e met at Caribou Coffee — in the gay ’hood. My first time there — what better place for an infrequent first date than someplace I’d never been. Of course I should have known how it would turn out. I hated coffee—loathed the sweet aromatic scent of the brew—even compared the acidic stench to skunk juice. But it was better than trying to carry on a conversation in a smoke-filled bar where I could hardly hear a word.
Arriving five minutes early, I noticed that 99% of the people coming and going were men. Gay men from what I could tell. Competition. No, I told myself. Some guys felt more comfortable discussing their life without the fear of eavesdropping or judgmental stares. Joe might even hold my hand—first date stuff. My romantic idealism was usurping my cynical nature.
|Joe kept glancing around—distractedly. I was trying to tell him important things — find out important things — but he wasn’t listening.
My rational mind blurred more when Joe arrived and I saw his sexy blues eyes in the street-lamps. As we entered the bustling place, Joe scanned the room—almost casing the joint. He smiled at a few cute guys and waved at someone. Friends. Popularity wasn’t a crime.
We located a table in the back of the coffee shop. The last one. Joe acted like a gentleman and walked up to the order-counter. Again, he scanned the place. Maybe he was just nervous, like I was. Of course now I had to use the bathroom—first date bladder. Never failed.
Joe set the libations on the table. His cinnamon coffee mingled with the scent of my hot cocoa. What an odor! Chocolate cinnamon skunk juice. Instead of wrinkling my nose in distaste, I leapt into conversation. Joe kept glancing around—distractedly. I was trying to tell him important things — find out important things — but he wasn’t listening.
“Hey,” Joe said, interrupting me, “I know that guy over there.” He waved at a cute guy sitting all alone in the corner. The guy smiled back. “Let me just say hello and I’ll be right back.”
“Sure,” I replied. “I’ve got to hit the little boy’s room anyhow.”
Moments later when I came out, I saw Joe quickly stuff a napkin in his back pocket. Phone number exchange, my mind told me. I knew it. That’s why he had been distracted all night—kid in a candy store syndrome. So Many Men So Little Time played in my head. I quickly ended this atrocity of a date. Joe never suggested a second date. Thank God.
Afterwards, I discussed this date with my friend Jim.
“It’s been so long since I had a date, and Joe was so handsome.”
“Too bad he couldn’t keep his eyes in their sockets,” Jim replied.
“So how do I meet someone who has similar interests and is a decent guy?” I asked. “Don’t suggest chat rooms. Been there. Done that. I got tired of telling guys I didn’t want a one-night-stand even though it was in my profile. Plus I hated telling virtual-strangers the intimate details of my life.”
“You could try online dating sites,” Jim said. “You can see a picture and find out more about them before you go out. Like whether they want to date seriously or play the field.”
“I’ve had great luck with Match.com. I’ve met some great guys.”
What can I say? It works.
William D. Hicks is a New York based freelance writer.