It is the summer holidays at the moment. I know this because where I live, by myself, in my little cottage by the canal, there is a footpath that runs in front of my house and there are a lot of teenagers walking down this footpath.
Today, for example, I was in my kitchen (I was making toast with blueberry jam. I know this is a trivial fact but I wanted to share it because, as it turns out, toast with blueberry jam is really nice) and two couples walked past. I say “couples”, they were obviously early teens and I’m not really sure you can qualify as being in a “couple” at that age, can you? “Couples” go to restaurants and drink wine, or invite each other round to their houses for games of Twister and canapes. I somewhat suspect the teenagers I saw today don’t do that sort of thing (I’d hope they wouldn’t because that would be really pretentious at their age. At any age, really). No, I imagine they do teenage “dating” things instead. I say “I imagine” because (a) I’m a big fan of reiteration and (b) because I didn’t date as a teenager. In fact I didn’t really talk to girls much during my teen years; I was a bit shy. Looking back, I was a bit rubbish.
It’s not that I wasn’t interested in girls at school; I was. In fact I had a variety of crushes throughout the years and it was always with girls who had brown hair, brown eyes and could make me laugh (actually, thinking about it, that hasn’t really changed). To me, I wanted them to be my girlfriends. To them, they were happy to think of me “like a brother” (actually, thinking about it, that hasn’t really changed either).
I grew up in a small, Yorkshire village and my social life mainly consisted of my friend coming over on a night where we’d play “Championship Manager” on my computer. Although I did have friends who dated girls, I wasn’t jealous back then. Sure, a lot of them are now married and have successful relationships but could they guide lowly Notts County from the bottom division to European dominance if you asked them to? No, probably not. So it’s swings and roundabouts, really, isn’t it?
These days I’m generally not a fan of dating, as such. I am sure people didn’t used to date before “Friends” was shown over here. I am sure, back then, you’d ask someone out and then you’d go out with them. At the very least you would “be seeing them”. I just don’t recall ever “going dating” (mainly because I wasn’t in a smash hit US sit-com).
Friends tell me of the “rules” of dating. “Once you have arranged a date, don’t text them before the night”, “At the end of the night, let them know you had a good time but don’t let on whether or not you want to see them again”, “After you have been on the date, don’t text or call until two days after”. I just don’t get all this “advice”.
Call me an old-fashioned fool but if I have arranged to go out with/see/date someone, it is generally because I find them attractive, funny and there’s something about them that intrigues me. Call me a feather ruffler but, if it’s how I feel, then I will tell someone at the end of the night that, actually, yes, I have enjoyed the evening and I would like to see them again. Dowse me in petrol and throw a burning copy of “Woman’s Weekly” at me if this is wrong but, if I have been out with someone and they’re heading off in a taxi, I will text them to make sure they got home safely. I don’t see any of this as being “against the rules”; I see this as being positive, courteous and polite.
Having said all that, perhaps the reason that I don’t believe in “dating rules” and all that nonsense is because I didn’t date as a teenager. Maybe, had I dated in my teen years as opposed to carving a career for myself in the virtual football arena, I too would be a slave to these self-imposed rules. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I wish I knew these “rules”. In the past I have never been too great with knowing where dating ends and seeing each other begins. In a couple of cases, I have ended up being with a girl for months because I didn’t have any “rules” on how to stop dating! One girl I was seeing (or dating or whatever) told me that there is a standard way of knowing, “You are dating until you sleep with someone. After that, you are seeing them. When you are seeing them you then need to have “the conversation” and that then means you are going out with them”. Relationships are complicated little monkeys, aren’t they?
So, here’s what I have learnt today. From now on, I intend to “retro-date” to make up for all those years that I didn’t. I shall find someone of my own age – or year – and I shall ask them out. Then I shall get my Dad to pick her up from her house on a Saturday afternoon and take us to McDonald’s. Afterwards, we’ll go to the pictures and awkwardly hold hands. After the pictures, I shall call my Dad and get him to pick us up and drop her back at her house. If I like her, I’ll text her and see if her and her mates fancy meeting me and my mates down by the canal. If that’s gone well and she still wants to hold my hand, we shall kiss in a non-experienced, not great way (probably with our eyes open) and arrange to go for drinks on the third date, then dinner of the fourth and carry it into the normal, adult world of “dating/seeing/going out with each other”.
I shall date as teenagers date because, it seems, there are no games, no stresses and no “rules” in that world. It is a simpler, happier dating world!
The only trouble is, having sorted that out, I don’t actually have anyone to go on a date with. I actually don’t have anyone in mind either, which is a bit of a stumbling block. That said, women are always hanging around footballers, aren’t they? Of course, there’s only one thing for it. It’s time to break out “Championship Manager” one last time.