You’ll know, they say. You’ll know upon the first meeting, because you can tell by the pheromones. If you’re attracted to someone, that is. All of my relationships with guys from online personals began with well-crafted emails, studded with stellar vocabulary and deft turns of phrase—and sometimes, for added effect, strategically-placed punctuation.
“I can’t stand it anymore,” I said to my friend Kathy after a few weeks of exchanging emails with screen name “gillsandfins,” my soon-to-be diver boyfriend. “If he doesn’t stop this, I’m afraid I’m going to find myself drawing dirty pictures of fish.”
“I mean, you should see what this guy can do with a semicolon,” I went on. “Every time he uses it, it’s perfect. Bam. Independent clause on either side. Stylistically perfect. And he spells ‘grey’ the right way.”
Her eyes widened. “You mean, with an e?”
“With an e,” I confirmed. We both squealed.
I couldn’t wait to meet this guy, but I was nervous. I knew that falling in love with someone through chat and email upped the ante when it was time for a face-to-face meeting. I’d made this mistake before—getting emotionally attached, then realizing that the physical chemistry was lacking. This first date at the local wine bar would make us or break us.
In true Abby fashion, I was unhinged upon my early arrival. “Excuse me,” I said to the guy behind the bar. “I have a date in 26 minutes. I require strong drink.”
“What would you like?” He showed me several kinds of wines, which I stared at blankly.
“Something cheap and red.”
“Awesome,” interjected a heavily tattooed regular sitting nearby.
I smiled weakly, unsure how “awesome” it was that I required alcohol to function socially.
I sat, and began to sip, scribbling furiously in my composition notebook.
More drink, and quickly! I have not silenced the demons of doubt! *stops to take a few gulps of wine* Tattooed Man is here, as well as the dim counterboy who hates writing and doesn’t get poetry. Jesus help me. I don’t know why I date. The couple next to me got a cheese plate, in which I may have to partake if I get too drunk.
I have 16 more minutes. I need not freak out yet. I need to get mellow.
Shit! I changed my mind!! I want out! I can’t do this! Out, everyone! Out through the brie and pineapple portal! Arranged marriage sounds so good right now. I imagine that my dad has given a kindly gentleman named Habib a gaggle of camels (gaggle? do camels come in gaggles?) and it is all a done deal. Holy shit I am not even close to buzzed yet. Drink, Abby! For the love of God, consume the strong libation!!!
I began to drink in earnest as the minute hand inched closer to the twelve.
I’m not drunk yet! What is happening?! Alcohol is supposed to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and that is not occurring! Take effect, calming elixir!!!
I still have 9 minutes. I think the ass-wipe next to me just made a comment to his partner about my furious scribbling. Go ahead, you…ass! Make your comments! And I shall…
Suddenly, I became multilingual. Which means that without my realizing it, I had become filthy stinking drunk.
Mio Dio. (My God.)
Sto per fare i gattini. (I’m gonna puke.)
Sto bevando questo vino troppo rapidamente. (I’m drinking this wine way too fast.)
MI GIRA LA TESTA????? (MY HEAD IS SPINNING!)
When people say “you’ll know” on the first date, the part they leave out is, “as long as you’ve managed to preserve some of your judgment and can, in fact, see your date clearly.” For when gillsandfins entered, and I stood to meet him, I could perceive him only as tall, thin, and spinning in circles. I felt great, though! I was at the point where you just can’t stop, because more wine will make you feel better and better and better! I probably blabbed out my entire life story, and I think he did too, because by the time we got back to my place, we had consumed two entire bottles between us.
We slept together that night, and it was fabulous—but then again, I had been really, really drunk. The thing was, I remembered, in some tiny corner of my wine-soused consciousness, the moment I first saw him in the bar, and I knew that I hadn’t been as attracted to him as I wanted to be.
Which is why I would strongly advise against being drunk on a first date.
To be continued next Memoir Monday. Or whatever day I post it.