I had to go pick beasties up last night from Tooting Bec and on the way there I passed Tooting Broadway tube station and saw a sight I haven’t seen for a while, it was blokes standing outside the tube awaiting their dates, each obviously made some effort and each looking up at the station entrance as someone emerged. It’s a scene I am somewhat familiar with as when I lived in Northern Ireland and didn’t drive it was always at the local bus station where you met your date, it was the same scene, one I’m sure is repeated the world all over, guys just hanging around, best shoes, coolest clothes (despite the cold rain) and freshly groomed..
..and the sense of anticipation..
A long time ago I was working as a manager of a large grocery store in Bangor, Northern Ireland and Caroline, a new girl started working in the canteen. She was nice and friendly and over the ensuing weeks myself and my bunch of reprobates got more and more friendly with her. One Saturday lunchtime I happened to mention that we were all going to catch the latest blockbuster movie at the local flea pit and perhaps she’d like to join us, it would be chaotic but fun. She said sure, why not and I arrived to meet her at the Bangor bus station along with a few others from the gang. So come seven pm and there’s about a dozen of us waiting at the bus station, a few of the gang get off various buses and we wait for everyone else – this is before mobiles – and then the Newtownards bus arrives and Caroline gets off. She spots us, waves, smiles and comes over and, astonishingly, gives me a little peck on the cheek and takes my hand as we start making our way to the picture house.
I was somewhat surprised, I should add pleasantly surprised for many reasons, I didn’t actually ask her there on a date, it was just as a part of our big group, I was as ugly as sin and there is no way she’d be interested in me but I managed to cover my surprise and act like I had asked her there for a date after all.
We went to the flicks and our gang messed around as usual rolling mint imperials all the way from the back row to the front of the cinema and chatting up members of the opposite sex sitting in front of us. At one point Caroline went to the loo and everyone in the gang took the opportunity to tell me what a dark horse I was, keeping a cracker like Caroline on the quiet! I of course played along and made out yes yes, I had been planning this all along but the reality was I was just as surprised as they were. My best friend Trevor later told me he was gutted as he had been planning to ask Caroline out the next week and I hadn’t mentioned my interest, I confessed to him that I was just as surprised as he was and he was even more gutted!
If only it was always so easy..