Friday, July 31, 2009

Date #20: Not a Moment Too Soon

The final date of my experiment was to be a momentous one. I was to take my date, Clark, to Live Wire!; a local vaudevillian radio show which occurs monthly at the Aladdin Theatre and airs on OPB. The people who run the show offered us a dinner beforehand at a little place across the street called Tastebud Farm and the opportunity to read our first date Haikus during the second part of the show. I was a bit tentative because one of my previous dates had set this opportunity up for me, and I was feeling a bit guilty because I had not behaved in a sane manner in my dealings with him. Additionally, I was filled with feelings of excitement and remorse about this, my final date. I was very happy to be close to being finished and also a little sad that it was ending. My experiment had been like a close friend over the past several months, and the work it provided me would be missed. I was already trying to come up with something else to write about, but had to this point come up empty.
It was a very warm and beautiful Friday, and Clark and I had decided to meet a bit before dinner in order to alleviate some of the nervousness we were both feeling. Of course, I arrived even earlier to freshen up, but found that I had left my wallet at work. I knew that the show was paying for everything, but I felt like I should have money and ID with me just in case something came up. I called a friend of mine at work, asked if she would bring me my wallet, and she happily agreed. While I waited in front of the restaurant for her to bring it by, a bunch of police showed up with dogs. Walking up and down the street in their dark uniforms, they all looked very uncomfortable and serious in the heat, and I wondered briefly if I should be worried, but instead just made a mental note to hit the deck if I heard gun shots or explosions.
My date showed up before my friend did with my wallet, so we had a very pleasant introductory conversation before we actually went in to the restaurant. About ten minutes later, my friend showed up with my wallet, and smiling, wished me luck as she drove off in her purple Camaro. I think almost anyone would agree that a person who would go out of her way to bring you your wallet on a Friday afternoon is a very good friend to have.
Once Clark and I sat down and ordered, we had a chance to talk and relax a bit, but I found myself distracted by his earnest demeanor. He was so attentive and so focused on me, it made me a bit nervous, which of course made me call into question my whole idea of what I think a good date should be. Ironically, it created a situation where I was a bit more distracted than usual with the inner dialogue I was having with myself about how fucked up I am about whether a guy is paying too much attention to me, meanwhile not paying enough attention to the guy who was conversing with me in earnest. Even after 20 dates, I had still not perfected, (or even close to perfected), my dating skills.
Clark was wearing a purple undershirt which showed just a little bit above the collar of the green button down shirt he was wearing, and I think he might have had a purple handkerchief in the pocket of his shirt, but I can’t be sure. He looked a little bit like the actor Jeremy Northam, but without the annoying English mannerism that makes you wonder just how many statements a person can conceivably turn into questions. Clark also had curly Brown hair, a very nice smile, and a very fit body; all in all, a pretty good looking guy.
Early in to the conversation he told me that he made maps for a living, so I asked him if anyone ever sang the map maker song to him. He of course said no, so I then began singing the map maker song to the tune of the Matchmaker song from Fiddler on the Roof. He laughed and then corrected me, telling me what the actual words were. It is always such a shame when someone mistakes my humor for ignorance.
Clark was also big into bike riding, and asked a bunch of questions about my bike. It was difficult for me to answer however because my wasband was the one who got me into the whole bike thing and had built my bike for me, so I know very little about my or any other bike. Bike guys are always really disappointed when I tell them I would rather do something besides ride my bike for a date, but I figure, I ride my bike to and from work every day, I rode my bike to get to the date, why would I then get right back on it while on the date? The novelty has long gone out of it and you might just as well be asking me if I would like to do something like take a car ride for fun.  Oh, yeah, that was date number five.
The food at Tastebud Farm was very good; we had a wood fired pizza with Mascarpone cheese and Peaches on it, and to top it off, a very nice bottle of white wine. The wait staff was also great, our server was interested in my experiment and when I told her that I was looking for something else to write about, she suggested I write about riding different Portland City bus lines from one end to the other each week. I considered it briefly, there are some crazies on the busses, but I decided against it, anticipating the exhaustion that would come from a single bus ride across town.

Soon enough it was time to go to Live Wire, so we made our way across the street and into the Aladdin. As we walked in, I noticed several people dressed as Pirates, which I thought was strange until I remembered that Captain Bogg and Salty, the Pirate band, was playing during the show that night. I don’t get Pirate culture, and thusly do not appreciate it. This is mostly because I used to live near Cathedral Park and for one or two days every summer, the place was overrun with Pirate families doing Pirate things in a very Pirate-y manner. Why? I don’t really know. It seems like the whole Pirate thing is a one liner, but then again, I have never stopped to ask because I don’t care.
As Clark and I made our way into the seating area of the theatre, we looked around to find someone who could tell us what we were supposed to do. This was when someone mentioned the name “Firiel”, a name which rhymes with cereal, and because of its unique nature, indicated to me that I knew yet another person on the Live Wire production crew in a strange and slightly uncomfortable way. Firiel was the ex-girlfriend of an old fuck buddy I had when I was in art school, who also happened to be my roommate. They met while he and I were active, and our “relationship” ended when they started dating. There had been no hard feelings, I liked Firiel very much. I just began to wonder if I might need to move to a new town because of all of the strange ways I was running into people from my past.
After we were told what to do, we sat down and talked a bit until the show started. Of course, the show kept us from talking for the next three hours, so realistically, not the best idea for a first date, but the show was great and I could tell that Clark was having a good time. We were both a bit nervous about our Haikus, but it was pretty easy to forget about them. The host, Courtney Hameister, was hysterical and the musicians (even the pirate band) were awesome. Additionally, the author on the show, Jessica Anthony, read a bit of her work which prompted me to buy her book, The Convalescent, the next time I had the money to do so.
By the time we got up on stage, I was pretty tired. We waited in the wings for roughly 15 minutes while Courtenay interviewed Angus Maclane, animator for Wall-E and Up. He was very funny, which was great, because it helped distract me from the fact that I was about to go on stage and read a mediocre Haiku to what seemed to be an educated audience. I had written three Haikus and taken a line from each one to make the one I would read. All in all, not the best Haiku, but I was exhausted:
Socially awkward
You are not a complete tool
I date way too much

Clark wrote something about being on Live Wire being a time to applaud. Before I read my Haiku, Courtenay introduced me and asked me a few questions about my experiment. I read my Haiku, then, a very strange thing happened. A huge painting fell on the head of the guy I had dated earlier in the experiment. He had been sitting on a stool to my left on the side of the stage, and it just fell on him, immediately after I finished reading. It was bizarre timing, made even more bizarre by the fact that he had been my 13th date. Was there no end to the torture I was going to subject this poor man to?

After the date, Clark and I attempted to go to a bar down the street to decompress, but there was a bunch of drunken middle aged people there singing Karaoke, and it was difficult at best to not be effected by their stupor. At this point in the night, I was starting to feel sick, exhausted, and like I had just puked all of my emotional life force away. Clark could tell I wasn’t feeling well and told me that he found me attractive, but in a tone that sounded a bit like a consolation, and he immediately said it didn’t sound the way he had wanted it to, which made the whole situation even more awkward. I told him that I would like to go out with him again because I didn’t really feel like this had been a very good date on my part, what with the exhaustion and being so distracted for most of it, not to mention publicly broadcasting that he “wasn’t a complete tool” to the audience and whoever else during the show.
In a certain way, this was a perfectly anti-climactic date for what had been an arduous journey. Almost everything surrounding the date, from my wallet issue to the strange acquaintances I had on the show, to the weird scene at the trashy bar at the end of the night, overshadowed the event itself. Of course, I have deep, lingering questions. I still don’t know what I am looking for, I don’t know if I am even ready for a relationship, and I am wondering if I shouldn’t be considering a move soon in order to tap into an entirely different dating pool. But, like any good social science experiment, the research has unearthed new data which has furthered my understanding of how I interact with people and the benefits these interactions can bring. I am happy knowing I was able to make infinitesimally small steps towards knowing myself and other people a little bit better.

No comments:

Post a Comment