The morning after Date #17 takes me for dinner in Center City, I awake with a familiar feeling. Being that it’s been some time since I’ve been on a first date, however—let alone a first date to a Steven Starr restaurant—I can’t quite place it.
Is it a crush? Date #17 is awfully cute—much cuter than his Match.com profile would suggest, actually. As I step into the lounge at Alma de Cuba and notice a rather well dressed businessman seated alone at the bar, with a glass of cabernet sauvignon and an obvious first date demeanor, I realize that Date #17’s profile picture does not do him justice. Being the benevolent dating guru that I am, I consider advising him to change it, but then I realize that if he does, all of the other girls on Match.com will find him and I’m not that benevolent. I’d rather keep this undiscovered diamond in the rough to myself.
So yes, it could be a crush that I’m feeling.
But it could also be that peculiar brand of cosmopolitan love that consumes me whenever I spend a night out in Philadelphia and find that I’ve actually enjoyed myself. This has been happening more and more lately, which is, one can only presume, a good thing, but I still feel as though I’m being unfaithful to the city that last claimed my affections—as though the more I fall in love with Philadelphia, the less likely I’ll be to return to London.
But Date #17 gently places his hand on my knee and apologizes as I rattle off the usual, “My future plans? Well, writing… PhD… London… Philadelphia…”
“I’m sorry,” he says with a smile. “You don’t have to have it all figured out. Who does?”
It could also be that after the stomping-off incident with the Man from Marshalls, I am feeling relieved. My confusion over the fifth-date hiccups in our relationship have been inevitably compounded by the act of writing about him—the chick flick circumstances of our introduction, the street corner passion of our first kiss, the play by play of our marathon date and finally the debate over whether or not to disclose my “ethnographic experiment” to one of experiments most prominent subjects, but as much as I love a good story, I suppose I am a bit relieved.
(Not only are there plenty of fish in the sea but there are plenty of nice fish—plenty of very nice fish, if the well groomed, well read, businessman-turned-yoga-enthusiast seated before me is any indication.)
Date #17 was clearly familiar with the Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing Women. He greeted me with a kiss on the cheek and made polite conversation with the hostess, the bar tender, the girls at the coat check and our eventual waitress, which resulted in our being moved to a quieter table with a better vantage point. He also complimented me on my appearance and seeing as I’d had a fashion meltdown just an hour before, this came a welcome relief.
(Just in case you were wondering, my fall dating wardrobe is not what it should be. I didn’t even bother to take a picture to document my Date #17 outfit because I ended up wearing a wrinkled dress with a black sports bra as I don’t actually own a proper camisole. This would have been fine if the dress hadn’t spent the entire evening slipping from my shoulders, thereby exposing my “camisole” for the fraud that it was, and don’t even get me started on my hair…
In what can only be described as a fit of temporary insanity, I forgot the Number One Rule of dealing with curly hair: don’t touch it. Don’t fluff it, don’t scrunch it and for heaven’s sake, don’t brush it in an attempt to make it look “better.” You’d think that after 25 years, I’d know these things but after emptying to entire contents of my closet onto my bed, my trunk, my floor and my two desks in search of something to wear befitting Steven Starr, I clearly lost my mind and was thus left attempting to apply my mascara on the way to the restaurant. Thank goodness for traffic lights.)
In keeping with the Gentleman’s Guide, or perhaps his own chivalric code, Date #17 paid for the date in its entirety (and considering that Alma de Cuba straddles the boundary between chic and pretentious, as all Steven Starr restaurants do— and that Date #17 convinced me to have a glass of wine before dinner and two cocktails with— I was rather relieved that he didn’t pull any of that “Shall we split the bill?” nonsense when the waitress brought the check). He even offered to pay for my cab— twice, actually— but considering that he’d already forked over a sizable sum for the dinner, the tip and the coat check, I figured the least I could do was pay my own cab fare.
Needless to say, I was dually impressed.
Impressed. Hmm. Yes, it could be that I am feeling impressed this morning. Or, that I’ve developed a bit of a crush on Date #17 while falling in love with Philadelphia (which was part of my master plan all along) and reaching the decision that the Man from Marshalls isn’t the only eligible bachelor left in the City of Brotherly Love. But none of these feelings explain why I have a headache. Nor do they account for the wooziness that I’ve been attempting, for the past half hour, to remedy with a cup of hazelnut coffee.
As I head catch the bus it finally hits me: the cabernet sauvignon (“Cab Sab” in Date #17 parlance). The glasses of sangria (yes, that’s plural), and finally, the fact that I hailed a cab, kissed Date #17 goodnight and went straight to bed without remembering to drink a glass of water first.
There’s a word for this sort of feeling. I think it starts with the letter “H.”