My date last night, as an event, was in divine equilibrium with my feelings on the subject in general terms.
abruptly ended: check
it all started harmfully enough. i met him through some online correspondence. don’t raise your eyebrow at me. i knew it was a bad idea. i did it anyway. he seemed normal enough. occasionally witty. studied. well-employed. no red freak flag in sight.
and i saw a picture of the gent in question before the meeting. he described himself as “generic-looking.”
he was right.
of course, myself, this fine thursday eve, i looked like someone injected my face full of snot (all of it) so who was i to judge? sunken sallow pallid aparna. out on the town. painting it yellow and green and clear and runny.
anyway, we meet at this bar he suggested. i’m not drinking. he gets a beer. we order food. the menu is pretty much blood-drizzled, not a vegetable in sight. he sees me scouring it, and gets a pained expression on his face. one of many during the evening. “oh yeah, you’re a vegetarian…” “don’t sweat it,” i say brashly.
we order. and sit there. and wait. clearly, this one’s not a talker. i offer up some sacrificial small talk on the table. he takes it, swallows it, and not a response in sight. his teeth are scraggly. dealbreakers are flying through my head right and left. damn women’s magazine surveys. i start feeling the urge to sneeze. and start making sneezy faces. he looks concerned. “we should get some tissues,” he solemnly decides. whatever. i was trying to sneeze. screw tissues. trying to have a primal reflex here, man, don’t throw civilization at me!
we get our food. he picks at it. (warning: please step away from the man dissecting his food like the woman who just had a baby) hrmph. i meanwhile, contrary to my ill humors, start housing my sandwich.
still nothing. he talks softly. like halfway between a gentle priest and a confiding sister. what is he saying. my eyes strain to make out the words in the half-light. my ears strain through mucus to catch some garble. ooooogh. nothing. i ask him about movies. nothing. he doesn’t watch movies in theaters. i ask him about a movie i confirmed he liked through correspondence. he gives me a thumbs up. one of two during the evening.
suddenly, i start craving pie. i start craving pie and listening to the girls next to us comment on the quality of men entering and exiting the bar for happy hour. i can’t help but peek over at the men in question, like a true wench. there ain’t no action at my table. suddenly, he says he likes “life musing”…through the mucus, i translate that to “live music.” he says he goes out a lot. and apparently talks softly in loud places. right. brilliant. i’m on the second half of my sandwich, trying to stuff it into my mouth as quickly as possible (i can’t taste anything due to congestion, so it becomes a purely automatic act).
out of nowhere, this question: “so we have been talking on email, right?” i pause, let a piece of tomato fall out of the side of my mouth. hesitant. “yes.” “ok let me propose a hypothetical question to you.” my fourth sense triggers an impulse to my sixth sense. mucus blocks it.
i proceed unsteadily. “ok…” “ok so if you just saw me on the street, not having any of this background, what are the chances you would pick me out?” um. excuse me. i had mucus in my ears, WHAT?!
repeat. same terrible question. i ask for another repeat. and another and another. same horrible question. finally i do a fancy social sidestep…”not likely? haha.”
he smiles and looks satisfied. “of course not. because what are the chances you would recognize me just by my photo?!” ok i don’t know what he’s asking anymore or who’s right or wrong.
i am sooooo done here. “i don’t feel well so i might just take off soon,” i say diplomatically. he nods understandingly.
i start making sneezy faces again. “we should really get some tissues over here,” he says. sooooo done. we split the tab. hmmm. good. he didn’t offer to pay. that’s a great sign. this one’s history pronto.
we start walking to the subway. chatting vaguely. i don’t care i don’t care. i still want my pie, my cravings resurfaced during the interaction. we get to the train platform. it’s crowded. the train comes. i turn around to see where he went. and turn around again. he is gone. hmm. what happened? i peer around. is he really gone? am i safe?
and then i see him! on the train! looking around for me. i see the doors are still open. he sees me. i see him. there is a moment in which i calculate the exact speed it would take me to get through the train doors and to his seat in time. i delay half a second and then with visible effort scamper towards the train doors…just as they close. i look shocked. he looks shocked through the glass. i make the “oops what can you do?” face and sadly wave goodbye. he looks distraught. i turn and walk away.
and think about my pie all the way home. which i stop at the grocery store to choose out. which i am now about to eat. it will taste like mucus. and failed love.