Just now away from my non-date with Fife. And, honestly, I still don’t know if it was a date or not. I don’t think it was a date. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time, and he didn’t make a move whatsoever. We even joked a bit back and forth like you would with mate, but he was also dead casual and kind of flirty.
I think I’m being silly about all this. He’s probably just a nice guy who’s taken a shine to me. And technically he’s old enough to be my dad. He’s younger than Goatee was, but only barely. Although, he acts loads younger than Goatee in some ways, but it’s not like he’s immature or anything. I’m just saying that… Okay, I’m rambling again. This is how the night went:
Met him at the Tasting Rooms which is this cute little wine bar with a restaurant upstairs. We both walked up to the restaurant at the same time, and he leaned in and did the double kiss (I hate the double kiss; I never get it right, and I’m always worried that I’m accidently going the person on the lips). We sat across from each other, each of us on a sofa, with a coffee table between us. He started off by saying that he was only going to have one glass of wine because he had to drive home, plus it was to be an early night because he’s taking his kids to Edinburgh tomorrow.
So far, so not a date.
We each got a glass of red. I picked a medium priced wine, because I know very little about wine, and what I used to know I’ve forgotten. Fife also got a glass of wine, and I asked him about his kids. They’re boys, aged 10 and 8.
He asked me if I had any kids and then tried to back track by saying, ‘Of course you don’t have kids. You wouldn’t have been on a gap year if you’d had kids? But if you do have kids, that’s okay. Even parents need a break. I’m not saying that I don’t miss my kids when I’m away…’
Yeah, total verbal vomit, kind of like a nervous person on a date.
I tried to make a joke by saying, ‘I don’t have any kids. That I know of’, and while it cleared the air, it was a really stupid joke and I’m kind of embarrassed I made it. In fact, for two people who hung-out for two days straight on a Mediterranean island, and have since spent loads of time travelling back and forth between Fife and Dundee, the beginning of the evening felt really, really awkward.
But, I figured parents love talking about their kids, it’s what they do, and it would probably be the best way to de-tenseify the situation, so I asked him more about his kids. The oldest one is really into rugby and wants to go professional one day. Fife said he has no idea where his son got this from, as Fife isn’t really into sports. He tries to keep fit and likes running around a bit on the pitch, but he doesn’t follow the teams. (My kind of guy actually. I can’t be bothered with all this team loyalty mess that a lot of men go for.) The other son is more artistic. Fife said that he is already a wiz at making animated cartoons on the computer and Fife’s buying him this game for Xbox in which you can build your own world and animate your own games. It’s called Mind Craft. (I bet HarryPotter totally has that game.)
Then we started talking about art, and I told him about LadyBohemia painting in the garden, and he told me about his garden. He’s about to get it ready for spring planting. He loves growing vegetables, and he said it makes him feel so very practical. Like if there was an apocalypse he could survive. I said he’s been hanging about Conspiracy too much.
We’d finished our wine, and I offered to get the next round, but Fife said we should head up to the restaurant and get a table before it gets too busy. Settled into the table, he handed me the wine menu, which I pretended to study. I hemmed and hawed, and then asked if he was going to stick with his one glass rule. Perhaps we could split a bottle. It’s not that I really wanted him to drink, I just didn’t want to chose wine because I’d be outted as a wine novice. He seemed to know about wine – he chose his glass with authority after all – and I didn’t want to look like a pratt and accidently order a Lambrini.
He reminded me that he couldn’t leave his car in Dundee, not if he was taking the boys away tomorrow. We was sticking to lemonaide. So, I had to confess: ‘I really don’t know anything about wine. What do you recommend?’
‘A G&T or a pint of Stella,’ he responded. He said he just picked something on the menu that was mid-priced and French. Finally, the ice was broken and we were relaxed. I ordered a G&T and we picked through the menu.
I tried asking him about his novel, and he just kept saying, ‘Nope. We’re not talking business tonight.’ Kind of date-like, but it didn’t help the conversation any. So, I tried again, but this time from a different angle. I asked him about the research for his books. Does he find it all a bit tedious to write historic fiction, needing to be so precise with some of the facts?
He said he’s gotten a bit frustrated because he feels locked into the historic fiction genre. While he loves doing the research — and finds that quite fun — he would like to write a novel that he completely makes up. It would be so freeing to just write something, and not have to worry if that character’s clothes are accurate, or if someone more knowledgeable will correct the fact that he mentions a yew tree even though yew trees weren’t introduced to the area for another hundred years. Fife said that he’s finally gotten to where he can shrug off those emails — there’s only so much research you can do before it becomes overwhelming. And he tries to keep his focus on the story, with the research as window dressing. (Personally, I think this is the best kind of historic fiction. Where it’s the story that’s important not necessarily the time period. In fact, a good story is a good story, no matter where it’s set.)
I knew he had a degree in History from Edinburgh (I remember him telling me this in Greece), so I asked if that’s how he got into Historic Fiction. He said ‘Sort of’. After Uni, he got a job as a Prospects Researcher. (A job in which you research prospective clients. Or for Fife, who worked for a charity organisation, he researched prospective donors and prospective funding avenues. )
Back when he started doing the job, the internet was in its infancy, and his research was done mostly in libraries, city archives, and by looking in ‘Who’s Who’ and peerage books. He said his job was really quite mobile. He’s start the week with a research schedule: one day in the city archives, one day in the library with a stack of phone books, and maybe another day talking to people. Then he’d spend the rest of the week writing up the information. He loved it. He was on the move, using his brain, and because he worked for a charity he felt useful.
While he was doing this, he would find tid-bits of interesting information about families and interesting people, and since he history with an emphasis on the classics in Uni, he just kind of put the two together: an interest in ancient Greece with a love of ‘looking things up’. (It’s quite cute. That’s what he calls research — ‘Looking things up.’ As if it were that simple.)
I asked him why he left being a researcher if he loved the job so much? He said that the success of his second book coincided with the birth of his first child. He was scheduled for more book tours and festivals, and there was increasing pressure to writing more novels. This was combined with having a new born at home, and it was all too much. The day job had to go. Also by the time he left (he was then working for a larger public institution by this point as well) everything had gone online, and gone were the days running between libraries and archives. Instead, everything was done from a desk, and he said the job suddenly got really boring.
Regarding the research for his books, he still prefers to do it the old fashioned way…in a library, archive or in person. But he said the internet is good if you just want to look up something little, to double check, but he’d never rely on it fully.
The conversation was now easy and flowed. We ate dinner and talked more. He asked about my future plans. Did I want to stay working in an agency? Did I have plans to branch out? I really didn’t have an answer for him, because I don’t have an answer for myself. I’m just trying to learn the ropes; I’ll deal with the aftermath of working in the literary world later.
The evening was moving onward. We’d finished our meal, and we were leaning in close. Neither one of us had said anything particularly flirty, but something about it all felt quite intimate. Yet, I still didn’t know what the situation was, why did he ask me out to dinner? And how long had he been separated from his wife? Was I something to get his mind off her – either as a friendly distraction or something more?
Hoping to get a bit more information on his marital situation, I asked about the cottage. I don’t have a real crush on him; I’m aware of that. I know I’m just into him a person. But I still wanted to know what his situation was, because that would help me determine if he was interested in me. Not that I’m interested in him or anything, it’s just good to know where one stands when going out to dinner with a very sexy successful man.
So, anyway. I asked him how the situation with the cottage was going. He just said, ‘It’s going okay. I like having it as a place to go to write. When I need some quiet.’
‘That sounds like heaven’, I said, and he asked if I wrote. I kind of lied by saying ‘Yes’. I was actually thinking about the blog when I said, ‘Yes,’ but then I remembered that I can’t tell him about the blog, so I claimed to be writing a novel. He asked to see it, and I said it was for fun only. Never to be published, but ‘It would be nice to squirrel myself away to work on it. Away from the craziness of the flat.’
He asked if I had flatmates, and I laughed and said, ‘I have house guests. Gap year house guests that won’t seem to leave.’ He laughed as well and said, ‘House guests and fish. Both go off after three days.’ There was a bit of a pause before he said I could use the cottage anytime I like.
I actually might take him up on that.
The check came, and the deciding moment was upon us. Do we go dutch? If we go halfsies on the bill, then it’s not a date. If he pays, then it is.
The waitress put down the check, and Fife reached out to pick it up. I said the obligatory, ‘Here let me.’
To which he said, ‘No, no it’s my pleasure.’
Ahhhh. It’s a date.
But wait. Then he added, ‘This is payment for reading my manuscript.’
Damn. He was just being nice after all.
We walked out side; he was going one way, and I was going the other. He asked if I needed a ride to the flat, but I turned him down because it seemed silly for him to bring me home when I could walk it in 15 minutes. Unless…
Unless, that was his way of getting back to my flat and into my bed. Maybe he was hitting on me? Not that it mattered, as I DO NOT have a crush on him.
There was one last chance to see how he felt. I stepped in close and put my hand on his upper arm. He leaned in and…
Gave me a half hug. You know the ones where you kind of hug with one arm while patting the person on the shoulder with the other hand. It’s the sort of hug men give each other. Nope. Not a date. Just being nice because he wants me to read his manuscript. And why he wants me to read his manuscript, I’ve yet to figure out. But evidently, this was just some sort of business type situation.
Because we met for dinner so early, it’s not late at all, and I’m dreading going home. I told Pete I had a business dinner tonight (turns out that was true), and I just don’t feel like facing a load of people in the house. I want a night where I can come home and flop down on my own bedtress without anyone to bother me. Also, as I left straight from work to meet Fife, I have my laptop with me, and I’m typing this from the Costa at the Tescos over a cup of coffee. The staff are giving me evil looks, because I’m sure they want to close up for the night, but I think I’m going to sit here for a bit and have a dig through the internet. I might Google, ‘Signs You’re On a Date.’