first date jitters
November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Me and B. ate here Sunday night. Young waiters in starched white shirts and black suspenders, a fancy wraparound bar, the steady light of candles at the bottoms of small decorative glasses, a low din from the folks celebrating a birthday at the long table across the room. Outside, people shaking out umbrellas, breathing into their cold hands. On the way to the restaurant, we saw the MLS championship game through the windows of a bar: flourescent screens, a completely dark interior. Eerie. The take-away point wasn’t so much the food (trendy remixes of Grecian staples) as it was the two young people seated next to us. They were on a first date. They made conversation in bright, determined voices. There was a sense of force being exerted — of two strangers trying to get at each other. How to make him like me? If I talk about snowboarding in Japan, will she find that impressive? Both parties trying to affect a studiedly casual and charming demeanor. They asked a number of those fact-finding questions that are so awkward and necessary. Like people going over a beach with a metal detector, hoping to locate something that will set off a triumphant fusillade of bleeps. Soulmate detected! When they found an interesting topic to talk about, something that they had in common, their voices rose excitedly. They leaned in; their poses relaxed. They laughed, relieved. Oh, look, we like each other — this might work out after all.
This was all the more striking because me and B. had very little conversation going around our own campfire. Except for the occasional peppy remark about the restaurant’s musical predilictions (“they just played two Kings of Convenience songs in a row!” — inexplicably pleased with myself for being able to tell) we spent most of our dinner dining in comfortable silence whilst eavesdropping shamelessly on our neighbors, which probably heightened their uncomfortable sense of having to act out the motions of a performance.
I have to wonder if they met online.
Oh! Here’s our menu for Thanksgiving dinner:
- Prime rib
- Creamed spinach
- Potato salad of dubious origins
- Salad, of the leafy variety
- Pumpkin pie
- Cheese biscuits
I often wonder if, given the opportunity, I would trade away my writing for the ability to draw and paint like this.
Note to self: read this when you have the time (Isaac Singer’s 1978 Nobel Prize Speech).