Hello there chums!
I write to you in a minor grump. It’s Sunday night and I have spent the entire weekend humping furniture and other junk around The Man’s flat, rather than stuffing my face with mince pies and jigging around like an excitable Christmas elf like I wanted to.
Oh poor little Robinson, drowning under the sheer weight of my material possessions!
What a twonk.
So. In my last blog I found myself flailing around – rather unexpectedly – in the mad, bad world of internet dating. Not as a dater, mind. I think I’ve served my time there. As an observer. And even that was pretty dark.
And as I revisited my my inglorious past it occurred to me that I never told you the story of the most important date I’ve ever had: my first date with The Man. And so I promised to do so. I was far too coy and respectful back then. “oooh, I musn’t blog about what happened,” I wrote, ”it was too speshhhhullllll…” Knobs to that. It’s time!
So. I invite you to sit back and join me on my worst best date.
My friend TBB calls me.
TBB: “Robinson: my friend The Man is coming to Buenos Aires. He’s meant to be staying with me and my husband but we’ve had to go to England. Can I give him your number?”
Lucy Robinson (looks The Man up on Facebook, notes that he is easy on the eye): “Yes.”
The Man writes a few amusing emails to Lucy Robinson and makes friends her on facebook. Even though it is excruciating to do so, she resists the temptation to de-tag pictures of her looking fat or minging. She feels that she has come on a little way from that sort of behaviour. Only a little way mind: she will not rule it out de-tagging for the future.
They make a vague arrangement but then Lucy Robinson kind of forgets when he is coming to Buenos Aires. She is at the farmers’ market, trying to remember the Spanish word for beetroot when her phone rings.
“Hello! It’s The Man! I have nowhere to stay…”
Lucy Robinson interrupts: “you can sleep on my sofa if you want!”
The Man sounds a bit puzzled. “Er, I wasn’t looking for an invite, I just wanted to ask if I can leave my expensive work equipment with you while I look for somewhere to stay.”
Lucy Robinson (blushing furiously, punching herself on the head with a parsnip for sounding so eager): “Oh. Yes, of course you can leave your stuff at my flat. Here’s the address.”
“F*ck,” I mutter to my friend Lindsey. “There’s a hot man on his way round to my flat and I’ve already made a knob of myself with him.”
Lindsey smiles sympathetically and suggests we get some lunch before I go back to meet this man. She has known me long enough to know that I can not be relied on to behave sanely if I have not eaten.
I arrive back an hour later to find The Man sitting drinking a beer at the cafe by my front door. He is definitely easy on the eye but for some reason I feel very calm about the whole thing. The usual madness is strangely absent. I invite him up, nearly breaking my back trying to carry a bag that is twice the size of me. It is a stupid ploy too; he doesn’t even notice that I have it.
I shut the man in my bedroom with a phone and give him a list of places to call for a bed for the night. He has a very very posh hotel booking as of tomorrow but he’s flown out early to stay with my friends the BBs… who have gone back to London. I am therefore aware that he has nothing much to do until tomorrow when his work colleagues arrive.
I wander off and sit writing my novel on the balcony in a very relaxed and bohemian fashion.
My housemate scampers through and shuts the balcony door behind her. “He’s GORGEOUS!” she hisses.
I look surprised. “Is he?”
And thus starts this strange, quite chilled-out attitude that stays with me for a long time. I see The Man’s charms – very clearly in fact – but I do not feel mental at all. I feel . . . Well, just very chilled-out about it all. Is this how it’s meant to be when you really like someone? When you’re not spending all of your time thinking they’re either too good or not good enough? I’m not claiming that I’m not insane in other ways, but regarding whether or not he might like me, I just sort of accept that what will be will be. STRANGE.
Anyway, The Man finds somewhere to stay and I give him some peach tea which is all I have. (Shut up. I’m a bohemian writer, remember? I’m living in Buenos Aires, writing my first ever novel! C’mon! You’d drink peach tea too, especially if you tried the putrid shite that passes as normal tea out there.) We chat, we laugh, I furnish him with a map and suggestions of things to do in the area and then -get this – I just drift off to get on with my day. Serious!
But not before I break my one and only rule. I ask him if he wants to go out for dinner later. I am meant to be going salsa dancing with Lindsey but it doesn’t start until midnight (don’t even start me on the hours people keep in that country) and I have nothing much to do before then. The man says yes please. And so off I wander.
Granted, during my afternoon I do run into Zara and try on seventy different tops, but I am otherwise weirdly tranquil.
It’s later on and we are sitting opposite each other in the brilliantly-named Minga, a steakhouse in Palermo which, in spite of being rather trendeeee is f*cking outstanding in the old steak department. Music is pumping, cocktails are mixing, steaks are sizzling and everyone is basically really hot. Including me and The Man. Readers, I am feeling fabulous. I’m wearing tight jeans and a vest and HEELS (this happens only about twice a year) and for once my hair is doing what it should be doing rather than straggling around like that of a sturdy highland pony. We are having excellent conversation and a lot of Malbec has been drunk. I feel very comfortable with this man, even though I am a little concerned that he has not been to bed for about three days. He’s very clever, but for some reason I don’t feel threatened by his intellect, he’s gorgeous, but for some reason I don’t feel like a munter, and he’s funny, but for some reason I don’t feel like a great big dullard by comparison. It just feels… Hmmm. Equal.
I text Lindsey. “I’m blowing you out. Going to take this bloke to La Catedral instead. He’s fit. Sorry.”
Lindsey replies immediately. “No worries, I knew you would. Good luck.”
I need to try to describe La Catedral now. It is one of the most beautiful, memorable places I’ve ever been. It’s a Milonga – somewhere people go to dance Tango -housed in a really rank old warehouse in a fairly ho-hum neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. You get out of a taxi at a crossroads in Almagro and hope to hell you remember which direction the totally unmarked door is. You pay, go up some stairs, round a corner and then – BAM. You catch your breath as the most incredible room opens out in front of you. Every wall is covered with random old pictures and it’s lit only by dim lights, candles and a circle of coloured fairy lights hanging over the dancefloor. The furniture is a wonderful hotch potch of falling-apart junk reclaimed from the streets and everyone is drinking Malbec. On the dancefloor, couples tango slowly along. You look at their faces and you realise they’re completely lost in the music; in the grief and suffering that tango expresses. It’s absolutely mesmerising. I attach a very blurry picture of me and The Man, taken there a couple of months later.
Anyway. The Man, who has not slept in several days, stands swaying in the doorway, barely able to believe his eyes. “Wow,” he breathes. “This is beautiful!”
We sit down, get some drinks and start watching. And this is where the date starts to go wrong. I go to the loo and on my return find The Man fast asleep in his chair. I baulk. This has not happened to me before. What is the protocol here?
Gingerly, I poke him with a finger. He doesn’t respond. I laugh nervously at a couple who are watching the whole sorry scene. “Ha ha!” I chortle emptily. “He does this all the time!”
They look unconvinced. They know full well I’m on a date.
At a loss, I go off to the bar and beg them to make us some mate, which is a herbal drink that gives a bit of a caffeine-like buzz. It works brilliantly for me and I figure it will work for the man.
I get back with the mate; he is awake. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that he has been asleep so I don’t tell him.
But then, mid-conversation, it happens again. I am in the middle of telling him about my novel and his head starts rolling and he’s gone again.
This time I am appalled. I WAS MID-SENTENCE!
I poke him quite hard with a finger. “Oi,” I hiss. “Wake the hell up!”
He is enormously apologetic. “I’m so sorry,” he says. “Let me go to the loo and splash my face.”
I shrug. The toilets are disgusting; I wish him luck.
Then, as he gets up to go to the loo, he breaks wind.
It’s a proper, loud involuntary trump which both of us can hear quite clearly over the loud sound of the tango accordion. And, get this: The Man tries to pretend nothing happened! He just carries on!
He has picked the wrong girl for this sort of a stunt. “YOU JUST TRUMPED!!!!” I shout in scandalised tones. “YOU JUST TRUMPED!”
We have been flirting for at least two hours. There is a definite agenda now. And so the presence of a trump in our midst is absolutely appalling.
The Man looks like he might kill himself. He goes very dark red and then starts to laugh guiltily. “You will never know how sorry I am, or how embarrassed,” he says. I believe him. He looks suicidal. He scampers off to the toilet and returns, still red. Then he falls asleep again.
“I think we should go,” I yell in his ear. The Man wakes up, clearly terrified, with no idea where he is. “HELLO,” I shout. He begins to apologise again but I tell him there’s no need.
“Let’s just go,” I say.
We try to leave, but both are dragging our heels. In spite of the fart, and the falling asleep, I really want to kiss him. The Man, I later found out, really wanted to kiss me before he skulked off to die of shame.
And so we sort of collapse on to a grubby old sofa, order more drinks and somehow end up curled up very close to each other. (How do you always manage to do that? How does it work? Who curls first?)
Our faces are inches apart. “If he falls asleep, I will never see him again,” I think to myself.
He doesn’t fall asleep. Instead, he frowns and says: “I really want to kiss you.”
And, er, I let him. And it’s really nice. And I don’t take him home with me, I leave him desperate for more. I wake up the next morning to find a message from him saying what a nice time he had and can we hang out today. Amazing!
And so there you have it – the worst best date I’ve ever been on. On the one hand, a breath-takingly romantic, spur-of-the-moment evening; on the other, a complete travesty.