This was a while ago.
We met on Instagram through a mutual friend rather than a dating app, which seems to be where I meet everybody these days, and I wasn’t sure if this was a date or not, but it eventually became kinda clear, and unfolded as these things do.
Redbar’s quieter than usual and since it’s Wednesday I get a $5 whisky and do a little reading on my phone until Emily shows up with her bouncy step and her new haircut and when I stand up to greet her I say “nice to meet you” in that awkward little pocket of silence between songs, so it sounds really loud, and a couple people turn to see this attractive person I’m meeting for the first time, what probably definitely seems like a first date, and the bartender smirks and pretends to be busy as Emily takes her seat.
She perks at news of the whisky price and orders a drink. Jack on the rocks. I ask about the scab on her elbow and the story is colorful and funny, complete with flailing gestures, and she’s athletic and lively and I wonder right away if her stool’s gonna buckle under the weight of all this personality and from there the conversation is quick and fluent. She educates me on bourbon and winces at my affinity for gin and she tells me that she’s a snob about tequila but a “cheap date” when it comes to whisky (is this a clue?!) and even though she just recently bought a one-way ticket to Africa, where she’ll be helping the poor in a small village for several months, her longterm goal is to land some gig in marketing, ideally in the liquor business. Distribution.
She’s a studied drinker. Slow and disciplined and appreciative. Takes a glass of water between each of her three whiskies over the next three hours, the third one watered down.
I, by contrast, appear to be in a hurry. Drinking like there’s a fire.
We talk about masturbation and porn. She says her mom is her best friend and that they talk with total comfort about their respective sex lives and she tells me, for example, that she read one of my sex-themed diary posts out loud to her mother, and I’m trying not to blush about it, and then our conversation shifts toward, like, the nature of moms (the good ones), their coolness and constant worry, and then from there we get to talking about our respective dogs. And then we’re talking about our respective dogs. And then we’re talking about music. And then we’re outside on a picnic bench and I’m complaining about something to do with the Project and she’s sitting really close and so I kiss her, and she kisses me back, and she smiles afterward in a way that’s both cool and sated but also kinda resembles some cartoon villain tearing his mask off: “T’was I!” It’s the smile of somebody who got what they wanted just by waiting.
It is a glowing success of a kiss.
She drives us to a 24-hour Mexican restaurant on Flagler where at 2 a.m. she eats tacos and tells me about her siblings while I do violence to a chicken quesadilla with long squiggly jets of a cold green sauce. I tell her a terrible joke about a horse. This is also unfortunately where I make the mistake of drinking two Coronas, which push me over into sloppiness, and she tolerates me a bit longer, drives me home, and in the morning I look at the ceiling and think, “That was fun,” and then, as I start remembering some of the things that came out of my mouth, I think, “Actually I am a motherfucker.”
I think the reason it’s still so vivid, apart from having just been really pleasant, is because the warden up there, like in my brain, sees some value in referencing this episode as like, “Of all the vagaries and variables of dating, the trillion little particulars that can make or break the connection–here’s an example of at least one outing, and one particular person, where everything was fine and good and you were something of an issue.”
Which is a learning experience if ever I knew one.