I was 26 when I went on my first date. I fell in love and have been with the same guy for these past 8 years. However, last Friday night, I went on a ‘first date’ with another guy.
It all started about two years ago, when we were going through a rough patch again. I had finally called it all off. *(This post needs a clarification right at the beginning that we got back together the same year after about 4 months, so the last week’s date would technically be cheating)*. I had realized that I needed to know other people of my species for I hardly knew anyone. A closeted introvert, I had been included in his circle of friends, I did not have any of my own. So now I had no one to share my side of the story with.
During the break, I had to visit Bombay for a training workshop. Feeling depressed, a lonely stranger in the city, I made up a profile on a gay networking site. I was using such a site after eons. I did not want to reveal my real name. Most probably it was I who had pinged him a ‘hi’. This guy must have been quite decent in his replies, I was comfortable enough to give away my real name on the first instance and then shift over to whatsapp. The training was only for a week, I was not able to meet him on that trip. I kept in touch with him off and on by text messages. It was never more than a hello or some other nicety. Refreshingly he did not have any agenda. No drama, no expectations. I knew nothing about this person: what he did, what he liked, what he was looking for, what role he preferred & c. We were always strangers so I did not feel the need to tell him that I had a boyfriend I had broken up with or that now we had got back together. There was only one thing that we looked forward to-meeting when I next came to his city.
A week ago, early Monday morning, I returned to Bombay for another training. Overcoming my shyness, I messaged him a hello the day after arriving. He called up in the evening. Typically, I was surprised and became awkward, I was not expecting a call, I was waiting for a message. Moreover, I was visiting a friend’s office so I couldn’t talk to him freely. I supposed he was offended for he did not call up again. On Thursday I messaged another “Hi. I’m sorry again for the other day.” He immediately responded back. I did my usual beating around the bush instead of coming to the point – how I was getting bored and the guys I talked to on PR either thought of me as old and bald or did not want to agree to my idea of ‘a movie date’. “See” I told him, “if one doesn’t find any common subjects to talk about with the person one has agreed to meet, one could always keep munching on popcorn and keep the eyes on the screen. After the movie instead of proceeding for dinner one could say that ‘sorry I am already full but it was nice to meet you’ and then make oneself scarce asap.” He laughed and texted back, “One could also say politely, that sorry this was a mistake and then excuse himself within 10 minutes of meeting. I have done this many times.” “But my method needs testing because it would not be a waste of time as you get to watch a movie you wanted to anyways and the whole awkwardness is avoided. This method definitely needs to be tested, ” I pressed. “Okay we could give it a try” he replied with a smiley. “My treat,” I immediately replied. So we agreed on watching a movie together on Friday evening, he was busy the whole weekend he said. He wanted to see the X-Men, “I’m a great superhero movie fan.” But I had already seen it, so I suggested How to Train Your Dragon -2. He readily agreed. We concurred that we didn’t like watching 3D so we decided to watch the 2D version at a multiplex which was near his office. I was excited that this was really happening. I had never done such a thing before. I told the boyfriend that I was getting bored and going for a movie with colleagues. “Don’t you dare watch How to Train Your Dragon” he warned me. I assured him that I would not.
The date did not text any messages during the day. In the afternoon when I asked him if I should book the tickets, he said that there was no need as it was a Friday. In my town Friday usually means no tickets unless you have a prior booking, so I was wondering if he was keeping an option to ditch at the last moment open. I got free from the training early, put on what I thought was the best and piled on lot of deo and the first perfume I ever purchased, waiting for the movie. He called me up in the evening to tell me the directions. I left a bit earlier than the time he suggested in the hope that I would buy the tickets before him. On the way I got a message from him, ” Have you already started? I am already there and have purchased the tickets.” When I reached there I took off my glasses before getting down from the auto-rickshaw. I think they make me look old. I didn’t like the appearance of the mall if I may call it so. It was a shabby place, not exactly romantic for a first date. But then I had not made any romantic overtures so I had to make do with it. I squinted my eyes around to try to make him out of the blur of twenty people who were sitting on the benches outside the mall. I thought I recognized the shape sitting talking on the phone. I approached him with a smile permanently pasted on my face. He shook my hand and continued talking for a few moments. “Okay I will talk to you later, I am meeting someone” he concluded. “Hi” he said ” you look so different from your pictures.” “Yeah?” I said telling myself that you look exactly like yours, I had no difficulty recognizing you. “Would you like something to drink?” he asked. We went in to the coffee shop and ordered coffee. We didn’t want anything to eat. Bombay had got pleasant since I came. The monsoons were almost here. It had been raining almost daily now. We sat outside where it was pleasant and not crowded. “So what exactly do you do?” I started, letting him speak about his job. He worked for a software firm on projects. He explained at length what he did. He did it again later after the movie when we were going for a dinner. I still have not idea what exactly he does. He had done a diploma in engineering I learnt. Had worked on offshore vessels for some time as service engineer. Gone to Dubai for about a year. But had settled down with this company about 5 years ago. He was happy with his job and the growth it provided. He told me he liked to travel. “What places have you visited?” I asked him. He named a few places in the Northern part of the country. As is usual for me I gave my unasked for expert advise on everything how they had made a mistake in going to these places and how they should have gone to these places instead. “Aren’t you being the know it all and talking too much” I told myself, “But at least we have found something to talk about, it’s not awkward and we have some common ground.” Finally he had to say that okay you take us around the next time we visit. I bit my tongue thinking that it would not be possible, I have a boyfriend. Would I add you on Facebook if he asked for it. Nah I thought. Coffee over we proceeded for the movie. I think I laughed too much because he became quiet when he realized that I was snorting over the every joke enough for both of us. Or was it because of the piss smell? I think I did not shake it well after the bathroom break and had caught more in my undies than in john. Now I was smelling the unmistakable smell. And of course he would figure it was me because there were hardly 15 people in the theater. The nearest one 4 feet away. He was quiet for most of the movie. The movie wasn’t that great after all in spite of all my laughing. At the end we exited with the small crowd in to the quiet mall. ‘It was okay’ I thought,’ not too bad.’ When we got out he asked, “So do you wanna grab a bite?” “Sure” I replied. “Let’s go to Hiranandani” he said.
Over dinner he told me about his struggles with his family about coming out, his white ex-boyfriend and his life in general. I commented on my own feelings and that of my family on my coming out. He pointed out that I seemed lazy and my body (shape) spelled it out loud and clear. He was surprised with my ‘agility’ when I intercepted the waiter and secured the bill for paying (he had paid for the movie tickets). I explained my standard explanation of why I pay bills to avoid seeming miserly.
He dropped me off at the guest apartment and took the auto home. I realised that this was as far as this encounter would go. I was obviously fat and balding and not exactly desirable. After I turned to bed to sleep I got a message from him “I really enjoyed meeting you, you are a really sweet guy. Hope to see you again soon.”