First things first, let’s get something straight. There is nothing remotely gentlemanly about absconding in the middle of a date – terrible or not.
That said, there are exceptions to all rules – and this carved-in-stone commandment is no different. Imagine she lets slip that several of her exes have taken out restraining orders against her. Imagine she casually drops racial slurs into conversation. Imagine you spot a boxcutter in her purse.
Of course, I’m exaggerating – it’s unlikely that you’ll ever end up in a such a dicey situation. But, occasionally, and through no fault of your own, you will meet someone who you just can’t stand. It may be irrational, it may be founded, but whatever the reason, if you stick around, feelings will most definitely be hurt.
Put simply – sometimes, you have to run. But, when faced with such situations, we tend to flounder. No more. Just remember this simple mnemonic device and you will never stress or struggle again. It will call calmness to mind, help you coolly escape your date and reach a plane of peacefulness. So what is this word?
Each letter offers you an escape option, a way to ditch your date and run to the relative safety of home. Some methods are odder than others, and some to only be used as a last resort, but all are foolproof ways to escape convincingly and quickly.
F is for food allergy, because nothing necessitates a quicker exit than a dash for your fictional epipen. If you find yourself in a restaurant, and the meal is going particularly badly, tell your date that you think there must have been nuts or apples or wheat in your dish, and that you’re incredibly sorry but you’re about to break out in terrible hives, or your throat is about to close up.
A couple of things to bear in mind: ensure that you don’t order a nut cutlet and then pretend to be deathly allergic to cashews – make the allergy a believable one, and make it believable that you may have made a mistake when ordering.
Secondly, don’t fake your symptoms too theatrically. Perhaps mention that your throat is starting to itch or your eyes are going fuzzy rather than dropping to the ground in a fit of convulsions. Or, if you really don’t care what she thinks of you, tell her that your stomach is doing somersaults and you need to evacuate both this restaurant and your bowels as soon as possible.
I is for “I couldn’t find you”. This one only works when you’re in a nightclub, at a bustling party or in a dark auditorium such as the cinema or theatre. Make your excuse to slip away for a brief moment, and then stay slipped away for good. Send a text the morning after saying you got lost, and your phone ran out of battery – something you could mention has happened even before you abscond.
This is the coward’s way out, yes, but laying some groundwork and pulling off even a semi-believable lie is much better than slipping off to the toilet and trying to heave yourself through the tiny swing window above the sinks.
A is for aspirin – and another pre-planned method of escape. A small box of aspirin thrown into your jacket pocket before the date is a dependable safety net, easily fished out when the evening becomes an actual headache. Take them out, take one, and she’ll hopefully ask what’s wrong. You can reply with a courteous, “Oh, it’s been a long day and I’ve just got a bit of a headache. Actually, would you mind if we call it a night – you might not be seeing me at my best.”
As long as you don’t suggest that she is the root of your throbbing head, you should be in the clear. Props such as aspirin can come in very useful for escaping dates – as long as you can come up with a sensible reason for why you might have particular items about your person. And, if you forgot to bring something along, you can always improvise with whatever’s at hand – which brings us to our next point…
S is for spill a drink – preferably on yourself and not on her. This is a classic move, so try not to be too obvious. A glass of wine is a cliche, so avoid getting Merlot on your chinos, but choose a drink with a strong colour so both the night and your clothes are sufficiently ruined.
A dark beer sloshed on your shirt will do the trick, as would a Bloody Mary if you’re trying to escape the awkward ‘morning after’ breakfast. Coffee is also a great option – but if you’ve made it to the after-dinner drinks stage of the date, you may as well struggle to the finish line. And, if you’re drinking anything colourful and fruity, such as a Cosmopolitan or a Tequila Sunrise, although they will stain brilliantly, you clearly aren’t in a position to be turning anyone away.
C is for cry, because of course it is. There are few things less attractive than a grown man crying so, when he cries on a date – and a first date, at that – the awkwardness and ugliness of the situation goes through the roof. This is a real last resort tactic, as you don’t want others to see you blubbing into your bolognese as your date awkwardly sidesteps out of the door. But, if the proverbial really hits the fan, turning on the waterworks is a sure fire way to flush her out.
Start telling a tear-jerking story, and then pretend to well up. Stub your toe on the table leg, and sit with your head in your hands for a while. And then, if she still doesn’t leave, and instead tries to comfort you, you must accept that she’s really not as bad as you thought.
O is for on-call. The best, as always, has been saved until last. This is the most gentlemanly way to leave a date early, and it will not only save her feelings but also make you look genuinely chivalrous and impressive. Drop into the date at the beginning of the night that you are unfortunately on-call for the evening – be this as reserve trumpet for your local jazz quartet or as a consultant paediatrician – and then, if things take a turn for the worse, you can be believably and unavoidably called away.
Using this method will allow you to tell your date that you’re sorry the night didn’t work out the way you planned (which it didn’t), that you don’t want her to think less of you (which you don’t) and that you’re sorry for wasting her time (which you should be). And, if the night does go well, she’ll feel even luckier to have had you to herself for the entire evening. It may not be as honourable a move as you may have liked, but as ditching your date goes, it’s the most harmless way to go.