Every detail had been arranged to perfection. The restaurant, the seats, the suit I had on and the Mariachi band waiting in the wings. I delivered my sure-fire compliment designed to hit the proverbial spot, as I pulled back her seat.
“Thank you, but can I start by saying I cannot be the most beautiful woman you have ever seen,” she said looking quite unimpressed as she sat down. I gulped my red wine nervously and realised quite quickly I was being thrown a curved ball much earlier than I had expected. All the mock trials had not prepared me for this segue. My insecurities began to line up, impatiently determined not to wait for their starting orders and if the truth were to be told, I could already see the finish line in sight. As trickles of sweat ran down from my armpits, she calmly continued. “I hope I haven’t burst your bubble, it’s just I have had a few of these blind dates and guys do come out with ridiculous things off the bat. No woman wants all the pressure of being the most beautiful female you have ever seen, because most women know they are not that beautiful. Maybe sexy, maybe alluring, maybe even, attractive, but never beautiful….it is what we aspire to be, and the wise women out there are aware, it is somewhat of an elusive standard.” I blew out my cheeks and nodded timidly as she continued. “Besides, I find it difficult to comprehend how one could call another person beautiful, without actually knowing them personally. Beauty like ugliness is an inside-out quality. It cannot be assessed solely on aesthetics. You understand?” It took me a few seconds to realise it was my turn to speak. Clearly, I was far more comfortable if she had kept on educating me. You know what it’s like when someone says profound things you hadn't even began to imagine. They sound so refreshing and clever, making you feel so dated and stupid. I had been warned of this new generation of women, unafraid to lay out their insightful thoughts, but I had naively yearned for an easy ride. Oh pride...how deftly you come before a fall. So, on top of all the discomfort I was already feeling, I was now under the self-manufactured fear of uttering something completely unwise. And you know what they say about fear of failure, how it makes you do or say very silly things. Well…. “In truth, maybe I should not have used the word beautiful, but I couldn’t use the word ugly either. I mean, you are not that ugly, so it would have inappropriate to use any other word, but beautiful.” Why I said it, I would never know, but it was clear at that juncture, the only inappropriate thing at the table was me! Let’s be frank, I could have said something about requiring the gents or asked about her likes and dislikes, but nerves have a weird way of numbing your confidence and grey cells in one swift swoop. The slow shake of her head and incessant drumming with her French-manicured nails on the pristinely laid table, signalled the end of the shortest date in history, so I did my best to pick up what was left of my prostrate dignity. As I beckoned the waitress over, I knew some sort of damage control was also appropriate to save face, so I gave her the biggest tip of my dating career. She smiled brightly at both of us and whispered; “Thank you. You make such a beautiful couple.”