Last week Lucy had a first date with 41-year old Josh, a geography teacher from Northampton. To catch up on what happened, check out Part 1 – First Encounter.
Lucy wasn’t exactly blown away by Josh. For one thing, he lives far away, and has a son. For another, he seems a little quirky and eccentric, and has a few passions that Lucy doesn’t share, like tending his allotment, making and building things, and camping even in the depths of winter. It’s all just a bit too ‘The Good Life‘ for Lucy, and she’s a little worried that if they end up together he might expect her to live in a self-built straw-bale house with a compost toilet and a herd of goats. To which Lucy would say: fuck that.
But there’s also something rather endearing about his mild eccentricity, and Lucy likes the fact that he’s intelligent and chatty, and best of all, not a fuckboy (Hallelujah!). So when he suggests a second date, she agrees without hesitation. Definitely worth another go to either rule him in or out, she thinks.
Since Josh is coming from out of town, Lucy suggests a pub she knows that’s not too much of a schlep from where his train’s getting in. She used to go there a lot in her younger days, and though she hasn’t been there in a while, she remembers it as being ideal casual second-date territory.
It’s still chilly out, and Lucy’s developed a bit of a cold. She briefly considers cancelling, but when she looks in the mirror she figures she can hide her red nose with makeup, and the husky voice she’s acquired is actually kind of sexy (she hopes), so what the hell. This date is highly unlikely to end in a kiss, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. Though it seems only fair to warn Josh in advance.
To go with his eco-friendly, home-crafted, frugal geography-teacher persona, Josh is a low-key dresser (in other words, he probably hasn’t bought a new shirt or jumper in five years), so Lucy opts for a casual skirt with tights and boots, and a bright green cashmere jumper with a thermal t-shirt on underneath for extra warmth. Can’t be taking any chances with the weather when you’re a bit, um, under the weather…
She arrives at the pub early. And… *bollocks*… they’ve entirely remodelled it since she was last there. Back then it was a big friendly boozer with plenty of space to sit, but now most of it’s been converted into a posh gentrified dining room, with hardly anywhere to sit if you just want to have a drink.
FFS! She thinks. Why do they keep doing this? This is now the second time in a row that’s she’s made a bad pub choice – she really should leave it up to the boys. She texts Josh.
After a furious bout of texting to and fro they eventually manage to find each other at The Folly, a slightly trashy 2-storey cocktail palace popular with 20-something City wankers who go there to get wasted on Friday nights. It’s not Lucy’s normal type of venue but it’s nearby, open, and warm, so at this point it’ll just have to do.
Josh gets there first and bags a table, and when she walks in, somewhat hot and flustered now from her walk, he stands up to greet her and flashes her a broad and very cute smile and Lucy feels an immediate hit of attraction. He seems taller than she remembers, and while he’s not model gorgeous, the combination of a kind face with bright blue-green eyes, paired with a chunky knit sweater and a cheeky grin, gets her right in the feels.
They order a mojito and a pisco sour. As it’s a Saturday the bar is loud and full of over-made-up girls in teeny tiny dresses and ridiculous heels, escorted by cocky-looking lads with too much gel in their hair who are shamelessly eyeing them up, each one clearly hoping to get a phone number or two so he can start distributing dick pics later. In her cashmere jumper and boots Lucy feels decidedly frumpy, and she wonders if Josh feels as uncomfortable. She gets the impression this is hardly his scene either.
To make matters worse, she’s now really fucking hot, and can feel her face taking on a entirely unflattering shade of pink. A cashmere jumper AND thermal vest might have been an excellent plan while she was outside in the Arctic temperatures, but now she’s in a warm bar she can feel sweat beading between her boobs and in the small of her back. But what to do?! Put up with it and live with the sweating the red face? Or strip off and reveal the entirely untrendy M&S thermal top she has on underneath? She opts for the latter: with a bit of luck Josh won’t notice. He is a boy, after all.
“So how are you feeling?” he asks.
“I’m fine!” she replies brightly. And she is. It’s only a slight cold, after all, and Lucy always feels much better when she’s in a warm bar with an attractive man and a cocktail in her hand. “How about you?”
“Well like I said, I slept really badly, and I have a sore neck. But apart from that I’m fine.”
“You could have just called it off if you’re not feeling well, you know,” she tells him. Even though that would have been the most heinous crime ever recorded for which she would never have forgiven him. Clearly Josh knew this.
“But I didn’t know when I’d next be in London,” he says. “And I was so surprised you said yes to a second date, I thought I’d better get in there before you change your mind!”
Lucy smiles. He’s so sweet. “But why surprised? Why wouldn’t I say yes? We seemed to get on so well last time!”
“But we don’t seem to have all that much in common,” he points out. “You know, we have quite different lifestyles.”
The image of Lucy as a homestead housewife with her hair tied up in a scarf and mud beneath her fingernails pops back into her mind and she quickly bats it away.
“Well yes, this is true,” she agrees. “But it’s a bit early to be worrying about that, no? I just thought you were nice. And you turned up, and you were chatty and interesting, and you haven’t sent me a photo of your penis yet. So it’s all good. You’re lucky the bar is set pretty low, to be fair!” she laughs.
A raucous gaggle of about 30 young guys and girls crowd together for a group photo. Lucy and Josh watch as the long-suffering waiter who’s been roped in to take the shot is instructed to redo it several times before they’re satisfied.
“So have you been on any other dates since we last met?” Josh asks.
Lucy hesitates for a second. Surely this is too much information? While she’s confident it’s perfectly acceptable for her to be going on dates with other guys at this stage, handing over specific details is quite another matter.
But what the Hell. He asked, and Lucy is always honest. “Yes I have, actually.”
“Oh, ok,” he shrugs. “I don’t really know what the rules are.”
“I guess they’re whatever you want them to be,” Lucy tells him. “But personally I think it’s ok to date other people at the beginning. First dates are blind anyway, you can’t be expected to commit to someone after just one meeting. After that I guess it depends how you both feel. Though for the record I wouldn’t ever sleep with more than one person at a time.”
“I think when it comes to sex most people would say that, wouldn’t they? Most people want something meaningful.”
How sweetly naive he is, thinks Lucy. He clearly hasn’t been on dating sites very long! It’s rather endearing, and something of a novelty to meet a guy who appears to be sensitive and an actual grown-up.
“I don’t think that’s true at all,” she informs him. “Lots of people are happy to have casual sex. Men more than women, possibly. Lots of the guys on dating sites don’t want a girlfriend at all, they just want to shag about. Girls less so, though I’m sure there are still plenty that are the same, and obviously I don’t date girls so don’t really know.”
Lucy’s finished her drink and starts fidgeting with it, prodding the crushed ice in the bottom of her glass with the straw. This conversation has got intense very quickly! She needs another cocktail sharpish! They wave at a passing waiter who brings them another round.
Conversation moves on to other serious topics. They chat about food and Josh reminds her that he’s trying to cut down on eating meat, which leads naturally into a sexy AF conversation about animal welfare and going vegan. Lucy asks about Josh’s son, and discovers that, as suspected, the pregnancy was not planned. He’d been dating the mother only casually when she accidentally got pregnant, and as she was in her late 30s and wanted kids, she decided to keep it. Josh tells Lucy that they’d already realised they weren’t right for each other, so the whole thing came as a massive shock, but once that decision had been made there was nothing he could do but step up.
“If my child is going to be out there in the world, then of course I want to be part of his life,” he explains. “Plus no child should grow up without a father.”
Lucy knows she shouldn’t find this attitude impressive, since really it ought to just be bloody standard. But she can’t help feeling more attracted to Josh because of his calm and reasonable approach to something that must have been a monstrous curveball.
“Gosh!” she says. “This has got a bit deep! We’d better get another drink – I might have the same again.”
“You’re not allowed,” he replies, and for a second Lucy thinks he might seriously be trying to tell her what to do. She’s poised to give him a full dose of fuck yous with both barrels, but then he crinkles his amazing blue-green eyes and laughs. “Oh God, the look of disappointment on your face!”
Round three arrives, and Lucy’s a little tipsy now. She tells Josh about a girl she used to work with who has told everyone she knows about how she’s getting a boob job.
“But she’s like a C-cup already anyway,” she tells him. “Her boobs are perfectly fine! I really hate how there is this societal pressure to conform to completely unrealistic standards of beauty set by the fashion and porn industries.”
She can sense Josh is trying really hard not to look directly at her breasts as she continues on her soapbox.
“Women shouldn’t feel shit if they look a certain way! As long as you are healthy, that’s all that matters. To go under the knife for something so superficial is just nuts!”
“I guess if it’s going to make her happy, then she should do what she likes,” says Josh, ever the thoughtful pacifist.
“Oh I agree, but the only reason why it would make her happy is that society has given everyone ridiculous expectations about how we ought to look. If we ALL stopped shaving our legs and wearing make up tomorrow, it’d still be a level playing field. Everyone would soon adjust.”
She secretly hopes Josh will say something charming about how he’s sure she looks beautiful without makeup anyway, but he doesn’t. Not really big on the charm offensive, is Josh.
He yawns. “I’m sorry, I’m so tired, and I’ve got an early start tomorrow to head back to Northampton. I think I’d better go.”
Is this true? Or just an excuse? Lucy’s not sure. They seem to get on well, but there definitely haven’t been fireworks and butterflies between them. Maybe he’s decided she’s not for him – which wouldn’t be entirely unsurprising, to be fair. After all, there’s more to a relationship than being able to hold a conversation.
But still, Lucy’s attracted to Josh. He just seems very calm, intelligent, and adult. Not a player, not a manchild, not a dickhead, not a fuckboy. And these seem to be rare qualities to find these days, particularly in a guy who’s 6’1 and slim with eyes the colour of a tropical sea. Is she ready to give up on this one just yet? She doesn’t think so, but one thing she’s definitely sure of after three cocktails is that she’d like him to kiss her.
They walk back to Bank station together. He doesn’t attempt to hold her hand and Lucy’s not brave enough to take his. She feels the gap between them like a canyon.
At the bottom of the escalator he turns to say goodbye. A slightly disappointed Lucy leans in to give him a kiss on the cheek, but at the last moment realises that’s not what he was doing. Josh has gone for her mouth and then diverted and the entire thing turns into a weird and awkward hug.
FFS! Why are we so bad at this?! she thinks. And then pulls herself together. She’s not about to let this one go.
“I wasn’t sure what that was going to be there for a second,” she laughs awkwardly, her face still close to his.
“No, nor me,” he replies gently, and kisses her.
And DAMN! It’s goooood. Slow and tender, just the right amount of lips and tongue, full of desire and promise. It’s the sort of kiss you feel from your collarbone all the way down to below your knees, and Lucy definitely wants more of it.
They pause. “Wow,” she breathes, and then takes his arm and steers him out of the flow of commuters and up against the wall next to the map board where they kiss again, gently and intensely. Lucy hopes travellers trying to look for their destinations on the map aren’t going to be too put off by the snogging couple right in front of them, but at this precise moment she doesn’t really care.
The kiss continues until they hear a train come to a stop in the platform, and then Lucy reluctantly pulls away, gives him a grin and a wave, and jumps on. As she finds a seat, she can feel her heart pounding and her lady bits pulsating. That was one hell of a good kiss. And it would seem Josh agrees.
It’s only later that she remembers her cold. She texts him again the next morning to apologise.
This sounds positive, thinks Lucy. Will there be a third date?
Trust a geography teacher to bring up geography! Lucy smiles to herself. Maybe she’s found a good one after all. And maybe he won’t insist on them moving to the countryside and raising chickens. Just take it one step at a time, and see what happens on Date Three.
Next week: while Lucy waits to see Josh again, a new boy arrives on the scene….