Last night I went out for dinner. It was lovely, a balmy evening, good food, great wine.
And excellent company.
A perfect evening except for the couple sitting at the table next to us. She was pretty, demure, and a little meek. He had a bright red face and a booming, aggressive voice. She’d arrived first, ordered a glass of wine and waited. He’d joined her about ten minutes later.
He sat down and the first thing he said was:-
‘I’m just telling you now, I do not want to be here.’
She squirmed. We squirmed. It was uncomfortable for everyone around.
My date and I gave each other that look of ‘oh shit’ but we didn’t say anything. They were too nearby. We carried on talking – whispering actually. Our steaks had arrived and we were getting on well, having fun.
It had been feeling quite sexy, actually!
But he continued to be rude to her, then pushed his chair back and went outside for a cigarette. She sat awkwardly, staring into her wine.
I kind of wanted to interfere and tell her to leave. I know if it was me I would have got up and walked out, immediately, giving him the finger as I did.
‘It’s not really your business’, my date said. ‘You don’t know the back story.’
So we tried to ignore them. I don’t think it was a first date. Maybe they were once married. Maybe she was trying to fix things. Whatever it was, he did not want to fix anything. When he came back to the table he was even more unpleasant.
She never said a word. And neither did I.
It made our dinner really horrible.
I’ve walked out on a few dates in my life. The guy who wouldn’t stop talking about himself, the guy who was racist and the guy who had blatantly lied on his internet dating profile. It had taken courage to do it, and I am so glad I did.
But I thought about all the bad dates that I had not walked out on. That I should have.
‘Leave him’, I wanted to say. ‘You don’t deserve to be spoken to this way. No-one does. Just get up and walk out.’
Instead we decided to move tables. We carried on with dessert as if nothing was wrong.
And I am really sorry.