Well, it finally happened. As unlikely as it seems, I actually went on a date. They say it happens to all of us, sooner or later. Apparently, I'm no exception.
In reality, there are plenty of people who go on a lot of dates. They're like dating machines. I really don't know how they do it. But I know they're out there, because I catch them in the act of being on a date (you know it when you see it). What's more, I've had the opportunity to speak to Real People who go on dates with other Real People. "Yes," they say. "I went on a date." "Did they try to sell you something?" I ask. "No, Silly. It was a date." So there you have it. Straight from the dater's mouth.
And now, here I was, about to join the ranks of the Real People Daters. Every time this meet-someone-you're-attracted-to-and-they're-attracted-back thing happens to me (the total number of which you can count on one hand), I am amazed at how naturally the whole thing progresses. In this case, I met the guy in a coffee shop - it wasn't even online! In spite of the rocky start (a serious understatement), he'd demonstrated enough charm in his emails and on the phone to convince me that it might not be a totally bad idea to go out with him. He didn't, for example, send lewd text messages or ask me would I be willing to wear a French maid's outfit should we suddenly - and soonly - decide to do the wild thing.
Before I go any further, allow me to come clean: at the time that I'm writing this, I have actually been on three dates with this man. I have, in fact, written about the second date, which didn't go particularly well. But all three dates happened in fairly rapid succession, which means that: 1) they were almost like three parts of the same, shall we say, "interesting" experience and, more importantly, 2) I had little opportunity to escape the final act without really leaving this guy high and dry. As you might have figured out, I am only just now able to really reflect on how it all happened. All in all, I'd say that it was nice to feel the little jolt of excitement early on, to know that there was the potential of embarking on a lovely little adventure with someone. But that fizzled out pretty quickly and then exploded like a supernova on date number three.
Oh, the infamous Date Number Three! I'd thought Date Number Two was bad, but was willing to give it one more go - like someone who discovers that the whole box of chocolates is filled with pineapple cream (why do they use this flavor?) but keeps eating just in case there's a good one in there. (Yeah, yeah. I'm sure somebody likes that kind, but, let's be honest with ourselves - that is not a real bon bon filling flavor. Even I'm not that desperate.) Where was I? Oh, yeah. Date Number Three.
On the outside, it sounds pretty fabulous. We were going to the opera - at night, even, which means we were going to wear grown-up nice clothes and have a well-dressed cultured night on the town. Even better, my date actually claimed to like opera. I wasn't dragging him there, forcing him to "clean up real nice" so as not to embarrass me. He even seemed to enjoy wearing his suit. So far, so good. Unfortunately, that's about as far as the good stuff went, all of it merely theoretical.
In reality, it started out with me picking him up. Normally, I would expect him to come get me, but I was okay with this, as he'd just been in (yet another) car accident. My car worked, so I drove. He'd bought the expensive tickets, so the fact that I was driving wasn't really a big deal. Or so I thought.
I arrived at his apartment on time. By "on time," I mean "in time to get to the theatre with plenty of time to spare." See also, "the time we both agreed I'd pick him up." But he wasn't ready. By "not ready," I mean, "he hadn't had a shower, yet, and so still had to do nearly everything to get ready." See also, "boy are we going to be late unless you cut some corners and get into that suit!" Alas, he seemed unprepared to cut any corners. While I wandered about his apartment living room, he chit-chatted from the bedroom - after getting out of the shower - and then gave me The Tour, showing me the fish and the bike and the kitchen (which were all very visible from the center of the floor, actually, precluding the need for a tour).
By the time we left the apartment, the opera was set to start in five minutes. Truly, we weren't very far away; the apartment was uptown, the opera downtown. On a reasonable night, however, the distance required a ten-minute drive by car. By helicopter, it might have been faster, but not by much. And the last I'd checked, he didn't own a helicopter (a good thing, considering how many car accidents he'd been in - add the up and down dimension of aircraft and I think we'd all be in serious trouble with him up there). As we get into the car, I already know that we're going to be late. There's just no way around it.
Lucky for us, the lights were all green, and we covered good ground while going just a little above the speed limit. Not much! Just enough to keep us moving without being too conspicuously hurried, like old people heading for a Costco food sample. I even found a spot directly across the street from the theatre. Plus, it was on the street! No endless spiraling through the parking garage on a Dantean journey designed to punish Late People. The Universe smiled upon us, and we pulled right up to the sidewalk, jumped out, and - whoosh! - stopped to tie his tie.
Are you kidding me? You haven't tied your tie? Indeed, he had not. Apparently, he needed to focus on leaning into the windshield - as if leaning a little bit closer is going to get us there sooner - telling me to speed it up. This was, in fact, what he'd done the entire ten minute ride. Practically sitting on the dashboard by the time we got downtown, he chanted his mantra over and over: "We're going to be late. You need to go faster!" It was totally surreal. I mean, we're on our third date, and he's kvetching like we're some old married couple for whom senility will bring total bliss, should we be lucky enough not to know who the other is, anymore. (I know you know the type, the couples that make you ask, "Why are you still married? You hate each other! Why stay together when there's not even sex to be had?" I guess it will remain one of the great mysteries of life.)
Now that he was fully dressed, it was time to go inside. We ran across the street (jaywalking, I might add, meaning I'd broken untold numbers of laws just to get there fast) and entered the foyer. The opera, of course, had begun. If you've ever been to an opera or other live performance, you'll know that they don't do what for Late People? That's right. They don't let them come inside the theatre. No big surprise there. It's a terrible distraction! So, sitting in somewhat uncomfortable chairs in the foyer, we sat in our nice clothes and watched Act I as it was transmitted on a flat screen television, way up high on the walls over the closed theatre doors.
At this point, I'm still being Little Miss Chipper, saying things like, "It's okay. We'll go in for Acts II and III. We can still see and hear it." And I believed it! Of course, I also understood that I had been on time and, had we gone when I arrived, we'd have made it with time to spare. In spite of his fidgeting and complaining on the ride downtown, up until the moment we were sitting there in the foyer, I was under the mistaken impression that 1) he was kidding about my needing to go faster and 2) he had also fully grasped that he'd been the one who made us late. And then it dawned on me that he really thought that it was my fault. I realized that he wasn't actually joking when he said, once too many times, "If you'd driven faster, we might have made it," not to mention reminding me how expensive opera tickets are. Wow.
Things settled down a bit as Act I progressed. We got some wine and cheese, and he seemed to enjoy himself more. He also didn't stop talking, however, and managed to drive away a couple who'd been sitting in the foyer near us. They went off in search of another flat screen television, glaring over their shoulders as they disappeared around the bend. I figured he felt free to monologue loudly because we weren't inside the theatre. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Act II ended, the doors were thrown open, and the On Time People came flooding out into the foyer for refreshments and long queues for the loo. Since we were already refreshed, we took the opportunity to go through the Forbidden Doors and find our poor lonely, empty seats. "We've arrived!" I thought to myself. "We are no longer seatless losers who can only watch opera on TV. And when the performance resumes, he will stop talking." (Keep in mind that, when I say "talking," I mean "talking without pause, mostly about himself or about things of interest only to himself.") Life was good.
So, we sit down, people come back in, doors close, and the music starts up. But he was still talking. Everyone else had settled down, and he was still conversing at me! The two woman to my left began to give The Look. It starts with The Glance. Just a warning, mind you. Nothing serious. And then it moves into The Glare, with sharp conversations between them. Pretty soon, they're doing The Evil Eye, followed quickly by The Exasperated Evil Eye, which is nearly always coupled with Shared Looks of Utter Incredulity, at which time, they are speechless and no longer able to engage in the hissing conversations about that guy.
I, of course, catch almost all of this out of the corner of my eye. For one thing, they're right next to me. For another, I'm not off on some other planet talking to/for/with/about myself. What I'm actually trying to do is watch the opera. But I can sense - and fully sympathize with- the mounting frustration to my left. In fact, I'd hoped to somehow convey to these ladies that I was no longer mentally on his side, that I had actually jumped ship and wanted to join their team. Unfortunately, there was no way to effectively communicate this without running the risk of further enraging them. Besides, there was no time. For the exchange described above took only a few seconds to run the gamut from Warning Glance to Evil Eye level, at which point it exploded into the Dreaded Shush.
Yes, my date had been "shushed" at the opera. I believed I had managed to dodge the Shush myself by pressing back against my seat, allowing the cursed Shush to fly past. I spent the rest of the time trying to squish myself against the left side of my rigid theatre chair, leaning surreptitiously toward the women, in a show of solidarity with The Shushers. True to form, my date was indignant. His response? "It was only the music. The singing hadn't started yet!" Yeesh.
In spite of it all, I really did enjoy the opera. I wasn't sure that I would, and I'd dreaded the date, overall. I was very glad when it was time to drive back uptown and drop him off. And this time? Pedal to the metal, baby.