I only vaguely remembered talking to the American at the barbeque, so I was quite surprised to get a message from him later that weekend inviting me to dinner. See, this is what I like about Americans: they are very straightforward when it comes to dating.
You always know when you’re on a date with an American, indeed there’s almost a template: the guy asks, it’s dinner, he pays.In lots of ways I prefer the Swedish way of going Dutch, I’ve always felt a bit funny about someone I don’t know well paying for my dinner – what if I ordered something more expensive than he was expecting?
In fact, I have a theory that that’s where the stereotype of women not wanting to eat much on dates comes from. As a general rule I try not to pig out more than is strictly necessary, but I do like my food and the idea of not eating much because it’s a date is bonkers to me… except, like I said, I feel awkward when he’s paying so I order the cheapest thing on the menu which is inevitably a salad, and he assumes I’m on a diet.
Inadvertently starving myself aside, what I like about the convention of the guy paying is that it keeps things clear: it’s a date. So all in all, I was quite looking forward to a straightforward date.
However, it turned out to be so straightforward that it was… a little dull. Mind crashingly boring, in fact. Poor guy, his heart was in the right place I think, he was just the type to drone on and on about… to be honest, I lost the thread after a while.
With it being Midsummer weekend, a lot of places were closed, so we ended up at this little touristy place in Gamla Stan which is basically a Viking theme bar. It’s also very… crooked. It’s an old, narrow building, so there are lots of nooks and crannies and rickety steps between the bar and tables, and also there is wine. Lots of it.
It was table service, and the waiter kept coming by and topping up my wine, and I kept drinking it. And then I started to panic about what it would cost and so interrupted his story to insist that I would pay for my own wine because I didn’t realise there would be so much of it, and it was at this point I realised I was slurring. Oops.
I decided that I had better go to the loo and compose myself a little bit, but there was only one problem. The signs for the bathrooms pointed down a dimly lit corridor, and I could just see the narrow, winding steps that I was inevitably going to trip on and look like a complete idiot.
I steeled myself: I would just tackle them very slowly and carefully, holding on to the bannister: everything would be fine.
Again interrupting the poor dude mid flow, I suddenly pulled myself to my feet, mumbled “scutheme” and, mustering all my dignity and poise, walked slowly and carefully in the direction of the treacherous steps.
I took a big, slow, careful step and… nearly fell forward as my foot clunked down on the same level on which I was already standing. Oh cripes, I missed the bottom step. Not a great start.
Feeling the guy’s horrified gaze boring into my back, I reassured myself that anyone watching would assume I’d just done a little lunge for perfectly normal reasons, I subtly shuffled forward a bit, and tried again.
And missed again. I was now officially standing at the mouth of the corridor, doing lunges.
It was at that moment that I realised… THERE WERE NO STAIRS.
It was just a corridor. My paranoia about there being stairs for me to fall on had let me to invent stairs. When I got back from the bathroom, he was gone. I couldn’t blame him really, in fact I think I might have judged him if he’d stayed.
Featured Image: Seabamirum/Flickr (file)
Love Refugee is YLC’s fiction serial; a romantic comedy about expat and confirmed singleton Ellie, determined to avoid commitment at any cost…