With your brilliant big tummy-hugging pants and your super-uplifting bra on you can wear your cool new American Apparel dress. It’s basically a long stretchy vest, quite scruffy but clingy and supersexy. A sort of ‘Kids from Fame’ vibe. And definitely an outfit that’s worth running late for.

Curiously, Zac has nominated the Tiroler Hut, which you had always thought of as an Austrian theme restaurant. He just thinks of it as an Austrian restaurant. You would go there for a laugh, like on a hen or something (well, you wouldn’t personally choose to go there – but you imagine others would choose to for this reason). Zac chooses to go there because he genuinely likes bratwurst and sauerkraut. You shouldn’t be surprised by this oddness really. After all, this is the guy who chatted you up on the bus.

Zac is already there and halfway through a Coke when you arrive. He is the model of American good manners, standing up when you get to the table to pull your chair out.

‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ you say.

‘Hey, that’s okay.’

‘The traffic was horrendous.’

‘Horrendous? That’s a word you don’t hear very frequently.’

‘Mm,’ you assent, and order yourself a beer. Oh dear. Is this going to be a long night? And not in a good way...

But no. As he finishes his Coke and joins you in a Dortmunder, and you give him some of your best quality chat, Zac loosens up and stops with the odd observations. You talk rubbish about Austrian culture – what it’s given the world. Being fairly ignorant of classical music you only really have cuckoo clocks (which it turns out are Swiss), the Von Trapp family, and Hitler to draw on.

‘That’s so English of you!’

You give him your best butter-wouldn’t-melt smile and say ‘Really? I wouldn’t have thought that was a particularly English thing to say. Is it?’

Zac is full of theories about the English, and their ignorance about other cultures, among other traits. Obviously you enjoy this conversation, giving you as it does the limelight. And a chance to use your most clipped, Keira Knigthley-esque accent. You play on your (limited) idiosyncrasies and say ‘bloody’ far more than you usually would.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t always seem to catch your drift. He responds seriously to your rhetorical questions, and looks embarrassed rather than amused when you say something deliberately shocking (perhaps it was a mistake to roll out the C word so early on). You wonder whether there is a loose connection in his brain somewhere, if you are fundamentally ill-suited, or if this is just those famous cultural differences coming to the fore.

Well, Zac might not ‘get’ you, and he isn’t all that witty, but he’s very cute, at least. You’re quite happy to gaze at him across the table, and smile when he smiles. Actually, on noticing his incredibly perfect teeth you stop smiling quite so widely. Still, there’s a nice vibe at your table

As a table laden with cow-bells is wheeled out, and the lederhosen clad host starts tinkering with them and warming up his accordion, Zac sits up. Now you start to suspect that it’s not in fact the food that he likes so much here, but the entertainment. Heaven help us.

‘Ah, here comes Joseph, to introduce a bit of levity to the evening,’ he says.

‘That’s so American of you,’ you retort.

‘What?’

‘Saying levity instead of fun. Honestly, you Yanks love to make a word take longer to say. Like, what’s the deal with calling a vet a veterinarian?’

‘Oh yeah. We do do that, don’t we?’

‘Yes you bloody do!’

‘You know what Zac, I’m not sure I can sit through the cow-bell cabaret without another drink. Let’s have a shot, eh?’

You beckon the waitress over and order a jaegermeister. Zac looks sceptical. The waitress suggests something called a unicum, which she claims is good for an upset stomach.

‘I don’t have an upset stomach,’ he explains. ‘I just don’t drink a lot of hard liquor.’

Jeez, you think, not for the first time that evening. But hey, he’s American. And he’s cute.

He settles for a half and you decide to pass on your shot and order another beer too. You don’t need to conform to all aspects of the national stereotype:  hard drinking, ignorant and foul mouthed. From the looks Zac is now giving you and your superclingy supersexy dress, he’s already wondering if you fit that other stereotype, of the English girl who’s a supereasy lay.

Skipping the schnapps was probably a good move. You’re pretty tipsy already. As the cow-bell cabaret builds up a full head of steam, Zac’s delight in it starts to make you chuckle. Is this guy for real? There’s something kind of sweet about his enthusiasm for this cultural oddity. You suppose he might just have a big appetite for foreign and new experiences. At this moment in time you’ve got quite an appetite for a particular foreign and new experience. You’ve never had sex with an American before. You wonder what his boundless enthusiasm would translate to in the bedroom. It could be a lot of fun.

As you snog on the street, and Zac feels the full benefit of your figure-enhancing underwear, you curse yourself for not planning better. It’s your first proper date since Charlie, with a guy who looks like an Abercrombie model (well, after a few pints of Dortmunder anyway). Of course you were going to want to have sex. Damn.

‘Want to come up to my place, grab a coffee? I’m just around the corner.’

You pull yourself together. No, you wore that outfit for just exactly this outcome. He wants you, and he’s not going to get you (tonight anyway). You’re pretty sure you’ve done enough to secure a second date, if you decide in the cold light of day you want him. Either way you’ll leave him wanting more.

So you decline and head towards town to find a bus home, leaving him looking eager on the Bayswater pavement. Perfect.

 

Over a pot of tea and a stack of buttered toast, you tell Alice the story of the date. She congratulates you.

‘Your first proper post-Charlie date!’

Clinking your mugs of tea, you toast to moving on.

‘I still don’t get why you didn’t shag him.’

‘I don’t know, I suppose I thought I might like to see him again.’

‘Right. So will you see him again?’

‘Well obviously now I’m sober I’m not so sure I want to. He’s a bit odd. Kind of humourless. Well, not humourless, but not funny, somehow. Still, he's very sweet. And a great snog. Hmm.’

‘Hmm, indeed. Drunken good intentions, eh? Never trust ‘em!’

And you clink mugs again, in another toast, to the wisdom of Alice.

‘Ah well, you’ll always have that night at the Tiroler Hut,’ she says, ‘And the cow-bell cabaret.’

‘Ah yes. It’s the tragic story of a doomed transatlantic love that might never be fulfilled.’

‘That’s right. So it’s a good start. But next time, find a more suitable candidate – someone you might actually want to see more than once, okay? Which reminds me, what’s happening with that guy in the office?’

You roll your eyes and tell her for the millionth time that you’re really not that interested in the guy in the office.

 

Zac obeys the Tuesday rule and calls you right in the middle of Eastenders. You don’t take the call, for you need to decide first whether you want to see him again or not.

Do you? This is your last choice

Yes, go to Chapter Seven XI to face the consequences

No, go to Chapter Seven XVII to face the consequences