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.