In my last blog, I mentioned one of my favorite pastimes is sitting at a bar observing people and taking notes. This may seem intrusive, but it’s how I get my stories.
You just know when it’s a first date. Body language gives it away. She folds her hands in her lap, nervously fidgeting, her nails perfectly manicured, with a flashy ring on the middle finger of her left hand, evidence she’s unattached. His hands appear misleadingly pure, nails neatly trimmed, fingers soft and fair, as if they’ve never touched a woman or known a hard day’s work. And the hair, a focal point for each of them—hers highlighted and cut into perfect layers, flowing down her back and around her face. His the same, only shorter. And if I had to place a bet, I’d say he’s had some work done on his face. His features are just a little too flawless, perhaps an attempt at youth and integrity.
Her drink is a feminine pink cocktail with a thin slice of lime clinging to the rim of a dainty glass, to imply: “I’m a ravenous feline, graceful and sleek, clinging to my virginity.” His drink is served in a lowball glass, maybe scotch or whisky on the rocks, and sits alongside an amber-colored beer screaming: “I’m a red-blooded American boy, working up the courage to ask you back to my place.”
They share an appetizer—herb hummus with grilled flatbread, tomato, cucumber, onion, and feta. Each has placed a small amount of food on an appetizer plate rather than digging in to share from the platter. Yet it hasn’t been touched. She worries about messing up her lip gloss. He’s afraid taking a bite will expose his bad manners.
He attempts an awkward cut into the pita. Who eats pita and hummus with a knife and fork? If I could get inside his head, I’d say: Just pick it up, Buddy. That’s how it’s done. But he gives it up, sets the fork down, picks up his phone, and… Oh no! He’s showing her a selfie he took while looking in a mirror–the naked upper-half of his body. I gather he wants her to check out his abs: “When I saw this view of myself, I asked ‘where’s the nearest buffet?’” Gag me.
I see he has slipped off his seat and is heading toward the restroom. This is her chance to take a bite. She forgot to ask for utensils, so she grabs the pita bread and scoops up a serving of hummus to devour before he returns. After looking over her shoulder, she tears off another piece, scrapes more hummus from the plate, and quickly consumes it while checking her phone. She takes a corner of her napkin to blot excess oil from her t-zone and gently dabs at her mouth before reapplying lip gloss–just in time to see him rounding the bar to approach his seat. She takes a small sip of her drink, attempting to wash down any remnants of hummus from her tongue. When he returns, he’s seemingly more confident than before his trip to the restroom.
Before his butt hits the seat, he begins talking about two women he dated previously, both long distance relationships. He explains that the chemistry just wasn’t there. It’s hard to make out the rest of the conversation held quietly under background music and voices around the bar. He does most of the talking as she continues to fidget with her hands, collecting her cloth napkin into a perfect triangle against her lap, now delicately reaching for a sample of pita and rearranging the hummus on her plate.
Both wonder within their individual minds how this will end. “Will he invite me back to his place?” she muses. “Have I impressed her enough so she can’t resist me?” he considers. She gingerly tastes her cocktail and follows it with a quick sip of water to clear her throat, realizing he has asked a question she’ll need to answer. But, damn it, I didn’t hear the question. She’s talking with her hands as he talks with his eyes. The food is barely touched though I see they’re both hungry. Maybe saving their appetites for what comes next.