Sadly this isn’t about a dog.
Instead this is about the only real first date I ever had. It wasn’t a blind date, but it might as well have been.
A bit of backstory I suppose is needed for this one. This all happened when I was 18 or so. I was in my final year at school & I was already somewhat infatuated with my future husband. There were a few issues with this.
For one, we worked together. Not only that but we also worked with my mum & his brother. So I decided early on, it would be too complicated & not to pursue him.
Also I was about to head off to university in six months & I didn’t want any distractions. He was a bit older than me & we didn’t have a great deal in common. When I struck up a conversation about my Spanish studies, he somehow steered the conversations towards cars & football.
The final nail in the coffin was that he seemed to absolutely & thoroughly ignore me most days.
So, to get him out of my head, I went on a date.
I had met the boy in question at a club. It was at the very end of the night, as the songs stopped & the lights came on. He just happened to be sitting beside me at the end of the night & he started up a chat about my coat. The chat continued down the stairs, out the door & to where a line of taxis waited.
I said goodbye as my house was five minutes away. He offered, rather gentlemanly, to walk me home. I allowed him to walk me to the end of the road as a compromise.
I didn’t get a lot of information about him in the short walk home. He was at university nearby. He had a younger brother. He was from the same town as my granny. In fact his family own a shop close to my granny’s house. He knew my family vaguely & I knew his, again vaguely.
He tapped his number into my phone & handed me it back. I read the name. Collie.
‘Is it short for Colin?’
‘No, it’s just Collie.’
‘Like… the dog?’ I regret saying that now. I’m sure he got that quite a bit. Anyway the night ended with him jumping in a taxi, promising to text the next day. He did. I was busy with some school stuff, so we arranged to meet a week later. In a bar this time, a quieter one.
Now, the next part is confusing to me. I was not drunk that night. I had a couple of drinks, but at the time I never really had more than 3 on a night out. My friends were a little drunk. However all seven of us agreed, wholeheartedly, that Collie definitely looked like Paul Rudd. Not a passing resemblance, but quite a lot like him.
This was in the days before social media. So we only had our memories to fall back on.
I arrived at the bar on time. Which wasn’t like me. I might have even been a little early. Either way, I wasn’t late. But when I arrived, Collie was drunk.
He was sitting on a bar stool, holding a pint of guinness. The first thing I noticed, even in a pitch black room, he wouldn’t have passed for Paul Rudd. He had the wavy, dark hair but that’s where the similarity ended.
The only way he was like Paul Rudd, was if Paul Rudd starred in a werewolf movie. There was hair creeping up his neck, spilling through his shirt & forcing itself out of every crevice of his shirt.
As he struggled to get off the stool, I realised two things. First, he wasn’t just drunk, he was very, very drunk. Second, he was rather short.
I’m not biased against short men (or men who don’t look like Paul Rudd, for that matter). However I distinctly remember looking Collie in the eye when we were chatting as he walked me home. I had been wearing at least four inch heels at the time, there may have even been a platform involved in that shoe. I was definitely eye level with him.
But, in the bar, I was wearing flats & towering above him. I am by no means leggy. I am five foot three (& a half inch), this guy had to be about 4-5 inches shorter than me.
I’m still scratching my head on that one.
Collie offered to buy me a drink, I said I’d get my own if he went & found us seats. I looked around at the empty bar, we had our pick. I knew the barman, so I chatted with him for a while. Asked him how long Collie had been waiting.
‘Half an hour.’
‘Can you get that drunk in half an hour?’ I sighed. ‘Could you get me a lemonade? No matter what drink he orders me, could you give me a lemonade please?’ The barman agreed & I wandered over.
We chatted awkwardly for a while. With the initial small talk out of the way, he started to talk about university. Turned out he was studying European History, which happens to be one of my favourite topics. I had just applied to do European Studies at university, so I quizzed him about his course. I started rhyming off names of books I’d read or wanted to read on the subject.
He stared at me blankly.
He started to talk about sports. He played football, rugby & some gaelic sports. He liked playing golf at weekends & watching basketball, baseball & American football. Collie went into animated detail about a baseball game he went to when he was in America.
I stared at him blankly.
He didn’t read & I didn’t like sports. We didn’t have a whole heap in common.
He went to the bar quite a few times. Each time getting a pint for himself, a vodka & lemonade (minus the vodka) for me.
He grew increasingly drunk & giddy. I grew more aware of the time.
We’d arranged the date on a school night. For me, that was more than a phrase on this occasion. It was getting late & I had to be tucked up in bed for the next academic day.
We wandered outside, there was not a taxi in sight.
I’d forgotten there was a pretty big event on, one town over. All the taxis would be there.
‘Come back to mine,’ Collie wobbled. ‘My next door neighbour is a taxi driver.’
‘What’s his number?’
‘I don’t have it,’ he mumbled. ‘I just go next door when I need a taxi.’
‘So you never need to call him to get picked up from somewhere else?’
Collie started to pull me in the direction of his house as his excuse unravelled. I saw a taxi coming towards us, so I stepped out in front of it & closed my eyes. When I opened them, the taxi had stopped.
‘I’m booked.’ The driver grumbled as I opened the door. I asked where he was going, it was right past my house. I begged the taxi driver & he seemed happy to be getting an additional fare he wasn’t counting on.
As I jumped in the taxi, Collie leaned in for a kiss but instead he got a door slammed in his face.
The next day, I sent a text telling Collie I was too busy with school for a boyfriend. I’d decided if I was going to go for a boyfriend who I had nothing in common with, it may as well be with someone I liked.
Later that week, I went into work to find the original object of my affections had quit his job. I was mildly peeved with him, but I soon got over it.
In the words of Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall – ‘When life hands you lemons, just say f*%k the lemons & bail’.