Elle is a 33-year-old computer programmer. She says “I think I’m ‘stylish’ but not in a high-fashion way, more in the ‘comfortable, clean and ironed’ way.” Elle describes herself as “loud, funny, quick to make friends” and says “I swear like a sailor, which my mother says is never going to attract anyone. Jury’s still out on that.” For fun, Elle likes to write, draw, and drink — “sometimes all three at once.” She is just getting back into dating after a breakup, and says “I’m looking for someone who has a job they love, hobbies they’re passionate about, and who is a grown up.”
After moving to a new town for work, I was dreading the fact that I would have to commute two hours back home to see my tattoo artist. I know that sounds so immature, but when you find someone you like, you stick with them. I decided that I should at least look for someone local. It was a complete fluke how I chose Danny as my tattooer — I walked into a new shop after hearing good things about it, and they suggested him. The next thing I knew, I was standing in my underpants while he drew a few marks on my thigh. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I was happy to find an awesome tattoo artist who just so happened to share my love for self-deprecating jokes and bad puns, and who was also a huge geek. While I always found him attractive, the notion of dating a tattoo artist seemed ludicrous to me. He just didn’t seem to fit with the nine-to-five professional types that I’d dated before. I knew my insecurities would kick into overdrive, too: How do I even compete with hot twentysomethings that throw their half-naked bodies in front of him every day? Aren’t these guys notorious players? And — not that it would likely get to this — what would my mother say if I brought him to Christmas dinner? Danny and I would always talk, about family, death, all of the things that inspire tattoos.
Eventually, I realized that we were trading secrets with each other, and that we’d come to confide in one another about a lot of things. A few years in, when Danny and I had both been single for about a year, he mentioned a few times that we should get a drink sometime. We’d also started texting about things that weren’t tattoo-related, and I suppose that’s what led us down the “We should continue this conversation over drinks” path.
We ended up meeting for dinner at Sneaky Dee’s, which is a favourite of both of ours. I got there first and when he arrived I was actually still working on my laptop, typing away with a drink next to me. He sat down, ordered a beer and then said “. . . and two shots of Jameson.” I think I fell in love with him a little bit at that point.
Since we’d known each other for so long already, there was no awkward silence or anything. Initially, I’d worried a bit that it might be weird — we were actually there with the explicit purpose of just hanging out, so it wasn’t like I could close my eyes and let him focus on tattooing if the conversation stalled. It never did. We even talked about what to do if the night went badly, like, can I still see him for tattoos? We both felt that since we’d already known each other for half a decade and seen each other through a number of personal crises, there was very little that would result in either of us having to cut the other person out of their lives.
He lit my cigarette for me. And opened doors for me. He’s a feminist, but he’s all about being chivalrous. I guess it’s a big thing for me to have a man who understands what I like, even without me having to go on a diatribe. Nothing was off the table: religion, politics, old relationships . . . It was easily one of the most authentic conversations I’d had. It was silly, but the way he spoke to me drew me in. I didn’t realize he had a tongue ring until I leaned across the table and kissed him. When we had the “Is this a date?” conversation, we somehow engaged the waitress in it. Details are fuzzy. But I remember her saying, “This can’t be a first date, because you guys are way too comfortable. There’s no awkward here.” And we actually high-fived to that.
The date ended with a really great cup of coffee the next morning on his porch.