My RAG Blind Date: A rocky start and messy ending

Restrain your passions on a first date, as Ted Mackey finds out

Ted Mackey

Conversation flowed in Las Iguanas, eventuallyBreakingpic

I am, generally speaking, terrible at dates. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to throw myself in at the deep end with this year’s Bake Off-themed RAG Blind Date.

Being a gay man from Northern Ireland, my romantic experience until this point has been somewhat limited. Tinder is empty, Grindr is creepy, and as for Craigslist, I don’t particularly want to be dismembered and kept in a fridge. So, RAG it is.

I was matched with my date almost instantly ­­– so instantly, in fact, that he messaged me at 12.30am – at which point I was throwing some serious shapes on the Life dancefloor. So it happened that I was contemplating my life choices while nursing a glass of water when the messages arrived the next morning. Within a few minutes, a date was arranged and some typical banter exchanged. I was optimistic, as ever: “What if he’s the one!” I daydreamed, starry eyed (which was due more to the splitting pain in my head than the prospect of eternal romance).

“We sat down at the table and that, my friends, was when the fatal sentence was uttered”

The day of the date arrived, and we had agreed to meet outside my College’s plodge at 9pm – late, I know, but he had an ‘erg’, and who am I to rip the rower from their natural habitat? 8.58pm, still not here. 8.59pm, still not here. Was I about to be stood up? My fears were allayed but a minute later when, Gandalf-like, he arrived.

We had agreed to go for a meal at The Mill – my suggestion ­– which turned out to be a mistake. We might as well have been at a Christmas screening of Love Actually for the number of hopeful couples there. Far too much pressure. Somewhere further afield was in order.

One brief detour to the Maypole later ­– again, my suggestion, and again, one can of gold paint away from the orgy scene in Westworld –  and we were arriving at Las Iguanas, which I had suggested purely for the 2-4-1 cocktails. Yes, in my hour of need I turned to alcohol, and it largely worked.

Conversation had been flowing quite well up until then, both of us had been coerced into rowing by the boat club propaganda in first year, we had similar interests, and all in all, he was lovely. We sat down at the table and that, my friends, was when the fatal sentence was uttered:

“I actually have a rock collection at home.”

Let me preface this next part. This individual is lovely. He is a really nice person, and incredibly sweet ­– what follows is entirely, entirely, my fault.

I am not interested in rocks. Not remotely. In hindsight, I should have just made a joke and changed the subject of conversation, but instead, I did the worst thing: I feigned an overly zealous interest. Before I knew it I was naming rocks that came into my head hoping to impress ­– Lapus Lazuli? Check. Pyrite, also known as ‘fool’s gold’? Double Check. It was at this point that I uttered what might be the least romantic sentence to ever have been used on a date:

“Did you know that coprolite is the scientific term for fossilised shit?”

The bedrock of the eveningMikimou

By the time we left, I had sunk four long-island iced teas, which is to say, I was drunk. So turning to side B of this greatest hits album of awfulness, I then began a lengthy lecture on the rise of the composer figure, beginning, as one does, in the 15th century. How we got onto this topic is somewhat blurry. I had just proceeded to part IB of the Cambridge Music Tripos when I noticed we had passed by the gates of his College’s plodge long ago. The night, then, was not destined to end there.

It was upon turning into my room that I realised why I hadn’t intended to bring anyone back. It had been a stressful week, and my room was showing the signs of an academic life on the brink of implosion, including: three unfinished pints in plastic glasses, the oldest of which had gone a repulsive cloudy colour; six empty domino’s boxes (six) with varying degrees of opened and unopened garlic and herb dips; a large assortment of inflated balloons, which I had been inflating in preparation for Halfway Hall; and my entire wardrobe, strewn variously across my bed and the floor.

So, in short, this looked like the den of a murderer. I’m surprised he didn’t check for body parts under the floorboards. I then spent the rest of the night ‘serenading’ him on both the piano and the harpsichord, which would have been romantic had I not insisted on explaining each and every chord. As I was excitedly explaining the difference between the French and the German Sixth, he took executive action and decided to leave. Here endeth my date.

I wouldn’t say it was an unsuccessful night, more of an educational one. Educational in that I learned why I’m still single, and he that learned how to properly harmonise a Bach chorale. Oh, and not to try and pick up men by mentioning dinosaur shit