24: Unfortunately, Not My Amorous Adventures with Jack Bauer

It’s starting to become a tad repetitious, I fear. Me, date, restaurant, dinner, done. Forgive me if this has become slightly monotonous and, unfortunately, not monogamous.

I’m basically Rolodexing through the single men of the Twin Cities at this point, but still having fun — and continuing to refine what I do and do not want in a relationship.

And so shines the spotlight on Mr. Jeff at the formerly high-society institution known as Chino Latino…

I arrive first, which is a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse because you naturally use your sitting-alone-in-a-busy-restaurant time to spy on the newcomers who swing open the unmarked door and silently pray that this or that person is or isn’t your date. (Unbreakable, sworn-in-blood rule: he who-isn’t-your-date shall appear infinitely more appealing than he who-is-please-no!-yep-okay-still-heading-your-way option. He who-isn’t-your-date will, on cue, be meeting up with an adorably cute lady who is excited to kiss a sweet hello to her man.) It’s a blessing because you are comfortably seated in the audience, awaiting the show. I habitually keep my head buried in the menu, with only a few furtive glances at approaching diners, so as to keep my expectations at nil.

While waiting for Jeff to grace me with his presence, I anxiously shoot my friend texts about how lame my outfit is (a classic well-at-least-I’m-comfortable ensemble that clearly does not denote the I’m-somebody-I-swear! vibe I’m getting from the room) and how 2003 Chino seems to be.

Jeff, a mild-mannered, dishwater-blonde, middle-of-the-road man strolls across the floor (I think, I’m not looking) and deposits himself at the lucky table.

He’s in the insurance business, I recall, but we quickly push our careers to the side and order off the confusingly elaborate menu — mouth-watering potstickers and Korean lettuce wraps (a world different from typical Thai wraps and oh so wonderful) drape our table and are gone in a heartbeat. Conversation is centered on one of my favorite topics: WWII. Jeff studied abroad in Germany and I had an endless list of questions about his time and travels in the still-wearing-its-war-scars region of my heritage.

Appetites subdued for the moment, we patiently sucked down our cocktails and giggled over mutual pet peeves, ignoring the din of parties celebrating a notable achievement with sake bombs. And here’s the curious thing about first dates — sometimes you are having an entertaining time discussing this and that, and all of a sudden, every imaginable conversation topic has abruptly dried up like a grape left in the summer sun and all you want is your plump, cozy bed. It’s as if you’ve reached your time limit with that person. “You, ma’am, have approximately 134 minutes in common with this person and — ding! — time’s up. No more fun shall be had here.”

It was a fine conversation, but I had no interest in grabbing his hand and making him swear to go antiquing with me before dinner at Travail and the Beirut concert if only I promised to check out that really sick goal in overtime that FOR REAL needs to be watched seven times in succession until one can fully grasp the complete and utter awesomeness of such an achievement.

You win some, you lose some. As long as you keep playing, everything is fine. ♥

P. S. With one month left on my It’s Just Lunch contract (and no interest in renewing), I’ve slowly been thinking about the next step. Perhaps it’s burying my head deep into studying, taking in five stray cats so as to fit in with the rest of my apartment building, or giving online dating a try. A few stats on what I might be getting myself into are summarized below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go dye my hair blond.

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