There are plenty of things that you forget you had to do growing up, which - frankly - should be chased out of existence for subsequent generations. When your first teeth fall out, for instance, is pretty much something out of a horror movie and I'm glad isn't a recurring incident in life - being a 40 year old on his third set of canines would just be lousy. Dating is another such awful rite of passage that is frankly barbaric and I'm really happy that whole part of my life is over now there's a piece of silver Crazy Glue'd to my third finger (I number my digits, ha ha ha.)
So picture the scene: London, 1999 - the cusp of the millennium, where young Bez was showered, shaved and primed to impress a hot new chick in a very exclusive restaurant. This was a friend-of-a-friend recommendation, and I even had another friend pull strings to get me a table at this chic little eatery. Unfortunately, the only table available before the heat death of the universe was on April 1, which in itself should have had my biological zone alarm triggered.
I arrived at 6:55pm and waited at the bar. The martini was starting to have the effect of making me more interesting, as I looked out on the torrential downpour outside. Sarah, let's call her, scuttled in a few minutes late in that "I don't want to look too keen" sort of way and I offered her my seat. Which was a mistake since she was well over 6 feet and I can make about 5'6" on tip toes. She wore sunglasses even though it was pitch black outside which made it hard to establish any initial impression, especially since I'd need a periscope to avoid the inevitable neck pain from peering up at her.
We made our introductions and the hostess seated us with an urgency like the restaurant was about to depart. There was nowhere for her umbrella, and apparently Sarah didn't believe in leaving wet umbrellas on the floor, but the back of my chair seemed just fine. The hostess' urgency in slinging menus at us like ninja throwing stars was misplaced however, since now the waiter had decided he had more important things to be doing than his job. I kept trying to get his attention by staring him out, but that had no effect. I was starting to feel like Waldo as his eyes scoured the room of diners but I was somehow camouflaged.
Within 15 minutes and the first martini needing a sequel, once thing was very clear: Sarah had just broken up with her long term boyfriend and was clearly devastated. Which made the second thing very clear: romantic midget action wasn't in her short-term future. And I was okay with that in an "I really need to be ok with that" forced way, but it would be wonderful to survive the 3-course special without hearing about the ex all the way. Actually, it would be wonderful to place the order for the 3-course special, but it was like that restaurant scene in The Sixth Sense. Possibly the same restaurant.
So the set-up could have been better, but it wasn't bad enough to make me run out of door, which is what I should have done. The next part that went wrong was that Brenden Fraser - yes, the guy from The Mummy - sat next to us. Mr Fraser is, in real life, very tall and good looking, and certain not the guy you want sat next to you on a date. He's also apparently a doppelganger for Sarah's ex, so when the sunglasses finally came off, she couldn't avert her eyes. Between my hunting for the waiter, and Sarah's visual groping of her new crush, conversation had slowed to random meaningless sentences and nervous laughs.
The first course eventually arrived like everything does if you wait long enough - oysters. Sarah decided this was the time to inform me of her seafood allergies, so I had six to myself while she chowed down on some baguette. Now here's the thing about oysters when they're not fresh: it doesn't take long for your body to need the bathroom with a sense of urgency that made the hostess look like a slow-mo shot. Maybe she'd had the oysters too - who knows? As Sarah launched into her third anecdote about the ex, otherwise known as the only man on the planet, I hastily interrupted her and took the 100 meter sprint for the men's room in medal-winning time.
With the impending sense of horrible things about to happen, I'd forgotten it was April 1 and forgotten about that "funny English" custom of putting plastic wrap on toilet seats. They had also forgotten about April Fool's Jokes expiring at midday, and I crashed into the stool, yanked my pants off and crapped with God-loving full force into the plastic wrap. While I can imagine urinating onto a freshly wrapped smiling toilet seat might be a surprise and certainly a mild inconvenience, I can assure you that oyster-induced diarrhea creates a splash-back and splatter effect that exceeds your wildest dreams. Furthermore, you can imagine my shock at discovering they were out of toilet roll, and I developed a Macgyver-like ingenuity for figuring out how to clear up this truly alarming and not-exactly-odorless shitstorm.
Naturally, the waiter who had studiously avoided the table before the incident, decided that the optimal time to serve the main course was the precise moment when I left the table. Ten minutes into a part of my life that my therapist and I would later know as "The Cleansing" , Sarah had devoured all evidence of her Shrimp Tagliatelle and I returned to a cold omelette. Which was ok, because my appetite had gone the moment my first course hit the plastic.
Still I managed to get her attention for the first time in the meal, not through my suave demeanor and fascinating banter, but with the unmistakable stench of recently shat oyster that had proven so stubbornly hard to find and remove on a pair of similarly-colored khaki slacks. Her eyes snapped from Brenden to me, her hands simultaneously making a precision move to her wallet while telekinetically asking for the check. In what seemed to happen in mere seconds, I was sat alone in a restaurant with a cold egg on front of me, crap underneath me and Brenden Fraser on my left. In retrospect, Sarah was right not to leave her umbrella on the floor.
The next Monday, I started getting emails from mutual friends. "Sarah said you'd shit yourself," said one, inferring some nervousness from our supposedly romantic interlude. Another said I'd embarrassed her with my behavior, and I got the 1999 equivalent of a Facebook defriending through text message.
Looking back, it's nice to be married now. No more dating, no reaching for aimless conversation, and now I can crap all over myself in the comfort of my own home. Needless to say, I haven't touched an oyster since, and I spend April 1 in a state of cat-like readiness whenever I need the bathroom. Fun times.
Dating is a form of human courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. While the term has several senses, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple. The protocols and practices of dating, and the terms used to describe it, vary considerably from country to country. The most common sense is two people trying out a relationship and exploring whether they're compatible by going out together in public as a couple, and who may or may not yet be having sexual relations, and this period of courtship is sometimes seen as a precursor to engagement or marriage.