I find second dates the hardest to do. First dates are full of possibilities, the two of you are wooing each other with gesture and conversation, you're at your witty best, eyes bright, never in a bad mood. First dates are when you dress carefully, perfumed just the right amount, dab dab in cleavage and behind your ears and the hollows of your collarbone. Third dates are established dates, you know you want to see the person again, you know this might lead somewhere, it is a third date after all. Third dates are for wearing the nice underwear, for turning up your face for the the first kiss, and yet, being comfortable enough to curl up your legs on the chair, to not laugh at jokes you don't think are funny. Second dates however, are tough dates. Second dates lack the glitzy excitement of the first date and the we're-probably-going-to-see-each-other-again comfort of the third.
Recently, I went out on my first second date since I moved to this city. It was my first second date in some time too, maybe it's the being alone for so long that makes me so picky, but usually, I don't see most people past our first star-struck evening. I find myself picking faults with them on the first date, are they vegetarian? Or non-drinkers? My friends and I spend hours dissecting why people are wrong for us, but when we find someone who just might be right, we guard the information, keep the man close to our hearts and bodies, worrying that if we speak too soon, it'll all be over, just like that. Being scattered like we are, the friends I discuss romance with at any rate--two in Delhi, two in Bombay, one in London--it's hard to keep track of everyone's love lifes. There are boyfriends I haven't ever met, although I could tell you what kind of cologne they use, and what their favourite movie is, and how they like to cuddle as soon as they wake up in the morning. And there are the men I've been with, who my friends have never met, though they know the names, and how I agonise right before I go to bed about whether it'll ever work out. And virtually, we hand-hold, across kilometres and oceans, spewing vitriol on the men and soothing our sister companion. But I miss being able to introduce my lover to my friends, saying, "Look, this is the man I've chosen, isn't he perfect for me, don't we set each other off, doesn't it seem like he likes me very much?" Or have an "objective" viewpoint, about whether he is worthy.
My own second date was something that was much dissected. Where was it going, did I see myself with this person? When did dating get so much about pressure? If you're going out with a person of the opposite sex, when does it move from dinner and drinks with a boy to a "date"? Why are we still using the word 'date', it has such 1990 connotations? Anyway, all went smoothly on date two, the two of us, though tired from a long day's commute, managed to meet up for Chinese food and a drink, and talk about our respective chosen careers. Although in my case, not being an emergency room doctor or a hypnotherapist, there's not much to tell. "So, I go out and I get stories." Fascinating. The date went, well, well. After the build up in my head about a romance filled, buckets of roses type date, I suppose it was somewhat a let down. But that wasn't his fault, he wasn't to know that I had planned stories about how we met to admit blushingly to other friends, how I had planned the way he would make me coffee in the morning, and how we would do the crossword together and why am I admitting this to the internet?
The next day, in admitting it to the other ladies, I didn't know what to say. I had infused him with possibilities, "tell us about your love life" they asked, "Is there anyone new in the picture?" And coyly I had admitted how cute he was, how kind, how fun, and they yay-ed from their scattered corners, and now, by admitting failure, defeat even, I didn't know what else I was admitting to. I wanted to have a happy love story for them, because they, like me, are mostly jaded, mostly cynical, but still, so optimistic that in the end everything would be For The Best. So, I didn't tell them. And I know they read my blog, and I know they'll probably wonder why I chose not to say anything on the subject. Because, well, because, I want you to think I am capable of finding love and not always a let-down, because I want you to think of me as smart and successful and making the right choices, because I want you to think of me as happy, because I am happy, despite hiccups.
As for my second date, we've sort of committed to date three, only not on a day or a location. "I'll call you," he says, and I nod, not agonising about it. Which in the end, is okay, I suppose. It's not him making me coffee in the morning, but it's not I-never-want-to-see-you-again either.