many first dates, in fact I think I have probably been on the grand sum of 3 first dates, thank goodness. The thought of having to make small talk with someone, whilst trying not to fail all of that first date etiquette fills me with dread. Since breaking up with a man whose nickname to his mates was “Shady” (a nickname that “Shady” was very proud of) I had vowed to join a nunnery or move to the Isle of Mull. I had declared that dating was strictly off the agenda. I claimed that I did not have time, that I was busy forging a career for myself. The reality was that I was scared of having my heart-broken again. At 23/24 years of age I was completing a series of menial jobs whilst I tried to save enough money so that I could return to university to complete a PGCE.
Due to the fact that I was saving up to return to university, I left my role in local government for a better paid job in the heady world of engineering. I hadn’t been at the engineers long when the Christmas party happened. The company had decided that the ideal venue for a Christmas party should be a vodka bar, hmmmm. I had declared that I would not be drinking. I was going to remain professional at all times. Then I arrived at the party and the room was awash with everyone knocking back shots like it was water. I declined politely. I did not want a repeat of the vodka jelly night! However, in the end I decided that I couldn’t continue to sip on my water and I ordered a beer just as a man dressed in a white shirt (with the biggest frills on and even bigger cuffs), sat down next to me. He noticed my shoes. I was wearing shoes with donkeys on the them (no, I don’t know what I was thinking) and he muttered “nice shoes”. So there we were frilly shirt and wonky donkey shoes sitting next to each other, watching vodka induced carnage, and that’s how I met Mr C.
Love at first sight?
Was it love at first sight? I think he wondered why on earth I was wearing shoes with a donkey on them and I wanted to know why he had come out in a curtain. We chatted and then I was dragged away for a wheel of flaming vodkas. It was literally a wheel and the vodkas were all actually flaming. I refused but it was hard to make myself heard over the chanting of “down it, down it”. Luckily, Mr C in all of his frilly shirt glory saved me. He suddenly went from being a man with a rather dubious taste in shirts to Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. In my head it was the scene where Darcy emerges from the lake but instead Mr C was parting the tide of vodka swilling drunks. No, I am not a woman who needs to be rescued but I rather enjoyed it. I wasn’t used to being around a gentleman. The kind of men I normally hung around with back then were the sort that believed shagging around was just them expressing themselves creatively. True they were expressing, I just wasn’t convinced by their argument that it was creatively.
Mr C had morals: he was nice. So one cold night in January, I decided to forget my vow to never date another man. I accepted Mr C’s invitation for a date. I had dragged Mr C into my favourite Mexican restaurant to be greeted like an old friend by the owner. Don’t judge, I loved their refried beans.
“Ahhh Emma, you must be here for the speed-dating”
Mr C had looked at me aghast, I had stuttered that no we weren’t and we left to find another restaurant. Which is why we ended up in a very trendy cafe. Now we were sat opposite each on a tiny table, Mr C’s long legs taking up most of the space. I was feeling nervous and sick. I had been given a list of suggested conversation starters by housemates but now my mind had gone blank and instead I found getting tongue-tied and asking him about his job, and the big erection he was working on. He is a structural engineer and obviously I was referring to his work but still I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
In those days I was also a vegetarian and one of the only veggie options on the menu was a risotto. However, I had forgotten about something. A couple of months earlier I’d had my tongue pierced. I know, call it a very late rebellion. When I had wanted my ears pierced as a kid I had been told by my Dad that
“If God had wanted you to have holes in your ears then he would have given them to you. Whilst you are living under my roof you will not be having your ears pierced”
Then I had left university and found myself working in local government for the Tories. I had been appalled when a Tory Councillor had pulled me aside and told me that I should not be friends with one of the local researchers. He had confided in me that she was a druggie and he was worried that I was going to end up hanging around with the wrong crowd. “How do you know she is a druggie?” I had asked. He then informed me that once she had bent over and he had seen a tattoo on her lower back as her shirt had ridden up. Yes, apparently for a Tory councillor, tattoos are the universal sign of drug taking. I decided to give the Tory councillor something to talk about and one lunchtime I went and got my tongue pierced. The only problem was that I hadn’t taken into account my slight speech impediment. I found that with a tongue full of metal my speech problems became even more pronounced. Any words with the ‘s’ letter in it became very problematic and the letter ‘r’ became even more like a ‘w’. I immediately regretted my ill-advised rebellion. Answering the phone at work became a nightmare
“Can I asssssssssssk who are you wwwwinging to sssssspeak to?”
I was very aware of my tongue piercing, yet that date night I forgot about it and I ordered risotto. The risotto arrived and I soon realised why a tongue piercing and risotto don’t mix.
Risotto On A First Date = Disaster
They stick to each other. As I sat opposite Mr C I realised that I had a huge lump of risotto that was stuck on my piercing and I started trying to get it off. To Mr C it looked like there was something wrong with me as I started gurning and flicking my tongue, stretching my mouth open and wide. I was trying to be subtle and hide behind my napkin but Mr C could see it all. I then decided to have a sip of my wine and so desperate was I that I briefly debated whether I could get away with gargling wine. I decided that gargling wine might be stepping over the line, yes that would be one step too far. Any sensible person would have admitted what the problem was. Not me. After a good ten minutes I finally loosened it but I loosened it too much. Just as Mr C bent down to take some food of his plate, it flew out of my mouth, narrowly missing Mr C and landing on the floor behind him. I was mortified. Unsurprisingly, I removed the tongue piercing a couple of weeks later. Just as I was thinking that the date couldn’t get any worse the bill arrived and we agreed to go Dutch. I went to pay and I realised that I had left my purse at work. Understandably, Mr C did not look impressed.
It really is a miracle that we are now married when you think how our first date involved me taking us on a speed date, flicking risotto out of mouth then forgetting my money.
Perhaps it was love at first sight after all.