Sure look, dating is an absolute minefield.
Let's be honest here, there are few among us who don't have at least one 'First Date' horror story; a tale of such woe our friends have forced us time and time again to regale them with it.
Nevermind that the mere memory of the encounter leaves us clammy-handed and vaguely distressed, other people's dating stories are fair game.
They're awkward, they're agonising, and they're also hugely entertaining… as long as you didn't have to endure them.
And that, ladies, is why we'll be featuring weekly instalments from Swipe Right – a blog about the ups and downs of dating in Dublin and London.
This week our gal comes face to face with a guy who might be too good to be true.
I have two ‘types’. Tall, dark and handsome with good hair. Or tall dark and handsome with a shaved head.
Seeing as the majority of my life has been spent living in Ireland, this has meant that those two types were invariably always white guys.
When I moved to London and first downloaded Tinder, I was greeted with a veritable smorgasbord of men covering every race, religion and cultural background, and one day, I came across this handsome, green eyed, shaven-headed black guy.
I swiped right. It was a match.
He messaged me first with a rather mundane ‘Hi, How are you?’ opener.
I had just recently broken up with my boyfriend (in what turned out to be a temporary blip in our relationship) and was really hoping that we might still get back together.
So, it was fair to say I was cautiously dipping my toe back into the dating scene in the hopes that it might a) make him jealous b) I would stop obsessing over him enough to c) move on or d) actually meet someone else.
It really was going to take a gargantuan effort from a new guy to actually make me want to go on a date with them. So far the ‘Hi, how are you?’ opener was not cutting the mustard.
I looked at his pics again. One of him playing rugby, rippled thigh muscles covered in mud. One of him with a small gorgeous looking child which came with a ‘this is my godson’ caption, another of him in a suit with sunglasses, it looked like he was at the races or maybe a wedding, either way he was ticking a lot of boxes so I decided to reply.
‘Hey, I’m good thanks, so you’re into rugby I see, will you be watching the match next weekend?’ I asked, referring to an upcoming Six Nations fixture.
“Ah, I’m more of a union than league man, to be honest, but no doubt a mate of mine will drag me along to some pub to watch it. So a girl who’s into rugby, that’s intriguing tell me more about yourself Miss Ariana.”
And so it went; a back and forth of the boring fundamentals required when ‘getting to know someone’ via an app.
Turns out he was a recruitment consultant, 33 from Maida Vale. His mum was from Ghana and his dad was British, he had a brother and one nephew (the featured godson) and had been single for nine months.
It was after a couple of nights of “hey you, how was your day?” style chat before he eventually asked me out for a date.
My flatmate had just given me a lecture on needing to get back out there so I ruefully accepted. He lived near me and had chosen a bar not too far from my house as the venue so I figured if it was awful at least I wouldn’t have had to venture to far.
It was a Thursday night. A great 'first date' night day of the week. If it’s awful, you can cite a busy Friday work day as your reason for leaving early, and if it’s great you only have one more day of work to battle through on a hangover.
He had chosen a bar that was part of a chain of pubs in north London, the type of place that served scotch eggs on wooden boards with little pots of mustard, and had a wine list written in chalk above the bar.
When I walked in he was already seated on a high stool at the bar; he looked relaxed and handsome and I was instantly attracted to him, he smiled and stood to kiss me…
Damn. He wasn’t much taller than me, maybe 5’8/5’9, but his piercing green eyes made up for this small flaw. (excuse the pun).
“Nice to meet you” he said kissing me on both cheeks “What would you like to drink?”
“Oh thanks, um, a glass of wine would be great” I said placing myself gently on the stool beside him.
“What colour?” he said “Red, White, Rose?"
“Oh I don’t discriminate against colour,” I said
My first date with a black guy and my opening line is about my lack of discrimination. I can honestly say I have ordered thousands of glasses of wine and have never said this before. WTF.
He looks at me quizzically as my face obviously displays my desire for the ground to open up and swallow me.
“Um, I like all the colours of the wine rainbow” I add hastily
“Sooo… white?” he offers
Jesus Christ, Ariana, what the f*ck is wrong with you, order a bloody drink.
“Yep perfect, sorry, thanks, eh Pinot Grigio if they have it,” I replied. Ohh NOW, you’re being specific. Jesus.
He orders the bloody drinks and I take this as an opportunity to drink him in.
He’s wearing dark jeans, a navy polo shirt, his arms are muscly and a beautiful caramel colour, his hair is tightly cut and his face is clean shaven. Best of all, he is wearing a fab pair of brown leather shoes.
I like a man who has good taste in shoes. It means they dress well from the bottom up.
“So” he says, turning to hand me my Godforsaken glass of racist-free wine. ”You look lovely”
“Aw thanks, as do you” I say sipping my drink.
We ended up having a fantastically wonderful first date. After three drinks in the bar in which we had an easy and friendly getting-to-know-you chat he asked if I was hungry.
This is the point in a date when you know it’s going well if you find yourself saying yes. So I said “I am actually, I’m starving, do you want to go get some food?”
We ambled to a nearby sushi restaurant and he passed the chopstick test with flying colours. After lots of flirting over rice and sake he asked me if I played pool. Bingo!
“I do, indeed” I said
“Great” he said “The bar next door has a table, let's have a game and one for the road.”
He beat me in the first game. (Never emasculate them too early on.)
Of course I came back for a win in the second.
I suggested a third, but it was 1am and we were both rather tipsy.
So, instead he smoothly wrapped his arm around my waist, pulled me in for a kiss and said “We’ll have to play the decider on our second date.”
The Second Date
He locked in the second date for that Saturday – just two days after our first.
He messaged me all the next day saying how much he had enjoyed himself and how excited he was to see me again. He said he wanted to surprise me with the second date which I happily agreed to.
He asked me to meet him in Liverpool Street Station, a place I hadn’t been to since I had broken up with my ex who worked in the area.
When we were together we had regularly run drunkenly through the station trying to catch the last train home. I was worried I’d bump into him and scanned the crowds nervously as I made my way to the information desk in the middle of the concourse where we had arranged to meet.
Again he was there waiting for me. He looked ever so slightly nervous, but I flashed him a big smile and he beamed back.
“Sooooo” he said kissing me on the lips. “You look fab”
“Thanks so much, you are quite the charmer” I said, kissing him back.
“Right, I hope you don’t mind, but we need to get a train to get to where I am taking you.”
I felt momentarily nervous. I didn’t know this guy from Adam, he could have been taking me anywhere. I think he sensed what I was thinking cause he quickly added: “It’s just two stops to Bethnal Green on the overground. I’ve booked us a table at Bistrotheque.”
RESULT! I was dying to go to this place. Newly opened up and super trendy, I had heard rave reviews about this place so I was visibly delighted.
“You know it?” he asked
“Well I’ve heard of it, but never been. Excellent choice, dude, I’ve been wanting to go here ever since it opened up.”
“Ah great, I recruited a lot of the staff for this place, including the head chef, so I managed to pull a few favours to get us a table.”
This guy clearly liked me, and I was flattered.
I quickly forgot about my ex as I sauntered to the platform with my arm linking his.
When we got to the restaurant he was greeted like an old friend by the maitre d’ who took my coat and showed us to our table.
The place was packed and buzzing with London cool. On our way, past the open kitchen, the chef leaned over the passe to shake hands with my date, nodding at me with a smile.
At our table was a bottle of champagne cooling in a bucket.
'I could get used to this', I thought as the sommelier popped the cork and poured the golden liquid into my crystal flute.
“Cheers,” he said clinking my glass “I hope you don’t mind all this, I just wanted to treat you tonight.”
“Mind? Ha not at all, this is fabulous, I’m throughly enjoying myself,” I assured him.
He ordered half a dozen oysters for us and we devoured perfectly cooked steaks for our mains. The chef sending over several amuse bouches between courses.
He was charming and funny and we had a whale of a time chatting about everything and anything.
He had been to boarding school as a child, sent from Ghana to England on his own which clearly had an impact on him as his eyes glazed over with sadness and his demeanour stiffened so I changed the subject, blabbering away about how I had moved around a lot as a child and loved the adventure of it all.
I told him about my family and my friends back home in Ireland and we chatted amiably about work and different things we’d read or seen that week.
He talked about his exes and I told him briefly about mine and before we knew it our martini espressos were empty and he called for the bill, paying in full and leaving a healthy tip.
The expression 'too good to be true' sprung to mind, but I quickly chastised my negative thinking and hoped that I had found myself a good’un here.
“Right so, I figured after this we would want to have some fun and also play that deciding game of pool so I booked us a lane at All Star Lanes.”
This was a hipster bowling alley in Shoreditch which was nigh on impossible to book on a Saturday night. This guy was really pulling out all the stops and I was throughly impressed.
Delighted with life, we hopped in a taxi and made our way through east London, weaving in and out of traffic as the lights of London’s skyscrapers twinkled down on our heads gently kissing in the back of the black cab.
At the bowling alley, I was mortified to have to change out of my perfectly coordinated heals and into gross bowling shoes, but he thought it was hilarious and peppered me with compliments until I didn’t care about my Sideshow Bob-esque appearance.
He beat me at bowling, which to be fair isn’t a hard thing to do, and the deciding pool game went down to a black ball game which he eventually sunk in the top corner pocket.
I gave him congratulatory kisses and we had two more drinks in the bar before we shared a taxi home.
He was the perfect gent, escorting me to my door kissing me good night and promising he’d be in touch the next day.
Of course, I contemplated inviting him in but I wasn’t quite ready to take that step, my heart was fragile and as much as I was starting to like this guy I was being cautious and wanted to take things slow.
To be continued…….
If you want to learn more about Ariana's dating exploits, be sure to keep up to date on Swipe Right's Facebook page.