While few are so clichéd as to fancy only tall, dark and handsome guys, most of us have a type, whether we choose to admit it or not. Certain things attract us; if you put our dates or former lovers side-by-side, there'd be a common thread. Straying away from these comforting features, whether a bent nose, blue eyes, or a job in finance, can be a risky strategy. But sometimes we must journey into the unknown.
My online impression of tonight's contestant has been indifferent so far to say the least. On paper, he's not for me: an important job in government; likes white-water rafting; rides a horse. Plus, he's, well - he's bald. Despite spending many a date at close range with a stranger's dandruff, I like a head of hair, and I can't imagine having a boyfriend without it. But he's funny, sharp, clever and charmingly persistent over email so here I am, sitting at a table waiting, preparing to feign interest in a man I shall never fancy.
When he arrives, I'm totally at ease. I have no expectations; I'm just out for a drink. Because I don't really fancy him, I don't feel like I have to try too hard. I'm not rude or blasé - just normal. No coquettishness, pumped-up charm, sucking in of stomach or fake bravado necessary. I'm just myself, whatever that is, and he can like it or lump it. It doesn't matter if I don't fancy him, right?
It's a shock, then, to find myself warming to him almost immediately. Yes, his head is utterly hairless, and he may not get a podium place in a beauty contest, but he is sincere and witty; I can't help but find myself having a good time. This is good news for me, given I'm still recovering from one of the worst dates I've ever been on.
Drinks flow, but I don't feel the usual need to anaesthetise my nerves and overindulge. I concentrate instead on his hazel eyes and killer smile. I laugh a lot. His job and hobbies may be serious, but he is not. We get on really well and it's not all one-sided - he seems to instantly get me, which, let's be honest here, can be tricky for anyone. As the laughs die down, a brief hush falls over our table. He stares right at me and says he's been looking a long time for someone, and hopes his search is nearly over. I gulp.
All too soon, it is home time, and I walk him to his bus stop. He says he'd like to do it again, and I agree. It was a fun night and what have I got to lose? I've already gone from vaguely liking him to bemusedly fancying him in the space of one short evening. Who knows what's going to happen next? As if to seal the deal, he leans in for a goodnight kiss. Reader, I let him.
Want to know what happened next? Read about the second date.
Stats: 35, 5'9", brown/er, none, Gloucestershire
Where: Kennington, London
Pre-date rating: 6/10
Post-date rating: 8/10
Date in one sentence: I go off-menu but remain very much on-message.