I am early. This is intentional. I’m almost never ever early for anything in the world except for dates – especially first ones. It gives me time to stop sweating. Sometimes it works. Tonight it looks like I’m in luck. It’s not too hot outside and I chose a bar that is sort of close to the subway, to negate a walk that would get the brow glistening. It also gives me time to get a drink in me to supplement the couple I had at my apartment before boarding the train into Manhattan. If you’re not drinking a little bit before a date you might be doing it wrong, especially if you describe yourself as someone who is perpetually anxiety-addled. It’s when you’re actually on the date that you must watch your intake, so as not to black out once you’ve reached a comfort zone with the person.
I am meeting her at Boulton & Watt at Houston and Avenue A. This is intentional. I went on my last first date there and it didn’t go so well, so I’m attempting to break the curse. I walk into the place next door called The Library. I have like five minutes, so I order a shot of Maker’s Mark neat. Bartender tells me it’s happy hour and two-for-one so I go with a double because why not? Scooter’s tryin’ to get loose. I knock it back with a quickness and hit the head before I leave and walk back over to Boulton & Watt.
A cursory glance leads me to believe she is not yet inside, and I decide to wait for her outside. I never know if I should go in or wait outside, but feel as though waiting outside is easier for everyone and it gives the guy the opportunity to hold a door for her straightaway.
Outside, I am standing with my hands in my pockets, switching my stance every three to five seconds in an attempt to look as cool and approachable as I possibly can. I feel awkward leaning back against the brick wall with one of my feet curled up and perched against the concrete because I am not wearing a leather jacket and do not have a cigarette dangling carelessly from my lips. So I put both feet on the ground and try to stand still. The bar is right at the corner of the street, so I’m glancing nervously and rapidly in a bunch of different directions to see if she is approaching.
My phone buzzes. It is her. We exchange pleasantries and she tells me she will be arriving soon, that she is looking for parking in the area. This is great because it gives me more time to mentally prepare, even though I have already been doing so most of the day. I’ve been distracted and nervous to the point I wasn’t getting shit done. This is why I don’t like dating. I’d rather start the day with a potentially awkward activity than to have to look forward to it all day long.
By prepare I mean browse her OkCupid profile, which is how we came into contact. But I refrain. I have already peeped it twice that day and don’t need her seeing that I have done so a third time, because twice is already creepy enough. Instead, I check my email and take a short walk to the end of the block and back.
I return to the area of the wall I have claimed next to a few smokers. I catch myself putting the foot up again and put both feet back on the ground moments before she turns the corner.
She is extremely pretty. Like, jaw-droppingly so. I do not allow my jaw to drop, though.
We hug and say how nice it is to finally meet each other in real life.
I open the door and we walk in.
“This could potentially be a night that changes your life,” I try not to think to myself.