As I walked to River Gods to meet a date from the internet last night, I was filled with an increasing sense of unease. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I blamed it on first-date jitters. The closer I got the more anxious I felt. This was always the tricky part; when you're on your way to meet a blind date you have to be on your toes, because you don't know if you're obliviously walking right past the person you're going to meet. I looked ahead of me, and then I looked behind me for someone who might fit my date's description. I looked across the street to my right, and that's when I saw him. No, not my date, but him, the thorn in my side and the pain in my back. The light was dim, but from across the street I could see him as clear as day, his bald spot shining like a beacon. He was with two girls, and they were walking in exactly the same direction, and at exactly the same speed as me. No. No no no no no. This can't be happening. They must be going to the same bar I am, I thought. The same very small, very intimate bar where it would be impossible to hide. He couldn't see me on a blind date, I couldn't bear it. What would I do? Well first of all, I would slow down. I fumbled my cell phone out of my purse, pretended to check it. I took my glove off, put it back on. Should I call my date, tell him to meet me somewhere else? No, I didn't have his number. Ok, here's what I would do, I decided. I would let The Bald Spot and his friends go in first, then I would wait outside for my date. If he was cute we would go in and I would try desperately to pretend as if we weren't just meeting for the first time, and if he wasn't cute I would suggest going somewhere else. Yes, I thought, that is a good plan. Across the street he was still there, still walking, just ahead of me now. That must be where he's going, I thought. There's nothing else on this street except houses. And just at that moment he and his friends disappeared inside one of the houses, and the street was suddenly empty. And with that my evening became about 80% less interesting.
Let me preface the date itself by saying, I'm not normally one to criticize people for the photos they choose to post of themselves on their online dating profiles. Of course you want to post a picture of yourself where you look good. I understand tricks of light and shadow and the fact that in real life no one ever looks as you imagined they would based on their picture. But to post a picture of yourself from ten years and at least fifty pounds ago does seem a little bit unfair, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
We met at River Gods as planned but ended up changing venues anyway, as what is small and intimate on a weeknight quickly becomes chaos on a Friday evening. So we walked back to Central Square, and hoo boy, was that ever a long walk. It quickly became clear that this was going to be one of those painful evenings where you would rather be anywhere else; having cavities filled, for instance, or getting a bikini wax. One of those evenings where you look despondently at the full pint of beer in front of you and think, Now how fast can I humanly drink this and get out of here? We just didn't have anything to say to each other, it seemed. Thankfully, finally, the tables turned when we began speaking in French. Because, oh, he's French, or sort of. But before you start giving him the benefit of the doubt, his English is also perfect, and he spent the last ten years living in London, so we can't exactly blame the lack of spark on a language barrier. But for whatever reason, when we started speaking French he opened up and started talking almost animatedly, and, perhaps more importantly, in full sentences. We talked about France, and movies, and music, and I did finally finish that beer. We even stayed for a second.
All the same, and I know I've said this before, but I think I might be done with dating for good. Or at least for the moment. For a few weeks? Let's just say I'm done with dating for the immediate future or at least until I get asked out on another date. Dating, I've found, and particularly online dating, is starting to feel a lot like going on a job interview. And lately it's been a lot like interviewing for a job that I don't particularly want. In other words, dating is a lot like work. And I think it's time for a vacation.