Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Date Goes On...

I brought my focus back into the inside of Toro (a pretty neat tapas place run by Ken Oringer - the food is all foody and good and stuff and they have lots of pricey but super tasty cocktails).  I righted myself at the bar, pushed my glasses up on my nose (I don't actually wear glasses, but in my memory of all of this I have been recast as Lisa Loeb and I needed to push up our glasses so deal with it), sat up straight, passed Jibril a menu and we began to study in silence. Yo La Tengo songs hummed softy in the background, providing our only (but jangly) company.  In all our exploring it had grown late and the bar was now mostly cleared out save for a smattering of aging white belts and a few interesting but tired looking women who might have been recently cut waitresses.  I know this because while avoiding eye contact with Jibril and also being terrified to look out the window at Washington Street I was borderline staring directly at them for the majority of the next 20 minutes.  Because, as you know, I am the best at all the stuff.

I feel I should admit that I am kind of bad at menus (and by "kinda" I mean, totally and completely, with no possible arguments from anyone who has ever witnessed me trying to order food from anywhere seriously even Friendly's, it's bizarre how bad I am at this. I mean even worse than nail polish selection. But I digress.).  In this case, I had the guide of the $63 in my pocket that kept me suggesting Tecate and stuffed dates.  He, of course, was having none of it.  He was all about the bone marrowey, short ribby, oxtaily, pate-esque and let's order a bunch of expensive stuff and share it and with fancy cocktails that I am not going to pay for.

Now, as delusional as I am (trust me, you have no idea), I do realize I could have just told him to hold on buster! I would be making the decisions since I was paying or just communicated that we were on a budget and perhaps he could slow his Rockerfellerian roll just for a sec, thanks but of course, I did not.  Although, to be fair, there may have been some eye rolling directed at no one in particular.  So he ordered like 4 plates of incredible stuff I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for and I ordered the dates and crossed my fingers and took a deep breath and started singing song selections from Reality Bites.  Ok, that last part did not happen (dude... focus!!!). 

The date ended with us standing on the platform at Massachusetts Avenue MBTA station avoiding almost certain attack by facing each other solemnly, holding hands and talking in the most earnest gibberish ever gibbered.  We were also smiling the crooked awesome smiles of people who really need to not laugh in this particular situation but want to (oh so much!).  This was kinda cool and for real didn't suck.  We were finding a solution to a precarious situation together!  We were working as a team!  We were holding hands!  I wasn't sweating (how out of character?).  As we stood there, our faces so close our eyelashes might have touched (if they were 7 inches long, which, I mean... ew) we smiled, maintaining eye contact against all odds and giggling for the better part of 3 minutes.  It was a little weird but I think we were imbued with a greater purpose (mainly, avoiding the crazy screechy tauntings of the crazy dude who had been recently kicked off the Orange line and was systematically making his way though the crowd on the platform).

The dude climbed up the stairs into the summer night in a musical montage that was something like the Broadway cast of Cats singing Seven Seconds songs in a sewer.  We were still holding hands as our eyes drifted from the montage back to each other.  I smiled at him just a little (no teeth) and gave him approximately 3 seconds to kiss me before it was too awkward even for me to stand.  He smiled at me too, but did not move. I dropped his hands gently and rubbed his arm like "oh well buddy, we tried".  Thankfully the train arrived and we got on and went home.

I wouldn't say I was sad about it.  I was poor at the end of it.   I think I was mostly disappointed that nothing happened.  I mean, nothing awful happened (which was good) but there was just no spark and that is just kinda sad for everybody.  I chalked it up to poor screening and/ or the inevitability of my aloneness in the sense of it being forever and absolute and got ready to move on (most likely to hard drugs and a life of writing maudlin poetry on bev naps or some combination therein).  So I was pretty surprised when he called me the next day excited about going out again.  He said since we were so poor maybe we should just drive up to Marblehead and have a picnic by the lighthouse and watch the sunset.  He said he knew a spot.  I promised to bring wine and paper cups.  He promised to pick me up right after work on Friday. 

I said "thanks Jibril, I will see you then" and he said "thank you for giving me another chance, I won't mess it up." 

I'm not going to lie, my heart went a little melty (but just a little, cuz after that Toro dinner I couldn't really afford a new one if this one melted all the way).  It's pretty genuinely endearing when anyone actually wants something and is not afraid to say it to you like that.  I mean, maybe people think that kind of stuff all the time and just don't say it, I don't know.  In this case, he seemed to want me to like him.  That was a sweet thing to want.  Who was I to begrudge him the opportunity to try?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jibril and the restaurant at the end of the universe

Sometimes I listen to the wisdom gleaned from all my previous dating experiences.  Most times, in fact, I try (somewhat in earnest) not to make the same mistakes over and over again.  This may sound obvious, but I assure you old habits die hard and as much as (so much) this ugliness could clearly be avoided by simply heeding the caveats of yore - sometimes we just can't see the forest for the psychotic killer on a rampage waiting for us up in the branches.  Sigh...

For example, if I do not enjoy talking to someone on the phone, pretty good chance I will not enjoy going on a date with them.  I should mention, I can and will talk to anyone about anything - so this can be hard to gauge ("dude... you talked to him for an hour and there's no chemistry?  How can that beeeee?").  Phone screening success mostly boils down to us laughing and him not talking about himself the whole time without interruption (this is not a 2 way street, of course, I am allowed to babble on about myself ad nauseum and expect riveted interest and commentary because yes, I am just that interesting).  So, despite the protestations of friends who are always ready with a chorus of "but dudes hate the phone" or whatever, I have found it to be true 100% of all of the times that if our phone conversation is lacking, date will be all kinds of sucktastic. 

So when it came to Jibril, I tried to beat myself at my own game by having the shortest phone conversation ever and then announcing to him "Ok, you seem fine, do you want to make a date?"  I literally said this to him.  To be fair I may have had a few drinks.  To my surprise he accepted (weird, right?).  On paper he was pretty neat: Worcester guy (hey! my mom was born in Worcester!), working class background, booked bands, into the Worcester rock scene, loved Spags, cute accent, red beard, nice smile, confident, funny... okay... so maybe no real immediate chemistry, but maybe in person it would be better? Ok, so like, that has literally never been true, but I really wanted to go on a date.

We decided to meet at Back Bay station and explore the South End from there.  If you've ever been there then you know it is a huge cacophonous nightmare of a train station filled with way too much human suffering to process without tears and/ or hallucinogenics (or both).  He was late.  I sat on a bench and waited for a while... until far too much fodder for the maudlin gristmill I call a mind presented itself to me.  After the 3rd (4th?) homeless dude touched me and asked me searing life altering questions, I went to the nearest bar.  We finally met up, had a drink and thus the date began!

He had proclaimed himself a skilled and whimsical "explorer of neighborhoods" so I agreed to just walk around and see where the evening led us.  After wandering the streets of the South End for what seemed like hours (in heels), we found ourselves at the 1700 block of Washington Street near the place I had originally suggested (but couldn't seem to find).  The largest street sign I have ever seen in my entire life (for real) loomed above us proclaiming ominously "Massachusetts Avenue".  I remarked upon this phenomenon, he agreed, we laughed... and then we saw him.

Leaning up against a set of stone steps descending into nothing in particular, stood an impossibly tall and thin man.  He was wearing a white cubavera, a down tilted fedora that obscured his eyes.  He was smoking a thin cigarillo, the white smoke curling about his head and fading into the dark night sky.  His presence was oddly ominous, although he did not seem entirely real and I was not exactly afraid of him.  I am not sure if he was looking at us directly or not, but in my re-imagining of this whole scene, he made some kind of gesture to his right and our eyes followed. We abruptly stopped talking, our laughter fizzling into the gray dust that now seemed to swirl in the air before us.  Everything beyond that sign was drained of color, the buildings, the cars, the trees - all of it was shrouded in this surreal haze of gray smoke, swirling in the air in some kind of tempest of despair.  There were no people on the street, just our odd trio (assuming this gentleman even arose from our plane of reality).

If nothing else, it seemed clear that we were meant to proceed no further, as surely this was the abyss and we were staring into it in stunned and reverent silence.  "Hey," he said to me in a hushed tone, appropriate for the level of "what the hell is happening right now" that we were experiencing.  "Isn't that the place?"  We both turned to see the restaurant (how had we missed it?) and hurriedly, without comment or any looks backward, crossed the street, entered and took a seat at the bar.

"I don't have any cash" he said, before I could even feel for a hook to hang my purse.  I looked out the window and the man was still there.

So... this was really happening.

Next Up: Part II in which this date becomes somewhat less surreal, but maybe a little more terrible.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Before we go on...

So... let me take this opportunity to explain a few things about myself, this date and why I started writing it all down in the first place.  I am, like many of my brethren (you know who you are), the result of a terrifying mixture of John Hughes movies, Smiths' lyrics, Nikki Sixx hair styles, black nail polish and lots of meals eaten in parking lots watching boys in Op Ivy t-shirts fall down trying to ollie.  I grew into a tall, goofball red head with bizarre fashion sense and a taste for all things lost and lonely. I believe strongly that I am funny and nice and sensitive but know I am rarely all 3 at the same time.  I have a touch and go relationship with reality and most feelings (I mean I feel all kinds of stuff, but I don't really understand anything) and more or less deal with the world through sarcasm and a lot of head nodding.  I am also good at fixing things.

I know, I know... I sound like pretty much everyone's dream girl and yes, I am super easy to date (please note: hint of sarcasm).  As much as it fills my heart with deep fear and nausea, I actually go on lots of dates and not all of them are terrible (but, of course, those are the ones that make the best stories).  Just ask my friends at work who have to hear about all of them - usually more than once - through cubicle walls and over lunches where they may have actually wanted to say something about something else.  Guess what?  Totes not happening - my date story takes precedence (as if!).  My friends are patient and indulgent, but also curious and ready to laugh at/ with me to ease the pain.  I almost always enjoy this telling more than the terrible dates themselves - mostly because I am making people laugh, and they, in turn, are making me feel better about this perceived life failure and we are making it this funny thing we do together rather than, you know, my life. 

Sigh... so after monopolizing many conversations and traumatizing unsuspecting passersby, people started suggesting perhaps a blog would just be easier for everyone since clearly I wasn't going to stop dating (like, ever) and it was amusing, but getting inconvenient.  However, it wasn't until I spun the tale of this illustrious date with Alex that my public began to demand that I document this whole situation online because it was too bizarre not to, and thus this blog was born (and named).  I wrote the first entry on the train on the way to rehearsal, the second one on the way home from rehearsal that same night.  It's fun so far.  Some people like it, some people don't like it, i dunno... maybe I'll keep writing it?  My aunt (who is 76) thinks it awesome - so that might be enough reason right there. 

In the interest of clarity, I feel I should explain that I am sure there is no way I am a complete non-factor in the outcome of my dates.  It's sincerely frightening to imagine that there is something in me that brings out this behavior in others, but I can't be totally without fault here.  Unless these things just sort of happen to me because I was meant to document this specific sub-strata of nut ball dating experiences...  I mean, I guess that could be my calling.  I don't know (clearly).  I'm just here for the free pens.  And also the criticism.

Thanks for reading.  I hope I will keep going.  It makes me happy.  Later sk8ers : )

Part III

I blinked my eyes and the crows were gone.  I scanned the trees, turning myself around in a circle in the middle of Brattle Street but did not see any birds at all, anywhere.  Had Alex successfully driven me to hallucinate... was it the alum in the matcha... had he poisoned me or maybe he was astral projecting up into the branches as a whole murder of crows (most probable).  I thought "I really should just start walking to the train.  I kinda doubt he would follow me" but I did not do that.  I just stood there with my hands in my pockets looking around.

"Hey!  Yoo hoo... it's open!"  He didn't open my door for me, but really at this point it would have just delayed the date's ending which I was wishing for with increasing amounts of urgency so that was fine.  I made a mental note that "yoo hoo" was kind of a poor choice, but also was gradually accepting that he may be insane, so maybe a wash?  The car is dirty inside, the back seat is full of pieces of fabric that I can only assume are the tattered clothes of his hapless victims.  He wore driving gloves, no radio, complained a lot about how cold it was, announced we had to get gas ASAP and he needed to find (wait for it...) a bathroom.

He wanted to use his GPS, but that was not happening since it would entail me giving him my address.  I was able to convince him it was a straight shot down Storrow Drive.  I tried to give more details... he started to glaze over at  "Leverett Connector" - but I assured him the force was strong with me and we would be fine.  He didn't laugh.  I had definitely stopped caring.  This was before he tried to go the wrong way down Memorial Drive and also had a little trouble committing to a lane...sigh. 

Just for the record, I am not afraid of people who can't drive.  Well, ok, actually I am a little afraid of people who can't drive.  I am also not always a trusting passenger, but he was truly dangerous on the road.  Lots of beeping.  So that was fun for me too.  We crossed over from Storrow to Memorial Drive and sat between the neon Shell sign and the neon Mobil sign (while the Citgo sign kinda just supervised from above).  The light turned green and then red again and we remained poised between the two options.  I looked to Alex for a hint of his preference, but his face was stone and his eyes set straight ahead, dead center, revealing no leanings in either direction.  I looked straight ahead as well and meekly suggested "they are both the same price, maybe the Mobil is easier to pull into?" 

"Oh, really?  Is it?" (no idea on that one, don't care).

So Mobil it was!  As he is gassing up he leaves the car running, inspiring a little speech about how it's a "total myth" that that is at all dangerous and he knows cuz he pumped gas for 2 months in 1993.  He also mentions he was robbed at knife point by 2 men during these 2 months and was fired as the station owners thought he stole the money and lied about it.  Now... historically, I am not great at doing appropriate things or talking about normal stuff on first dates, but really, I mean - come on!  Let us not forget, this guy is supposed to be a professional.  He gives seminars on love and intimacy and relationships.  He literally teaches people how to do this.  Like, for money.  Like, that is his main job.  I mean, how can that be?

But I digress.  The sense of hopelessness and defeat had grown so profound at this point, I just muttered something about wasting gas and then starting poking myself in the eye with a bobby pin I had found in my pocket.

Without explanation (don't gas stations have bathrooms?) we then drove to the Whole Foods for him to use the bathroom.  As I sat in the freezing car with my dead cell phone and felt the true empty parking lot level winter silence, I regretted not going in with him.  I could have sampled verbena soy soaps and cruelty free malomars or some other glorious version of "not sitting in the car alone" but I had not chosen wisely.  It was 9 minutes before he returned and just for the record he did not bring me a delightful vegan treat of any kind.  I am not vegan but it seemed like the thing to want... I mean we were in Cambridge after all?  Shut up.


He wanted to go to Mike's for cannoli (he only asked me twice and I told him I didn't really like cannoli, but we could definitely go if he wanted - so I can accept that this is my fault).  I let him know there would be no parking.  He was sure there would be parking ("it's a Sunday!" he proclaimed with a scoff).  I didn't really protest as my soul had already been taken from me and all I could think about was my dead phone and if I would ever get home in time to call Gibb and relay all this to another human being.  We double parked, he asked me one more time if I wanted a cannoli (dude, seriously?) and then ran in (more alone time in his car - sweet!).  He came right back out immediately, I rolled down the window and handed him a $5 (he swore he had been there dozens of times... but forgot they were kinda famously cash only...right).  He got his cannoli and we were now, at long last, on the way to all of this being over.  As we rolled at a painful petty pace down Prince Street and I could almost see my apartment arch and then - wait, what, what are you doing - is there a parking spot?  No no no. Nooo, this is not happening.  Please, for the love of God!

"Hey, I'll just pull over here so we can say goodnight."


Car stops, I tie my scarf up tight around my chin and thank him for the date. He removes his seat belt and turns toward me smiling that soulless smile of dubious intent.  I get a little wide eyed (not sure why in retrospect).  I mean, in what way was I not expecting this, exactly?  He is leaning into me slowly and I am backing away slowly to match.  We are doing this weird end of the date dance that I was hoping to avoid, but I guess is sort of the prickly icing on the awkward, awful, dry homemade cake that has been our date.  We end up with my back to his passenger side door and him almost on all fours advancing toward me.  Now his face is about 4 inches from mine and his eyes are totally crazy and focused directly on my 3rd eye.  An elderly woman walks by on the sidewalk and I stare out the window at her as if to whisper "do you see thissss?  Explain to me how this is happening?"  I realize I am holding my hands out in front of me like a T-Rex, kind of helplessly ready to swat away insects or birds or something, but likely no match for Alex's crazy face, which presently, is very much in mine.

I am just about ready to fumble for the car door latch behind me and, although that most certainly would mean tumbling out of the car backwards into a snowbank, is feeling like the winning choice.  Before I can make my move, he advances further, pushing my T-Rex hands up under my chin.  It seemed like 30 minutes we spent here in limbo (was probably 30 seconds) until he finally raised one hand next to his face and said the following, in a hushed, ferocious tone and ending with clenched teeth:

"I'm a wolf.  Rawr!"

Not making this up.  Not even sure I could.  This is what he said.  That is how he said it.  There was kind of a biting the air kind of move at the end... I don't know, don't make me re-live it. 

There have not been many times in my life in which I legit have nothing to say.  It's all a little hazy (don't forget, I still hadn't eaten).  I think I nodded gravely... maybe just to prevent him from saying it again?  He continued the eye contact but pulled away, thankfully.  I somehow got out of his car and walked to my apartment.  I closed the door behind me and never looked back.  Except, I guess, to write this very long 3 part blog and name it after this date.  Yah, except for that part, I super totally never looked back : ).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Part II

When Alex emerged into the half empty hot chocolate house, I thought perhaps my desperate repartee with the barista would carry over into some kind of warm, funny situation with us and this other person who is not on the date being like the buffer and telling us how adorable we were and things like that?  My unrealistic hope was that it might (possibly?) dispel some tension, erase the hair fondling episode, give us a fresh start?  This was, however predictably, not how it was to go down.

I don't know what happened in the bathroom.  I probably don't want to know what happened in the bathroom.  Now that I think about it, Alex spent at least 5 minutes in 3 different bathrooms during our 3 hour date.  I guess he could have a small bladder (so much tea and hot chocolate)... but I'm going with Stuart Smalley daily affirmation style pep talks (the alternative being drug use... which is less funny).  If only because I can picture it in my mind... the pointing at his own reflection, the two fingers to his eyes and back at his reflection... the smoothing of the eyebrows.  Yes, this is story I am going with... but I digress. 

Alex stomped out from the back of the place and was clearly in no mood for barista chat, buffers, being adorable or, frankly, any of that nonsense. The man was all bidness as he put on his winter gloves with painted on grip and suggested we go for a walk, ignoring the barista, with whom I then exchanged longing looks as Alex and I tumbled out into the sullen winter street.  Burt the Barista waved goodbye, eyebrows arched as if to say "better you than me dolly" (just cuz that's the kinda shit Burt would say).  (Ok, I don't know that his name was Burt... but technically I don't know that it wasn't. So shut up about it already, geez.)

As we walked I remarked that the pattern on his gloves strangely reminded me of the cover of the book Neuromancer.  Blank look result so I explained it in the style of Lucy Arnaz making excuses for her hilarious but destructive hijinxical adventures with Ethel to Ricky.  I thought it was kind of awesome.  He grew visibly bored (backfire!).  I steered the conversation back to him - ship was righted. In the spirit of brevity the rest of the walk was like this:

Homeless guy asks for change
Alex is dismissive and rude
Alex tells story to explain his position (story involved unsolicited bagels and Dunkin Donut cards
and rented lighters and quarters and alleyways and drugs - so, you know, good times basically)
I remain silent - he asks "what are you thinking"
I tell him what I am thinking
More silence
I start to not enjoy feeling of imminent crash and burn of date and start trying
harder to make it not suck quite so hard
I ask him to tell me about his worst dating experiences (hoping for some shared light hearted pain, some compassion, some laughs... to turn it all around possibly?)
He complains about girls claiming they are attractive and then not being attractive and other perceived transgressions against humanity (ah the humanity!)
I laugh and tell him about guys showing up drunk and/ or high and
hitting on other girls (and/ or my mom)
Additional silence
I take photo of the Harvard Lampoon building momentarily forgetting he is there (oops - not a proud moment - get your head back in the game kid!)
We circle back towards Grendel's Den...
I start to feel something resembling happy until I remember there is no way we are going there. Dammit.

We arrive at Peet's Coffee.  Alex goes to the bathroom again.  I pay for the drinks.  I wait for the drinks.  I bring the drinks to table.  I wait some more.  My phone battery dies.  I start staring out the window, which points directly at the basement of Grendel's.  The golden glow being cast into the street is almost cruel.  Chin in hand, I close my eyes just for a second and imagine the scene inside.  I can hear the clink of glassware and the raucous laughter of co-eds and hipsters.  I imagine pressing my ear to the glass... is that Beck singing about what now?  A Devil's Haircut?  Oh you, Beck you.  Aww... look, the waiter just brought us a mistake from the bar... and you know what, I would love to try the fondue...

Heeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy Theeeeeeeeeeerrrrrre.  What the, what now??  I am jarred from my enchanted dream state by this unpleasant vibration way too close to my ear.  Alex has emerged and now we are on personality number 3 (no worries though, it's just as creepy as 1 and 2, but now it wants to flirt and also, possibly, make my ear itchy).  We talk more and in no time he has revealed to me a glorious sampling of his paranormal experiences.  Apparently he has astral projected (many times) and also, other beings have reached out to him and massaged his third eye while he lay alone in bed.  The latter he illustrated to me by reaching across the table and pushing his finger between my eyes in a circular motion for much longer than necessary.  I don't even know how you would determine how long would qualify as "necessary," but I can tell you with confidence that this was definitely way longer (like, way longer).  I finally knocked his hand away in a sort of relaxed "wax off" move that I imagine would have made Mr. Miyagi proud - although truthfully, my execution had about as much flair as Jennifer Anniston could muster for her Chotchke's uniform.  I would like to continue to make wildly cheezy movie references (because it makes me happy and pleased with myself) but I recognize you guys have lives to lead, so I will carry on presently.

The 3rd eye massage notwithstanding... I felt less disturbed by the astral projection claim itself than I did by the idea that he thought it was just the thing to talk about with me after knowing me for 2 hours.  I think it might be cool if you believe you had that experience (although honestly, maybe not if you had met this dude), but I'm not sure I think it's at all that cool that you felt it was appropriate to tell me about it at this juncture.  Maybe that's more about me - who can say?  Regardless, I was sort of getting the unstable vibe and contemplating whether my personal safety should begin to play a role in future decision making (I decided it should, in fact, not).  When he asked (again) "what are you thinking" (in a voice that can only be referred to as "sleepy stalker") this time it was a quick "nothing".  Alex chose this ill fated moment to reach out and take my hand.  I froze.  He asked me if I was a "touchy person".  I said "why, do you think I am not?" (thinking to myself, might you be commenting on my complete paralysis or is it my lifeless, rotting Mackeral of a hand?) but I did not say that.  I remained still, said nothing and scanned for the exits.  He said "you don't seem to be, no" and I said "I guess I am sometimes... but now is not one of those times."  I thought this was kind of a lame response with maybe a dash of mean... but apparently it was a come on, because Alex took this opportunity to pick up my hand and kiss it.  Like, with his lips. Like with his lips on my hand.  My hand, in his hands.  No no no no no no no no to the no of no to the not wanting this how to stop it gahhhhhhhhhhh.

My brow furrowed deeply and I tried to wriggle without much success.  I took a sip of my neglected matcha to avoid eye contact, which now, sadly, tasted like cold green chalk laced with Alum so I (naturally) immediately choked and more or less spit it all over the table because really... what else would I do?   I mean, I am obviously a huge coward who is unable to communicate simple ideas with any degree of honestly or virtue.  If I wasn't me, I would be appalled.  But as things stand I have to root for the underdog (which I believe to be me, of course).  I mean, if you were asking yourself "how could this get worse?" - well, you might not know me that well, frankly.  He continued to stare at me, smiling (eery shudder...) until I quietly said "maybe a towel please, Alex?"  At that he reluctantly released my hand and returned with a stack of bev naps.  To his credit he did help me clean the table and did not touch me again for the next 20 minutes.  So there was that. 

I put on my coat and suggested we call it a night.  He protested it was early.  I said I needed to be home by 10 (in retrospect I should have faked a seizure, but you know, hindsight is 20/20).  He then, in an unexpected move, invited me to come to his place to listen to records.  I was surprised (for obvious reasons) and considered asking him if he was on the same date I was but instead, I found myself laughing out loud (probably a little too loud) and looking around the coffee shop like maybe he was talking to someone else (you know, for comic effect).  When my eyes stopped rolling around in my head and returned to him he was still looking at me wide eyed and expectantly so, wiping the residual matcha spittle from my chin I sputtered something like "um... I don't, I would not, um... thanks but I'm not going to go to your house Alex.  Maybe you could just walk me to the train?" 

"Oh, let me give you a ride home."

"Um... really I don't, well, I guess, ok, thanks."

I'm not sure if this actually happened or not - but I could have sworn at that very moment as we left Peet's I caught, in the very corner of my peripheral vision, a murder of crows alighting in an orderly row upon the branches of a nearby tree.  I don't write that entirely because I have always wanted a reason to write "murder of crows" (although that is truthfully mostly the reason). 

Next Up... Part III - Ride Home: The Final Chapter

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Part I

For the single me, every potential date starts out as a promise of some kind.  Initial conversations are filled with ambiguous flirting (ooh, he is so clever with those double entendres!) and glimpses of personalities (ooh, ooh, he's quoting the Pogues!) that may entice or be cause for superficial concern (ooh, bummer, he totally can't spell).  All in all, however, it is relatively low risk.  After all - you don't know this person so you try to reserve judgement.  There are varying degrees of investment (both emotional and financial) but overall, you just slap on some lip gloss, grab your whistle and hope for the best!  In some cases that could mean you might have amazing chemistry and spend all night talking whilst watching the sunrise on a white sandy beach or maybe just that he doesn't push you out of his car into a snowbank in a parking lot in Mission Hill with no cell phone in a blizzard.  The world is your oyster and rather than banking on the pearl, the experienced dater is just hoping for a minimum of sand and perhaps (if possible) to avoid paralytic shellfish poisoning.

In this particular instance, the prospective date was named Alex (not really, but we must protect the somewhat innocent here).  Alex was 36, had spikey blond hair, a winning smile and was self employed (cool, right?).  He earned his duckets giving seminars for people who were bereft of social skills and found themselves unable to connect effectively with other people, professionally and in the dating world.  Our phone conversations were warm and tempered, polite and mature.  He asked me for a date as if I was going to say no, which was charming and I thought, although he was different from any other man I had ever dated, I should give him a chance and see what would happen.

Alex didn't drink (which he had told me) and had suggested we go for tea or hot chocolate.  He asked me three times if I liked hot chocolate over the week preceding the date.  Each time I said not really, but I liked tea.  When he actually appeared for our date and asked me for the fourth time, I assumed I must have been giving the wrong answer and just said "sure" so off we went for hot chocolate extravaganza!

From the get he was the hands on type.  Guiding me across the street and onto the sidewalk by the small of my back.  Hand on my arm, quick pat on the head.   Kinda weird, but ok, maybe sort of chivalrous or something?  En route to hot chocolates we talked again about his not drinking and I learned that not only did he not drink but he hated bars.  This was going to be a little limiting for our evening I thought - but we can be creative and figure it out.  I had been with boyfriends who didn't really drink before, but most of them were not opposed to being in a bar - but it was becoming clear that Alex had some serious issues with alcohol (he complained an ex girlfriend liked to have a glass of wine with dinner and he had to taste it on her when he kissed her).  Flags had been raised, but we bravely sauntered forth into the date, unsure of what would happen next (although I was pretty sure it would involve the brightly lit consumption of hot gooey chocolate sauce - ew).

So we are drinking our $4 hot chocolate, things are going along ok... and then the hair stroking begins.  His eyes are locked on mine and he is smiling at me (right at me people!) in a way that reminded me of about 30 seconds into a family picture where your grandfather can't figure out the camera and everyone's pose is starting to crumble a little?  Forced with a dash of bizarre and a whole underpainting of uncomfortable learnt behavior.  My reaction to this grimacey thing and to him stroking the hair on both sides of my head is to freeze completely and look up at his hands helplessly like I can Carrie them away with my telekinetic powers.  No dice.  I withdraw from him so gradually and slowly that I believe it is not perceptible until he cannot reach me any longer and the nightmare ends.  My breathing resumes at a normal pace.  I notice sweat beading on my upper lip.

More uncomfortable stalling type things go on.  I spend 10 minutes at least looking for a picture to show him of my little sister on my phone.  He seems annoyed. I don't really care, although the general mood of the date has definitively gone borderline which is less fun.  I'm getting a very strong "this isn't working out" vibe, and yet he is still smiling, like, a lot... and I start to realize that he is weird.  I mean, to be fair, I am super weird, but he is weird in a way I don't like or get.  He excuses himself to go to the bathroom.  I make small talk with the barista and we are laughing and joking within seconds.  It is so much more amusing than the entirety of my date with Alex that I can feel the muscles in my neck realizing.  The barista does not touch my hair but does ask me if I am ok.  I consider asking him for a hug.  Alex is in the bathroom for about 5 minutes.  I feel vaguely ill.  I think about calling Gibb.

It's 6:45pm.