Sunday, June 14, 2009

Date #12: Nothing Good Can Ever Come of it

After my much needed week-long hiatus, I decided to stack up three dates in one weekend to get back in the swing of things. The last time I had done this I met Seven, so I figured the process might bring me luck. Sadly, two of the three dates backed out; one due to a scheduling conflict and one simply disappeared off the face of the earth after I sent him the link to my blog. I can only assume he was intimidated by my brilliance.

The last man standing arranged that we begin our date on Sunday at 9:30 am at McCrae’s, a breakfast joint in Gresham which is known mostly for its large portions. As I live frighteningly close to Gresham, I figured it would take me a half hour at the very most to get there on my bike. I overestimated this figure; it only took me about 20 minutes, so I was able to get there and change into street clothes before my date, Peter, arrived.
Of course, as it was Gresham, when I walked in wearing my biking clothes everyone looked at me as though I was covered in glitter; some people laughed, some looked a little too long at certain parts of my body, others just rolled their eyes. In general, people from Gresham do not seem to like bike riders. It must be that we are always getting in the way of their tricked out monster trucks with the four and a half foot tires and fog lights artfully arranged all over the hood and grill of the car.
After I changed into my blue, black and orange African skirt and Tevas, I took a table for two. I sat there until I was quite sure it was after 9:30, and then I started fishing for my phone in my bike bag to see what time it was. I noticed I had a voicemail; it was from Peter telling me he was going to be late. Three minutes later he called to tell me where he was. It would take him another ten minutes to get there so I looked at the menu. It consisted of a laminated placemat-sized sheet of paper with business card-sized ads along the bottom and on the front of it. All of the items listed on the menu were your basic breakfast fare, except for one small thing: after some of the entries, (big!) appeared. I guess this could either be viewed as a warning or an enticement, depending upon the perspective of the reader.

Something I do when I go to out to eat at places I have never been to before is look at the people eating at the restaurant and judge the quality of the food by the size of the clientele. Most of the people there were quite large, so I figured I had better be cautious.
Peter arrived a few minutes later looking very neat; his hair was combed to the side in a very intentional manner, his shirt, very securely tucked into his very blue jeans, and his belt was tightly fastened around his waste. All in all a very well groomed and fit gentleman. He hugged me hello, (which I was actually okay with), and asked if I had had a chance to look at the menu. I replied that I had, so as he begged the waitress for coffee, he perused the menu. He ordered the bacon and eggs; I ordered the ham and eggs. After his coffee was delivered, we kind of looked at each other for an awkward moment, and then I asked what we should talk about.
We started talking about food, dating, exes, and really, it was a very pleasant conversation. Our food, which was served on dinner platters, arrived pretty quickly. My eggs and hash browns looked pretty normal, though a gigantic slab of ham was covering most of them from view. As I started to eat I realized that the hash browns were luke-warm at best and the ham was overly gristly. Oh well, at least there was a ton of it.
We both started eating as we talked. He was polite and articulate, and I was trying to avoid as much of the ham gristle as I could. We finished breakfast and Peter asked what we should do next. I really had to wonder; as it was going this date was not at all remarkable. I told him I didn’t know what was around the area, and he thought it would be great if he could show me around Gresham. If you are not aware, this last is a punch line.

I have a thing about Gresham; I don’t like it and I haven’t ever since I first heard the name. Some of my friends (and former friends) live in Gresham, and whenever they say something stupid, like their favorite restaurant is Red Lobster, my immediate reply is always, “well, you are from Gresham,” as if this fact forgives their lack of depth and character. I thought this might be a good opportunity to give ol’ Gresham a chance. Maybe I would have a change of heart and see the soul in what I assumed to be a vast wasteland of non-culture.
We started in a mall. Peter told me this was the “new” part of Gresham; a large-ish development of super stores which served as a center for the town. We walked around, went into Cost Plus World Market so he could show me his favorite pancake mix, (after which I told him I was gluten-intolerant), then we walked down the street and into Borders Books. As we walked through the store, we talked about the kinds of books we both like to read, and he started dancing a bit to a song only he could hear. Usually, when people I am with begin to engage in some type of behavior which causes me to be embarrassed for them, my response is to do something even more embarrassing, in order to shift the embarrassment back on to them. This was a perfect time, I thought, to start singing The Star Spangled Banner at the top of my lungs. Of course, I refrained. Part of me knew that I would be more embarrassed at this than he, and the other part forgot the words.
We left Borders and walked around the mall a bit more. There was nothing here to lead me to believe I was wrong about Gresham. After our tour, we got back into Peter’s parents’ car, a blue Buick, and drove to “Old Gresham”. We pulled up in front of a nice old brick building which housed a history museum, and I actually became hopeful. As you might suspect, my hopes were in vain. This very quaint part of town was home to a number of painfully trite gift shops one could easily find in any touristy coastal town, a slew of tacky hair salons, and a handful of slapped-together cafes and coffee shops. All in all, a waste of the quaint little buildings they were in. We walked around Old Gresham, and decided to walk further. As we walked along Powell Boulevard amidst the fast food places and car dealerships, Peter told me of his days going to PCC and mistakenly drinking too much Jolt one day before work. As he was telling me of the convulsions his body went through after the effects started to take hold, he also demonstrated by jerking around as we walked. It was amusing to watch the faces on the people driving cars past us, looking at him in horror and sometimes, amusement. It was at just about this point that he told me that he went out with me because of my answer to a question in his initial email. He had asked if I was expecting to have sex with the people I set up dates with. Usually when men ask this question and I say no, they tell me they aren’t interested; Peter was the exception to this rule. He was still waiting for his divorce to go through and for this reason, could not act on any romantic or sexual feelings he might have towards someone he was dating. This explained why I had the feeling I was on a date with my older brother.
We headed back to his car and he took me by a medical center with programmed Sims. I had no idea what this was, so he explained; Sims are simulated people, engineered to act and react to stimulus the way a human would. These Sims are used to train the Nurses at the college Peter works at as an IT professional. Evidently, one of the Sims just gave birth the week before. I don’t care who you are or where you come from; this is the kind of thing that I expect would blow anyone’s mind.

After this, Peter took me back to McCrae’s to get back on my bike and go home. He gave me a hug good-bye, jumped into his parent’s car, and drove off. I stood there for a while considering the non-date I had just been on; not at all unpleasant, but not at all remarkable. I was sure of one thing; I would have to start abiding by a new rule. No date could start or end in Gresham. Gresham was as I had suspected, a place where culture went to die and simulated life was born. No good could come from a place like Gresham.

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