“I am looking for a dare-to-be-great situation.” – Lloyd Dobler, “Say Anything”
It started with a message: “It’s pretty obvious that we’re both cool kids. Let’s sit together at the cool kid’s table…” I was a little skeptical, since he shared a name with my ex (and later – I would come to find out – a birthday), but I figure, “This is all happening for a reason. There’s no harm in seeing where it goes – unless he’s a psycho, and then it ends in me dying. Whatevs.”
I decide to dip my toes in anyway, because there’s a cool kids table in the deal, and I’ve never been.
After a few texts over a few days, we meet for coffee. I arrive before he does; I haven’t eaten all day because the thought of food makes me want to hurl, and I am sweating, even though it’s cold both inside and out.He is taller, older and thinner than I, with a noticeable New York accent and a knit cap, like he could have been homeless but chose not to. He’s cute, I think, even though he’s got fucked up teeth – but it’s the accent that makes him interesting.
“What instrument do you play?” he asks me, after learning that I take music lessons.
“Piano and voice,” I say.
“Sing something for me.”
“No, I don’t sing for people.”
“Who’s your favorite pianist?”
“Um. I don’t have one? I mean, I play, but I’m not as good as I used to be.”
“So you sing, but you don’t sing… and you play, but you don’t play well.”
What transpires over the next two hours is somewhat of a blur. I find I can’t answer a question to save my life – there’s a lot of “I don’t know”s on my end, while he word-vomits about Marxism, New York, and gives me “this” or “that” rapid fire questions:
“Office Depot or Home Depot? Blue or Green? Piano or Guitar?”
And I’m just sitting there, like, “BuzzFeed? Is that you? What’s the result of this quiz?”
And then he stands up and tells me he’s gotta go meet a friend for a movie.
And I’m wondering what the fuck just happened. I feel like I just witnessed a card trick – three cards get shuffled repeatedly on a table. Find the Ace.
He walks me to the El, and we hug. I am 99.9% sure there will not be a second date. I am exhausted.
He texts me and tells me I have incredible eyes and that he wants to hear me sing.
The next night, we meet at a bar. I still haven’t eaten anything substantial, but I sip gin & tonics like they are all the nourishment I will ever need in this life. It works, sort of. I’m less skittish. I talk a little bit more. I end up telling him about my three relationships, but am hesitant to tell him about the last one, six years ago, the one with whom he shares a name. I do anyway.
He says, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
I nod in agreement, because society says it’s polite.
I find out where he went to college, why he left New York, about some of his relationships and a thing or two about his family. He shows me that I’m in his phone under “Amanda Very Pretty”. Amanda gin & tonics is loving this.
We sit there for five hours. I laugh so hard at times my nonexistent abs hurt. I remember why people do this. Why they sit at bars – or anywhere, really – and spill their insides to strangers in the hopes that their offerings will be accepted by the other person.
By the time we leave, it is pouring out. He kisses me under the awning, and the hopeless romantic in me can’t help but think of how perfect this all is. Except that he broke his ankle last December, and the rain really bothers it.
He texts me and says that he had a fantastic night and that I am great.
Score one for Amanda gin & tonics. She’s swell.
It’s a full day and a half before I hear from him again, which is worrisome. Maybe Amanda gin & tonics really sucked.
He says that he’s sorry for the delay. I tell him that I didn’t consult a therapist or a psychic. He invites me to his place for Thai food (I don’t accept; I’m still on the if-I-eat-anything-I-might-die diet) and Netflix watching (my kind of Friday night). I happily go. I drink water, this time, and apologize repeatedly for any pauses in conversation. He tells me about matrix reimprinting and other things I’ll have to Google when I get home. He repeats some of the stories he’s already told me, and tells me how much he can’t stand people who Google things. I know, by then, that this will not work; he’s kind of an ass and doesn’t laugh at my jokes. I like him but I don’t think I can trust him without some serious heart-to-hearts. I find, however, that it was a nice reintroduction to dating – if we can call it that.
The next day, he texts and says that he had a good time the night before. The next day, I am at my parents’ house, and mom2 is in a tizzy.
“You have to make these guys work FOR IT, Amanda! YOU WENT TO HIS HOUSE! You’re giving away all your cookies!”
“No cookies were given, mother.”
“You’re just letting him know that you’re available, and that you’ll go to his house whenever.”
“Dude. It’s been a matter of days. We just hung out.”
“Yeah, but what happened to being unavailable?! Going places? Getting flowers? You deserve better. You deserve more.”
“I guess I wasn’t loved enough as a child.”
She goes on to explain that in her day, guys came to the house. They picked girls up. They brought flowers. I explain that in my day, I’m meeting someone online who may be hiding a machete in the bouquet. I’d like them not to see where I live, if possible.
We agree that the truth is somewhere in the middle.
She knows this is not the guy for me (a week ago, I’ll have you know, she was planning a June wedding for me). She knows that I know. I know that this could be the guy, but is more likely a stepping stone to the guy that becomes the guy.
I definitely know that I don’t want to do this forever. It’s exhausting. On the plus side, the “food? what’s that?” diet has its benefits in the weight loss department.
I send a text here and there, but there’s no response. I try calling, to see if he’ll answer, but he doesn’t. My brain tells me to calm the fuck down, because it’s only been a few days – and realistically, we just did three dates in four days (unless you ask my mother, who tells me matter-of-factly, “Those aren’t dates.”).
I also know that when guys want to get a hold of you, they get a hold of you.
So I wait exactly three days from when we last conversed, and ask if he wants to hang out again before I leave town. He says he’s got no time, but wants to know when I’ll be back (really? Will you be penciling me in? Circling my name with red ink?). I wish he’d just be like, “Bye, Felicia,” because that would be easier than “Limbo, Felicia” when all the while I know that I’m not THAT into him. I do like being told how fantastic I am, even though I know it’s code for, “I can sleep with you, now, yes? Should I tell you again that you have incredible eyes? Will that help matters? Just checking.”
So. I guess, in the meantime, Lloyd Dobler and I will still be searching for great situations (can we just take a moment for John Cusack? Because he’s swoon-worthy).