I’m really not very good at picking up signals and nuances. For example, there’s this scientist, Liam I was seeing towards the end of last autumn. He had said he didn’t want to rush into things, but what happened instead was that we began by kissing at the end of the first date and then arranged a second where he took me back to his place after dinner and the next thing I knew he was slipping on a condom and I was lying in an unmistakably compromising position on his bed.
Several dates went by which ended in a similar fashion and then he began cancelling dates on me. I took the hint and we clarified the situation in an adult, mature and twenty-first century manner – via text messaging. We established that he felt rushed and was unhappy about all this meaningless copulation. He also said that he preferred being one of a few rather than the only one – which at the time, he had been as my relationship with R had just ended. He also said that he’d rather just hang out than have sex. I took that to be his way of telling me that he didn’t have the time for an exclusive relationship. No matter, I’d got used to dating all kinds of unavailable men by then and so I returned to the dating site and met a few more. Occasionally Liam would send me an invitation to see a film or show at the theatre followed by dinner. We didn’t venture anywhere near a bed or condom and kissing was restricted to dry pecks on cheeks. And then there was a long hiatus when even this platonic way of hanging out stopped altogether.
In a moment of weakness about three weeks ago, probably when someone else had bailed on me at the last minute, I sent him a text inviting him out. It was quite a successful date in terms of the choice of film – Wild Tales which kept us both at the edge of our seat along with many moments of sheer absurdity. When the film ended we went for a light meal and he seemed fairly interested in all my polyamorous adventures. Over this he offered to cook for me and experiment further in bed – he was sufficiently sheepish about this turnaround to apologise for it and proffer his acceptance without question and in advance what he expected would be my immediate rejection of this audacious proposition.
Now, despite having had a rather large glass of red wine at the cinema and another with my meal I was sufficiently sober to remember the plus factors about Liam – his stamina, proportionate length and girth of essential parts, unimpeachable manners and sensibilities vis a vis the supply and use of prophylactics and sensuous application of lips and digits. At the same time I also recalled his diffidence. So I rather nervously said yes and we made a date two weeks ahead.
In the run up I checked that he was still happy about our date and he sent me the following message:
Yes, I’m definitely still on for Monday. I really don’t mind what we do. If you want to go out somewhere or just hang out, that’s fine with me. It will just be nice to have an evening together.
Bearing in mind how the last time we had sex ended I took this to mean that he now had cold feet. We went to see Force Majeure instead. Over dinner, perhaps prompted by how less than perfect the meal was (the soup was quite salty and the mozzarella salad did not contain basil) he again reiterated his previous offer. I intimated my surprise and told him that I thought he had changed his mind from his last email. He said that he had merely wanted to give me the option of backing out of it. So I said yes again and this time, at the end of the date he finally kissed me on the lips. But who knows what’ll happen in two weeks’ time…
Meanwhile, on my way home I noticed that Max had tried to call. It gave me a warm glow to see that missed call notification on my phone. He had also sent me a couple of email messages to which I briefly replied. When he rang back again I was already tucked up in bed. So it felt warm and cosy and I settled down to have an already familiar chat routine with this man I’m still determined not to be silly over.
We exchanged news about our day as we usually did and I told him about my busy weekend and date with Liam. As we were saying goodbye I reminded him about our impending date this Friday. There was a slight awkwardness when Max apologised for having forgotten about it and said he had made an arrangement he couldn’t back out of. There was no mistaking my disappointment although I put on a brave front. If there was anything that could cure my propensity to be silly over someone then Max had certainly succeeded. I went to sleep feeling let down and comforted myself by detailing all the things I found irritating about him.