Chapter 3: Buddy Racks Up Points
2nd date. 1st -2nd date this year. In some cultures a second date could mean that you are damn near married. As much as she wanted to keep thoughts about the future at bay, having a 2nd date was just way too exciting. She was eager to see him again.
They met at the restaurant as is protocol, at least in her thinking: can’t have any “I’ll-pick-you-up-from-home” gestures just yet. It was an upscale restaurant. The food was good and the conversation was interesting. Mostly, she was pleased that Buddy looked the same as he did the other night—handsome and well put together in the summer evening light. Her fear was that her nervousness from the first date had totally distracted her from his true appearance. All good so far.
After returning from the salad bar, it was clear that vegetables were not his food of choice. From his stature, he was a meat and potatoes guy; this was okay and to her liking. Skinny men annoyed her.
“I’ll be honest: I went to the salad bar only because we are together. I’m not much on the green stuff,” he said. It was clear from the shrimp and crab meat on his salad plate that he was telling the truth.
“Vegetable dishes and salads aren’t my first pick for a meal either; I eat greens mostly to stay healthy. This salad bar has some nice choices though, don’t you think?” She was easing into the evening: the wine selection was good and she felt great.
“Do you like golf?” Of course he would ask about the one sport in which she had no interest.
“I guess the best answer is to admit that I don’t play or know anything about golf. You?”
“I am pretty good at it. My dad and I are pretty competitive; I let him win sometimes.”
[Note to self: he can be moderately humorous while being potentially arrogant.]
Buddy was very matter of fact as the subject of conversation shifted. He said, “You asked some pointed questions even before our first date.” She wasn’t sure if this was a question or an accusation.
“I keep it real online.” She too could be matter of fact. “I make the assumption that anyone who reads my profile and contacts me recognizes that I’m looking for a long-term relationship. There are some very definite ‘must haves’ and ‘must not haves’ before it is even worth a meeting.”
“Ok.” He had a way of saying “ok” that made her think she hadn’t been clear. A small thing but it’s kind of a “pink flag” being raised.
Perhaps he needed more information. “For instance”, she said, “if you had said or even intimated that you were homophobic in any way, I would never have agreed to meet you.” She may have had some wine but on this topic she was stone cold sober—not to mention that she had made this mistake in the past. “Tolerance to all lifestyles is a ‘must have’ and a half.”
He had no problem commenting. “I am the youngest of three boys. My middle brother is gay and we are very close.”
Buddy was racking up major the points!
“So are you a messy person or neat,” he asked.
She answered the question visualizing the pile of paper on her office floor, the pile of paper on the office desk, the pile of clothes needing to be ironed…“I prefer neatness.” She managed to respond to the question without even “lying by omission.” Phew. “How about you?” she asked, hoping that he would be more honest than she had been.
Like her, he didn’t really address the question but she wasn’t really pressed about the answer so it worked out. “I was taught by my father that everything has its proper place.” Then he asked her a question that she had never been asked before. “Are you familiar with the book The 5 Love Languages?”
She couldn’t think of a joke to cover her lack of knowledge. “I’ve heard of it but I confess that I have not read it.” It could be that this guy has some depth. What a nice possibility!
He went on. “The five languages are: receipt of gifts, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation and quality time. How would you rank them in order of most important to least important?”
Hmm. This gave her pause. Not only had she never analyzed these love languages but the wine was kicking in; she couldn’t remember the languages so it made it impossible to answer the question. Since the wine wasn’t helping, it seemed harmless to take another sip—it made “honesty” a lot easier as well. “Wow. I need a minute…what are the languages again?” He repeated them at least 4 times. The wine was really good. Oh well—so much for a stimulating discourse about love languages. She gave it a shot
“I know that receipt of gifts would be last.” She said it sheepishly trying not to fixate on images of gorgeous sprays of flowers arriving at work or gifts of jewels in Tiffany blue boxes at Christmas. A non-tipsy little voice inside her was saying, “Stay present. Rank the damn languages.”
“So no flowers?” He seemed to be enjoying her struggle.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she had to tread lightly. “I like gifts but if I have to rank the areas of affection I’d have to put it last.” She said it fearing that this truth would totally seal her fate for a non-climatic Valentine’s Day—voice again—“FOCUS!”
“I have to process this out loud,” she confessed. Since focusing was a little difficult she decided it was a good idea to talk while thinking. Who was she kidding; all the love languages sounded good. She wanted to experience all of them with this man and soon. Oh my: was he a possible love interest or was being tipsy clouding all good judgment? Perhaps both were true.
“Let’s see here,” she said. “Acts of service are important to me; having someone take out the trash without being asked is a huge plus. Hey, what if I consolidate all the languages? Suppose he invites me to the corner to watch him take out the trash, then after using a handi-wipe, holds my hand while saying ‘I totally adore you’ and we take a walk round the block and he picks several daisies that he presents to me. Voila: we covered all the 5 love languages in about 8.5 minutes! It could be repeated every trash day—kinda like ‘date night.’”
He said, “My father always did nice things for my mother.” She was disappointed that Buddy didn’t react to her clever love language scenario—not even a chuckle. “Dad would make sure her car was filled with gas by Sunday evening,” he continued, “and would get her a cup of coffee each morning.”
His father was quite possibly a gem. Did Buddy learn any of it this at his father’s knee?
“That was very sweet of him to do. Sounds like he agrees that acts of service are high up there on the list. But all of them are important, right?” She was extremely resistant to numbering the languages. One false move and she might never get a gift, be told nice things about herself, experience a non-sexual touch or get coffee in the morning while having quality time at a bed & breakfast. [Note to self: Avoid all talk of love languages after consumption of any alcoholic beverage]
The evening was winding down; sobriety had set in. It was a weeknight so time was limited. As he walked her out, she kept wondering if he would say something about her dirty car. It was that sobering moment when she was realized how nervous she was. Trying to forget about the car only made her more nervous and, as in many moments of nervousness, she decided she would swing by Baskin Robbins before heading home.
In the meantime, they faced each other and he put his arms around her. She was aware of how nice it felt. “Will I hear from you?” This was her verbalized shorthand question covering an unspoken concern: “did Buddy have as nice a time as she had?” Equally important, she wanted him to know that she was not going to call him or initiate any contact—not yet. In her experience too much assertiveness would be the death knell of any short term or future chivalry.
“Of course you’ll hear from me,” he said it with a chuckle and she knew he would.
After a few light, wonderful kisses in the parking lot, she got in her car still feeling as great as she had early in the evening.
Recapping, he seemed to have listened; he initiated conversation and even asked about her cats—it was nice to hear since in earlier conversations he had admitted that he wasn’t a cat person.
It was not “just” a 2nd date—it was her first 2nd date since Old Lang Syne played on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Buddy racked up all kinds of points that evening. Well; he lost about 2 points because of the cat issue. Overall he still was over par…or is it under par. In non-golf language, he was doing well.