I sit across from him at the restaurant table, my chin resting on my hand, trying to stifle the yawn that is desperate to escape. He has his elbows on the table (manners, I hear my mother say), and his palms are flapping around as he explains how it is.
I forget what point I’d raised several minutes ago. It feels so long since he began explaining it to me.
I watch his mouth move and catch odd words; the trouble with women…and I wonder how he gets his hair to hold in that quiff. Hairspray? Gel? Semen?
He’s wearing a tight white t-shirt with a deep V that is just a nip too deep. It reveals a string of curled black hairs trying to crawl out. I can’t see his trousers from here, but saw enough when we arrived to get the gist. Tight. Black. Danny Zucko numbers. Possibly cutting his circulation, explaining why he’s talking such shit.
I drain the red wine from my glass and eye the bottle on the table between us. He hasn’t touched his. He hasn’t taken breath long enough. He’s already explained why men make better drivers than women; why women can’t always expect to earn as much as men; and some other bollocks I wasn’t paying attention to.
I’m trying to read the time on my watch without looking rude, wondering how long would be fair to give a first date.
To be frank, I could probably extract my tonsils with the cutlery and he probably wouldn’t bat an eye. Apart from to mention how a man would have done it neater.
He’s moved onto himself now, regaling me with how the term ‘Metrosexual’ has been misunderstood. I’m trying to work out if I’ve got time to get home before Masterchef starts, when I realise he’s stopped talking. He’s looking directly at me for the first time, like maybe he asked me a question and is waiting for a response.
I look back across the table. I have no idea what he just asked me. None. So I take a bold move.
I disregard the torturous mansplaining. I choose to ignore the quiffed hair (but, seriously, how does it hold like that?), and the escaping chest curls. I put his momentary lapse of reason down to nerves – or lack of blood supply from the tight trousers – and ask: Do you like Masterchef?
He looks blank for a second. To be honest, I think it’s a look that comes fairly naturally to him. Then his face breaks into a smile. I notice he has dimples. And a scar running down the side of one cheek like a tiny snake.
A flaw. A human-ness.
Sure, he says, but what about dinner?
I know a great take-out, I say, standing up, glad I wore my short red dress that flatters my legs. Glad I let my long waves curl lusciously down my back. Hoping I might get the chance to show off my snake tattoo, coiled around the base of my back. Compare it to that scar that’s making him somehow more attractive in this light.
Or perhaps it’s just the wine.
Grab your jacket, then, I’ll drive, I say, pulling the keys from my bag, thinking, first impressions aren’t everything. I can always re-educate him, womansplain how things really are, if the sex is good. If the basic attraction is there.
Nobody’s perfect. It’s all just a matter of education.
Kate Jones is a freelance writer based in the UK. A regular writer forSkirt Collective, she also writes features and reviews for The State of the Arts. She has also published flash fiction and poetry in various literary magazines, including Sick Lit, Gold Dust, and 101words. She has been long-listed for Flash 500, and won the weekly AdHoc Fiction contest, as well as being nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Find her on Twitter: @katejonespp
She also blogs at: writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com