Being late is rude. Whether you are meeting your friend, your sister, your boss, or your special person, it is rude. Because basically what you are saying is, ‘my time is more valuable than yours.’ But everybody is late sometimes, of course – sh*t happens. There are myriads of reasons or factors that can make one late, which is why it takes special care to be on time for important things like, for example, job interviews, or first dates.
On any kind of initial meeting, you’re setting the tone. By being late, you set a tone whether you mean to or not. It’s the reason employers will hesitate to proceed with a candidate that failed to show up for their interview on time, stellar as they may be. And in my case, it’s the reason this date ended up sucking. Well, one of the reasons.
This was my penultimate Tinder date before I decided to delete the app entirely (see previous post). I’d gone on a couple unsuccessful dates already and was losing steam, but decided to plow on in hopes that my luck would turn. (Dating is, after all, a numbers game right?) After a bit of scheduling tag Mark and I finally decided on a time and location. Unfortunately for me and due to my complete inability to keep my personal schedule organised, I would have to leave my evening class immediately after it finished and hustle in order to make it to this date on time. But it could – and would – be done.
So the evening of the date arrives, my class finishes, and the hustling commences. The re-application of my mascara takes longer than planned (ugh), so I decide to hail a taxi. I could have walked to the venue but then I would have been late, and everybody (or so I thought) knows that it’s a cardinal rule to NOT be late on a first date. So after hopping out of the taxi and looking, in spite of myself, like a semi-respectable human being, I strolled into the pub with a few minutes to spare. Proud of myself but parched from the effort, I snagged a seat and had some uisce while perusing the drink menu. A few minutes in, I get a text from Mark saying that he’ll be ten minutes late. This message was received at 9 on the dot, the exact time we were meant to meet. Fine, I thought. I was definitely not impressed, but I wasn’t going to completely dismiss him for that either. Because sh*t happens and we’re all a bit late sometimes. Right?
But ten minutes turned out to be more like twenty, which in turn gave me plenty of time to a) become uncomfortable sitting solo in a pub on a Tuesday night and b) become increasingly annoyed at how long it was taking for him to just show up. My feeling is, you know by the time you are meant to leave whether you are late or not. Eg, if you haven’t left on time, you already know you won’t show up on time. So there is a bit of lead time in which you can communicate to the other party that you will be late. That he text me when we were supposed to MEET versus when he knew he should have left was an annoying red flag waving around in the back of my mind. ‘If he doesn’t show up within the next three minutes, I’m out of here’ I thought as I made awkward eye contact with the bartender for the umpteenth time. For the record, I had at this point never stood anyone up or ditched out on a date.
At any rate, Mark finally shows up and after apologising profusely, gets us both a drink and sits right beside me. He is as handsome as his pictures, so the ole bait and switch hasn’t been pulled on me. However, after leaning in closer to hear him above the music, it occurs to me that his voice is not only very soft, but unnaturally high. So I sit back, completely perplexed, wondering what I’m doing on a date with a gay guy. A very large, dark-haired, handsome, and GAA-playing gay guy. Not that gay guys only come in one shape and size, but his appearance added to the already jumbled equation. I’m also wondering how it’s physically possible for such a large man to have such a high voice, but at this stage this is secondary to the concern of his sexual orientation.
So I’m sitting there, brows knit, mouth open, trying to decide whether this dinosaur of a man is into other men and if so, if I can perhaps help him identify a partner since I am obviously not what he’s into. I eventually manage to find my way out of the sea of neurotic thoughts swirling around my head and join the conversation, only to realise that it is…boring. Not only is it boring but it’s strained. And then not only is it strained, but he is making fun of me. And not in a flirtatious or endearing or banter-ey kind of way that Irish men are masters of. So as the conversation drags on, a tumbleweed in the desert of our complete lack of chemistry, he gets around to mentioning why he was late. Here is where my ears finally perk. The reason, you might wonder, that he was nearly 20 minutes late? One of his roommates, who also happens to be from the same part of the world that I am, needed help changing her light bulb.
Yes, her lightbulb.
And yes, twenty minutes.
And yes, he cognitively decided to tell me this. After having had only one drink.
If you thought my level of perplexity had reached its climax, you can guess again. At this stage of the conversation (or what is passing for one), my head nearly explodes. ‘Is she ARMLESS??’ I think to myself while blinking rapidly and forcing a smile out of politeness. ‘Jesus mate, if that is in fact the real reason, make one up!’ I scream in my head, as I down the last of my wine.
Given my drink was finished and I didn’t fancy another one, it was time for us to wrap up this rendezvous, which couldn’t have happened any sooner. We walked out of the pub with our hands in our coat pockets and headed towards the canal together, like a pair of new and awkward friends who had been put in touch by similarly awkward friend. When it came time to part ways, he opened his arms for what I thought would be a friendly embrace. The rest of what happened, happened in slow motion with a bad-dream, underwater quality: I went in to return the embrace and when I pulled away, he went in for the most unexpected event of the night: a kiss. This kiss sealed the deal. The deal to not ever contact him again (as if I needed another reason at this stage). Because in addition to being completely unanticipated, this kiss enveloped my entire mouth and sucked my face. As time reverted to its normal pace I pulled away, blurted out what I think was the word ‘goodnight’, and walked as fast as I could in the opposite direction, shuddering at the sensation of a mouth completely sucking in my mouth, the way a hoover sucks up a spider in a dusty corner.
To sum it all up, this date sucked. And not just because Mark was late, and late for a really stupid reason, but also because he literally did just suck.