Date #6 isn’t a date. He’s not terribly keen on my “anthropological experiment” (I’ve warned all would-be suitors on Match.com) and I can’t say that I blame him. Nonetheless, he suggests that we meet “just as friends” for Center City Sips at LaScala’s and because there are only two weeks of Sips left—and because I wouldn’t mind having a few more “just friends” in my life— I agree.
He tells me he doesn’t want to put me through the ordeal of my usual pre-date primping and encourages me to just come as I am. On one hand, I think, “What a guy!” and my eyebrows rejoice at the prospect of an evening without tweezers. But on the other hand, I think, “Yeah right! Center City Sips sans makeup?” I don’t care if this a “just friends” date or not; there’s no way I’m going to La Scala without makeup, especially given the failure of my quest for “sublime skin” last month.
I do, however, deign to wear jeans. It’s cold and drizzly and since this week is shaping up to be another date-a-day marathon, I’m pretty darn excited about the chance to go casual. Honestly, I don’t know how Carrie Bradshaw pulled it off (oh wait, that’s right: Carrie Bradshaw isn’t real. I’m going to have to try to remember this from now on).
So off I go. Another outfit, another photograph, another evening of entirely too many drinks (just two this time, actually, but the vodka-to-pink-stuff ratio in the “Ice Pick Cosmopolitan” was enough to knock your socks off; fortunately I wasn’t wearing socks and Date #6, aka the date that wasn’t a date, offered to drive me home).
So now I’m left wondering what makes a date a date. My liaison with Date #6 had all the makings of a date: I was running late, he was running late, we exchange text messages apologizing for our tardiness only to discover that we’re both behind schedule. I order a drink, he orders a drink, and when I realize that I’m going to be on the floor pretty soon thanks to the Ice Pick Cosmo, I order an appetizer. Date #6 teases me for daring to eat in his presence and we laugh about the absurdity of the rules that suggest a girl can’t order a serving of brushetta if her date’s not hungry (honestly, who invented that one? Obviously they were unfamiliar with the power of the Ice Pick Cosmo and the half price appetizers of Center City Sips).
My escort for the evening asks for the check, refuses to let me contribute and offers to drive me home. In my book, this counts as a date.
But then I get to thinking about a similar course of events that took place when I was in grad school. I had taken quite a fancy to an American student I met in the arrivals gate at Heathrow (it just so happened that he was absolutely gorgeous and enrolled in an MA program at the same university as Yours Truly). I spent my first few weeks in London contriving to “accidentally” run into him and after a while, my efforts finally paid off. He asked for my number, invited me for a drink in Putney and met me at the bus stop dressed in all his American boy finery.
The dress shirt would suggest it was a date. The fact that he paid for my drink would suggest it was a date. The inconspicuous (followed by not-so-inconspicuous) leaning would suggest it was a date, as would his self-proclaimed fascination with my research (and now let’s be honest folks, percussive dance is not exactly the world’s sexiest subject).
After an evening of pleasant conversation and meaningful eye contact, he escorted me back to Roehampton and walked me to the gate. There, he winked at me, told me he’d be thinking about me in class the next day and then casually mentioned the fact that his American “sort of girlfriend” would be coming to visit for Thanksgiving.
Hmmm. A “sort of” girlfriend? Really? Evidently this wasn’t a date after all, and it’s quite confusing you see, because to outside observer—indeed, to the inside observer—it had all the makings of a date. Go figure.
Fortunately Date #6 doesn’t mention a “sort of” girlfriend at the end of our date that wasn’t a date. Instead, he drops me at the corner and says he’d like to “hang out” again sometime. I’m not entirely certain what this means but I’m not averse to finding out.