Essentially Weird

    Saturday evening, I had a date. Whether you call it a first date or a second date depends largely on your perspective: we had met at a speed dating event (or two) and had matched for Friendship. This was our first time meeting in person, alone, with the opportunity to talk to each other for more than 8 minutes. The speed dating service calls that a second date. I call that a first date.

    Whatever. It was a date.

    Here’s the thing. We matched as Friends. Which means that after my last speed dating adventure – which was months ago – I had decided that I liked John enough that I’d consider friendship with him. Which means that dating him per se was not on my radar, really. That much I know.

    But it had been months since that event. I honestly could not place John at all. I knew he’d called me. I knew we’d had multiple attempts to get in touch with each other (he would text though I had said that wasn’t my preference; I would email which he doesn’t check). I knew I’d ended up standing him up once (I did call, but it was at the 11th hour), when a work crisis had cropped up and tied me to the office. Which made me feel so rotten that I agreed to go out with him when he asked again, even though I really couldn’t say that I was all that interested.

    It’s hard to be interested when you don’t remember someone. I’m just saying.

    So, anyway. Saturday. We agreed to meet at the bar where the last speed dating event had been held. At least it was neutral ground, somewhere we could both locate easily having been there before. But it’s super embarassing to know that you can remember someone so little that you aren’t sure you’ll be able to pick them out of a crowd. I got there early, figuring that if I had a soda at the bar, and tinkered with my bberry for a while to make the time pass, then it could fall on him to pick me out of the crowd.

    It was a theory.

    So I got there early, and I went to find a seat at the bar. But as I walked around it, I ran into a friend-and-former-colleague. He was out having pre-dinner drinks with his lovely missus, for their anniversary. Hugs and handshakes all around.

    I went to find myself a seat, thinking how weird it feels to (1) be at a bar and (2) be at a bar, waiting for a first date, while a former colleague looks on. Not that they were really looking on. But still.

    Then they left for their dinner plans. I waited, tinkering with my bberry and sipping my diet cola. How did people wait when they didn’t have technology to ease the awkwardness?

    Every so often I looked up and around, to see if anyone familiar had arrived. About 5 minutes until our meeting time, a guy sat down across the bar from me. And I knew I’d seen him before. I wondered if it was John. We made eye contact. I smiled. He smiled. But there was no clear recognition. Could we both have forgotten each other? That would be funny, in a wholely awkward way. Maybe it wasn’t him. I went back to my technology perusal, but now I was laughing to myself about the situation. I am actually meeting a person I don’t recollect at all. This is so, so silly. I looked up again. He was looking at me. I cocked my head to one side. “John?” I said across the bar. He didn’t hear or understand. Oops. Probably not John, then. A person can usually make out their own name. But he did respond: Do I know you?

    I walked around the bar to talk to him. If it’s John, we’re going to have such a meet-cute going on. But it was not John. His name was Rich. But we both agreed we’d seen each other somewhere. We chatted for a while, and it turned out he’s attended my church, as a visitor, with a family that sits in the same area that I do. We’d probably met there, shaken hands during the greeting, something.

    John was late, so Rich and I chatted.

    He’s three-years-divorced, with twin teenage boys, an active and involved dad. We talked about that for a while. It was a pleasant conversation. By then John was 10 minutes late, and hadn’t called. Bars are not my scene. I decided that I’d just go. It was nice meeting Rich. We shook hands goodbye, and he asked for my number.

    And I decided to give it to him.

    I walked out the door, and John and I passed each other, turned, laughed. Oh, right, that’s John. John went to get us a table outside. Rich walked past me, stopped to chat briefly, on his way to have dinner with his boys. He left, John and I sat down. The warm afternoon slowly turned into a cool evening. We had a pleasant enough conversation, which I felt like he mostly carried.

    Mid-discussion we were interrupted when someone at my shoulder said my name. I looked up, and it was another colleague, a young man that was on a team with me for a project last year. I never run into people I know, and that night it was like a reunion. Distracted and flustered, I stood up and hugged him briefly, then realized afterward that I don’t usually do that with him. Wondering if I’d weirded him out made me feel weirded out, which left me distracted and flustered.

    John and I finished our evening out. It was… OK. At least now I remember John, though I would still put us in a “potential for friendship” category more than anything else. I didn’t get a good read on his opinion of the evening.

    Of course I assume that I’ll never hear from him, as that is always my assumption.

    Meanwhile, Rich called me Sunday night, to see if I’d like to get together sometime.

    Life is funny. Saturday? Saturday was weird.