For those that have been reading, I am currently taking part in Five in Five – five dates in five weeks all in the name of charity.
Since putting the call out for any eligible, interesting guys in Melbourne who’d like to go on a date with me, I have been pleasantly surprised by the calibre of men who’ve both made the approach and politely accepted my (very ballsy) invitations.
I set out with a challenge: allow three of the dates to be “match ups” via friends of friends, and two were to be ones where I had made the bold approach. Not one to back down from a challenge, I also set my sights high. There is something about being able to say “Please go on a date with me – it’s for charity” that’s given me the kind of gumption I may have been repressing. I don’t lack confidence (just ask me), but just like the next person I have that fear of embarrassment if the reply is going to be a resounding “Thanks but no thanks” which somehow sounds in my head like “Are you out of your mind?”.
I was pleasantly surprised when a friend of a friend via Facebook promptly answered my first call out for a date. Simon had added me a few months back and I thought I may had met him previously – I don’t normally make a habit of adding people to my personal Facebook page that I haven’t met but there was something familiar about him at the time. As it turned out, we hadn’t met and so he asked if he could take me to dinner – simple, classic, no-fuss approach. I was impressed.
Taking part in Five in Five has helped me realise that a big part of the hurdle to traditional dating these days is that we lack that all important ingredient in being available to meet someone – time. Which was apparent when Simon and I attempted to arrange our date – conflicting diaries, travel requirements for work, busy social calendars. Welcome to the life of a 20-30 something Melburnian. We finally found a mutually-agreeable date – Friday 10 February – and so it was inked into the digital diary. He suggested dinner, I countered with a drink to start… I am a bit of a fence-sitter when it comes to committing to a meal with someone I’ve never met before.
When it came to the afternoon of the date and we were still yet to arrange a specific time and place, I shot him a text. By 5.30pm there had been no response, so I packed up my desk and decided to head for home. I was a bit miffed I hadn’t heard from him (it’s not hard to send a text these days people, not hard at all… /rant) but then moments later he called, apologised and we were back on track for a 6pm-ish rendezvous at St Kilda.
A fresh slick of lipgloss, tousle of the hair and powder of the nose and I was scooting down Dandy Rd towards Barney Allen’s, a Melbourne drinking and dining institution. After a sneaky five minutes visit to the ladies for a nerve-calming glance in the mirror and mental pep talk, I sauntered into the bar and spotted Simon propped up on a stool, drink in hand and highly engaged in whatever it was he was reading on his phone. He spotted me, smiled widely and greeted me with a sweet kiss on the cheek. So it would seem the flesh version of me closely resembles the digital version. Phew.
Not knowing much about each other other than what was shared on Facebook (in which case he knew far more about me than I did about him), we exchanged the usual pleasantries – what do you do, where do you live, where did you grow up, what football team do you support, tell me about Five in Five, how difficult is dating these days.
One drink down, Simon proudly announced he was taking me on a bar hop of his favourite St Kilda watering holes to which I agreed, intrigued. We crossed the road and headed for Circa, another Melbourne institution, at the Prince of Wales Hotel. We settled into a spot on the balcony and the conversation continued to flow easily, starting to delve a bit deeper into personal life stories, world views and tales of dating experiences with friendly and understanding laughter. We discovered we had quite a bit in common, although he looks younger than he is (I guessed 37 – he’s 39) and I look older than I appear (he guessed 31 – not quite!). We also faced-off on my height rule – I was a good two inches taller in heels and to my own chagrin I discovered I didn’t really mind.
As the sun set over Port Philip Bay and tummies began to rumble, Simon jokingly chided me for my lack of commitment to dinner when he first offered the date invitation. I was enjoying his company and so agreed to head for some food. We wandered down Acland St, me listening to Simon’s snippets of St Kilda expertise as he pointed out various spots of interest along the way (galleries, bars, restaurants, houses, cars covered in bird droppings) while not trying to grimace too obviously as my high heels began to burn the balls of my feet (I had been wearing them for 14+ hours and hadn’t planned on walking too far…).
We arrived at The Dog’s Bar, tucked in behind the McDonald’s on the main Esplanade, a quaint looking Italian place complete with wrought iron gates and candle-lit tables out the front and classic Van Morrison radiating warmly from the speakers. We propped ourselves up at the bar, ordered wine, grazed on fresh bread, chatted with the friendly wait staff and ordered dinner. Simon also suggested we get a photo (pictured) and do the obligatory Facebook check-in, which was warmly received by my friends (16 likes and a couple of comments).
The next two hours passed in a flash of delicious food (linguine with seafood and chili for me, calamari and meatballs for him), lovely wine, great tunes and bullet-like quizzes of favourite movie/holiday/colour/meal. Apparently “The Shawshank Redemption” is every man’s favourite movie – you learn something new every day.
It had been more than four hours since first meeting and this Cinderella was about to turn into a pumpkin so home time was declared. We wandered back to our cars on Fitzroy Street (no parking ticket – hooray!), said an affectionate goodnight (hug and kiss on the cheek) and headed for our respective single pads.
All in all, the date was delightful – Simon was charming, confident and easy to talk with, and he picked the bars and restaurant flawlessly – either knowing how to impress a girl or gauging pretty quickly the sort of person I am, what I’d enjoy and where I’d feel at ease. And yes, I’ve heard from him since our date and yes I hope there will be a second