“Elucidating” – v. to make something clear; explain i.e. “I am elucidating the reasons she is single.”
Or…if you pronounce it slightly incorrectly, “Eh? Lucy? Dating?” (PUNS! LOTS OF PUNS!)
Welcome to Throwback Thursday! The day of the week when I recount an anecdote from my history.
This week concerns my dating history (which is one of those history topics you won’t cover at GCSE level, partly because there’s not enough material to write a pamphlet, let alone a textbook, but also because history teachers weep at the thought of having to unpick this quagmire.)
Did I ever tell you about the time I accidentally went on a date? I got asked out, said yes, went on said date, and didn’t realise for two years what had happened. Poor boy. I think he died of embarrassment. Either way I brutally murdered our fledgling friendship.
Gentle Readers, I was living in a new city, pursuing a new line of study, and a friend comes to stay with me for a few days. In case you’re not aware, when you’re a student, visitor = reason for house party, so my housemates and I, and my friend we will call Blondie, threw a house party. The evening before the party, Blondie mentions that another friend of hers will be in my city (we’ll call him Music Man), as another friend of his is also studying here, and he’s visiting said friend. I’ve met Music Man – we were all on the same course at university – and whilst he wouldn’t be my first choice of surprise university reunion person, Blondie’s fond of him.
Hell, the more the merrier, I say! Invite Music Man and his friend along to the house party. Why not? I’ve met Music Man a few times, and he’s a perfectly nice chap.
So, the evening starts, the party’s great, Music Man and his friends come along, Blondie gets off with a hairy Welshman in the bathroom (we’re not supposed to talk about this, but I just wanted you to know that someone made worse decisions than me that night), and as the party winds down, I say to Music Man, “next time you’re up this way, drop me a text, we’ll go get a drink.” OK, he says, we hug, and off he goes into the night. We’re all friends, we all part happily, everything is golden. Except it’s not, is it? It’s not.
I think nothing of the evening’s events, and spend the next eight to twelve hours ripping the piss out of Blondie vis a vis Hairy Welshman (again, this was not the House Party Of Outstanding Life Choices, OK?) A few weeks go by, and eventually Music Man sends me a text. He’s coming to the city again – shall we meet up?
I shrug to myself and “Eh, he’s OK, and it would be nice to see someone from outside my postgrad friendship circle,” I justify. We make plans to meet at a pub not too far from my house (I’m not making actual effort, jeez) and so the date is set.
Now at this point, I’d like to excuse myself somewhat by the fact that when he suggests meeting up, he mentions that his friend will come with him. I quite liked her – she was friendly and smiley, and I didn’t see the problem with her joining us. After all, we were all friends, right?
The first awkward moment happens when I arrive at the pub. How do we greet each other? It turns out that a awkward half-hug, half-handshake is the approach we stumble to. (Cringe.)
Now, hopefully, you’ve all been in a pub, you know how pubs work, right? You go to the bar, order a drink, find a stinky beer-drenched corner and sit down. We carry out these steps to perfection – I am nailing this socialising thing. And then, Music Man mentions that his friend (who is conspicuous in her absence) will join us later. Fine. Not a problem.
Through one drink and twenty minutes of floundering, artless conversation about general work/life stuff, I cling to the idea that we will shortly be rescued by someone else’s presence. I’m studying and have a part-time job, he’s unemployed and doesn’t want to talk about it, so we can’t even do the “So what have you been up to since university?” conversation, which usually gets you through at least half an hour of small talk. (You know the one. “What have you been up to?” “I cured cancer and brokered world peace. You?” “I…worked out how to send a fax. Tell me more about world peace.”)
We can’t talk about his job – his unemployment is weighing heavily on him, and when he does briefly discuss it, it seems like the world is ending. We can’t talk about my job, because that just looks like I’m bragging. We talk about living arrangements – he’s still with his parents and he’s mad about it, I’m living independently…OK NEXT TOPIC.
We end up discussing a book we read in university and Twitter. We drag it out through another two drinks – after the second one, he tells me his unemployment won’t cover another drink, so I buy the third round. After the second drink, I casually ask where his friend is – isn’t she joining us? He goes pale and says he’ll text her. I head off to buy the third drink, and upon my return, he tells me that his friend won’t be joining us, she’s busy and can’t get here.
Whatevs. We drink the third drink, our conversation now adroit in its maladroitness, and sit in silence for a few minutes. I glance at my watch and see I’ve been there for two hours. I yawn, fakely, and apologise.
“[massive yawn] Oh, my goodness. My apologies. I have been up since early, as I had work and then university today. Perhaps it’s time for me to be getting back.”
“Oh. OK. I’ll ring my friend for a lift.”
“Oh. I thought she was busy?”
He goes paler (didn’t know it was possible) and stammers something about being able to leave to pick him up.
Again, whatever, I’m not actually that bothered, but this whole evening has felt off, and now there’s lies? I’m done. I yawn again, and gather up my coat and bag. “Well, this was…fun. We should…do this again?”
“Yeah. Next time I’m up here.”
“Sounds…great.” I privately make a note in my mental diary to never ever accept an invite from Music Man again, shake his hand and head out of the pub. He follows behind me, and gets into his friend’s car, which has conveniently turned up as we leave the pub. I only live a few minutes’ walk away, so I refuse the offered lift and go home. In my kitchen, I crack open a beer and admit what a strange evening it had been.
Fast-forward two years, and I meet up with Blondie for a coffee and a catch-up. She mentions seeing Music Man recently, and I ask politely how he is. She shrugs – he’s barely employed and living in a strange house share in a dodgy bit of London. I mention that the last time I saw him was the pub evening, and recap the events for her. She looks at me like I’ve completely lost my mind,
“Loops! That’s terrible!”
“I KNOW! Thank God it only happened once.”
“Not what I meant.”
Blondie and I discuss the evening for a few more minutes, before my brain engages and out of my mouth spills the most terrifying question. “Was it a date?”
Blondie shrugs. “I would have thought so.”
“Loops! He’s cripplingly shy! He met you! Alone! In A PUB!”
And that, Gentle Readers, is the story of how I accidentally went on a date with a guy I had no intention of dating, possibly traumatised him and didn’t catch on for two years.