First dates, Kernov

It came as no surprise when he asked me out for a drink, I already caught him staring at a party. When I heard through the grapevine that he had taken a liking to me, my suspicions were confirmed. I had heard of Kernov through friends’ stories, yet somehow we had never met before the party at our mutual friend Arizona’s house.

Not that I know Arizona that well either. He came into my life about 2 weeks before the party but soon managed to squeeze himself into my schedule and we ended up meeting almost every other day. At times I wonder whether we are becoming friends, or whether we are only in the waiting room to start dating. He never openly flirts with me, but he messages me every day, picks eye lashes of my cheeks and invites me to hang out on activities that my friends call dates. Yet we don’t date and I still feel a disconnect. While this post should be about Kernov, Arizona is always lurking just around the corner. Quite literally.

Kernov and I meet up at a cafe on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. We sit outside and talk while watching people pass by. Suddenly I recognise a familiar face across the street. You guessed it, it’s Arizona. He looks at us but he doesn’t stop, just grins and walks on. I try to go back to the conversation I’m having with Kernov, but my mind wanders to the probability of him accidentally passing by. Granted, Arizona lives in the neighbourhood, but considering he knew about our date, his timing seems too convenient to be just a mere coincidence. I try to put it out of my mind and focus on Kernov’s travel stories instead. He’s telling me about his aspirations and his struggles, entertaining me with the kind of conversations I enjoy having by skipping small talk all together. When he’s staring at the table, trying to find the words to describe one of his travel experiences, I take advantage of him being deep in thought to observe his face. Boyish, but with a hairline that is starting to reveal his true age. Hair slightly curly, nose slightly bent. There’s a sense of content you get from looking at his face.

After finishing our drinks we visit a flea market nearby. We walk around pointing out the crazy and the precious items others have discarded. As I pick up a painting to show to Kernov, he leans in and for a split second my heart flutters. It was only a glimpse, making me wonder whether this is a spark or just some awakened raging hormones of a twenty-something virgin.

As I grab my bike to go home after our date, I text Arizona to ask whether it was a coincidence he was passing by at the exact same time Kernov and I were there. He gives me a vague explanation and asks me if I want to hang out with a couple of friends tomorrow instead. The next day I go over to Arizona’s place. As I’m hanging out with Kernov and Arizona at the same place at the same time, it really sinks in. That split second of attraction will never turn into minutes, hours nor days as long as Arizona is in the picture.

First dates, Thomson

We met at a friend’s party two years ago where he was entertained by my ability to only blush with my left cheek. After finding out about my interest in Indian cinema he would send me Bollywood videos from time to time. I often kept him hanging, but not long after I picked up the conversation again, he suggested catching a movie together.

Normally I would dread going to the cinema for a first date. You either sit next to each other in silence pretending to be engrossed in the movie or you’re nervously fumbling about in the dark. Tonight was the exception: the city had created an open air cinema at the quays, including sand dunes, telescopes to gaze at the stars and free soup during intermission. There are worse settings to get to know your date. We met up half an hour before the start of the movie to get a good spot which gave us time to catch up. Not before he put down a blanket, opened his backpack and pulled out a bottle of home-made mojito and Tupperware boxes of hummus with veggies though. My favourites. We were lounging on the sand with mojitos in hand and snacks by our sides. This is what my first date dreams are made of.

I looked down at my ripped jeans wondering if I should have put more effort in my outfit. When he asked me to catch a movie it didn’t think too much of it at first. It wasn’t until I texted my friend about my plans for the evening that I fully realised I was on my way to a date. Not that it would have bothered Thomson. He was the personification of casual as demonstrated by the slippers he was wearing and the shopping bag he carried around.

For the first time I noticed his accent that gave away he didn’t grow up in this city. We talked about our pasts because our visions for the future look like Monet paintings. He a student again at 35, me unemployed at 27. We didn’t need to impress each other with fancy job titles or tales of promotions. So we couldn’t care less about not talking about politics on first dates either and we bonded over our mutual dislike for the mayor’s right wing policies. He’s comfortable to talk to, but maybe too comfortable. I find myself wanting to make plans with him to have an art house cinema marathon rather than an evening of Netflix and chill.

It was getting late and we had said our goodbyes already, but we lingered on the corner of the street for another half hour. He suggested one more drink, but I decided to call it a night. And a good start.

So how do you lose your virginity in your late twenties?

And no, I don’t mean that in a technical way. After a decade of immediately categorizing all men as friends, I have become very comfortable with the opposite sex. I dine, laugh, play sports, watch movies and travel with them. They see every part of me (personalitywise) and I’m not shy to be completely myself around them. One of the guys, just one that carries tampons around.

While banter comes easily, flirting does not. When I enter dating territory, that’s when I find myself in quicksand, slowly sinking lower on the scale of attractiveness. I become unusually quiet and only speak to make an out of place joke that fills the room with awkward silence rather than laughter. I get bright red and tongue-tied. One time a crush complimented me while standing in my doorway. I grinned sheepishly and closed the door on him. Two days later he slept with my friend.

High school and university were the windows of opportunity that unfortunately are shut tight now. So I started imagining what could have been: let’s say I would have started dating at a very likely age of 17 and I would have gone on dates every time the seasons changed. Ten times four makes forty. That are 40 dates I haven’t gone on, 40 missed opportunities to make mistakes and magic happen, 40 chances to get to know people who could have made a difference or I could have made a difference for.

While the high school sweethearts and the university lovers are stories that I irrevocably missed out on, that doesn’t mean I can’t make up for lost dates however. These are the rules I’ve decided on:

  1. Date 40 people
  2. Never say no when someone asks you out on a date in person
    (Unless they look like they might have a restraining order)
  3. Let friends hook you up
  4. Install Tinder
  5. Kiss passionately and greedily
  6. Lose virginity
  7. Write about it on this blog

I don’t have the experience and I don’t have the answers, but I do have a plan and an insatiable curiosity that will get me there. One date for every changing season for the past ten years.

So you’re a virgin. At your age?

You’re still a virgin? At your age?
– Yes, that’s right.
How did that happen?
– Bad timing and some obstacles that I needed to work through first.
Oh okay, cool, whenever you’re ready. Do you want the last slice of pizza?

This is the conversation I’ve been dreaming of ever since I traded in my early twenties for mid-twenties and the topic of virginity came up. If the topic comes up in the first place. Once you’ve entered your twenties it is considered a given that you have loved, lost and lusted. By your mid-twenties you can add a baby or two. By late twenties a divorce or two.

At 27 I have yet to start from first base. That’s right. First base. No lips, no hands and definitely no genitals. Friends and peers have hit at least a home run or eight and have had enough practice to breeze past the first three bases by now. They’re popping out rings and babies left and right, while I’m still nervously fidgeting with the hems on my sleeves, getting ready to enter the game. Whenever another birthday passed I would promise myself to play the field next season, but after a decade of strikeouts it’s clear I need to change my strategy.

Not that being on the bench has treated me poorly: apart from the occasional unrequited crushes, I’ve lived a heartbreak free life and I’ve never had to panic about baby bumps or suspicious itches. I have enjoyed spending time on myself and went wherever my heart wanted to go. At this point I bet you are suspecting me of having a horrible personality, but my friends would argue against that. I’ve also had my share of male (and female) attention so we can’t blame Mother Nature either.

So why am I still a virgin at 27? Bad timing and some obstacles that I needed to work through first, thanks for asking.

How about we share that last slice of pizza while I take you on my dating quest in the next posts.