He gives me a blow by blow while I wait: “might be like 10 min late or so,” and “taking the ACW from 42nd to 14th,” and “2 blocks away.” He is 20 minutes late by the time he makes an appearance. Cute, I think. Tall. Thank you, dating gods. Though I wish he was happier to see me.
The original venue was a small, packed, and somewhat foggy wine bar. He is on board with fondue so I suggest The Bourgeois Pig on 7th instead. I ask about the sour puss and he explains he was a little stressed from the commute from New Jersey. The fondue spot is busy but they promise us a table in a half-hour. Such are Friday nights. While we wait we're asked to sit by the window on stools so close together, I feel like my personal bubble is being popped. Wanting to lighten the mood I immediately resort to funny. We exchange jokes. Have a drink (wine for me, beer for him), laugh about previous dates, disasters, and mild successes. It's going better than I thought. His dating profile read as more arrogant. I'm glad I didn’t cancel.
Our table is ready after what feels like an eternity. We sit across from each other and immediately he feels too far away. Strange. More talking. More laughing. Bread dipping. His interests. Wine gulping. My interests. At some point he tells me he has work in the morning. I gather he informs me for one reason: he’s not that into me and wants to make an exit using work as a cogent excuse. I get the hint. I feel a bit rejected. I know it’s a first date but I mistakenly thought we were mutually enjoying each other's company. Too bad he’s cute, and seems easy going. Striking out never feels good, even with strangers.
The check arrives and we eventually pay the bill. As we leave the restaurant he asks if I’d like to change the scenery to a bar that he used to go to often when he lived in the Lower East Side. I do an internal double take. It’s now 11pm. What about work early the next morning? In this case, this one case, I am happy to be wrong. Off to the next location. At the bar we sit on opposite sides again. I was on my third or fourth drink and I am starting to feel them. He is stone sober. My arms are on the table when he casually touches me for the first time. Finally. I can definitely work with this. I decide to sit next to him on the bench when the couple next to us leaves. He leans in to give me one of the best kisses of my life. This is good. I like this. But I made a pact with myself: no sex on the first date.»
Photo by Olya Smith
The evening winds down. We walk to the F train together where, in full submission to the wine’s effects, I nuzzle his neck and we kiss like teenagers on the subway platform. The train arrives. We sit together. I don't invite him back to my place. He kisses me good-bye on his stop. I continue the ride home alone.
Lea Thomas is a native New Yorker, foodie, and adventurer; an introspective meditator inspired and entertained by the little things.