I was at a friend's party, laughing it up, munching on snacks, meeting cool people. One of those people was Lisa, a friend of the host. She and I were chatting it up, joking around, a very casual interaction, when she asked for my phone number. I was in the middle of giving it to her when I realized, wait, she's asking for my phone number. Holy crap, this girl is interested in a date. With me! I asked for her number posthaste. I was completely oblivious to any flirting that may or may not have been occurring, maybe that was what she thought was appealing, who can say.
I got a few nudges and winks from the guys with whom I had gone to the party. They knew me and my lack of effort with women. Picking up was just not something I was particularly interested in. Not that I was against dating, it just wasn't a priority for me.
We called each other a few times. She had gone to ballet school, liked this band and that band, did this and that over the summer, the usual ice breaking stuff. We agree to meet. She was living on her own out in the West Island while I lived in the relatively central neighbourhood of NDG. I took a metro and a helluva long bus rde to her place. Sitting on the bus, fall colours rolling outside the windows, I contemplated this first date. I had only had a couple first dates at this point and they had usually been comfortable, conversational outings. I was going straight to her place. My imagination developed all sorts of sordid scenarios and I hoped none of them occurred. The last thing I was interested in was a cheap tryst. Hormones notwithstanding, I was just looking to get to know this girl.
It was brisk and windy Sunday afternoon, the sky undecided as to whether it would be overcast or bright blue. I stepped off the bus, scanned the street for the number of her place and rang the bell. I walked up painted wooden steps into a one room apartment, a mattress on the floor and a simple second-hand table rounding out the studential decor. I had a cup of tea as we made small talk. While she had a table, there were no chairs in sight so we sat ourselves down on the edge of her mattress. I can't say whether or not she expected (or feared) anything more than talk sitting on her bed. I did my best to ignore any untoward implications of our seating location. After a while, I began to relax. Pleasant company, a quiet day of talk; these are things I like. Ten seconds after I start to feel comfortable, Lisa informs me her friends should be here shortly.
Soon after, three of her good friends arrive, brightly and sprightly nattering away. You know that gaggle of girls at the back of the bus making a lot of noise and giggling far too often? I was now on a date with all of them. We hopped in a car, popped into McD's for a bite and ended up at the figure skater's well-appointed house (God forbid I ever remember their names). I couldn't have said more than a dozen words as they fluttered about the room like the gold and crimson leaves on the grass outside. I was stunned.
After a long enough period of being politely quiet, I said I had to leave and catch my bus back into town. Lisa walked me to the stop. The pleasant conversation of earlier was long dead. We walked in stilted silence as I tried to phrase an impossibly awkward sentiment. How do you tell someone that you don't want to see them anymore? After one date, no less. It was a situation I had never been in before and one that I struggled with as we approached the stop.
"Listen, I think it would be best if we just stayed friends."
I don't know how that sounded to her but it was what I said. We exchanged chaste kisses on the cheek and Lisa walked back to rejoin her friends. I waited alone for the bus to take me away from an awful experience. It was cool, dark and windy; a typical autumn night.