she won't notice that all you have in your cupboards are Ramen noodles.
So, fine, you're just not a well-stocked fridge kind of guy. If
she likes you, she won't really care. Thought perhaps you should've
cleaned the house a little, you realize while lifting a large dustball
off the floor.
there's still ten minutes till she arrives. You race around the
room and retrieve seven more dustballs, a crunchy used napkin, and
a Popsicle stick. Then you survey the terrain; foldout futon sofa,
two straight-back chairs from your parents' old bridge table, a
bunch of books in milk crates, and your TV. All right, you think,
last chance to set a mood. You feel awkward about traditional romantic
things such as dimmed light, soft music, and candles, but you do
want her to think you're smooth. Well, you want this date to stay
in the house, more importantly, since you're kind of low on cash
this week. All those comic books add up after a while.
you'll just light one candle and leave on the overhead light, that's
not too obvious. You take the candle, a gift from an ex, out of
the closet. Isn't it scented, cinnamon or apple pie? You smell it
and can't tell. Maybe it's cinnamon apple pie. That should set a
safe, homey kind of scene and make her want to stay in. Yes, and
with that bottle of wine you have from that party three months ago,
you should be all set.
date's a tough one. You didn't kiss her on the first because she
hugged you and then stepped back. What does it means when girls
do that? Is it like, I want to get physical with you so here's a
hug, or I don't want you to kiss me so I'll hug you and that's it?
All you know is, it throws you off. You were hoping to kiss her,
just a short one to see her response. Now you'll have to spend this
whole night looking for signs she wants you to make a move. Or maybe
you'll just jump in; see how it feels at the time, whatever.
wearing the same shirt you wore yesterday because your coworkers
complimented it. Okay so you forgot to wash it, but you showered
this morning. Besides, if she gets that close to you she probably
likes you enough not to get turned off. You hate wearing nice clothes
and are looking forward to the sweatpants-stage of the relationship.
It's been a while since you've had anything serious, and round-the-clock
sweatpants-wearing is something to look forward to.
rings and you have not lit the candle. "Meghan?" you call.
sec!" You scamper to find the matches in your kitchen drawer, and
then light the candle. Another Popsicle stick catches your eye,
on the floor next to the remote control, so you race it over to
the garbage. Then you pray quietly, "Please God let me get some,"
and open the door.
looks even better than you remembered. And she's showing cleavage,
a good sign. You say, "Hi, you look terrific!"
You love that. "Thanks. Nice shirt."
You notice she's wearing a fancy dress, which is cool but it makes
it seem like she's expecting a night out. Hmm. You close the door.
"Can I interest you in some wine?" you ask, feeling smooth.
what do you have?"
you think. She knows wine. "Um, it's
Cabernet Sauvignon?" You
don't know which parts are important to tell her. The brand? The
date? The date is this year, and you heard that old ones are the
to be waiting for more but you don't know what to say, so you add,
"How bad can it be?"
says, "Sure!" and sits down on the sofa. A good start to your plan
of staying in. She looks around and says, "Nice place you have."
No one has ever said that except that one guy you let pass out on
your sofa after a party. "Thanks so much. Yeah, I call it home.
Got my TV and futon, don't need much more."
her the wine, then sit down near her and say, "Cheers." Unoriginal,
but you're not the kind of guy who can get away with "To a romantic
evening" or some other bullshit. That's for guys on TV shows who
wear stuff in their hair, own tuxedos and have a bed that unfolds
out of the wall.
"So what would you like to do tonight?"
know how to tell her you think this is what you are doing. It hits
you that the two of you might have talked about going out to dinner,
but you hope that's not true. "Um, I
" Your phone rings, the
answering machine message plays, and the caller hangs up. This has
been happening ever since your breakup with Siobhan. You will never
go out with a drama queen again. You smile at your date.
with her pearl necklace. Girls who wear pearls usually expect fancy
dinners. In your life experience this has often been the case. "So,
how was your week?"
cool," you say. "I worked my usual shifts at Kinko's, you know,
I mean sometimes people freak if there's a smudge on their paper,
whatever, but I try to be nice about it. Usually. And I wrote a
song this week. Um
Spoke to my brother, he's in trouble again."
You don't yet know what she cares about.
you don't have lipstick on your teeth and wish you hadn't forgotten
your pocket mirror. His building is a little tackier than you'd
hoped for, but he is really cute and maybe this is just his slumming
period. Lately you have been trying to be more "deep" and not so
focused on whether a guy has a fancy house, but so far you've gone
on three dates with guys who live in crappy walkups and it's just
not feeling right.
like he might be wanting a stay-in night, which you think is too
fast on a second date. He's probably used to those bohemian arty
girls who have theories on why sex is meaningless or something.
Plus do you really want to sit on this too-soft futon all night?
You saved room for dinner and that's what you're expecting. Not
to mention you didn't put on this great dress and the pearls grandmother
gave you to sit around someone's apartment. Still you don't want
him to think you're fussy. Maybe he'll get hungry and suggest dinner
soon. He's telling you about his week and you're trying to find
a commonality, because you do have a weakness for guys with that
sandy-colored hair that falls in their eyes.
"What kind of music are you into?" You notice the lit candle next
to him and realize he is definitely planning a stay-in evening.
He is a
musician and looks a lot hipper than you, so you try to sound on
top of things. "I like techno
You don't really know what you mean, but hope he'll just let it
you know, I never really remember the names, I just know I like
it when I hear it." You're not really lying. There are tons of painters
you like whose names you don't remember either. So there. "I'd love
to hear some of your favorite stuff?"
a minute and pulls out a CD. "This is a bunch of guys from Seattle
called Gumball Machine. Right now their bass player is in the hospital
on a drug OD thing but
so anyway my favorite song is called
'Caged Persona,' they wrote it like in five minutes one night or
something like that. Here goes."
play and it sounds like pure noise. You wonder if you are getting
old. You sit there with a forced pleasant smile, hoping he says
something. After what must be a full minute, he says, "Innovative
stuff, don't you think?"
"Yeah," you say, "I don't really know
what to make of it."
"They sort of defy definition."
with it. "Yeah! It's like, they don't remind me of anyone else?"
Totally unique. It took me a while to get into them
sort of abrasive but they grow on you."
he found them abrasive at first makes you think maybe you do have
stuff in common. "Yeah, I can see that. So
do you want to take
a walk, get some dinner or something?"
"Oh, ya know, I actually already ate."
if maybe he thinks you want an indoor date with fool-around potential
because you'd hugged him last time. Maybe he thinks you're a fast
mover. Or, perhaps he thought your hug meant "let's be friends,"
and friends don't take each other out to dinner; they grab a slice
of pizza. And really the reason you hugged him was because you find
first-date kisses so awkward that you figured you'd avoid the whole
potential for that by just hugging him and ending the night at that.
Maybe you are thinking too much? You say, "Oh." Now you're embarrassed
about being hungry, though you don't know why. And you're almost
positive the two of you had talked about getting dinner. "Well.
Do you have anything
maybe I should
" You are about to
suggest running out and getting a sandwich for yourself; you feel
uncomfortable asking him to feed you.
go grab a slice, how's that?"
not "being taken out," in fact it's the ultimate "not being taken
out." But you don't want to sound like a princess. "Sure, pizza.
fifteen dollars, you think as you order a large pie. And of course
she had to get mushrooms. You would have asked her to chip in but
you can tell she expects to be taken out. Certain girls just have
that "buy me stuff" air about them.
is pretty. Not too much makeup, and on the slim side without being
skinny. It's already her second slice and she hasn't said a word
about getting fat from it or some other diety thing girls always
say. So that's good. Your last girlfriend always asked you if she
was fat and when you'd say, "Would I be with you if you were fat?"
she'd get really upset. You did not understand this.
"So how was your work day?"
"Superproductive. We just got this big baby food account everyone's
excited about, which means long hours but I kinda get juiced from
that, you know, when you really just have to sink in to something
and give it all you've got."
not understand people who get off on working late. "Yeah, sometimes
I stay up late writing music. I'll even miss my favorite TV show
or a party if I'm into it."
sure, I've totally cancelled dates with friends if I'm at home and
I get an idea for one of our accounts."
Like, you're just
in your space?" Maybe this is going to work
out. Maybe you are connecting. Plus it means she'll be independent
and not all clingy since she works a lot. You hate when someone
needs to be with you all the time. But then, you also hate when
you need someone and they're not around. So maybe she works too
much? "Have you always wanted to write advertising stuff?"
I was little I wanted to be a trapeze artist."
impractical. Though sometimes I like to dream
What about your job at the copy shop?"
know how to make your job sound interesting, because it's not. You
briefly wonder if you can create a speech on how it's very important
to be part of the work force and that somebody has to do what are
considered menial tasks, to keep the whole society running. But
you had tried to work this once before and felt ridiculous. "I mean,
you know. Whatever supports me on my path." You are about to tell
her how you won the third grade talent show for your guitar rendition
of Hendrix's "Purple Haze," but realize you already worked that
on the first date.
him tell you the story about getting backstage at a Stones concert
when he was fifteen even though he told you already because you
are dislodging a piece of mushroom from your tooth. It's great that
this guy has a passion, but you need to know things like, if you
keep going out, will he take you to cultural events and lectures?
Will the meal plan include non-pizza items? Perhaps he will take
you to rock concerts, however, which you might like. You went to
one when you were seventeen and hated it, but maybe you've changed.
"Do you like lectures and seminars and stuff?"
he says, "I went to one recently on science fiction in movies and
You love science fiction, and you know that guys value this because
it's a rare quality in a girl. You wouldn't take it so far as to
go to a Star Trek convention and dress up like Uhuru, but it's definitely
one of your interests.
really educational." He goes on to tell you the big-name authors
that were on the panel, and you're getting happier. He then asks
you your feelings on Philip K Dick, who you dislike and so does
he, and Robert Heinlein who you like and so does he. This is great.
You could keep talking to him forever, except it's noisy in here
and you really want to be out on the town. "So you want to find
a nice jazz club or something?"
out the window and says, "Well, it's kinda raining now. Wanna go
hang out at my place?"
need to let him know it's hands off, but you agree. Well, it's maybe
hands off. You'll see how you feel when you get there. This pizza
isn't really so bad, come to think of it. "Sure, that'd be nice."
thankful for the rain. This girl is growing on you, and it's cool
that she has a real job that she's into. You need to be around people
with drive, maybe. You get to your place and say, "So, wanna listen
to more music? Why don't you choose something you like?"
through your selection and selects an Elton John CD. You secretly
like Elton John; he's a freakin' genius, but you know he's not considered
trendy and edgy so you don't talk about it. Except that some people
know about how Axl Rose says he loves Elton John, so you can say
it around people who know that fact, but not around people who don't.
She sits far enough away from you that you need to strategize how
to put the moves on her. The song "Daniel" comes on and she says,
"God, this song always makes me sad."
You shift closer to her, but still not close enough to do anything.
when he goes, 'Your eyes have died, but you see more than I.' It's
closer once more, as quietly as possible so as not to ruin the tender
moment. You put a hand on her shoulder and say in what you hope
is a soothing tone, "I know, like when he says, 'Can you still feel
"Oh, I know, I know."
so close now that if she just turns her face you can kiss her on
He is so
close that if you turn your head it will be kiss time. You do want
him to kiss you, you've decided, but the moment right before makes
you squeamish. Still, it will only last a second and you've survived
it before. Okay, at the count of three, you will turn your head
to face him. One, two, three. You turn your head.
mouth is on yours and his tongue is instantly in there, just sitting
like a big lump of food. Passive and heavy like that hippie guy
last month. You don't get the point of this. What are you supposed
to do: Let your tongue sit too, or are you supposed to take charge?
Kissing is the most important part of all the sex stuff so you're
not sure where this will go.
pick up when he starts running his fingers through your hair. You
used a particularly pricey conditioner just in case this was to
happen. He's good at the hair stuff. Kind of makes up for the kissing.
rings and it's a woman's voice: "Hi, Alex." He stops kissing you.
"I was just wondering what you were up to
.I'll be home all
"Who was that?" hoping it's not to possessive.
I mean, my ex-girlfriend. I don't think she knows it's over."
if maybe it isn't. What if you're just his rebound? Or worse, the
girl he sees before getting back together with the person he just
broke up with? "Do you want to call her back?"
He leans in and keeps kissing you, which feels rocky for the first
few seconds due to the interruption, but he's so good at the hair-petting.
Then somehow a hair makes its way between your mouths. How does
this happen? You consider being blunt and saying, "Let's get rid
of this hair," or not saying anything and just yanking it away,
and then you notice him actively transferring the hair into your
mouth. Did he really just do that? And it's no accident, it really
seems like he sensed the presence of a hair and decided, Better
in her mouth than mine. You stop and say, "There is a hair in my
wasn't deliberate. You are trying to be more trusting.
embarrassing when Siobhan called. You hope it won't mess things
up. Kissing this girl is really nice, though you do feel bad about
accidentally moving that hair into her mouth. Still, you've never
been big on kissing and hopefully she isn't either. The problem
is you're really tired today and you want to end the night without
being rude. You look at her and say, "I'm having a really good time.
I wish I were more awake."
like that wasn't a good word choice. "I mean, I was up early and
I need to turn in."
a few more words and get her coat. You kiss her goodnight and say,
"I'll call you." You are not certain you will, though you probably
will; it's just that this is your default date-ender.
You can't tell if she wants you to.
back on your sofa and stare at the ceiling. You will probably call
her. But at the same time, you know Siobhan is sitting home right
now wanting you to call. It'd be easy to get back together. It wasn't
perfect, but at least she knows you and can put up with a certain
amount of your stuff. This girl might put up with all of it or none
of it. Meeting new people is a drag.
sleep on it.
driver is playing dance music, which is a great way to end the night.
You know you will wait for him to call you these next few days,
though you're not completely sure you want to date him again. It's
just that you feel so bad if the guy doesn't call.
he's not a great kisser and his house is shameful, he had other
fun qualities. Still, that phone call from his ex, not a good sign.
home and check your Filofax for the next week. Spinning class Monday,
Wednesday and Friday; dinner with Marisa at Sarabeth's Kitchen Thursday;
well you've got Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday open in case he calls.
Just in case. And you will say yes if he calls you. Probably.