I walked down to Gino’s shortly before it was time to meet Roger. As I walked into the bar of the restaurant and looked around, I realized I had no recollection of who I was looking for. I am bad at looking at my dates’ pictures after the initial “Does he have crazy eyes?” inspection. What I knew about Roger was that he was 50, had two daughters who were in college, owned his own machine shop, his own plane, went skiing a lot, had traveled all over the world, and lived on Lake Oswego. I was starting to realize through my experiences on Craigslist that I am not very comfortable with people who have money. It could be due to the fact that I worked in Lake Oswego at a chocolate café where I experienced a level of obtuse soullessness which whittled away my faith in humanity bit by bit over a period of 24 excruciatingly long months. This already intolerable situation was made worse by the fact that the company was owned by the daughter of Columbia Sportswear Founder Gert Boyle. A piece of advice: if you ever have an opportunity to work for a company owned or run by the son or daughter of a business tycoon, run as far and as fast as you can, screaming, if possible. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, but in general, these people have no idea what it is to work or be a working person, so you could perceivably find yourself in the uncomfortable situation where you are being regaled with stories of new ponies and brand new four story homes on 20 acre lots while you are working your 13th day straight because you need the overtime in order to earn the money for the medical procedure you have to pay for yourself because you have no insurance. While I am not sure this experience alone created my Pavlovian skin crawling reaction to rich people, I know for a fact it didn’t help.
I was standing in the bar of Gino’s looking around for someone who might recognize me, and in walks Roger. He looked like your typical middle aged man: grey hair artfully combed to the side, glasses, slight pot belly, beige Hawaiian shirt with huge beige Hawaiian flowers on it, and, there, growing out of and around his nostrils, mammoth and unruly NOSE HAIRS. I had to stifle the laughter threatening to spring from my belly initially, but the very next second what had been laughter was replaced by a heavy sorrow as I realized I would have to sit across from him and eat while looking at those things. I was definitely not ordering anything with angel hair pasta.
As it was such a beautiful evening, we were seated at a table outside, and he ordered a beer and the Cioppino, and I ordered wine and the salmon. Initially he had suggested that we split the Cioppino, but because it was served on pasta, and because he had huge protruding nose hairs, I could not bring myself to do it. As we talked to each other we both looked away intermittently; me for obvious reasons, and him, well, I can only assume he was put off by the fact that I had not gotten my eyebrows done. Every time I looked at him the words “nose hairs” kept repeating in my head. It was quite a challenge to listen to what he was saying, and our conversation suffered for it. I was giving mostly one word answers and he was doing his best to keep the conversation going. Then our salads came. What I thought was awkward before became horrifying. He was a spit-talker. He asked for cheese to crumble on to his salad, and after he crumbled it on, he ate it, all the while talking to me about the big economic bust that occurred at the beginning of the millennium. I noticed that flecks of cheese were being spit onto my salad as he spoke, so I tried to discreetly move sideways and out of the path of the copious amounts of partially chewed projectiles flying out of his mouth. The table was too small to stay out of the line of fire, so I just started inhaling my salad. Then came the burping; he never actually burped out loud, but was gesturing as if constantly trying to keep one down. I finished my salad in roughly a minute and a half. He noticed and said through cheesy teeth, “you eat fast; you must be hungry from the bike ride.” I could only smile.
Soon after, our meals came, and mine was beautiful. The Salmon was cooked perfectly; medium rare and still a bit pink inside. His Cioppino looked amazing, and he offered me some, but I could not bring myself to do it. Nose hair. By this point the sun had moved to a place in the sky where it was shining directly into his eyes, so he moved across the table from where he was sitting, to my left side and much closer to me, and each time I looked up, the sun’s rays were glistening off the bits of food on his lips and his ever-present and disgusting nose hair. Dinner went quite quickly; by this point it seemed as though neither of us wanted to be there, and after I cleaned my plate, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. It was hot and dark in the restaurant, but I was happy to be away from the table. I went in to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. It was kind of dark in the bathroom, so I got closer to the mirror and saw what turned out to be a tiny piece of partially chewed food on my cheek. I thought it was cheese, but I couldn’t be sure, though I was sure that it was chock full o’ nast. I turned on the cold water full blast and rinsed my face thoroughly before going back out to the table.
When I returned, the ends of my bangs all wet from the cleansing I had just given myself, I found him talking on his iPhone and holding the dessert menu. It sounded like he was making plans with someone, but as I sat down I realized he was talking to someone about the date. The person on the other end must have asked him how his date was going, because he said in a very apathetic voice, “OK”, then told the person on the other end that he would call back “in a minute”. It was somewhat comforting to know that he liked me as little as I liked him. After he hung up he gestured to the dessert menu and asked if I was interested. I told him no, and as I did, the wind blew the menu out of his hands and into the street next to us. He did not get up to get it, but when the waitress came back, he pointed it out to her so that she could do that for him. Yup, classic Lake Oswego. She returned with the check, and I watched as he gave her just over 10% for a tip. Great, I was out with 10% tip guy. In addition to nose hair guy, spit-talking guy, Lake Oswego guy, I was also out with a man I have waited on hundreds of times in my food service career: the guy who gives you 10% and thinks he’s leaving you a great tip. He might in fact even point it out to you to give you the opportunity to express your gratitude. I hate that guy.
At this point, it was pretty obvious we were both dying to get away from each other. We shook hands in front of the restaurant and parted ways. I think this was my shortest date on record with the exception of “Bob Crazy”. This whole tragic experience kept going through my mind, and it got me to wondering, if you are going on a first date, why the hell aren’t you bringing your “A” game? I mean, the guy is 50, seemingly well off, and he doesn’t have grooming implements which he could use to clean his shit up? REALLY?? And why hasn’t anyone told this guy that he spits when he speaks? This type of behavior, the bad tip, the treatment of the waitress, the spit-talking, and the protruding nose hair, is all bush league. This goes back to the idea based in Human Resources philosophy which basically states that if a person is not bringing their “A” game to the interview, what is going to happen when they get the job? Nothing good, I can assure you, and I for one am very glad I will never have to find out.
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