When a night's going well, you just know it. Awkward pauses are but a memory, a relic consigned to the first five minutes of conversation. Timid forays into being tactile soon give way to comfortable, confident touching at appropriate moments - and, sometimes, inappropriate ones, too. Eye contact is constant, the connection interrupted only for you to reach down to pick up your drink - going down nicely, thanks - to ensure you don't accidentally grab something else by mistake. 'Accidentally'.
And this date is going really well. My date's eyes are fixed on me like a crosshair, his pupils pulsating with every syllable. I don't need to hold my stomach in or worry about my fly being undone; his peepers are trained right where they should be, where the prize awaits. I stealthily lick my lips in anticipation.
Briefly, the spell is broken. He glances away for a moment, feeling the heat, needing a breather. I get it. The first 90 minutes of our date have been fairly intense. But then his eye wanders again. And again.
Finally a flicker of recognition crosses his face as he scans whatever's in his line of vision. Or whoever. I shrug it off and, sure enough, his bright baby blues return to me. We move nose-to-nose and my mouth tingles with expectation. Just as the point of no return veers into view, he does it once more - that look to the left over my shoulder. I pull back, his once-lustful breath becoming sour to my nose, and slowly turn my head round, following the line of his gaze, wondering whether yet again I'm on a date with somebody who has brought his ex along. But, no.
At the bar is a popstar - famous, gay, big in the UK - who is returning my date's stare. Perhaps sensing the lasers shooting at him out of my own eyes, the celebrated songbird quickly glances in my direction before looking back to my date and then away from us altogether. Amid the loud chatter and thumping music of the bar, time temporarily freezes, before all returns to normal and everyone's eyes are back where they should be. I sigh with relief and frustration.
"He's handsome, isn't he?" coos my date, looking over yet again at the singing sensation. I sense I am losing my footing. What I thought would be a walk in the park is speedily becoming a scramble up a rock face.
"Yes, he is," I wince. "But it's getting late. I think we should leave. Right now."
Stats: 32, 5'10", black/blue, Northern Ireland
Where: Shoreditch, east London
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 7/10
Date in one sentence: Starstruck date fails to keep his eyes off *that* prize and on *this* one.
A truncated version of this post originally appeared in my monthly column in Gay Times.