I’m sure many of you are fully expecting me to say that my alleged date on Saturday was, in fact, a very elaborate April Fool’s Day joke. It was not. It was, in fact, not only quite real, but quite good.
Saturday afternoon, I got a haircut and the $100 detailing done on the car, which took longer than I’d thought it would, so I just barely had time to scoot home, wash up and change before going to church. I opted for a high level of casual in relaxed-fit Gap khakis with a white DKNY, long-sleeved shirt, lightly starched. After some debate and a check with Matt for spiritual guidance on my choice of shoes, I opted for black cowboy boots instead of the Cole Haans. My date is an inch, or so, taller than I am, so I figured the extra height couldn’t hurt. I cleansed my car of all heavy metal and replaced it with Sting, Bonnie Rait and some other mellow favorites. No Sade or Nina Simone, though, per the helpful suggestions or my gentle readers.
So, at church everyone was asking about my plans. In fact, I had a veritable legion of folks who seemed to know what I was up to that night. Matt checked me over to make sure I’d done okay, as did J.’s new girl L. The general consensus of opinion was a thumbs-up. I have no idea what went on during the service because, honestly, I was beside myself with nerves. First date in over ten years makes a guy a little nervous, you know?
So, with Sting’s Brand New Day in the CD player, I raced over to her place as soon as church was over. She lives over by Minute Maid Park, so there was a bit of traffic, due to the Astro’s exhibition game, but it wasn’t too bad. What was bad, however, were the directions that I got via Yahoo!Maps. They were fine right up to that one, illegal, left-turn onto Franklin. Thankfully, I’ve driven all over Chicago during construction season, so circling wide and around to get where I actually wanted to be was not a big stretch for me. Also, I called her to get pointed back in the right direction. I parked in a loading dock at her building, per her instructions, and met her out front as she was walking her dogs. The first thing that caught my attention was how blonde she was. I spotted that two blocks away. The other thing was how tall five-foot eleven was when you got up close. Yeah, she’s an inch taller than I am,when I stand up straight. Still, she was at least as good looking in person as she was in her pictures, so, all was well. (She said more or less the same about me, later, so, don’t think I was the only one worried about that!)
We took her dogs up to her apartment and I got the nickel tour. She runs her business out of her home, so she had an industrial oven, a bunch of baking racks, and assorted high-end cooking gear all over. Naturally, she had an enormous kitchen. She actually lives in a loft in a building that, except for the nice, wide halls, reminded me of places I’d been in Chicago. In fact, that was one of the reasons she like this building, because she used to live in Chicago and it sort of reminded her of there. So, yes, she lived in Chicago for nine years, working in catering, mainly, and she knew the edges of my old stomping grounds. In fact, she said that would be the only part of the country that she’d consider moving to again. Oh, did I mention that she took me by surprise with a kiss when I met her?
Anyway, after that it was off to La Vista, a little Italian place that she knew. It’s quaint and used to have a strictly BYOB policy, and they maintain that even though you can get wine there now. Apparently, it was run by a friend of hers from high school and was more wildly successful than he’d ever imagined it being. Who knew? But, here is where it got interesting. At this restaurant I noticed the difference between this one and everyone I’ve ever gone out with before. We ordered our dinners and I ordered a glass of iced tea. Well, our salads came, but my tea didn’t. I was willing to quietly ignore that, as long as it didn’t end up on the bill, but she caught our waiter and told him to get it for me. Honest to God, no one has ever been that attentive to me before, ever, much less on a first date. I thanked her, of course, then told her that I’d been willing to let it slide. And how thoughtful it was of her to catch that for me. Dinner was, of course, wonderful. Sadly, if we’d had dessert we’d be too late to catch a movie, so we skipped that and were off to the giant Edwards MarqE to catch a late show.
We got tickets to the 10:30PM showing of Ice Age: Meltdown, but we were cutting it close. The lines were too long at the candy stand, so, while she ran into the ladies room, I hit the quarter vending machines to feed her self-confessed sweet tooth. Generic Sweet Tarts and plain M&Ms for a buck’s not a bad deal at the theater, so I carefully filled my hand and waited for her by the door to the ladies room, feeling rather like a pervert. She came out and saw what I had in my hand and started giggling like a little girl. She grabbed my free hand and gobbled a couple of the candies while dragging me into the theater. She hesitantly lets me choose where to sit in the darkened movie house and I quickly point to two seats in the middle of the row in front of the main aisle. When she sighed with relief and called me a man after her own heart, I knew I’d done good. She hates climbing up to the higher reaches of seats as much as I do. Cool. I automatically lifted the middle arm between the two seats, because, well, just because. That, too, met with her instant approval. We dropped into our seats just as the last preview was ending and the main feature was starting. Perfect timing!
I won’t review the movie, but Ice Age Meltdown was hilarious. We laughed the whole way through. Great first date movie.
After that, it was back to her place for some mellow music, more talking and, well, stuff. It was at this point in the evening that I found out she was a published poet and a very accomplished photographer. Her black and white photos of Paris looked like they could have been hung in a gallery. I also got to know her geriatric basset hound and her two miniature Dachshunds. When I finally left, she sent me out into the world laden with her gourmet dog biscuits as a peace offering to my own dog. Also, she figured a bribe might get me back into the house.
She’s braving my house for pizza and a movie Tuesday night before heading out of town for a trade show. Next week, the Saturday before Easter, she’s going to come to Mercy Street with me. Apparently, she wants to meet the man who gave me spiritual advice about my shoes.
In short, I think I’ve got a winner. Now, if I can just get used to being fawned over for a change, and learn to take her compliments without a skeptical side-long glance, everything will work out just fine.