Good news, minions!! I have acquired myself a brand-spanking-new job! But that's another post. Today's post is about dating, and the meaning of the phrase, "a little late."
So, here I am, all super-stoked about this great new job and wanting to celebrate. I've gone on a few dates with a man we will call The Jamaican, or TJ (and no, for those of you who know me, not THAT Jamaican. a different Jamaican.) In any case, this Jamaican is fun and attractive, and while not long-term material, when I text to tell him I got the job, he says, "We have to celebrate!" And so we make plans to meet at 9 for dinner at one of my favorite little holes-in-the-wall Italian places in the East Village.
But it is Friday. And I have had a loooooong week of working late, interviewing, waiting for job offers, getting job offers, telling one of my favorite bosses ever that I'm leaving, and just general stress and sleeplessness. All I really want to do is lay on the couch in my jammies. BUT, I have made plans, and so I go home, shower, do my hair, do my makeup, and put on a dress and tights and heels. About half an hour before we are supposed to meet, he texts: "I may be running a little late but not too late." I have expected this text. (He was late for the first 2 dates.) I have already adjusted my own schedule to arrive a few minutes late. So I respond: "Okay. No worries."
I arrive at the restaurant at 9:08. It's warm and dark and full of music and talking and the sound of silverware on plates. I wait for someone on the waitstaff to make eye contact and then ask if there is a list. He says no, I say I'm waiting for someone, and he directs me to sit. I'm surprised by this, since in New York, they rarely seat you until your entire party has arrived. But, as it is already almost 9:15, I assume TJ will be there soon and take a seat by the window. I order a glass of pinot noir. The bar is in front of me, full of talking, laughing people, including a few men who keep glancing over at me. The restaurant is full of couples and groups of friends. Basketball is playing on a small TV over the bar. My wine arrives and I check my phone. I text him to tell him that the restaurant is around the corner from the cross-streets I gave. Nothing. It is 9:20, then 9:25. I decide that if he hasn't arrived by the time I finish my wine, I'm leaving. The wait staff glances in my direction every time they walk by. I eat a piece of bread, trying to look calm. I know I'm not being stood up, but I begin to be embarrassed. After all, I am sitting alone in a restaurant at 9:30 on a Friday night, clearly waiting for someone. The looks on the men's faces at the bar turn (whether I imagined it or not, I don't know) from mild interest to mild pity. Same with the wait staff. I finish my wine. It is 9:40. I pay the waiter, apologize for taking up his table, and leave. There is definite pity in his voice when he says, "It's okay, miss." I calmly put on my scarf and coat and hold my head high as I leave. I imagine them all putting it together in their heads when TJ finally shows up, comes in, looks around, calls me, looks around again, calls again, and then leaves.
I start walking in the direction of the lower East side. I know some friends are out, so I call them and head in their direction, a little embarrassed but slightly relieved. This man has just made it incredibly easy for me to stop seeing him, which I will do. I get to the bar and relay my story. We sit and drink. I wait. Finally, at 10:03, he calls. I don't answer. Again, at 10:05. A text at 10:08. And then two more calls. All of which I ignore. At 10:35, a text to say he's sorry. I shrug and keep drinking. I am happier here with friends.
We had just decided to leave when who do I see passing the window in front of me to come into the bar than the best friend of the EX. THE ex. "Fuck." They ask what, and I tell them, as 3 other of his friends come into view. I wait for his face. Thank god it doesn't appear. I turned my face away from the door and put my hand up to my temple, hoping they wouldn't see me as they walked in. One of my friends said he thought I'd been spotted. I was shaken, my stomach in knots. We left without incident and went to a tapas place for some food, then to another bar. Finally, I got into a cab home around 2, glad that I'd spent my night the way I had, reaffirming to myself to do what I want to do next time, not what I feel obligated to do. It's so easy to feel like I "should" do something and ignore my gut when it says, "No, you really don't want to do it. Don't." It's a lesson I learn over and over again.