Friday, July 3, 2009

Date #16 Inevitably Unintentional Part One

I had date 16 all lined up for a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was to meet this particular gentleman at Townshend’s Tea House on Alberta Street. I arrived a bit early, so I went in to see what they had that was cool. I foolishly asked what types of cold drinks were available, and the answer was the inevitable: “We can make any of our hot drinks iced.” This, in my opinion, is not a cold drink. This is an iced hot drink, and therefore, not quite as thirst quenching. Some may say I am a hair splitter in this regard, but to the ephemeral “they” I would respond that it is less a splitting of hairs than it is a statement of truth: Hot drinks are made with the intention of warming the drinker in both taste and temperature. To turn a hot drink cold is to create a ‘tweener of a drink: one that is both meant to warm and cool and a magnificent way to confuse the human body in the process.
I was there at the counter, ordering my iced soy chai latte, thinking only of myself, and suddenly realized that I had forgotten the name of my date. This has happened before on more than one occasion, but I can usually at some point during the date recover and remember his name. Before I could get my wits about me, I turned around and well, there he was. Not that I would know him by sight; he sent a picture of himself in the snow on a bike roughly 30 feet away from the camera. I immediately knew I was not attracted to him. Absolutely not my type, he was tall, skinny, and reminded me of Mr. Rogers in a specifically a-sexual way, which I realize may sound redundant, but nonetheless, was my first reaction. For this reason I thought of him, even after I learned his real name, as “Fred”. He had also ridden his bike to the Tea House, but unlike me, was wearing regular clothes: a beige linen short sleeved button-down shirt, black pinstripe pants, and dress shoes. Very Mr. Rogers.
We decided to sit outside under an umbrella in the 80ish degree heat and soon enough our drinks came. Strangely, he had ordered hot tea. When he saw the waiter put my iced soy chai latte on the table, he wondered aloud why this cold drink strategy hadn’t occurred to him. He asked the waiter for a teacup even as it sat on the table next to the pot. After I pointed it out to him we fell into a discussion about Japanese tea ceremonies, whereupon he began poking fun at Japanese culture, which rubbed me in the exact opposite direction in which I am likely to enjoy a good rubbing. It was during this discussion that I noticed a speech pattern which, once identified, started to slowly drive me insane. Every so often, maybe every third sentence, he would make a poor attempt at humor by speeding up his speech, follow this utterance with an “um”, and conclude the decidedly un-funny observation with a nervous laugh. It was quite distracting and in the end, what may have kept me from hearing what he was saying to me. The other thing about Fred was that he was exceedingly sarcastic. I will probably go to hell for being a hypocrite to poor Fred, the man whose name I still couldn’t recall, as I am one of the most sarcastic people you will ever meet, but his sarcasm became one more thing about him that kept gnawing at my sinew and driving me crazy throughout the entirety of our date.
After a while, he pulled out his mini chess set and we began to play. This was the second time I was to play chess with one of my dates; the first time was with the cult leader, though he backed down at the last minute. As the game progressed, I could see the wisdom in his decision. The more the game went on, the more worried I became that I would appear a dunce to Fred, and of course, the more I played like one. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t attracted to him, only that I not look like a complete chess nincompoop in front of him. Of course, as we played, the conversation moved along rather nicely; he liked old things, I like old things, I like good food, he liked good food, and on and on. Then, unfortunately, he touched me. I think I have mentioned my personal space bubble a time or two in the past. When this space bubble is breached inappropriately I have trouble containing my visceral and immediate reaction of “what the fuck?” This inappropriate touching is not so because the touch is to an inappropriate place on my body, it is because the touching is uncalled for, merely touching for touching’s sake, and when it occurs, it feels much like the one who touched me is attempting to drain me of my energy; literally attempting to steal my life force, and this I cannot abide. Fred was inappropriately touching my tattoo when he asked about it, just any old excuse in order to touch a girl. I let this pass, but then, whaddaya know? He found another faulty excuse to touch me- my hands this time of all things, in order to emphasize some point he was making about car alarms or some such nonsense. I decided to scoot my seat away from him to see if he would get the hint. It seemed like he got it because the touching stopped.
As we neared the inevitable end of the game and the date, Fred asked me if I liked classical music, and I replied in the affirmative, after lamenting the fact that I had not tried to pick my mom’s brain on the subject before she died. After I had finished lamenting, he asked if I would like to go with him on Monday to see a quartet play Mozart at Reed College, which sounded good, so I said yes. It was only after this answer was given and several minutes had passed that I realized I had just agreed to a second date. What’s more, I could not take it back. It was done. After what had happened with John, proposing a second date and then telling him I changed my mind via email, I knew I couldn’t back down. It was set, I was destined to go on a second date which would end badly. I would have to tell him I did not like him and that we could not consider itemness to be a possibility in our future.
A day later he called to set up the date, and he was careful to consider my bike in the equation. “See what a great boyfriend I would make?” He said cheerfully, “I plan for everything.” I felt like I had just been kicked in the gut, knowing I was about to do this very thing to poor Fred.

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