A second date! How exciting – it’s always nice when someone wants to see you again. After our first date, E suggested that if I would like to see him again, we go to the cinema. I happily obliged, I had a good time on our first date (Hugh Grant Hugh Grant Hugh Grant) and I was looking forward to seeing him again.
He suggested we go out on a Monday evening, which I had some reservations about. It’s not a bad idea in principle, but a midweek second date at the cinema was not a great way to continue to get to know someone. However, I did really want to see Mary Queen of Scots.
We met up at an independent theatre in Clapham and politely kissed hello on the cheek. We engaged in chit-chat about our days during the previews (I had been to the cinema twice before within two weeks, so wasn’t really missing out on anything), and then the film began.
As well as following the plight of Queen Mary – and relenting that yes, Margot Robbie is still hot in her Queen Elizabeth make up – I spent much of the film wondering whether or not E would hold my hand. I kept my body language open, hands folded neatly in my lap for most of the two hours, as to be inviting.
But he didn’t. I’m well aware that I could have made the reach myself, however he had his arms crossed for most of the film, or had his body angled in such a way – legs stretched out in the aisle, facing slightly away from me – that would make such a manoeuvre tricky. Plus, whenever I thought about making a move, something intense would happen in the movie that would make such a move slightly inappropriate (or hella awkward).
After the film (which was just okay, by the way. It was no The Favourite), E suggested we go for a drink at a pub around the corner. The pub itself was quiet, not surprising for a Monday night, and had an interesting decorative themes (there was a wooden stag head mounted on one of the walls and lots of exposed copper piping). We spent a good chunk of time figuring out which order the famous queens reigned, chatted about work, and talked about the girl who got a tattoo of Harry Styles’ face on her check. Yes, I kid you not – his full FACE on her own FACE… it later came to be that it was fake, but it was riveting news at the time. The point being: there was no kissing or hand holding. There was something different, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, hanging in the air.
Photography by Sian.
I initially put it down to the fact that, fundamentally, E and I are awkward people. And when you put two slightly awkward people on a date together, making moves can prove difficult. One person needs to be bolder than the other, and because I was second-guessing myself so much, I was not feeling particularly bold that night. I liked him though, so gave him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he was also nervous, and we were just tired from our days. He walked me to the bus stop that would take me to Clapham Junction, kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for a nice evening.
When I set out to do this dating experiment, I decided that if I saw someone more than once, I would tell them about this 26 dates thing I’m doing. It seems only fair – I don’t want to hide something like this from someone I’d be potentially progressing things with. A lie by omission is still a lie, after all.
I decided to tell E over WhatsApp, because I didn’t quite know how to articulate it in person. I told him all about the experiment, how I’d be writing about our dates and that I would still like to see him again, should he still want to. E was cool with everything; he had a couple of questions about the certain details, but reacted positively and seemingly unphased, and expressed that he too wanted to continue seeing me.
About a week or so later, though, I got a message from him:
Hey Ella, sorry for the radio silence. I had a really great time on our dates, but I met someone else recently and it’s getting more serious, so it wouldn’t be right to keep seeing you. I hope you can understand? It was lovely getting to know you though, I think you’re a really interesting person. I wish you all the best – good luck with the novel!
Huh. So maybe the awkwardness from our second date wasn’t from nerves and more from the fact that E had started to see someone else with whom he felt more of a connection. Which I can’t fault, but it does open up a bunch of questions: Had things gotten that serious in literally over a week? How long had he been seeing this other person? If it had been going on a while, why did he say he wanted to see me again? Did he just want an out after I told him about my dating series?
I didn’t ask him any of this, because there was no point. He doesn’t owe me any explanation, especially not this early in the game. I was just grateful that, much like with G, he took the time to let me know that he wouldn’t be pursing things with me. And that’s the least you could ask for in this cut-throat world of dating right?
I would have liked to see where things would have gone with E, but things don’t always go the way you plan. I enjoyed my time with him and wish him well for the future. You could almost say that I told him to… “Go Your Own Way” (yes, that was a very cheesy way to reveal my soundtrack for this post, but let’s forgive it and move on because it’s a banger).