The best part of a first date is right now – hours before. Feeling the anticipation, pulling the clothes, selecting the shoes. The worst part of a first date is knowing that this is the best part, yet we dress… for ourselves, for our date, for the place holding balm we may meet after the date. We pretend that we aren’t jaded and shave our legs, wear panties from the sexy side of the drawer and try not to think of the comparison of carrying an umbrella as a guaranteed talisman against the rain falling.
In my time-limited optimism, I slide into the cashmere sweater dress that feels so good against my skin and lays so nicely on my hips. I pair it with the new Biala boots I probably shouldn’t have bought, but they’re so. damn. hot. I get as close to the “made-up without trying look” as I can and set a course for Cigar Masters intending to quench two thirsts with one drink. I should have just enough time to finish Nigel Nicolson’s Portrait of a Marriage for book club tomorrow and have the requisite couple of glasses of wine before meeting any internet date.
As Gloucester meets Newbury Street I am paying a bit too much attention to my boots when I find myself forehead to chin with a human I recognize as male only from feeling him against me.
“I’m so sorry” says a low tenor/high baritone voice. “I wasn’t paying attention – my apologies” he continued.
I straighten my dress, brush imaginary curls from my face, say “no worries” and go on my way. My glimpse was enough for me to determine that he was handsome, well dressed, and smells good – though I could describe neither his looks, clothes, or scent if you paid me. I am angry for not having anything more clever to say, but he turned the corner too and I don’t chase boys.
Two blocks, half a stairwell, an ornate foyer, and six feet later I am comfortable in my favorite chair in Cigar Masters’ bay window. I’ve just creased the spine of the book when an annoyingly thin and chipper waitress appears to take my order.
“A glass of cabernet, please”
“Absolutely – would you care for a light?”
For half a second I wonder if this hooker thinks there is such a thing as light wine and then I realize that she is referring to the cigarette in my left hand. “Thank you” I say hoping she didn’t register my brief condescension.
Only five pages later, a shadow darkens my personal space and that same contra-baritone voice says “Nice to bump into you without the contact this time.”
“Should I be worried that you’re stalking me” I ask only half joking.
“Just a happy coincidence; but I do have a question for you.”
I wave my hand as if to say ask away but he takes this gesture as an invitation to sit next to me. Shit – please don’t be boring.
“This marks the fourth time in my life that I have asked this question, but I have to know – what are you wearing…perfume wise?”
“It’s a 1920 Chanel” I say not hiding my pride in its effect.
“I didn’t know there was a market for antique perfume.”
“My mom got me into it when I was in high school.”
“Needless to say, I noticed it.”
“Why do people do that? If something need not be said, why are you saying it?” I ask hoping that he has an actual answer.
“I suppose I could suggest it is a linguistic lever for the inarticulate or I that I simply sought to cement the obvious opinion that I was enamored by the experience.”
“Or you could acknowledge your affinity for alliteration as a linguistic lever for the over-thinker.”
I close my book and get comfortable having a conversation with the good looking brown-eyed man who from the smile on his face obviously likes a challenge. While the grandfather clock in the corner chimes away the hours the only real challenge in our conversation is about the relative merits of my Patriots unmatched modern dynasty and his Steelers that were good back before I was born. We find common ground in politics, literature, and every other subject. He’s handsome but not the type I would have drawn on a blank page; and yet I can’t stop talking to him. I am rapt in our conversation except for the moments when I stare at his lips wondering how soft they are. Words are hot and this man twists his in the way I want to twist the sheets on his hotel bed – uninhibitedly but with seemingly great care.
Was that really six chimes from the clock? I have a date in 30 minutes what am I doing here? 20 minutes. 10 minutes. I have to go. Why hasn’t he told me his name or asked mine? Why do I really not care? I’m 10 minutes late, 20 minutes.
“Do you have dinner plans?” he asks. “The only place I know in the neighborhood is Sonsie’s but if you would venture into a cab with an imperfect stranger, a friend told me that The Butcher Shop is a great place…”
“I have a date” I finally admit and I don’t know why I feel like I am about to cheat on a partner. “I had a really nice time talking with you; but I have stayed twenty minutes longer than I should just trying to find a way to tell you.”
“Well you should go – it’s not polite to keep a gentleman waiting. Please allow me take care of the check; I wouldn’t want you to be any later.”
The Brown Eyed Boy without a name is smiling and standing but his disappointment is palpable even as he holds my coat open for me.
“That’s very kind of you, but not necessary. I really did have a nice time this afternoon” I try to assure him even as I slip both arms into my coat.
“It’s my pleasure and I just put my business card in your pocket, call me if you ever make it to DC – I’ll let you buy the drinks next time. Good luck with your date.”
Fuck is the only word that my mind wants to form until I make it to the street. I really don’t want to leave and can still smell his cigar as I make my way down Newbury. I know that this was nothing – he’s leaving in the morning. I also know that his unavailability might be part of my attraction. I know that this was a surreal maybe of flirtation separated by 400 miles but why is the Cute Brown Eyed Boy with great lips but without a name still in my fucking head?
I enter a lightly crowded Sonsie’s and scan the bar for a guy who looks five years older and two inches shorter than his pictures. A sweater clad man at the bar turns my way and smiles his best “I hope you’re not disappointed” smile. I make my way to him and we exchange pleasantries. He orders me a Grey Goose and Tonic without asking me – I mentioned my drink preference in my profile – which is too clever by half because I want another glass of wine.
Before my drink arrives I start fishing around my wallet for a twenty dollar bill. Seeing this, my date says “Don’t worry about the drinks – I’ve got it.”
“No, I really need to pay for this round. You may think I am a horrible person and you’re probably right but Dave…”
“Right, Doug, I’m really sorry. I am sure that you are a lovely man, but I have to cut this short. I met someone earlier and… and I just have to go. I’m so sorry.”
Doug is either a prince in understanding silence or too shocked to speak. Either way my conversation grenade provides just enough cover to slip my twenty on the bar, kiss Doug on the cheek and find the door.
I am walking as fast as new boots that haven’t finished the break-in period will allow. I can practically see me heart beat as I get to the door of Cigar Masters. And there he is my Unnamed Boy still sitting in the window where I left him fifteen minutes ago.
“Don’t say anything” I say as he stands to greet me. “I went to meet my date. We met on-line and I am sure he is lovely. Maybe I am going to hell for what I just did but I told him that I was sorry… I would have spent the entire night looking at him talk and wondering what would have happened if I had stayed here. I know you are leaving in the morning, but I really want to have dinner with you tonight.”
With not much else to say, the Unnamed Boy articulates a kiss and answers the question about his lips.