Dateline: "It might be the ridiculously short skirt and knee-high boots…"
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6:22 p.m. – I leave my house to catch the first of two buses I'll need to take; knowing Muni as well as I do, I've left myself about forty-five minutes for this four-mile trip. It's February and cold, but I'm not getting into a car with someone I've never seen before. As I walk to the bus stop, a long black car slows way down as it drives past me. It might be the ridiculously short skirt and knee-high boots. Can cars leer?
7:18 – I get to the club, twelve minutes early, because it's a Friday night and I have to try and snag a table. What was I thinking, suggesting a blind date at The Elbo Room on a Friday night? I think I just wanted to impress this guy (he lives on the Peninsula, poor soul) with the pinnacle of urban hipness. Better not tell him I took the bus.
7:29 – I snag a table after hovering, stalker-like, around tables where the drink level seems to be close to empty. I send a text telling him where I'll be.
7:29 – I get a text back, "Just got here. Looking for parking." I fight the urge to text back, "So I'll see you in about an hour, then?" and instead send a forced cheery, "Okay! See you as soon as you get here!"
7:55 – I fend off the last of five requests to share this table, the only even semi-unoccupied one in the place, it seems. I've told them all I'm waiting for a blind date, and they're very generous about leaving me to it. One pair of women offers to let me send them a signal if things are going badly. My whiskey sour is down to ice, but I can't order another because a) I'd lose my table to the vultures, and b) I'm a big lightweight, and I'm shockingly easy when I've had too much to drink. Better be cautious.
7:59 – I want to invite any one of those groups of people — all of whom seemed like they'd be interesting table companions — to sit with me and drink to the asshat who left himself one minute to find parking in the Mission on a Friday night. But I'm way too curious about what he'll be like, after all of this, and besides, I don't have quite enough balls.
8:03 – He's here finally.
8:03:02 – I can already tell that this is not going to work. I Googled him before this date and confirmed that he really was a grad student, but how could someone with an intelligent job have such a blank look? He offers to catch up to me, drink-wise, and to buy the next round. I catch the eye of one of the guys who was trying to snag my table before, but neither of the helpful women. I tell myself that I'm still new at this blind-dating thing, and I should give it at least an hour before calling it quits. Plus, it's a Friday night, and I'll be damned if I'm going home this early.
8:10 – He's telling me about his studies. I ask him what he likes about what he does, and even stop sipping on my second drink to make a show of listening politely. I understood it at the time, I think, but couldn't tell you one word of it now.
8:19 – I start talking about literature and explain that the book I'm reading now has a classic "unreliable narrator." I can tell from his eyes — the blank look has deepened — that he doesn't have a clue what that means, but he doesn't ask. Nor does he ask what book it is, or volunteer that he's reading anything.
8:21 – He asks what will be his only personal question of the evening, "Are you always so serious?" No, only when I'm counting down the minutes to when I can tell you to blow off, and trying to compose the "thanks, but no thanks" speech in my head. He tries to buy me another drink. I ask him for water.
8:25 – He brings a whiskey sour instead. I don't drink it. He's on his third drink.
8:31 – The club is really full, and people keep bumping up against our table. One guy in a long flannel shirt leans too close and his shirt tail is dangling kind of close to the candle-in-a-jar on our table. I move the candle out of harm's way. My date moves it back to where it was. I force out a fake laugh and move it back out of the way. My date moves it back: "That'll teach him not to stand too close." I manage not to throw my drink in his face.
8:40 – I don't care that it hasn't been an hour. I tell him, "Thanks, but I don't think this is going to work. Have a nice evening." He looks genuinely surprised, and he follows me out of the bar, as the crowd swarms over our liberated table. As we're leaving, he's saying something that over the crowd noise sounds like an offer to go somewhere more quiet. I don't have a chance to respond, because the bouncer's telling us to have a good night. Then a crowd of people separates me from him, which I don't notice until I look around for a cab and don't see him standing anywhere nearby.
8:42 – There's a cab here, but he's still nowhere to be found. I haven't been on that many blind dates yet, but I've never been on one where the guy didn't see me safely to the cab (when I wasn't getting into it with him.) Was he so crushed by his rejection that he had to duck right back into the bar and drown his sorrows? I don't care; I slide eagerly into the cab and silently tell my clitoris, "It's okay, you can come out now. He's gone."