After the art gallery, the bowling alley, the sports bar and a few days in between to recover from my marathon five-hour date with the Man from Marshalls, I finally found the courage to mention my blog. The ensuing conversation included the “f” word. Shall I explain?
We decided to meet for a coffee. On account of his having come straight for work, he arrived to pick me up sans baseball cap but no sooner had I complimented him on his young professional look than he pointed out the ubiquitous baseball cap resting just a few inches away on his dashboard. Oh well.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Not really,” I confessed. “You?”
“Yeah, I could eat.”
We spent the next five minutes driving around the block and debating the merits of Vietnamese vs. Thai cuisine, at which point he said, “My feet are kind of wet and I’d like to change out of my work clothes.”
This did little to resolve the Vietnamese vs. Thai debate, nor did it bolster my confidence in terms of initiating “the talk.”
“Do you mind if I drop you back off at your place and go home to change?” he asked.
“That’s fine,” I said, too baffled by his suggestion to come up with anything else. I’ve had guys cancel dates before but never has a man come to my house, picked me up and driven me around the block, only to take me home again a few minutes later. I began to suspect that I had committed some sort of major fashion faux pass—perhaps the Man from Marshalls wasn’t a fan of my chopsticks updo?—but there was nothing to do but wait and see if he came back.
So I waited, through the end of Criminal Minds (which is barely worth watching now that Dr. Reed has gone and cut his hair), an entire game of Jeopardy and the beginning of Seinfeld, all the while wondering how long it takes a fully functioning adult male to drive fifteen blocks and change his shoes.
(It’s not as though he had to shave his legs, pluck his eyebrows and pin his hair into an “accidentally” tousled updo with authentic Chinese chopsticks.)
Be he did return, almost an hour later, in jeans and his usual baseball cap, and suggested a Vietnamese place a few blocks away.
As I stirred my authentic Vietnamese French Coffee with sweetened condensed milk, I decided that this was my chance to come clean about the blog.
At the advice of a fellow blogger and reader named Amy, I asked, “So when you’re not watching the Phillies or picking up women in Marshalls, what do you do in your free time?”
He was supposed to say, “Oh you know, the usual: volunteering at the animal shelter, building schools for orphans in Rwanda, working out, rock climbing, practicing my Mandarin, making wine and kayaking.”
And he was supposed to finish with, “How about you?” to which I would have replied, “Funny you should ask, actually, because I write a blog. And I love kayaking too! In fact, I’ll be going kayaking next month during the annual Hoopers Island Black Friday Martini Bar Soiree. I don’t suppose you’d like to come as my date, would you?”
Except the Man from Marshalls didn’t say anything about kayaking or building schools for Rwandan orphans. He just shrugged and mumbled something about a book on journalism he was reading.
Journalism? A few of my fellow bloggers had suggested this approach and so I pounced. “You’re into writing, then? Wow! Me too! In fact, I’m going to this conference next month. They have lots of different workshops. One is going to be on blogging actually.”
But he didn’t take the bait.
I tried again a few minutes later when he started discussing the merits of third person narrative structure. “I generally write in the first person,” I said, “but lately I’ve been experimenting with the third person on my blog.”
I emphasized the word “blog” ever so slightly, but he just kept right on going, leaving me to wonder if he had even heard me.
Somehow, as I drained my coffee, we stumbled from a general discussion of coffee to Turkish coffee specifically, then to Turkey, then to the Ottoman Empire, then to World War I and the the Middle East. Before I knew it, we were arguing—actually arguing—about politics. Arguments of this sort should not take place on a third date, especially when the table just so happens to be littered with pointed chopsticks (and certainly not when the female member of the date has a pair of backup weapons in her hair).
Thankfully we agreed to disagree, and in the spirit of “kiss and make up” the Man from Marshalls asked for the check and led me back to his car. We tabled the discussion, but I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that I was supposed to be having another discussion, and that my attempts at a casual segue had been entirely futile thus far.
Finally, I bit the bullet and blurted out, “So I should probably tell you, my blog is about dating.” I blithered my way through the explanation I’ve been preparing ever since posting about my little disclosure dilemma last week (it started with my “day job,” it’s important for writers to blog, it’s all in good fun, and it’s completely anonymous) but somehow it didn’t come out quite as well in person.
“You don’t write about politics, do you?” he asked.
“No,” I assured him. I decided not to mention my post in response to the cover of Time Magazine last month.
Eventually we reached my street. “I like you,” I said as he pulled up to the sidewalk, “and I don’t want to screw this up. So if you’re uncomfortable with me writing about you, just tell me, and I’ll stop.”
By way of an answer, he pulled me towards him and I found myself rather grateful for the fact that my “landlords” were on the second floor watching TV, as opposed to keeping watch from the kitchen window.
“I like you too,” he finally said, “So don’t f*ck this up, okay?”
“I won’t,” I assured him. “I promise.” Except I’m not really sure what “not f*cking up” entails.