First Date

The latest prompt for my writing group’s essay topic is ‘first date’. A suggestion which made me hark back to the inaugural social meeting between my current beau Sarah and me in 2022. A wintertime liaison where we toured a smattering of upmarket Leeds city centre watering holes… Well, the ones she wasn’t barred from anyhow.

During our first date, my fragrant chum adding two more hostelries to that list of bars she’s excluded from. One restriction instigated after unsettling a barman by rotating her right eye clockwise and left eye anti-clockwise during a dispute over the bill… That being said, it may have been the argument, not the associated eye choreography, causing the disbarment.

My Ossett beau also no longer allowed access to a pub called Harvey’s Clock after, during a drunken jape, stealing the letter ‘L’ from the pub’s signage… God only knows where she got the scaffolding allowing her enough elevation to undertake to prank.

If truth be told, my recollection of that first date with Sarah are at best hazy. Overnight, that evening, my good friend Al Cohol using his powers of memory theft; rendering my powers of recall impotent as dawn rose the following day.

I think the drunken debauchery of that Saturday wasn’t helped by a misguided decision to skip a pre-drink meal. The packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a bag of pork scratchings five pints in (unsurprisingly) proving inept at absorbing any alcohol content.

Sarah wasn’t the only individual who put doormen’s noses out of joint that evening. I have vague recollection of a guy being refused bar entry for attempting to access while balancing a cheesecake on his palm and forearm. Security claiming the cake could be used as a weapon or utilised to create disorder. 

The drunken fella claimed the cheesecake was his pet Gregory, not a weapon; subsequently arguing he should be afforded entry. Adding, he was nt seeking to cause a disturbance, he only wanted a swift pint in the bar before venturing back home to give Gregory his tea.

“Pets aren’t allowed in this cocktail bar, sir!” came the doorman’s stern retort.

“You wouldn’t be saying that if pets were allowed in!” the idiosyncratic chap bafflingly blustered.

As it is not a pet, it’s a cheesecake, I would be saying that!” the security guy responded.

With this the man turned and, as he passed Sarah and me, chuntered “That doorman’s a right f***ing jobsworth!” 

My partner in crime and me made eye contact and raised our eyebrows in astonishment at what had just played out in front of us.  

“Good job we decided to leave our cheesecake at home!” I joked. Sarah didn’t laugh. Instead choosing to unsettle me by rotating her right eyes clockwise and left eye anti-clockwise… Flaming freak!

What other unreliable memories of our inaugural drink-fest remain in my conscious mind?… Although I’m struggling to recall the events or comments forming the catalyst to our guffaws, I do recollect lots of laughter taking place.

The brash West Yorkshire girl’s laddish behaviour leading to me dubbing her a ‘cock in a frock’… As the famous saying goes “You can take the girl out of Morley. But a pencil must be led!” … Or something like that anyhow! 

So what was my first impressions of this girl who I met while randomly during a stint staring through Gawthorpe resident’s front windows… A sight which can only be described as love at first stalk. 

Seriously, though, I met Sarah when she was one of the support team providing my mum’s personal care following her stroke in 2021. Our first date 2-3 months after my mother’s passing in October that year.

As, along with her colleagues, she wore protective anti-COVID masks while attending to mater’s needs, it’d be inaccurate to describe the liaison as love at first sight. The only part of her face visible at that juncture the aforementioned expressive rotating eyes.

In fact, as I’d not seen her unmasked before that first social rendezvous, it’s fair to say the meeting was practically a blind date. Until that inaugural social meetup, I’d no idea how big her nostrils were, or she had the word ‘flange’ tattooed across her upper six teeth.

Recently I asked Sarah if she had any regrets about agreeing to that first date with me. She said she hadn’t… Well, apart from no longer being able to visit Harvey’s Clock pub.

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