I am going to tell it to you, though, Gentle Readers, because I was once told that everything in life is either an excellent experience you should treasure, or a terrible experience that you should relate to a sympathetic audience at a later date, so they can shriek “No! No! NOO!” at increasing intervals and make you feel all warm and fuzzy and validated.
When I was in my first year of university, it was the “done thing” to go out at least three times a week. Monday nights we went to either the Bridge or Park End, and got slaughtered on £10 jugs of neon pink cocktail, Wednesdays were spent in the Students’ Union, dancing to 90s pop and drinking £1 beer, and Fridays were a combination of the two: bright pink cocktails in the Students’ Union. Actually, the Friday drinks were green.
Anyway, during one of these misspent evenings, I happened to bump into a guy who clearly thought I was a bit of alright. And to be fair, at 19, I was a bit of alright. I also had some fairly wibbly self-esteem and lapped up this attention like a super thirsty dog after a mile and a half of walking.
So the evening progressed, we – er – made a connection, and at the end of the evening, as my friends hauled my drunk ass out of the nightclub, he asked for my number. I, pissed out of my skull, gave it to him. I KNOW. These days, I wouldn’t even speak to a stranger in a nightclub, let alone give them my number, but then again, these days I wouldn’t even be in the nightclub.
So, at 4am, I get a text from the guy I’ve spent the evening…connecting with. He wants to take me out for coffee the next day, and “get to know you better”. I’m feeling utterly reckless with several large vodkas inside me, and agree. We fix a time and place, and there we go. I guess I’ve got a date.
The next day dawns, and I’ve got a lecture right before we’re due to meet. My friends want to know why I’m dawdling, why I’m taking so long to pack up my stuff, why I’m not dashing to catch the bus home, and I have to admit I’m meeting someone. They’re thrilled, super excited for me, dare I say it, even proud of me.
They leave me with good wishes, squeezes of the hands, encouraging words. I’ve barely been interested in this meeting, but now, a tiny spark of interest and nerves is welling up in my stomach. What if this is a nice guy? What if this is a guy that really likes me? What if this is the moment my whole dating life changes?
I wander through campus to the arranged meeting spot, trying not to panic or worry, and hoping that cold light of day won’t reveal him as some sort of two-headed monster.
I get to where we are due to meet. I look around, clutching my folders to my chest, and wondering if I will recognise him. And then, he rounds the corner. And I do recognise him, and he doesn’t look hideous. Win!
He walks towards me, and makes eye contact.
I smile, and lift a hand in greeting.
His gaze rakes me from head to toe, and he blanches.
He hesitates, his feet slowing down. He comes to a stop, his eyes never leaving mine. He shakes his head, turns on his heel and walks away.
I stand there, watching his fast-retreating back, my hand hanging in mid-air, and suddenly I notice how cold the courtyard is. How stupid I look standing there, waving at a boy who is basically running away from me. I clench my fist and turn on my own heel. I’ve missed the bus, and it’s too long to wait for the next one in the chilly wind, so I go and buy my own coffee in the campus coffee shop. No sense missing out on delicious coffee, just because it turns out that the two-headed monster is me.
The text that arrives later doesn’t take away the sting. It just says, “Sorry. No.”