When dates are over, I try not to think too hard about what my date thought of me. You can drive yourself mad pondering the whys and the wherefores when they don't call. Was it something I said? Was I too ugly, too stupid, too sane? Enough. Yes, the self-doubt still wraps itself around my throat like a razor-edged silken scarf, but I try to pay it no mind. They'll call if they want. Maybe I'll text. Let's just see.
After a first date with a devastatingly attractive Colombian guy which, for the most part, took place in my bath, however, I can't help but wonder what kind of impression I made. We flirted on social media for weeks, he came over, I ran a bath, minds and mouths wandered, we got out, went for a 'picnic' and then he went on his merry way. End of story, you'd think; maybe just a charming tale to tell your particularly racy grandchildren. But just like in Hollywood, a successful first bite of the apple necessitates a sequel, and so it is that I find myself back tapping my very own acerbically tinged version of sweet nothings into my iPhone, arranging with Ignacio when I'm going to see him again. What could he possibly be thinking? How could we top groping each other in a too-hot vat of suds in the middle of the afternoon? Has he been thinking about what I look like dry, with a shirt on?
Clearly, he has. In his faltering English, he tells me he wants to take me out for coffee. I've loads of work to do and look like I've been sleeping on the backseat of a bus for a week, but when I cast my mind back to the bubbles, I remembering liking what I saw. Let's see how he holds up without the taps digging into his back.
Ignacio is waiting for me when I arrive at the café. It's the kind of place you are pretty much guaranteed to find an eyelash (or worse) in your tea. I have dressed casually - maybe too casually - in battered Converse and jeans that could do with a dip in water themselves. My T-shirt is clean, though, and just tight enough. I see his eyes fall immediately to where my nipples are so, if nothing else, my boyish pecs have made something of an impression. He is wearing a grey merino jumper which hangs off him so beautifully, he may have been born in it. His jeans are clean, albeit a tad European in style, and his trainers would definitely pass the doorstep detergent challenge. I sit down opposite him, order a coffee from the dumpy, uninterested server and wait for him to say something. So far, nothing. Not even a hello. Just his eyes flicking all over me like a moth looking for somewhere to land.
I break. "How are you?" I know, I know, but what else is there to say? Thankfully, he's only too happy to tell me how he is and the conversation gets off to a bumpy start at last. After a few minutes of pleasantries and work tales, he rests his chin on his hands and stares into me like I'm behind glass at the Natural History Museum.
"I've been thinking of you, like, nonstop," he says, his accent a rich, sexy growl.
I cough, embarrassed, and paint on a look of nonchalance. "I thought you might," I reply, despite having been certain of no such thing.
"I don't often get to go to boys' houses and get a bath," Ignacio smiles. "You make an impression!"
I smile back as coquettishly as I dare, given the very first time I met him, I got an extreme close-up of his balls. "It isn't every day I invite someone into the bath, either, I assure you. I don't want you to think it's my 'thing', or a fetish."
The light humour is lost on him; the tone doesn't seem to hit its target. I see him frown slightly, as if he's not quite understood. It isn't the last time I'll see that.
We pass the next hour talking about all manner of inconsequential things, remaining politely guarded, but with an unspoken 'something' between us. My heart isn't thumping and my head has yet to tip over my heels, but I'm intrigued enough to want to see him again. If Ignacio is hoping for round two of looking for the loofah, he doesn't let on, and neither do I. As we leave the café, I press my lips lightly to his and leave him there, making vague promises of a phone call, a text, a whatever. I go back to my flat, close the door and sit in silence for a while, not really sure what I'm doing.
He texts the next day and phones the day after that. We chat, but it is difficult. I try to talk more slowly - and his English really is all right and perfectly serviceable - but there's an issue here which isn't just idiomatic. Although he says his previous boyfriend was from England, I can't help but think our stumbling blocks are cultural and, dare I say it, personality-related. Nevertheless, I resolve to plough on - he is quite definitely one of the most beautiful men I've ever had my hands on. And he can't stop thinking about me, remember.
He tells me he wants to take me out to dinner, and I accept. He arrives at my door smelling like an angel and looking like a god, planting his full mouth on mine very timidly at first, which seems at odds with his general aura of perfection and self-assuredness. He glances around my flat, which is mercifully much tidier than on his last visit, gently squeezes my arse and tells me we have to go or we'll be late. I hold the door open for him on our exit, but make sure I bound on ahead as we descend the stairs to the street so he can get a good look at my backside in these trousers. And he does look, I notice. I wear my wickedness like a crown.
In the restaurant, while my view is perfect and the food sublime, our chitchat is stilted once again. He doesn't seem to get my humour at all, and my gentle ribbing seems to mortally offend him, while his own attempts at flirtatious badinage fall flat without the nuances of a native speaker to help him through. The frown is back in full effect. I try harder than I usually would to compensate, but it's heavy-going and I find myself shovelling in yet more pasta rather than break into his lengthy attempts to explain to me exactly what he meant by what he just said.
Once the bill is paid - split 50-50 - and coins for a tip have been splashed onto the silver dish, we head outside, the air choking with anticipation and a mutual feeling that perhaps we need to make more of an effort if this baby's going to fly. I decide to return to where the flame burned the brightest, and ask him back to my flat for a cup of tea that will never be drunk. He accepts. We climb the stairs to my flat like two Marie Antoinettes trudging to the guillotine - heavy with food, tired and perhaps a little grouchy from the dearth of sparkling conversation. Once inside, I pop the kettle on and he sits gingerly on the couch, tense and quiet. I make the tea and hover over him with it. He finally relaxes back into the sofa and pats the cushion next to him. I sit.
We talk a little more, slurping at the tea occasionally, but more often than not watching each other carefully as we move our hands this way and that to get comfortable and find a way to touch without it becoming too obvious. Finally, my mug half-empty and the tea within it tepid, I make my move. The lunge. It's well-received and is the perfect gateway into the next hour of post-date snogging and stroking. The minutes roll by, buttons pop open and skin hits the air.
After a while, however, I begin to withdraw. It's a school night, I'm tired, and his hands across my pasta-bloated tummy are making me feel sick. All of a sudden, the scene seems ridiculous: him naked save for his socks (white!) and me shirtless with my flies open. It's cold, and I don't just mean the weather. I make excuses about saving this for another night, and for a few seconds, his eyes search mine for a sign of what's really going on. They offer no explanation.
Eventually, he realises he's beaten and dejectedly begins to get dressed. I watch him put his clothes back on, just as I did after our first date in the bath. Beautiful. Once he's done, I get up and show him to the door. He starts to say something, but doesn't bother in the end. He kisses me again - for what will be the final time - and it feels sweet and hungry and I begin to wonder whether I am doing the right thing closing the door on him. But close it I must. He pulls away from me and we exchange a "see you soon" that only one of us believes. I shut the door and listen to him go down the stairs even slower and with less enthusiasm than he went up them.
There is a text the next day, which I ignore, and then another the day after, which I answer good-naturedly but without any hint that there's more to come. After a few more texts between us that are more neighbourly than passionate, he sends me a final one lamenting that it hasn't worked out and that if I change my mind, I should get in touch.
I never do.
This is part 2 to The Colombian in the Bath.