F. I'm out of vodka. 60 minutes to make a liquor run, consume said liquor, and get myself gussied up for this date. Absolutely necessarily in that order.
Match Nathan had both texted and emailed his excitement earlier that day. Multiple times. I replied to the first two, but found I was short on deep breaths for the rest of them. It's not totally his fault - my anxiety is at an all-time high trying to juggle the whole scheduling multiple dates a day thing, and slogging my way through 18,000 cheese-laden conversations with virtual strangers every hour. And I'm PMS-ing.
Be nice. Just be nice. Just be f*cking nice.
He's late. Not only is he late, but he fails to give any updates until this text message:
MN: Downstairs in 1 min...
Is that an order? I slowly lace up my shoes, freshen up my lipgloss, grab my bag, and head toward the door. He calls. I give my phone the death stare down before answering. "Hi, I'll be right out." I exit the building to find him frantically plodding toward me. "We're going to be late. I couldn't figure out what was taking you so long."
This is not going to go well.
On our previous date, when discussing downtown, I explained that as much as I love certain aspects of that part of the city, I find it confusing to navigate. So the first thing he asks me to do on this date...is navigate. That better be some extra dry humor. The second thing he asks me to do on this date is to use my "fancy phone" to let Baco Mercat know we're running late.
This was a terrible idea.
The third thing he asks me to do on this date is to explain why I didn't reply to his "funny GIF". Because it wasn't "funny"? I focus all my attention on the scenery. Self-meditation is a thing, right?
At the restaurant, MN takes it upon himself to order for me -- without taking it upon himself to ask me what I'd like first. I take it upon myself to call our server back over and revise said order, adding another Tito's soda to the tab while I'm at it. Dinner is a rushed affair, aside from a five minute disagreement between MN and our server over the correct pronunciation of 'feta'. I watch in fascination, unable to eat, all the while wishing I had made this cocktail a double.
Post-dins, we scurry over to Mark Taper, get our hands on a couple drinks and a container of gummy bears at the cart outside -- er, I get one hand on mine, as MN yanks the other toward the theater's doors. As we reach the entrance, we run smack into a very dear friend of his. Of course. Hi, sir. Lovely to meet you. No, this is not what you think. No need to remember my name. Can we go inside now, please.
With barely a word, I run to the ladies' room. All attempts at breathing into a paper towel are futile. It was worth a shot. MN is hopping impatiently - but an enamored impatience! - on his toes upon my return.
We walk toward the front. He does have lovely seats.
MN: Oh nice - we have the whole row to ourselves.
Um. For what, exactly? And if we have so much room, why are you leaning your very broad self halfway into my seat?
MN: Make sure you turn your phone off.
Thank you. Am I a child?
The show - Humor Abuse - is delightful. My left obliques get a stellar workout, thanks to my aggressive lean-out. (Sorry, Sheryl Sandberg.) Regardless, I have never been so happy to see a curtain close in my life. Thank God. Now let's get out of this freezing cold, into your car, and back to Beverly Hills.
MN: I want to go check out this fountain over here.
I can sort of understand how he is unable to read the emotions undoubtedly plastered across my face - but this shiver is not subtle. There's not so much of a want as there is a need where your jacket is concerned, but that's cool - don't even offer. Let's check out this stupid fountain that looks like every other stupid fountain that was ever invented. And then let's get lost on the way back to your car because you decide to "try a new way". And you should probably yell at the parking attendant while you're at it, too. Because this is all his fault.
Now, there are a lot of ways this night could end.
What? No. No. There is only one way this night can end. As soon as possible and with me alone in my own bed.
What's that? That's not how it ends?
MN: Want to go grab a drink?
I take full responsibility for this part. I didn't know what to do. I panicked. I had already revealed that my tomorrow was empty. What's my excuse? I'm having a terrible time, despite the fact that you're a nice guy who planned what should have been a delightful evening? I can't say that. So instead, I say yes. Yes, I would love to continue on this four and a half hour (so far) nightmare of a ride.
He points us toward The Varnish, taking the scenic route down Skid Row, because he's sure a girl like me hasn't seen a thing like that.
This is so romantic.
I love The Varnish. It is so hard for me to have a terrible time at The Varnish. Let's just say, my plan to stick to one drink goes right out the window when I realize he's settling in for the long haul. I kick back three immediately. Maybe if I get alcohol poisoning, I can finally go home?
At one point, he asks me to tell him about some of my most awkward dates.
I decide it best not to lead with the one we're currently on.
When we finally leave, I do a veritable sprint to the car. He catches up, jogging over to my side of the vehicle. I think he's opening my door; he thinks he's going in for a kiss.
It's not a stellar combination.
MN: I'm sorry. I -
Me: No, it's totally fine. I uh -
I turn, open the door, and strap myself in.
There is complete silence and zero eye contact for the entire drive home.
But he really is such a nice guy?
*Not his real name