Let’s be honest, there are things I don’t write about on here. It’s not dishonesty, more selective amnesia. It just so happens that it mainly involves matters of the heart.
Which isn’t to say I don’t care about the men I’ve dated on my travels enough to put fingers to keyboard. It’s just kinda private. And I’m naturally a shy person. Really I am. Don’t let that time I ….. let you think otherwise.
And so, for your Boxing Day entertainment, I thought I’d lift your turkey-laden spirits by sharing some of my San Francisco man-related misadventures.
This is very definitely the PG-13 version, so no need to shield your screen from the wandering eyes of innocent cherubs or world-weary, heart-attack prone seniors.
The uncut edition requires a glass of wine or two (me) and a willingness to snort with laughter in public (you). Bookings are now being taken for spring 2013.
By a curious sequence of events, my first ever proper date took place a mere 14 months ago. Going out with guys that are already your friend just doesn’t count as a date in my book, as it lacks that ‘will I like him, won’t I like him’ trepidation and all out heart-in-throat thrill.
After the initial awkwardness (on my part) was overcome – with the traditional British approach of getting drunk really quickly – my first first date went pretty well. And thereafter followed a lovely six months – with the man that taught me the value of punctuation, introduced me to the wonders of a well-made mojito and showed me that the best dancers just don’t care what they look like on the dance floor.
Cocktails + grammar + disco = big fun.
Back when I was last ‘on the market’ – in the early 1990s – the internet was accessed via 14k external modems (remember US Robotics?) that made that funny noise you always felt compelled to copy, and the only people online dating were those strange types acting out fantasies via avatars, in dungeons and dragons game rooms that they’d coded themselves.
Or at least that’s how the media seemed to portray it, and back then geeks definitely weren’t on my wish list, so I never investigated further.
But now, given I was due to only be in San Francisco for a few short weeks, and given it was at the top of my ‘places I might move to after this trip’ chart, it seemed only sensible to check out the men, in the same way I planned to explore the city’s cafés, museums, parks, supermarkets and bars.
And the easiest way to find seemingly normal guys these days is on one of the myriad of dating apps available on your phone. If only my trip advisor app had a ‘review of SF’s men’ section, I’d have been able to skip the painful process of putting myself out there, and gone straight for the hotties.
Sadly it doesn’t, even though it really should, and so I soldiered on, deleting message after message from 21 year olds that evidently had watched American Pie at a formative age – I’m leaving the cougar role to Courteney Cox.
After a while I did make a connection with a few interesting, smart, funny and talented guys. And I went on a few dates, during which I learnt a couple of things about myself and much more about dating West Coast US style.
To spare their blushes, and to avoid all possible law suits, we’ll be skimming over the details of the specific men and focusing more on the lessons I learnt:
Most important lesson – and therefore number 1: Under no circumstances agree to go for lunch with a guy on the same street as the place your date from the night before works. Your current date will find the one parking spot on the street directly outside the restaurant that last night’s chef runs. And your last night date – who liked you very much, but whom you could only ever see as a friend, even though you were too polite to tell him this – will be stood on the pavement, talking in an animated and slightly angry fashion on his mobile. And you will have to tell your current date why you can’t get out of the car there. And he will have to drop you on the other side of the street – whilst you scurry into the lunch place, feigning fascination in the passing shop windows, just so the guy opposite can only get a glimpse of the back of your head. Which you’re pretty sure he’ll recognise less than the front of your head, given nothing untoward happened between you on that star-light hillside he took you to the previous evening, where he shared his dreams so trustingly. You will even consider crawling on hands and knees out of the car as a viable option. So don’t do it, as you will feel bad about your behaviour for at least several minutes.
All other rules are optional.
Number 2: When dating in SF, be prepared to be asked what you want from a relationship on the very first date. Initially, applying my UK sensibilities to this one, it seemed like a bit of a trap – a way to flush out the crazy ladies my age fuelled by oh-my-god-I’m-nearly-40-and-want-a-baby hormones – but it turns out SF men almost all have therapists or coaches and they are clear what they are looking for, and too busy to mess around with unsuitable matches. Perhaps the more keen amongst you should consider having your relationship goals printed out and laminated, to show how committed to them you are. Or pull together a whizzy animated app-based presentation on your iPad – that really would say modern SF woman. Just realise that you can never, ever, go on successful dates back in England ever again.
Number 3: Don’t assume dates are things you only go on in the evening – if you are really dedicated you could theoretically fit in 4 or 5 different encounters a day. I had breakfast, lunch, tea ceremony, pre-dinner drinks, dinner and a week in Puerto Rico dates. I’m sure that the diary slot suggested is in some way correlated with the level of interest from the guy (well clearly the week on a tropical island one was – if ever you see me gazing into the distance, with a wistful grin on my face, this is why). So get with the program and clear your diary if you mean business.
Number 4: You can never ask too many questions before you meet. That sweet-sounding guy that does a bit of yoga and works in IT, that you bond with online due to similar backgrounds? And who suggests going for a cup of tea at the cool tea ceremony place you planned on checking out anyway? Maybe consider asking if he used to be a Marine and still emits an unnerving trained killer vibe through his ice-cold blue eyes. It will require Oscar-quality acting skills to feign a relaxed nonchalance as you attempt to hold eye contact for anything longer than a second, and we didn’t all go to RADA now, did we?
Number 5: Be cruel to be kind. Being a lovely, attentive and encouraging listener can, it appears, be totally misconstrued in the context of dating. So forget all those active listening training courses you went on with work and say it how it is. It will save you from being invited to the chef’s birthday party and you making up a rubbish reason why you couldn’t go. Let’s face it, men are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get until you take a bite, and there’s no shame in (politely) spitting out the coconut creams.
Number 6 (I know I said 5 rules, but it’s Christmas and I’m in the mood for giving): Say yes more than you say no. This applies to all aspects of life, but especially matters of the heart. You might just find yourself riding in an open top red jeep with surfboard in the back, as you head towards your Puerto Rican love shack, grinning like an idiot as the wind whips your hair and the sun tans your shoulders. Or something like that.
And so here endeth my Christmas tale.
All that remains to be said is ‘Have a happy and romance-filled New Year one and all x’.