Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Good Date / Sad Date

Currently listening to: Everything is not broken by John Mayer

Everything is not broken
If everything's not fine

I've had two dates last week, and as you might gather from the title they were quite different from each other.

The Good Date

Thursday was an unexpected, spontaneous date with Matt, someone I've shared a couple of emails and instant message chats with. I was all set to spend the evening in front of my PC, blogging away for you good people and he IMd me when I logged on. We 'talked' for a bit, and when I asked him what he was up to, he said he was bored and asked if I wanted to do something. I was like, 'Tonight? Now?!' (spontaneity's never been my strong suit). I decided it wasn't a good idea, I had a quiet evening at home in mind and once I'm settled on doing something it takes a lot to get me to reconsider. So I told him I needed an early night, that I had a lot to get done at work the next day (bearing in mind it was already nearly 9pm).

So we continue chatting, and then:

Matt to BB: Not to be the little devil on your shoulder... but you sure we can't go for coffee or a drink somewhere. We could have you home well before you turn into a pumpkin..
Matt to BB: Isn't Thursday night the new Friday anyway???
BB to Matt: Thinking about it....

BB to Matt: Oh all right...

Matt to BB: Ha!

You see, when I thought about it, I figured there was absolutely no good reason to stay at home. Better to blog about my love life or go out there and create more material to blog about? Definitely the latter!

So we arranged to meet in half an hour at my old favourite date spot (good dates, bad dates - SPQR's been there for them all!). A quick make-up touchup and a spritz of perfume later and I'm out the door. The novelty of meeting someone on short notice has me kind of excited.

I plan to stay for just an hour or so, but Matt turns out to be cute (very cute!), nice and very easy to talk to. He's definitely a chatty guy and it's refreshing - the first date where conversation hasn't been a struggle. Some of our talk is a little deep too, touching on love, life and family - it's nice to delve beyond small talk.

The super low lighting of SPQR is working for me - he looks really good and I wonder if he'll kiss me - I hope so. Some slinky house music is on in the background, the gay waiters are all having fun and judging by the clientele it's clear that all the cool people are out hanging in Ponsonby on a school night. I almost feel like one of them except having referred to Thursday as a 'school night' automatically kills any coolness that might have rubbed off on me...

We end up talking over drinks for a couple of hours, long after I'd intended to turn into a pumpkin and go home. We leave SPQR and walk down Ponsonby Rd, he walks me to my car and I stop by the door so we can say goodbye. We have that awkward little pause where you don't know how you're going to do it and in the end I give him a kiss on the cheek and a semi-awkward hug. Darn it.

Nevertheless, clumsy goodbye notwithstanding, a very good date...

Fast forward to Saturday: The Sad Date

I've arranged to meet Joseph at The Whiskey, just down the road from SPQR. (I figure I can't bring every guy I meet to SPQR - the waiters will start talking - and this place looked like it had a similar cosy atmosphere when Matt and I walked past it).

I don't have high expectations going into this date. A) he's wearing a floppy gardening type hat in his profile photo and b) some of his emails have been a bit weird. The first one was good. The second one was completely kooky in ways that I can't really put my finger on. I decided to overlook that (and the hat) and agreed to meet him for drinks at 7pm - while inferring that I had plans for later on in the night so would likely be brief.

As I walk up to the bar, there's a lone man sitting at one of the outside tables. (To set the scene: Auckland has gone into full-on winter mode - it's icy and the rain has been thumping down all day. Town's not going to be busy tonight). I think it's him but my first thought is 'nah, he's too attractive'. I take a second look at him and say 'Joseph?' - and it is him. He's well put-together, wearing a trendy leather jacket with some casual sneakery type shoes, I like his face

And then my flicker of hope is promptly extinguished as he struggles to bring himself to look at me and say a simple hello. Something in the way he carries himself tells me right then something's up. I warily move up to the bar, thinking it's going to be a long evening, and we look at the wine list in silence. We order our drinks, he gives the bartender some money and she hands him change, telling him it's $3.50. As she does this, he says 'I'll pay for both'. She looks at him and says 'That was for both'. It's a touch odd.

We take a seat and I start the conversation - it's clear that I'm going to have to drive this one. As we talk, I'm trying to suss him out. At first I think he's just extremely, painfully shy. He hardly looks me in the eye and he struggles to put words together. But over the course of the evening I start to think it's more than that, I think he's experienced some kind of brain trauma. He's not unintelligent at all - he's creative, shoots time-lapse photography, knows arty films I've never heard of - but there's a noticeable disconnect between his thoughts and his ability to articulate them. He tells me he had to give up his job as a video editor. I think I see a scar on his forehead. The place is candlelit, it might just be a vein, but I fixate on it - I learn early on that his mother died in a car accident 10 years ago. Maybe he was in it too?

I feel tender towards this man, not because of romantic feelings blossoming, but because I fear that he's a fraction of some other version of himself. I've seen people who've been affected by strokes and aneurysms and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. When something happens to your brain, it changes who you are and what your life is going to be. I fear this has happened to Joseph and it makes me sad. It makes me wonder what he might have been like before, if there is a before. Of course, it's all speculation on my part. He's not forthcoming on any mental problems. But I think I'm right.

We talk for an hour or more and I decide it's time to call it a night. I tell him I'd better head off - I lie that I'm meeting friends for dinner. I ask if he drove here - I'm guessing no, and I'm right. He was dropped off by a flatmate, so I offer to drop him home since he lives in a nearby suburb.

I don't know the way to his place and he points out turns I should have taken just as I pass them. I'm ready for our date to be over now. After a few u-turns, he tells me where to pull over. He asks if I want to go out to dinner sometime. I'm feeling kind of flat and I'm beyond bullshitting. I say something along the lines of 'hmmm, maybe'. He kisses me on the cheek and makes a gangly exit out of my car.

I drive home feeling sad for him and sad for me that I couldn't have a Saturday night date with someone I like in that way.


Last night I sent Joseph an email, telling him thanks, but that I don't see romance on the cards for us. I do say that if he wants to do something as friends, I'd be up for that. I partially mean it (but if I'm honest, I mostly don't).

Mere minutes later, I see an email from him come in. He's thanking me for our 'hot date' and asking me out to dinner and a movie later in the week. I look at the time I sent my email, and then the time he sent his - they're a couple of minutes apart. Oh the horror, the awkwardness of it! My rejection was winging its way to him just as he was pinging an upbeat and hopeful second date invitation to me...

Will the uncomfortable dating situations never end?!!


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