Standing at the bar in Oran Mor, waiting for Shug, I tried to make myself seem nice and approachable.
Really though, I was spitting mad; still smarting from the Clown Horror and dying to prove to Glasgow that I was tough, heartless and would not be messed with.
Not this time! I sloshed my gin around in the glass and imagined what this Shug character will be like.
Bet he swans in late. Bet he talks about himself all night. Bet he’s an arrogant, lying ginger – STOP.
I need to stop thinking about The Clown. If he influences how I behave tonight then he’s scored a victory and will still walking over me with his giant clown shoes. Oh god when will I get over him?
I looked over my shoulder, ready to snarl at whoever was interrupting me. It was Shug. He was 40 minutes late but had texted me to explain why.
Been building a wendy house all day. Excuses like that are so bad they just have to be real.
Like the time, years ago, when my boyfriend didn’t come home one night and, when he finally appeared, told me – with alarming gusto – of how he needed a coffee very suddenly on his way home from a night out so stopped by his office at 3am, slipped into the building, got a free coffee from the vending machine, then fell asleep sipping it in the dark canteen. Yeah, right. Liars, liars, ginger lying clowns!
Shug threw his jacket over a bar stool and ordered a Diet Pepsi.
‘Don’t you need something stronger,’ I asked, ‘seeing as you’ve been building wendy houses?’
‘It was hard going.’
I raised an eyebrow.
Shug swigged some Pepsi. ‘It had a mezzanine level.’
What would Jim Royle say to that? Mezzanine level my arse!
I soon discovered that Shug indeed loved talking about himself, but it was all quite fascinating stuff, so I let him run on. He told me how he was perfecting his American accent for his part in High School Musical, how he was writing a play about Mary Shelley and how he was producing another about JFK.
‘It’s a worry,’ he said. ‘The boy we’ve cast as the young JFK is of Chinese origin. I lie awake at night wondering, though, will the public accept a Chinese JFK?’
I liked that. I liked him immediately for saying that because, here I was again, caught up in my quest for freaks. How many women hear that on a first date?
I can’t stand small talk. I’d far rather dive straight into ‘Will the public accept a Chinese JFK. Discuss?’
Shug was scoring points all over the place, despite his Diet Pepsi and turning up madly late. I was thinking I liked him indeed, especially the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled.
I offered to buy him a drink but he was horrified at the thought of me paying (yet more points for Shug) so he got another round in: gin for me. Diet Pepsi for him.
‘No wait,’ he told the barman. ‘Forget the Pepsi. I’ll have a ginger beer.’
The bold Shug! I decided I liked him and was relishing the absence of small talk and the pitter patter of boring chatter. Forgetting the etiquette of not mentioning politics or sex on a first date, I waded into both.
Knowing Shug was a Guardian-reading lefty an ex-social worker, I began baiting him on politics. He leapt on it, and went off on a mini-lecture about the hidden political messages in The Wizard of Oz.
‘See, the Wicked Witch, she represents Communism, right? Glinda, she obviously represents America. And the Munchkins, do you know who they represent?’
‘The Lollipop League?’ I asked with a straight face.
Shug laughed. Whoever advised to steer clear of tricky subjects on a first date was timid and wrong. We’ve had munchkins, we’ve had Chinese JFKs, we’ve had wendy houses.
If we go on to talk about sex, then we’ve covered the lot. What other taboo subjects are there? I wondered why it had taken me such a lot of agonising first dates to learn the valuable but tired old lesson, be yourself.
I relaxed. I was laughing at some other story Shug was telling and could feel myself tripping off into tipsiness. Careful, I thought. Remember what happened with The Clown….oh, who cares!
I took another drink and laughed again at Shug’s story, slapping my hand on the bar and crying ‘Just like Roy Orbison!’ (I wonder now what Shug could possibly have said to have provoked that response from me. Just like Roy Orbison? What the hell?)
As the night wore on, the conversation galloped towards sex. Shug assured me that he may be a dazzling actor by night, but by day he is a sensible psychology lecturer. ‘And I bet I can guess what your ultimate fantasy is?’
‘You’ve got no chance, Shug.’
‘No, let me guess. I’ve been trying to work you out all evening.’
‘What is it, then?’
‘Pretty sure. Pretty sure I’ve got you figured out….’
I looked at him, sobered. ‘Did you say Santa?’
‘Yeah. A guy in a Santa suit. Am I right?’
Wide-eyed and baffled, I shook my head.
‘Huh, I was getting that vibe off you. Guy in a Santa suit.’
The conversation had taken a weird turn. But I decided Shug could be worth a second date....
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.