This time, it was I who had cancelled the date. A combination of allergies, strep throat, laryngitis and newly smoke-free lungs in the midst of ridding themselves of years of abuse – I was a complete mess, certainly not fit for any sort of company. Although I was legitimately ill this time, my message to him felt like an excuse not to see him. I apologized profusely and offered the following Thursday up as a potential raincheck.
Sitting side by side on metal barstools, he asked, “So, how long has it been since we’ve seen one another?”
“About a year and a half, I think.” I took a sip of my wine.
“That’s your fault, isn’t it?” he chuckled, “You kept blowing me off.” His hand was on my knee. I could feel its warmth through the thin denim of my jeans.
“Ha! Not exactly. I would send you a message the day before, checking to see if we were still on and wouldn’t hear back from you until about ten minutes before you wanted to meet! By that time, I’d either made other plans or had put on pajamas and made myself some dinner.”
I then went on to offer an unsolicited education on the proper way to handle me and, perhaps, most women. When I/we make plans for the following weekend, I/we usually like to confirm by the day before. I/We like to know where we are going, what time I/we should be there, if I/we should grab a quick bite to eat before leaving the house or if I/we will be expected to consume three courses when we arrive.
“Ahhh…” he teased, “So that’s how it works. Interesting. ”
A glass of wine later, we were filling each other in on the last year and a half of our lives. He had been working non-stop, and dating a bevy of women online, in what he later deemed to be an unhealthy quantity and manner, prompting him to remove his profile(s) and swear off internet dating altogether.
“I don’t know. It wasn’t good. I was so busy with work that I would go online and message scores of women. It was convenient, sort of like….”
“Like ordering Chinese takeout…” I blurted, before managing to seize my spastic tongue.
“I was dishonest with some of them; I know that I hurt a few people who didn’t deserve it. And I didn’t want to be that guy anymore, so….” He shrugged, sheepishly.
I wondered what he was doing with me, sitting at this bar, warm hand on my knee. If I was one of these scores of women – and clearly, I was – was our date some grandfathered exception to this new path of personal growth? Was this contrition all an act? The sheepish exterior of a well-hidden wolf?
“And you?” he grinned, baring large, white teeth, all the better to devour me with. “What have you been up to?”
I took a deep breath, and called for a third glass of wine.