Melbourne Train Girl stood waiting. Music through her headphones was distracting the tiny flutter of butterfly wings buried inside her abdomen. They had decided to meet at the steps of Flinders Street station, which was such a cliche but nonetheless convenient. An arfully crafted SMS sent by her earlier in the week, and an hour sitting on the roof of her car the night before, had led to this date.
She didn't know why she was so nervous. Perhaps because this was to be her first ever real date. Melbourne Train Girl's first boyfriend had taken her out into the city on what could have been called a date, where constantly snapping plastic cutlery had caused mild embarassment over their takeaway burrito lunch, but that was in high school. Once you go on a date in high school you are considered boyfriend and girlfriend, and even if you never see each other again after that first date you can still count them as your ex.
This new prospect was a friend of a friend, and Melbourne Train Girl thought he was cool. She liked the way he wore converse shoes, and that he was studying a nerdy stream of science. She also liked that he was into Black Books and played guitar. She didn't like that he loved Family Guy, but could overlook that. Standing while the constant flow of people moved around her, meeting their own friends or saying their own goodbyes, Melbourne Train Girl listenend to her music and waited until his converse shoes came around the corner.
They exchanged their friendly greetings, it being rather obvious that both were covering up nerves - her with lively yet akward skipping, and him with babbling sentences. It was then that what had started off as such an optimistic evening turned dramatically on its head. Two tram rides and a long walk after they left the city, they ended up back where they had started without finding a place to eat. Everywere was either too vegetarian (for him), too un-vegetarian (for her) or too busy (for them both). He then suggested Crown Casino with such enthusiasm that Melbourne Train Girl couldn't help but reluctantly agree.
They snaked their way among the forest of flashing Pokies, through that jarringly lit interior, looking at the various bistros, but to Melbourne Train Girl's utter relief the only thing served was roasts and fish. They thankfully left the Casino - and the overwhelming feeling of distaste that comes over Melbourne Train Girl every time she is in there - behind, and headed for a nearby restaurant which she had suggested right at the beginning of our evening. Finally they were seated at a table and making choices from a menu.
In spite of all these setbacks Melbourne Train Girl was still enjoying herself and the conversation, although was starting to get the sense that perhaps they didn't have as much in common as she had first thought.
The meal turned out to be painfully long.
Then it even more painfully ended with him insisting on paying. Melbourne Train Girl normally wouldn't have minded, except that he made it quite clear he had this outdated ethos that the male party should pay for every meal every time. She jokingly asked if he were pining for the 50's. He didn't seem to catch the lightheartedness. Melbourne Train Girl needed a glass of wine. Or three.
By the time they had said their goodbyes back at the train station, the list of things she liked about him was all but replaced with a new, much more negative one. She didn't like that he didn't want to go to a bar to get a drink after dinner, or that he thought the only point to going out was to eat. She didn't like that he seemed young, or that he reminded her too much of her ex. SHe didn't like that he paid for her meal, or that he had never had a girlfriend and never even kissed a girl before. She also didn't like that he insisted they go to the pedestrian crossing to cross the road. And then she didn't like how crazy she was being for thinking that way about all those little insignificant things.
Despite all this, Melbourne Train Girl still liked him the way you enjoy a friend's company. And when he hopefully voiced the prospect of seeing her again the next night she guiltily told him she would let him know. She spent the train ride home watching drunk business types flirt with wives and husbands who were not their own, and thinking up how best to decline the second date without hurting his feelings.