Dateline: "I seem to be winning points simply for being an inept date…"
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5:50 p.m. - I arrive ten minutes before I'm scheduled to pick her up, parking on a different street and waiting in the car for fifteen minutes, so that I may arrive casually late.
6:05 - I arrive casually late. I shoot her a text, the ol' "Hey im outside." She'll "b right out." This already feels like a high-school date, or rather what I assume they'd been like, had I actually gone on any. Drumming on the steering wheel gets the butterflies out.
6:20 - We leave her house, casually late-r. No way we're making it to Providence for the movie. (Yes, we're actually doing dinner and a movie. This afternoon, she spent two hours teasing me about my archetypal American date proposal.) Since college, I've always championed the "movie first" school of dating, judging the guaranteed dinner-conversation topic to be worth the initial "sitting and staring in silence" part.
6:30 - All quiet on the 2006 Ford Fusion front.
6:43 - Despite our making fantastic time (which she finds less exciting than I do) and thereby within range of actually making the movie, she still would rather we eat first.
6:50 - Red Stripe is the best first-date restaurant in Providence. Superb Italian notwithstanding, the draw for me tonight is the crowd noise. The restaurant's acoustics render truly intimate conversation difficult, but awkward silences disappear organically amidst the murmur of other patrons. Relaxed dialog abounds. Score.
7:00 - She has a much more, ahem, "colorful" vocabulary outside the confines of the office.
7:13 - We agree that the mussels are phenomenal, but I don't know if I can trust a gal who doesn't dip her bread in the excess sauce.
7:20 - She's been to four different continents, and loves a village in Spain whose name I've already forgotten. Can I even mention my trip to Canada without embarrassing myself? Is there an interesting way to spin that?
7:25 - My date just used the c-word. She's nothing like my ex or my mother, I think, which then makes me think of both. With a Herculean effort, I thrust those images from my head, but not without completely losing track of what she's talking about. I assume a facade of neutral interest, which soon becomes genuine. She says she finds my listening face "endearing."
7:28 - I seem to be winning points simply for being an inept date. Is there charm in ineptitude? If so, why is she the first woman to find me so damned charming?
7:42 - She's upsettingly interesting. I feel like I'm on a date with the Dos Equis guy. Why the hell is she working at a for-profit company? She should be saving lives in Paraguay. If anyone in Paraguay needs saving. Mental note: research Paraguay.
8:10 - I pass on dessert in the interest of making the movie on time, noting that this does not stop her from ordering crème brûlée. I like her.
8:30 - I pick up the check despite a satisfying amount of protest from my date, and we head off to the Cable Car Cinema to see a documentary of minimal interest to me. The Cable Car is an independent theater appealing to the local hipster market. There are a variety of seats in the place, and she chooses one of the couches. This is slightly upsetting ― as much as I distrust the cleanliness of the standard movie seat, a movie couch is even more suspect.
9:20 - Here goes something. I give an exaggerated fake yawn and stretch, which, given the already-clichéd date, can be played off as a self-deprecating joke if it's not perceived as cute. She gives a laugh of acquiescence. My arm's ingress is completely innocent. Hers is… less so. In short, best date ever.