There are so many ways of telling this. Here are some.
i. Don’t think too much. You look fine. The belt’s nice, the dress is sweet although I think at the shop you overestimated its slimming properties. No boobs out. That is good, apparently. We are taking this seriously, says a lack of cleavage. Will they notice the bags under my eyes? Just how fat I feel, how much of that translates? The blazer is a little bit weird, but look. You look as if you made an effort. Its important that you look as if you are trying to look nice even if you don’t look nice or even if you could never look nice. Trying counts.
ii. Well, he was rude about my height and then compared me to someone who he hates, but other than that…
iii. Assertive. He said I was assertive. Why are you being so fucking assertive? Because he won’t say anything. Keep asking questions. What do you like? I get the feeling you like nothing we like. Why would you lead with the fact you dislike kinky sex? Do I look the kind of girl you have to marry to bed? Stop insulting football, he looks as if. Oh yes. He loves football. Well done.
iv. Look at you, looking at the same hills as me, celebrating Burns night, you’ve probably got a kilt somewhere, at your mum’s house. Its nice, this, this shared luminous thing that sits in between us on the table, fragile, spoiled by too much talk, but kept alive by vague words about the Highlands, how warm we find it here, what foods we miss (haggis, stovies, butteries, neeps, proper chips, spin them out like code-words, gladdening that we found each other).
v. Disembark. Ma ma tel’t me no tae date Glesgae boys. She wis right an a’.
vi. Weird? You think your hobbies are weird? Running your own back-street trepanning clinic is weird. Mining gold in London sewers using toothpicks and hydrochloric acid is weird. Lacing your corset piercings before the nightly orgy of the blind perhaps a little odd. Try harder, or let’s both settle back into the intimacy of relative normality, parameters established.
vii. Is it that time already oh my goodness I had best be going oh yes oh right then thanks will message you yeah? Your face tells me that I am being rude, though I can hardly make out your expression, the massive chip on your shoulder obscures it. And you’ve failed to say anything nice. As have I. Look at us, both of us, rude, bored. We’ve more in common than we think. Perhaps we should…
viii. The evening is nicer than the afternoon implied, and I flick between too warm when I walk out, chilly when the wind hits. This wouldn’t be a bad city to be always alone in. Each alleyway a wink, promising slippery other worlds that beckon in behind menus and out of fire exit doors. Glittery rubbish, foxes who would trot past at less than half-speed, unafraid. Perhaps I would grow matted too, or small and sparse enough to powder down drains and re-form on the fringes of an estuary. Or tall, enough to wrap my legs around the Shard and with a flex of my thigh muscles, kiss my skin together through splintered steel and glass. This funny absence will pass, and each encounter that fails to fill it will float up like flecks of ash until the sky is grey, and nobody can tell if it is grey with lengthening night or the blown-out sparks of eyes meeting, hands absently making up distance over tables, trains pulling out and away.