Three blind dates

Wed, Feb 9, 2011, 00:00

Blind dating can be a social minefield. You’ve very little idea of what to expect and whatever you imagine about your date is unlikely to be accurate – and that’s before you have to deal with something as intangible as ‘chemistry’. We organised three dates for six strangers who knew nothing about each other. What could go wrong? CIAN TRAYNORreports

Date 1: Cathy McGouran and Paul Murray Pizza making at Milano

PAUL AND Cathy were making their own pizza in a private, glass-walled room in Milano, Grand Canal Dock, with the rest of the restaurant – including Bono – watching on.

“There was a little part of me thinking, ‘oh God, I don’t know whether I like being in this room, just us’,” says Cathy, a 33-year-old studying for a PhD in consumer behaviour at UCD.

“If you were out in the restaurant with the hustle and bustle, it would be more what you’re used to.”

Fortunately, Paul had called to introduce himself the night before. He suggested they go for a drink ahead of dinner to relieve the pressure of having their picture taken within minutes of meeting. “I was really impressed that he took the bull by the horns,” says Cathy. “That’s kind of important. He sounded lovely and chatting away wasn’t really difficult – to a point. Obviously it’s going to be slightly weird but it was fine.”

Cathy had been on a couple of blind dates before, one “a complete disaster”, but Paul, a 32-year-old who works in fraud for Bank of Ireland, was experiencing it for the first time. He had signed up to internet dating before but hadn’t pursued it and since he knew nothing about Cathy, he was expecting thumb-twiddling and awkward silences.

In reality, Cathy’s jovial, breezy nature was a relief – “She was very open and easy to talk to” – and they had more in common than expected: two Liverpool supporters talking about Fernando Torres’ exit to Chelsea on the eve of a match between the two teams.

“I suppose you’re thinking, ‘is this going to be the love of my life?’” says Paul, nonchalantly, of the things going through his mind.

Later, though, when they moved on to a packed bar in Baggot Street, it was clear that things would remain platonic. There was no talk of meeting again and Paul mentions, on three occasions, that Cathy was feeling tired.

“She said she had to get a taxi, so I thought ‘fair enough’,” he says.

“It was pretty rainy outside so it was all very rushed. I gave her a text the next day just to make sure she got back alright and had a good night.”

“I think you know very quickly if the spark is there, if there’s a connection,” says Cathy. “We both got on very well but I wouldn’t have thought he felt a big spark either.” There wasn’t, Paul says, but it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless.

“It definitely opened my eyes to [blind dates] as a possibility and I wouldn’t be so daunted in the future. I would do it again.”

To book a Milano pizza-making party see or email

Date 2: John Lambert and Christine Muinami Dinner at Salamanca tapas restaurant

ONE OF John’s New Year’s resolutions was to say “yes” more often and to try new things. However, after he’d been waiting outside the restaurant for half an hour, all he could think about was the trouble you could get yourself in just by hitting “enter” on a keyboard.

There was no sign of Christine and he didn’t have her number. “I was thinking she might have just got cold feet,” he says. “And I was sympathising, to be honest.”

When Christine arrived, John stepped forward and tapped her on the shoulder . . . only for a “giant dollop” of water to roll off the canopy above the restaurant, splashing across his forehead.

Christine was too flustered to notice: the Luas had delayed her and she had worried about giving the wrong impression. “You can imagine being late and nervous,” she says.

As they moved inside, John’s account of the big splash made for a good icebreaker and they decided to wave the waitress away – it was their first blind date and they needed time to settle.

“I nervously ordered a red wine without thinking,” says John, a 35-year-old graphic designer. “Then I realised we had complimentary drinks right in front of us. I was already loading up two drinks!”

Yet within minutes, they both realised it wasn’t going to be a struggle. The conversation flowed nicely from Lady Gaga to meditation, and the tapas were light enough to share without distraction.

“He’s a perfect gentleman,” says Christine. “The way he approaches things, from his work to his friends, I came to understand that he’s very gentle and focused. I liked that about him. He seemed very settled within himself.”

Christine is a 30-year-old childminder from Kenya and her varied past – growing up on a farm, living in Greece and spending the last three years in Dublin – meant that John never ran out of questions, even when they went on to the Library Bar on Exchequer Street.

Though John was conscious of “blabbing on” in places, he feels the night went well. On the prospect of another encounter, he says: “I’m not sure, I don’t want to say too much.” Christine, by contrast, is direct. When it comes to the spark, she says: “I found him attractive but I didn’t feel that chemistry.

“But I’m the kind of person who takes things slowly.”

She would like to see John again, for friendship, at the least. And perhaps there will be as both of them mention they’ve already arranged to meet for a coffee later this week.

Date 3: Megan Molloy and JP Canning Comedy night at Shebeen Chic

JP HAD a couple of drinks to calm the nerves and got there early, just to be sure. “It’s the apprehension and the anticipation and the build up to it,” he says. “The waiting!”

Any tension quickly dissipated. His date, Megan, a 32-year-old from Washington DC studying for an MBA at Smurfit, made a good first impression.

“She’s very attractive,” says JP, a confident, witty 33-year-old who works in music administration for the Irish Music Rights Organisation (Imro). “Very well spoken, lovely manner; great sense of humour.”

The pair seemed to click. A few glasses of wine and half-eaten starters followed before a set of amateur comedy, a couple more drinks and a live jazz band.

“I think we were both on the same page – I hope, anyway,” laughs JP. “If she comes back now and says something completely different, I’d be distraught!”

Both JP and Megan say they had a great night, although their reporting of it is different and JP does mention he has reservations about the date being the subject of an article.

Megan is his type, he says. “I think I did give the impression that I would like to see her again,” he says. “I know she’s got quite a lot on in terms of college and everything else but I think she would be interested in seeing me again. I’d like to think so, anyway.”

For her part, Megan is more cautious and business-like when talking about the date. “American guys,” she says, “are a little more expressive. There’s more variety in activities back home. Here it’s dinner, film, that’s about it.” Of JP, she says: “He’s very different to me. He’s arty and I’m much more sporty.”

When it comes to the topic of attraction and chemistry she says: “I don’t know how he felt. But probably more platonic [for me].

“I think he’s a great guy and really interesting and fun person. We got along – I don’t know romanticall,y but on a friendship level, for sure.”