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My worst date!
Lindsay Pereira |
February 13, 2006
Bad dates need not involve minor calamities such as the weather or a bad choice of restaurant. These are incidental, and can easily be dealt with in short order, depending on how charming you are, or how easy-going your date is, or vice versa.
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Bad dates, more often than not, are about bad pairings. About the coming together of two people who have nothing in common with each other and should not be in the same room as each other, let alone the same table.
But, this is what happens, inevitably, when well-meaning friends and acquaintances decide to save your life...
'Look at poor Lindsay,' they would say to each other, comfortable in their coupled status, 'He has no girlfriend.' And so, to save me from myself, they would set about trying to force women to meet me. It's a bit like how arranged marriages work in this country.
So, to get on with my 'bad date' story, this happened at a time when I was between girlfriends. A period I remember fondly. My friends, however, couldn't stand it. They mistook my carefree manner for melancholy at the lack of someone to hold, and set me up with a woman I will now call 'M'.
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'She's just like you,' they said. 'The two of you will hit it off at once,' they said. 'You will thank us forever,' they said. So, foolish, naïve man that I was in my early 20s, I agreed. And a date was set.
The first inkling I had of things not being just right was when 'M' strolled in 25 minutes late at our appointed venue -- a quiet restaurant near a movie theatre in suburban Mumbai. She walked in, smiled, and sat herself down without apologising for her late arrival. I let it go. Maybe she wasn't the apologetic type, I told myself, which is sometimes a good thing.
"What will you have?" I asked.
"Anything," she replied. I asked her to pick: Coffee, Cold Coffee, Ice Tea, Cappuccino, Pepsi, Diet Coke. She promptly refused them all. "Just water, then," she said. So, apparently, when she said 'Anything', what she really meant was 'Let me just pretend to be easygoing even though I'm anything but.'
The conversation dragged. And dragged. It always tends to if the person you're trying to converse with loves monosyllables passionately. 'M' clearly did. Her replies swung between 'Yes' and 'No', to a sudden, surprising, 'Maybe' and a shocking 'Hmmmm.' What annoyed me most, however, was her habit of playing with her hair and saying, absently, 'Aur bolo…'
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She did it every four minutes. I'd ask her a question, she'd respond with a syllable, then play with her hair and whisper 'Aur bolo…'
The minutes crawled past, slowly, as if they had chosen to move that way only to aggravate me on purpose. I thought I had been with 'M' for over an hour. When I checked, however, it had been a little over 20 minutes. I wasn't sure if she and I had anything in common at all, simply because she hadn't used enough words to give me that, or any, idea.
Here's the thing. You can date a woman and find out she's not your type if she says the wrong things. But, when she chooses to say nothing, and you can't leave the table and run for fear of offending her -- and your well-meaning, if idiotic, friends -- you have to grin and bear it.There is nothing on earth worse than a date who refuses to say anything. You feel suicidal, wasted, horrible, like a wreck of a man. Why can't I get her to speak, you ask yourself. Am I so horrible? Will women ever go out with me again? What will become of me? The thoughts race within, plunging you into deep and deeper despair...
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She, on the other side of the table, plays with her hair, whispering 'Aur bolo…'
Eventually, it ended. The date, that is. After 45 minutes had passed, I knew I had done my time.
"I should go," I told 'M'. "It was nice talking to you." I was, after all, the only one who had done the talking. 'M' smiled, shook my hand, and walked away into the Mumbai traffic.
I have learnt to be more discerning over the years. I can tell within a few minutes if a woman I'm with is like 'M' or one who has the power of speech. She has, with hindsight, taught me a lot. I like to think of her picking her way through life quietly. Calmly. Meeting men at different tables in different cities. Making them think suicidal thoughts while she plays with her hair and goes 'Aur bolo…'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh