We walked into the dark bar.
Neither of us was feeling especially revved for the date. We weren’t at our best. Still….
T looked phenomenal in a striped maxi-dress from American Apparel. I was in my usual jeans and t-shirt, my head shiny, my beard trimmed. The front room was mostly empty, save the lone guitarist sitting on a stool, mangling the Beatles.
I realized I had no idea what our dates looked like – I only knew that they were our age. We made our way toward the back. On our right, in a booth and looking very frisky, was a slightly punk, used-up couple that looked hot. In a very used-up way. I looked hard at them, but their gaze didn’t communicate “Are you N and T?” We kept walking. T navigated us around the pool table, into a back room that I hadn’t contemplated. Where we found our dates.
I’ve read (I think in The Social Animal, but perhaps in one of the primary sources that David Brooks used in compiling his mostly annoying, but still interesting, book) that we form highly accurate snap judgments about our future relationships with people in less than a second. As we approached our dates, T and I both knew that the evening wasn’t going to end in the way some other evenings have ended.
We sat down, we had the obligatory conversation – they were lovely – nice, friendly, from different worlds than we are (I could explain what they do, what their worlds are, but alas, neither T nor I found it all enormously compelling). The used-up couple alternated between playing pool and making out ostentatiously. Sitting beyond our dates, square in my view, was a trio – two hot guys in their early 30s and a woman with a killer body in a tiny black dress, her legs folded under her on a couch. There was lots to watch in close proximity.
I have nothing negative to say about our dates, but there was zero chemistry. Maybe this was exacerbated by the fact that T and I both looked good, and they looked – well, like they had joined us after work – work in a creative industry where one doesn’t really dress for work. T and I had showered, primped, preened a bit, and selected date clothes. And they looked – just a little – schlumpy. This isn’t a critique of their looks, but of their self-presentation.
At one point, I glanced under the table and saw the guy’s Birkenstocks. Now, I have nothing against Birkenstocks. I’ve owned several pairs. I like them. But as footwear on a date? Um, not so much.
At a certain point, the music switched to (really bad) karaoke. (Note: is there any other kind?) This pushed us all out the door. We pecked good-bye, and went our separate ways. T and I stopped for a bite – I had a couple of tiny ostrich burgers (no vegetarian I), she, a delicious confection, in an improbable South African wine bar – and we headed home.