It’s one thing when there’s an awkward pause in a conversation. It’s another thing when your entire conversation is made up of awkward pauses, punctuated with the odd sentence.
Here’s David with the tale of one particularly agonising date, considering he’d travelled over 200 miles to meet Rebecca.
“We’d been chatting online, and by text, for a few months; finally I met Rebecca in person one Friday morning.
We chatted for a while: “I feel like I’m being interviewed”, she complained.
Later, we boarded a pleasure boat to Greenwich: “You look a little green and sweaty, are you feeling okay?” she asked.
I really wasn’t feeling good. I was regretting the dutch courage pints I’d enjoyed with an old friend the night before, and was wondering nervously where the toilets were.
After the boat trip, we wandered aimlessly as conversations started, stopped and dried up. We had a pub lunch; the chat picked up a little over a couple of glasses of white wine but soon felt awkward again as we cruised back along the river.
All we needed was Simon & Garfunkel busking “The Sound Of Silence” beside us by the dirty old river; this was going to be no “Waterloo Sunset” moment.
“It’s at this point I normally ask dates, if they’d like to leave!” smiled Rebecca. I would have been happy to go home, but she continued: “Fancy a drink by the river anyway? Seems a shame not to when you’ve come such a long way.”
Rebecca seemed nice, but it all felt forced and very hard work on my part.
Really, I just wanted the date to end, but found myself replying “Sounds great!”. She’d probably just offered to go for a drink out of politeness and I’d agreed out of politeness too.
We drank two pints of bitter as the conversations started, stumbled and stuttered to a halt. I couldn’t think of anything else to say to this attractive, intelligent woman, in one of my favourite cities in the world.
There was just silence between us, in the noisiest pub in London.
“Same again?”, she finally said as she disappeared to the bar with her bag.
Fifteen minutes later, she still hadn’t returned.
She’d done a runner and who could blame her? I quietly sighed with relief and reached for a gasper to calm my nerves; inhaling deeply, I watched a grubby barge rumble by the window.
It had been a hard day, but at least we’d finally met. I contemplated a walk back down the river and a quiet read of the paper and a soothing pint at the pub by my hotel.
“Enjoying a crafty one, eh?”
She was back!
“Sorry about that, there was a problem with the beer, bet you thought I’d done a runner!”
I chuckled, and we finally began relaxing in each other’s company.
We had a few more pints and a late night cheeseburger; then we finally hugged goodbye and went our separate ways, knowing we’d never meet again.”