A little context before the description of date #1:
As responsible Masters students do, I set off gallivanting across Europe on the first day of semester – a week after this challenge commenced. It takes great skill to convert a 3 day meeting in Switzerland and a 2 hour presentation in Greece into 5 weeks of adventuring. Although a wonderful experience I thought it would set me back in the dating sphere. Which it did. Until I arrived in Taizé, France.
I spent a week with 3000 other young adult ‘pilgrims’ from all over Europe in a quaint French village. An incredible experience, one which I think, only in hindsight, I will fully understand the significance of. I suggest you Wikipedia it.
It was a week of stilted conversations and sign language as everyone from the numerous countries defaulted to attempting to communicate in English.You’ll have to excuse the bending of one of the dating-guidelines; they weren’t informed participants for I feared that the concept of the challenge might be misinterpreted in translation. So although I met and engaged with many people over the week, I’ll only count the three who I deliberately sought out, as dates.
#1 A calculated first date.
Would it be a little callous to say that the major motivation for date #1 was that he was comfortable with English?
Aware that the first date would influence my fervour for the rest of the challenge, I thought it best to be a little selective. I wasn’t going to let the concern that I would be out-dated by Cecelia and Ivan while out of the country drive me to staring at some non-English-speaking-European for 30 minutes for the sake of a date.
On arrival, a Hollander seeing me lugging my suitcase, offered to help me carry it to my dorm. After taking off my backpack and running shoes in an attempt to look less of a tourist, I set off with the gentleman to explore a little of the community. Ending up at his camping area to meet his friend, who was napping in the sun. After a brief conversation I left to get ready for the next part of the programme.
The next day I joined the gentleman again after seeing him sitting on a bench. While chatting, his previously napping friend arrived and enthusiastically greeted me with ‘buongiorno’.
Sing-songingly I repeated it back to him.
He continued in Italian.
I replied with the bambi-stuck-in-headlights expression.
‘You’re not Italian’
‘… um, I’m South African’
‘Oh, heck, it’s you, we’ve met…’
Apparently I look completely different. According to him I looked far more Italian with hair up, glasses off and had ‘metamorphosised from a beautiful butterfly into a… oh…. this metaphor isn’t going to work is it?!’. And he was to become date #1. I feel a little brave for approaching and setting up what could potentially have been our 3rd introduction.
But all continued well after that interchange and we spent a lot of time together throughout the week.
At the start of what I consider ‘the initial date’ I began to explain about the challenge, when his friend interjected with a tale of a grand, inappropriate challenge he’d been a part of. But after that story, we moved off to talk uninterruptedly and I was a little tentative to explain any further about 150firstdates, in fear of any further descriptions of challenges from outsiders.
#1 did his masters degree in video game design and programming. We compared people’s reactions to our respective fields of studies. We talked an unexpected amount about the more serious aspects of life, such as our goals, our hopes and most serious of all… our thesises.
Does this mean I’ve been on a date with ‘a real Dutchman’, or is that title reserved solely for those in veldskoene?