What could be worse than a great first date? Honestly, I'm not cut out for this kind of pressure. I fear my own potential, I work within my comfort zone, I date down, I revel in disappointment because it only proves my suspicions that I have the ability to predict the future. And really, up until this amazing first date, things have been unfolding disastrously, right on track.
I meet him when I'm serving Bloody Marys at the first birthday of a friend's son. I'm dressed like a caterer, and starving, and stone-cold sober in a sea of mildly inebriated, attractive young parents on a Saturday afternoon. I have been fondling prosciutto all morning, so I smell of cured meat, and the night before I foolishly decided that I was capable of trimming my own bangs. Needless to say, I'm not on my game. So much so that when we start talking I don't even realize I'm flirting until a good five minutes in, whereupon I promptly begin fumbling my lines and second-guessing myself.
We talk about dreams, and I tell him I've recently dreamt about death. But, amazingly, he asks for my number, and I leave feeling good. When he calls later that night, I'm drinking my face off in a suburban bar and, thank god, he tells me he's staying in and will call me later that week. Happily, stresslessly, I continue to drink.
Exactly a week later, he hasn't called, but because the whole pick-up/flirting situation had flown so far under my ordinarily precise radar, I actually, honestly, forgot about it. Seriously. The seven days that pass between our first and second meeting are completely free of torture or paranoia. In fact, when I run into him at a party, I'm able to express genuine surprise and pleasure at seeing him as opposed to lines of pre-scripted dialogue rehearsed in front of the mirror.
We banter back and forth beautifully, our friends interact effortlessly, and the martinis flow free of charge and into my un-suppered stomach. The evening continues into the night, and a group of us sally forth to the local, and perhaps only, Bulgarian bar. By now I am four or five sheets to the wind, but in a fantastic, full of energy, onward-and-upward sort of way. I dance to European techno (if that helps paint a picture of the sort of elated state I'm in). And it is on the dance floor, dancing terribly with this lovely young man, that a soggy thought finds its way into my head. And the thought is, kiss him. So I do. And if memory serves - and it really doesn't in this instance, so this is a best estimation - he promptly leads me out of the crowd, back to my friends, and leaves, all within two minutes.
Shortly after his hasty exit, I take it as my cue to leave as well. I know that something not good has transpired, but I am too drunk for it to sink in.
The next morning, I wake up and, for a beautiful moment, everything is fine. Very quickly, however, I am nauseous and riddled with shame. It wasn't so much the kissing as the kissing of someone I had actually started to like and who, as far as I could tell, had started to like me.
First kisses with crushes should be lovely, under stars, with the camera circling us to emphasize the jubilant profundity of the scene. How had I allowed myself to transform from sharp, witty girl with a cute jacket into an alcoholic slut who humps strangers on dance floors?
I spend the day commiserating with anyone who will listen. Some people brush it off. "Big deal! So you kissed him!" Others make a face like they've bitten into something unsavoury. "Oh, shit," they say. "I know," I cry.
Two days later, after staying up until sunrise, I roll over at midday and see that I have a message on my phone. It's from him, an hour earlier, asking if I'd like to join him for brunch. More despair! See, I scream at myself, decent people go for pancakes on weekend mornings! They don't pass out at 7 am and wake up with the afternoon half over!
Everything is going along as I always knew it would. All is lost. I'll be alone forever. No surprises here.
I do call him, later that day. "I've eaten brunch," he says. But he offers to meet me at a museum. We spend the rest of a sunny Sunday among stuffed woolly mammoths and early man. The conversation ranges from the mundane to the intense, and I'm happy with both, the way you are with someone you really like. After, we eat sushi and then, walking through the park, he kisses me perfectly, under the open sky.
This is a huge problem, obviously. Look at what happened to Michael Cimino! After creating a masterpiece of a debut, his next move was a flop of epic proportions. Seeing as I have learned most of what I know about human behaviour from the movies, it makes sense that I would heed their warnings. Beware the perfect first feature!
But then, my other, more forgiving, yet still cinematic side, says, "Look at The Godfather II." It's true, sequels can surpass even very well done first instalments. Or they can be good but different. So I am trying to remain calm and spontaneously plan my next step, confident, at least, in knowing there is a next step, or misstep, to be made. Our next date is scheduled to begin in one week.