When you first start dating someone even the simplest things can be fraught with indecision: What to wear, which bar to book, what to cook. We can all be strangely intolerant in those early days.We rashly discard would-be lovers for their odd hair or shoes or ears because we don’t know them well enough to compromise. It’s why friendships so often blossom into lasting romances – we already love them too much to care about the ears.
For my second date with the Italian I invite her round to mine.
“I’ll get dinner!” I say, still reeling from my nocturnal encounter in her bathroom.
As I peruse the ‘Dine in for £10’ deal at Waitrose I feel paralysed by indecision. I dither about for ages: meatballs; no, mussels; no, curry; no, pie. In the end I plump for ricotta and mushroom cannelloni even though I hate mushrooms but I’ve been sweating in the chilled food aisle for half an hour and I still need to shave my legs.
Back at mine I flit jumpily back and forth, lighting candles, plumping cushions and bundling all my old newspapers, receipts and unpaid bills into drawers. I adjust the lights multiple times, checking my teeth for lipstick and chain smoking Marlboroughs. When the doorbell rings my palms are sweaty.
She looks beautiful but relaxed in her suede mini and boots and we chatter easily as I pour us a stiff gin and tonic. After dinner she curls up in the crook of the sofa and regales me with funny stories of her childhood.
The second bottle of wine loosens tongues and hands and soon we’re kissing, eager fingers finding soft skin and warm, yielding curves. I take her hand and lead her upstairs, shedding her clothing piece by piece and laying her down.
She comes but frustratingly my own orgasm still eludes me.
“I want to feel you come,” she whispers, and so I oblige, feeling guilty and utterly deflated as I fake for her pleasure.
Afterwards I sneak outside for a ciggie in the chilly night air. When I come back in, despite a liberal dousing of mouthwash and perfume, she sniffs suspiciously:
“Erm, did you just have cigarette?”
“Yeah, sorry I should have told you but…I didn’t” I finish lamely.
“That’s okay” she says crisply “you’ll give up.”
I kiss her goodbye knowing I won’t. I don’t realise it then but it’s the last time I’ll see her. Over the next few weeks, our messages slow to a jog, then a walk. We can never find the time to see one another; both busy, busy, busy like a couple of bees on the hunt for honey elsewhere. At last, after a couple of weeks, our spark splutters and stutters and fizzles out like a doused match.
Probably the cannelloni wot did it.