First Dates: Thou shall not judge.

First Dates. It may be a cliche topic to blog about, but I'm milking it for what it's worth because last night for the first time in a long time I went on one. I hate first dates. I hate the novelty, the adrenaline, the expectations, the preconceptions, and I hate the anxiety. Before you even go on your date, dilemmas occur, the usual two being what to wear and where to go. Dress? Overkill. Skirt? Slutty. Trousers? Prudish. Nightclubs? Too noisy  Restaurant? I'd eat too much. Cinema? No banter. The main reason I hate first dates though is because they force you to analyze yourself, how you look and how you act. But with all my worries I found myself standing and waiting excitedly.

Gum. Perfume. Lipgloss. Gum. Perfume. Lipgloss. Gum. Perfume...No lipgloss? Too sticky? What if we kiss? What if he doesn't like lipgloss...? Oh g*d! Too late. OK OK Lipgloss.There he is! Smile Steph. Smile.

I was relieved when I spotted him, and it wasn't because he looked hot. It was because for all the photo 'research' (otherwise known as stalking) I'd done on facebook, in a moment of panic I actually doubted whether or not I'd even recognize him, but I did. He looked like an adonis and I felt like a pleb. Quick! Say something...anything! "You smell nice" I said. Oh dear...Sincere compliment, weak delivery.  As we walked to find a bar, if I'm honest I wasn't really listening to anything he was saying; I was too preoccupied making a mental list of conversation topics and date no-nos. No politics, no religion, no ex-boyfriends, no excessive swearing, no rambling, no using my blackberry.

Drinks in, we sat down. I should've had one at home for dutch courage I thought. But within minutes, to my relief I realized that extra drink wasn't needed; the conversation flowed easily. Admittedly, the more he spoke, the more I found myself thinking how wrong my preconceptions of him were. Good looking guy, top off on facebook, ex model, equals arrogant player...but I was astounded to find out he was considerably down to-earth. His humour and intellect knocked my judgement out the window and secretly I felt ashamed. The problem was I now panicked about what he thought of me; a pleasant surprise or a terrible disappointment? Egotistical I know but I had to ask. "What did you think I'd be like?" I said as my narcissim overrode my suppressed curiosity; hats off. I didn't mean to put him on the spot, but he was honest and dealt with the question well. He simply told me he'd hoped I wasn't a rude girl. I laughed, he laughed, and we laughed some more because my accent is the furthest from 'rude' you'll ever get; Queen's English mostly. It goes to show that no-one should judge too quickly and it taught me a big lesson.

Half way through the evening I had a panic though.  He'd offered to get more drinks from the bar while I sat saving our spot. I used that time to get rid of my gum (I hoped this date was going well enough to get a kiss) and I took out my phone, knowing that my blackberry would be flashing from bbm's from my girls. I was right. 1 missed call, 2 what's app messages (iPhone) and 3 bbm chats. "How is it?!" "Do you need a 'get out'?" "Have you kissed him yet?" After my speedy replies, I put my phone away and waited for him to come back. I waited. And waited. And waited. The longer I waited the more I panicked. What if he's just left?! Am I that bad, that ugly, that boring. After waiting for what felt like eternity he came back with 2 drinks and two shots. Thank goodness for that.

The more the drink, the more the banter. I'm not saying that I need to be drunk to have a good time, but to have a good time I need not to be nervous and to not be nervous I need to lose (some of) my inhibitions. The sambuca, vodka and Long Island ice tea's did what they were payed to do; ease my worries. I was now laughing my way through an anecdote, telling him about the time me and my dad went to a Tiesto concert in Shanghai, how I got into a fight with a girl, and how my dad 'accidentally' knocked the girl flat out on the floor. I seemed to be making him laugh; bonus points for me I hoped.

Bonus points to him; it was a pretty magical first date, but I'm glad it's over because I'm ready for the second. That's if I made a good enough impression. And just to re-iterate, I will not be making any snap judgement's from now on. He proved me wrong.

Toilets and Changing Rooms

Male and female toilets are different worlds...or so I imagine judging by common conceptions. There are fundamental differences between the two. Take for instance nightclub toilets. The toilets with the queue outside will always be the ladies. Fact. But it doesn't stop there. A female toilet is a nightclub in itself- it's a social minefield- just without men. You walk in and it's a world of chatter, dancing, double cubicle get togethers and bitching. Nightclub toilets offer multiple purposes for women, and we like to take our time. Women don't necessarily go to the toilet to pee; they go in groups and they go to talk. If one wants to go, the others will follow like a pride of lionesses. For a woman, a toilet offers a quieter atmosphere (unlike the dance floor) for a good bonding session whilst drunk. It doesn't even have to be a bonding session with our friend! We will happily start up a conversation with the girl applying make-up in the next mirror "You're so pretty." Or the girl who has incredible shoes: "Where did you get those?!" Or strike up a conversation with the hand that reaches under cubicle and asks for some loo roll; we don't even have to see your face and we'll happily sit and talk to a complete stranger behind a cubicle wall! The general toilet rule is: if we're drunk we'll talk to anyone.

For men on the other hand, it serves one use: to piss. 
Piss, wipe (hopefully), flush, buy condoms if you think you'll get lucky, leave. There is no chat, no bitching, no sharing urinals and definitely no "let's pee together!" Toilets are like sex to men. Get in, do your thing, and get out.

But female changing rooms are a different ball game altogether, and women often assume that the same approachable openness which occurs in nightclub toilets can be applied in communal changing rooms. But I have to draw the line. I beg to differ.

The other day I stripped down in the changing rooms after my gym workout, and chose a quiet, private spot to undress. There I was peeling off layer by sweaty layer, making sure to conceal my 'lady bits', and fumbling with my towel when a woman decided to unpack her things in a locker adjacent to me and stand unabashedly watching me undress like I was a burlesque dancer at a strip show. Except I'm not dancer and this wasn't a strip club. She was practically treading on my toes! I felt completely violated and discreetly covered my modesty; I am not your femme fatale type. Of course if I was that hung up on having my privacy I would've used a cubicle, but I figured with 200 odd lockers that someone with any common sense and respect of personal space would chose to keep themselves to themselves. Apparently I am wrong. Given this situation it seems completely acceptable to leer at naked strangers in public. I think not. Just because I chose to change in a communal changing room it's not an invitation to gawp at my boobs. Blatant voyeurism is not a good look. But what do you do in that situation? Turn around and say "Excuse me, can you stop looking at my minge you lecherous perv?" No. You just have to get on with it and let her watch, all the while feeling like someones else's cheap thrill. Would this ever happen in a male changing room?

I cannot speak for what goes on in men's changing rooms, but I am almost certain it is not the usual practice. That being said, a male friend of mine did once tell me he came across a man who cocked his leg up on the seat next to him and rubbed his ball sack in his face telling him he had "a cute ass". Wrong. In so many ways.

Let's not overstep the mark.

Traffic Lights (1 minute interaction)

Oddly my blog's seem to be revolving around transport. Apologies, but I find so many pitfalls when using transport- be it tube, train, bus or your own car!

So my question is this. What kind of traffic light driver are you?
The kind who looks at the road ahead and minds their own business, the kind who fiddles with the stereo, the kind who whips out their mobile for a quick text, the crazy one who starts singing along wildly to the song on the radio, the one who rev's the engine like roadrunner...or are you the perv?

Yes. I said it- The perv. The driver that stares into the car next to them. The one who can't help themselves but look over and check out the girl/guy. The one who makes it awkward for no reason at all. Sometimes the perv even goes as far to wind down their window and beckon you to do the same, in the hope of a quick chat and some"digits".

I'm afraid to say I'm not hot enough for this to be a daily occurrence, and I wouldn't like it to be either, but the other week "the perv maneuver" happened to me. I cursed to myself as the traffic light ahead turned red and I slowed to a stop in the left lane. Out the corner of my eye but what do I see? Movement in the BMW next to me. I did what I always do, stare straight ahead and mind my own business. Then, out of my peripherals I saw the window come down and arms flailing in a desperate attempt to get my attention. I gave up, looked over, and what I saw shocked me. Three guys in the car with a woman driver! If you're going to perv make sure it doesn't look like your girlfriend's in the drivers seat. To make matters worse the guy in the passenger seat had his phone out presuming that I had a blackberry and was shouting "PIN, PIN! SEND ME YOUR PIN!" I was perplexed., embarrassed and amused. My first thought was what an idiot. My second thought was for the poor girl driving these fools who'd given me a sheepish, apologetic look on behalf of their behaviour. My third thought was for the lights to change. Immediately. Finally- off I drove.

I don't understand it. All you have to do is look at the traffic light, wait for green, and go. People make it so hard. Forget the optimism; you only have a minute or two- tops. And if you are bold enough to be that guy,  9.9 times out of 10 you will be shunned, and shunned badly, most likely resulting in the victim locking the doors, winding the window up and slamming their foot on the gas like roadrunner. It's not worth the shame.

Rush Hour Etiquette (the tube)

Etiquette. I find it underrated, rather like manners I would say.

You give up your seat on the tube for a pleasant lady who says thank you and you think nothing of it.You give up your seat for someone who forgets their manners and suddenly it's a big deal. Please and Thank you's aren't hard to say, they take a brief moment-but it's one word (or lack of) that can make the difference between you saying "don't mention it" and you thinking "you ungrateful rat". Like I said, underrated but important nonetheless. Etiquette is what makes you willing to give up a seat. Manners are what make you say thank you.

Most people, I would guess, know the appropriate times to say please and thank you; most know that it would be right to give up your seat for the elderly or for a pregnant lady, and I presume most people wait for people to get off the tube before getting on. So why is it that rush hour robs us of every ounce of etiquette? (ashamedly me included). We go from polite citizen to crazed commuter all depending on the time of day. Is it because we are rushing to get to a job (that we hate?) or dying to get home to a bed we love? It may simply be because we are running late, but every single commuter at any given time cannot simultaneously be running late can they?

The orderly scenario that happens when waiting for a tube mid-afternoon:
Go to the platform- look at noticeboard- wait patiently on the platform behind the yellow line- remain unconcerned by the growing number of passengers waiting alongside you- the tube comes- you wait for people to get off- you may even outstretch your arm offering to let your fellow passenger on-board first- you remain standing or sit down depending on whether a seat is available but it doesn't make a difference to your journey.

The usual scenario come 6pm:
Shuffle to the platform- look at the noticeboard and curse under you breath the next train will come in 3 WHOLE minutes- get agitated by the growing number of people gathering alongside you- the tube comes- you eye up your competition ready to leap on board first- you curse silently again at the slow person getting off the tube blocking your path to the only free seat- you dash on-board using elbows to 'discreetly' shove others out the way- and once more you are dismayed when some selfish arsehole has grabbed that seat you were eyeing up through the tube window. [But you would have been that selfish arsehole if you got the seat right? Not that you care because you got the seat- but that's the point. We don't care- our etiquette vanishes! I rest my case.]

I only write this because the other day I was etiquette-less, made a beeline for the free seat, and lost it to a lady who had (and used) her ammunition- umbrella and briefcase- to shove every contender out the way. I was left standing squished between two burly men, front and back whose bellies protruded so much I didn't have to hold the hand rail for balance. They did that for me. As the tube rattled along the tracks and swayed everyone back and forth, I bounced between two bellies quietly smirking at the farce of not having to hold onto anything at all. I would have been content if it weren't for the BO coming from their armpits and the grunge music raging out their headphones.