Tag Archives: blind date

Picking Up the Pieces

17 May

It was my first blind date. And, naturally, it happened thanks to the wonders of the InterWebz. I’d met a girl through Match (during that short window when I’d give that crappy site a shot). Like me, she was a reformed Soviet Jew straddling the line between family expectation (working as a speech pathologist) and yearning for self-definition (buying an apartment in Park Slope). It soon became apparent that while we were both cool and amazing people, the chemistry was lacking. We had a couple of drinks at Heartland Brewery in South Street Seaport and called it an evening. So  I was quite surprised to receive an email from her a couple of days later. She thought I was great. So great, in fact, that I was “perfect” for her younger cousin, who was equally great.

Who was I to argue with a woman’s praise? So I got her cousin’s email address and exchanged a few perfunctory messages. What do you do/where do you live was covered and a tentative date schedule. It was only on the day of our meet-up that I realized I had no idea what this girl looked like. That was the whole point of the blind date, but still. Going on a date with someone you’ve never seen before is sort of like ordering fruit online—you’d better trust the source. So when it finally occurred to me that I could cheat and Google her it was too late—she was not at all my type physically, but I felt like an ass canceling so I decided to just got and see what happened.

The day of our date, as luck would have it, my bathroom ceiling, which had a bad leak for days, finally caved in. I walked in to rubble in my bathtub and on the floor. The space looked like a bombed-out WWII building. It was a couple of hours before our date and I called the girl to inform her about the fiasco. As soon as I told her about my bathroom her tone changed and she sounded really suspicious.

“I’m still coming, I just need to move some of this rubble out of the way first, so I might be running late.” She was tentative and lukewarm.

We met at a lame music venue on the Lower East Side. Not one of the hipsterish ones but the kind that low-airplay mainstream radio bands. Not that I’m a snob but the lineup was pretty atrocious. Despite not being my type, she looked really nice, all set for a raging Saturday night on the town. What I didn’t expect to find was a couple who were clearly there with her. She introduced me to her friend.

“She’s health, I’m money,” the girl proudly declared. It took me a few seconds to figure out that this was a joke about their respective professions and their neat fit into Russian-Jewish parental expectations.

Next she introduced me to the girl’s boyfriend, a very typical Brooklyn Russian guy, the type I avoided at all costs in high school. He promptly told me that he sold cars in Brooklyn. I asked him if he was in school or working full time.

“College is whack. I make six figures, no college degree.”

The couple gave us some alone time, and we went for a drink at the bar. I was kind of hoping she would commiserate over the giant gaping hole that used to be my ceiling, assure me how happy she was I wasn’t crushed in the collapse, and buy me a PBR. No such luck. Instead, she took on a stern voice and made perfectly clear that if I hadn’t shown up she would have never given me another shot. Fine.

We went back to the couple and listened to some bad music while the girl and I had an awkward 20-questions-style interview. It turned out we had very little in common other than a tenuous connection to a college hockey rivalry being played out at MSG that night. Soon she grew bored of the joint and told us that she wanted to go clubbing at Lotus. Already on the fence about staying, I told her I had no interest in going there, but she was free to do so since it was her big night on the town (she lived in Jersey). The girl immediately relented and we somehow decided to drive back into Brooklyn and maybe go for a nightcap somewhere. My plan was to hitch a ride back to my house, since the other girl’s boyfriend lived nearby and was driving.

The car was one of those souped-up Japanese cars that outer borough and suburb-bound Russian teens and twentysomethings favor. The dude started gunning his “turbo” gear and scaring the crap out of the two girls. When he was doing 60 in a 25, I suggested he might want to slow down, but he was hell-bent on waving his dick around. Finally, we rolled into Gravesend, a neighborhood abutting Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst that we were all well familiar with.

He drove us to a “club” on Avenue U called “Pleasure.” As you might guess, it was anything but. After parting with $40 at the door, we entered what can only be described as a time portal into the 70s. There was a disco ball, a smoke machine, a swank-looking bar with icy-blonde Russian girls pouring overpriced drinks, and absolutely no one dancing or really even inhabiting the space. We sat down and ordered some food and drinks. The car salesman ordered fries and, after telling me some tiresome tale of his car-selling coups, slumped over his girlfriend’s shoulder and passed out. I invited my date to dance to the cheesy techno beats, trying to salvage a bit of the night, but she declined and went into an awkward silence. We sat apart, looking at a soggy plate of fries at the smoke machine filled the empty dance floor with its artificial haze.

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South of Rock Bottom

7 Mar

No wonder I hibernate in the winter

Last week I had to go to Raleigh, North Carolina for a work meeting, shuttling in and out for a little over 24 hours. These short trips, with a few exceptions, bring me to random cities that speckle our countries between the coasts and give me the opportunity for solo travel exploration. As a rule, I deal with people considerably older than me, so social activities beyond an early bird dinner are usually not an option. So I end up going out by myself quite a bit. What’s a young whippersnapper to do on a Saturday night in North Carolina? In New Orleans, one of my favorite places in the world, the wealth of music clubs easily solved this problem for me. But what the heck is there to do in Raleigh? I asked Yelp. But Yelp can’t find me a friend, and I felt like having a drink with another human being than night. After a brief and desperate stab at Plenty of Fish’s mobile app, I did the unthinkable…I loaded Craigslist Raleigh Personals…yeah.

Needless to say, POF aside, Craigslist is the rock bottom of online dating, the equivalent of a jewel thief stealing change from a street musician—it’s a desperate move, more cry for help than real attempt at human bonding. The only way I could justify it was by telling myself that I was in a different town where I didn’t know anyone. I tried my luck, figuring no one would even respond at 10:30 PM on a Saturday night. 31/M/out of town/show me Raleigh…something like that. And I made sure not to post it under Intimate Encounters, mostly to fool my conscience into thinking this was normal social behavior. Not 10 minutes later, I had 2 replies in my inbox. One was from someone whose email address masked her real name but identified her a girl who enjoys running. She was interested in chatting but not hanging out. Since I’m not a 12-year-old boy in an AOL chat room and this isn’t 1998, I asked a few polite questions about stuff to do and moved on.

The next message was more intriguing. It came with an actual name (albeit a colorful one). She referenced a bar very close to my hotel in Downtown Raleigh that Yelp had earlier recommended. One that served mead and moonshine, no less (South!). She was heading out there in a bit and asked if I wanted to meet. This was as perfect logistically as it would get, so I sent her my number and asked for hers. A few minutes later, she replied asking for my picture and telling me that she’d left her phone in her friend’s car but would be wearing jeans and a blue top. Right away, my mind broke down the possibilities based on this dubious development:

  • 60% this was a dirty prostitute or worse
  • 30% it was some unsavory specimen of lady I’d never want to meet
  • 10% this experience would be neutral or better

For the first two possibilities, my contingency was simple: the hotel is virtually across the street and I can make my escape at any time. I shrugged, emailed her my photo, and headed over to the place. After a 5-minute wait due to over-capacity (take that, NYC!), I was waved into a basement den full of college and post-collegiate types, with a few hipsters thrown in for good measure. I noted the lack of diversity (98% of the bar was white) but this was preppy downtown after all. I sidled over to the edge of the bar to check out the menu when an attractive Southern belle asked me if it was raining outside. As someone who doesn’t hit on girls at bars very often, I took this as a cue to mildly flirt with her.

“What’s good here?” She pointed at a couple of bourbon-based cocktails.

“Wow, moonshine, really?” I asked, expecting her to flip her hair coquettishly, smile, and launch into a conversation about regional differences. Didn’t even crack a smile.

“And what will you be having?” I asked in the least cheesy-sounding tone I could muster. This was met with crushing silence and I buried my face in the drinks menu, pretending I was talking to myself. Biatch! No matter, I already had a date for the evening, after all!

I grabbed a regional double IPA and tried to plant myself non-creepily between hordes of bros and couples on dates. A table opened up and I plopped down, realizing that without the twentysomething social pressure to mingle and strut, 30-year-olds can comfortably sit at a bar playing Scrabble and Words with Friends without harsh judgment. Soon a co-ed group of friends invaded the table, no doubt annoyed at my intrusive presence. I stood my ground and eavesdropped on their conversation and inside jokes. At this point, I was pretty indifferent to my mysterious Craigslist date. The whole no phone thing was pretty sketchy and I was having some pretty intense tile exchanges in WWF. I sipped my beer and people-watched. At one point, a larger blob of southern preppies showed up, clearly intent on coagulate with their other half at my table. Stubbornly, I dug in my heels and furiously shuffled my tiles trying to ignore the exchange of pleasantries (bar conversations sound so dumb when you’re neither drunk nor involved).

The girl never showed. This was something of a relief. When I woke up the next morning, my biggest regret was not trying one of the bar’s moonshine offerings, a cultural opportunity I should have grabbed. In my inbox was an email dispatched at 5 AM by my now missed connection. “You’re hot! Too bad I missed you,” she declared, which meant she’d not seen the picture before leaving the house. She claimed to have gone to the bar, waited for me with a drink, then gone upstairs and waited there. It was a small bar and our time there overlapped, so I didn’t know how we could have missed each other, since the crowd thinned out after midnight, but c’est la vie. I was slightly flattered at the superficial appraisal of my “profile photo” but not enough to do something completely insane, like asking her to hang out during the day. Another city, another one-man rage, another missed connection, but this one I could live with. Still, in the back of my mind, I was intrigued at the unsolved mystery of the girl in jeans and a blue top waiting for me at the bar with a glass of moonshine and no phone in her pocket.