Jittery JohnPosted: August 23, 2011
Meeting new people or entering foreign situations typically doesn’t arouse feelings of anxiety in me. I tend to do well in social situations. Granny says it’s because I’m gregarious and my confidence is on the border of arrogance.
This all might be true, however, in the first moments of an OKCupid date the ragingly proud guido fist-pumping in my heart bows down and a nervous nutcase comes out. It feels like walking in to an interview, all the same panicked thoughts go through my head, “Will they like me? Am I dressed appropriately? What are they going to ask? Do I shake hand or kiss on cheek? Do I have sweat stains? Why am I talking in a voice that’s at least two pitches above my regular tone?”
Because I experience the initial date jitters I am going to try and be empathetic to my escort last night. Prior to meeting we exchanged some messages that at the time seemed funny but now looking back were just weird. (Example Him: Hey there, you have a lovely smile and pretty coordinated red motif in your photo? How’s your weekend going? Me: Thanks for noticing the red, it really means a lot. Sorry I’ve been away for a few weeks, but this weekend happens to be going well! How is yours? Him: Weekend went swimmingly…pun intended. The ocean can be a wonderful place when it’s not the middle of October in 1991. Me: October ’91… I’m guessing some shit went down? Wanna talk about it?)
He’s an art director and plays in a band—isn’t that exactly what Granny meant by a middle of the road artist? He chose a bar in Union Square to meet up for an after-work drink. When I arrived I did a scan over the meager crowd to see if he was there. No such luck. I took a seat on a barstool and ordered a beer, as I was paying I looked out the window and saw a very nervous man talking to himself as he paced back and forth three times before opening the door and walking in. At first I thought he might be a schizophrenic lunatic but it turned out it was John, my date.
He must have seen me when he walked in since there were only about six other people at the bar. My nerves manifested into a stiff teethy grin, I nodded at him but he didn’t approach me. Instead he stood on the opposite side of the room, ordered a ginger ale then focused his eyes on the floor. I would have doubted that it was in fact him but he was wearing the same bright-checkered shirt as his profile picture so I felt pretty certain.
I took a deep breath, swallowed my inhibitions, hopped off my stool and approached him. “Hey, John?” I said as I tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up at me like I was an old work colleague that he wanted to avoid. I went in for the cheek kiss and the handshake all at once, I still haven’t mastered the appropriate greeting.
I suggested we move to a table and take a seat. John quietly sipped at his ginger ale like a seven year-old boy, staring at the straw intently. I half-expected him to blow bubbles. “So you work over here? You’re from Long Island? You like music? You play in a band? Where’d you go to school? What happened in October of 1991?” I went through a series of get to know you questions. He answered in a soft-spoken voice with as few words as possible. The tables were turned; I didn’t feel like an interviewer because then I would be talking to an adult, I felt more like a guidance counselor trying to gently coax answers out of a painfully shy child.
John was surprisingly attractive and being that he was 33 I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly be so socially inept. I briefly considered how important conversation would be in my future relationship, maybe John was just a quiet thinker, an artist full of odd synchronicities. Maybe we would just sit silently and create things together. He’s a musician too, he’d use music to express his feelings.
I tried to make eye contact with him but every time his baby blues met mine he shifted uncomfortably and turned away. He was wearing me down. “Have you gotten out of the city at all this summer?” I asked.
“Yeah I went to Maine with my buddy, it was like Brokeback Mountain,” he said.
“Things got a little gay?” I asked jokingly.
His cheeks brightened as he shifted a few more times. He looked beyond offended by my comment. “No, it was just very outdoorsy,” he said.
There are plenty of films out there about men and the wilderness I don’t understand why John would choose Brokeback unless he was making a joke (which he seemed incapable of) or him and his buddy had a love fest in the mountains.
Both of our glasses were empty. I made the executive decision to save the calorie count and cash by wrapping up and heading out. Just like in an interview I thanked John for coming to meet me and said I’d be in touch. We went in for our final hug/cheek kiss/handshake maneuver and walked our separate ways.
My conclusions for the date are either A) he didn’t like me or B) he liked me so much it made him nervous. I’m going to go with B because it fits my ego better.