Chapter 2: Picks a Place
He meets her at the bar of a Studio City restaurant. Having seen his photo, she knows just enough about him to be intrigued and suspicious. Her recent online dates have been bad and infrequent, so it is difficult for her to stay hopeful or, at the very least, non-jaded.
It takes way too long to get ready for this date. Research shows however, that it takes longer to dress when trying to “look” as if you just “threw something on”. It seems true: trying to achieve the effortless, breezy look that exudes an air of confidence takes work. Trying not to be late, she settles for getting out the door dressed in a way that doesn’t reek of desperation.
Success. She ends up feeling cool, collected and positive in her classic knife-creased, linen slacks and denim vest that made her once perky breasts appear re-perked. It is an outfit she’s worn before—comfortable with an edge of sexiness. It is a good look for a first meeting. Ordinarily she would meet Buddy at a coffee shop or juice bar during the day. She has had some experience with online dating logistics so she is relatively comfortable meeting him at a public bar that evening.
However, no first meeting is complete without “wing women”. She never meets a Buddy without first contacting at least 1 female friend who is local, has a car and, although it is optional, has either taken self-defense classes or who won’t flinch using pepper spray. The wing women are given the time and location of the meeting as well as the first and last name of the Buddy, his cell number, the online site where they met and any distinguishing characteristics that may have been mentioned on the phone—like the location of his job. She makes a pact to contact at least one of her wing women at a certain time or it’s time to send out the dogs. Generally speaking she is home in bed with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo long before the appointed check in time. However, short of a blood test, she feels as safe as one can while meeting this #stranger.
Personal security in place, it is time to assess the parking situation at the meeting place. Studio City parking is always horrible. She is determined to park on the street under streetlights in front of well-lit venues in case a clean get-away is necessary. Having to park 2 blocks away is a price for security and freedom. However, to the joy of online daters everywhere, he shows up and looks like his picture. He gets points for both.
In fact, she notes that he is more handsome than his picture; well, it is dark in there. He might look completely different in the unforgiving light of day. For the moment, however, she simply counts her blessings that she wouldn’t be sitting in a bar, alone, again.
Quite the contrary, it is going well; a good first meeting. It is early in the evening and there is still time for him to screw it up. For instance, he loses points when he makes a clumsy attempt to give her a kiss—an attempt that is totally thwarted. Too early in the process dude! Aside from that, he racks up many points and there’s no need to run screaming into the night in search of her car. By the end of the date he’s breaking even. It’s not bad for a first date. He asks if he can call the following day. He’s one under par.
So his call the following day is not a surprise and is not unwelcome.
It is Sunday evening and she is in the middle of her “work-week prep” when the phone rings. Although his name is not in her contact list, she remembers enough of it to recognize his “hello there,” even though he doesn’t state his name. She’s known him for fewer than 2 days and he’s already assuming she knows his voice? Even in this day of caller ID, she hates that—pet peeve from the last century. It is very easy to be less formal when meeting someone new but she isn’t willing to buy into the myth of familiarity so fast. He loses a point for it.
It is a short conversation that includes a sincere “thank you” to him for the nice evening. He asks her what the best and worst parts of the date had been. “The fact that you showed up…,” she says sincerely. “What about you”?
“Well, it has to be the kiss I tried to steal; you have nice lips”. The “nice lips” compliment is not lost on her. Apparently she spends too much time on pre-date wardrobe issues. [Note to self: before 2nd date, apply best lipstick]
“So are you available tomorrow night for dinner?” he asks. Before parting company the other night he mentioned getting together during the week.
“Yes, I’d like that”, she says with some concern about the details of this next date. No matter what the plan, she is clear that she isn’t willing to go to his house and is willing and ready to say as much to him.
“There is a Brazilian place call Kravings. How does that sound?”
Phew. “That sounds great,” she says feeling greatly relieved.
“Selfishly, it is near where I live.”
“I’ll text you the address”, he says. “What time is good for you?”
“I can be there at six.” She makes it clear that they will be arriving in separate cars. Hopefully parking will be less challenging than last time. She is trying not to be annoyed about the “selfish” comment and not to be nervous about the “near where I live” disclaimer. What the heck; if he doesn’t at least attempt to get her over to his place, isn’t that an insult or something?
“Great, I’ll see you then”, he says. “Oh, by the way, did you tell any of your friends about me and if you did, what kind of reviews did I get?” His question is couched in nervous humor. Fortunately she doesn’t have to lie.
“My friend, who isn’t terribly positive as a rule, is quite excited about our last date”, she reports.
He laughs. “Oh really; what part makes her excited?”
“It is the part where you disclose your penchant for romantic comedies.” Secretly she chuckles because that is one of her favorite parts as well. “And the part when you disclose that calling the day after our date might make you appear desperate”.
He sounds pleased and relieved. “Well, it sounds like I passed.”
“You did; thank you again for the nice evening.” She remembers being told that you can never say thank you enough. She tends to agree.
The call ends soon thereafter. In the Buddy world it is never too soon for a cost/benefit analysis so she recounts current events:
Contingent on lighting, he may or may not be attractive
Could have been a little less forward about kissing
He shows up early and is there waiting for her
He seems to look like his picture and also has nice lips
He calls the next day after saying “I’ll call you tomorrow”
He shows initiative and picks a place for the next date
It’s all good so far…so far he’s not a dud. She gives herself credit for keeping her jadedness at bay.
So far he gets points.