He doesn’t drive! How can that be? He’s thirty-four years alive, has never learned how to drive a car, never married, and is a successful financial analyst. He’s living in Midtown Manhattan and he wants to date me.
He and a few others have sent me proposals since I posted my profile on Match.com.
Prior to signing up on that website I’d had enough fix-ups from friends and enough dating stories to have filled a six-hundred page book. It was my sorority sisters, whom I still keep in touch with, that suggested I sign up on that site. I took their advice and their suggestions of the type of profile and photo I should use. New hair-do, new sporty outfit, high-end photographer, etc., and I was ready to rock.
I devised the following blurb for the website: “I have a BS from Columbia and am currently employed as a city planner doing urban renewals in Mayor Bloomberg’s city hall empire. Living in Brooklyn in a tiny one-bedroom walk-up, thirty years on earth, never married, and still paying off student loans, but happy to have a job in New York City. I know how to drive, but I can’t afford an apartment and an auto in this environment.”
So he calls. We set up a time. I tell him I live in Brooklyn and he tells me to pick the restaurant for our dinner. I know of a fine dining establishment about three blocks from where I live. Not expensive, but it does have white tablecloths and an excellent wine list, an intimate atmosphere, and fine service from what I have heard from my friends who have eaten there. It’s also a spot that, if the date is a complete loser, or if he scares me in any shape or manner, I can get up and leave without worrying about having to find a taxi.
I forgot to mention that I am a romantic and fall in love with every man I date and hope that they fall in love with me instantly. This often frightens my first dates or else just the opposite. They think I am the dessert right after we have had a romantic dinner. This makes my decision regarding second dates a little trying.
I arrive nine minutes earlier than our date time and I am seated immediately in a secluded leathery booth.
“Hi, I’m Arthur Wagner and I am sorry for being late. I missed the express subway and had to get a local.” No car? No taxi? Just an ordinary subway traveler? He extends his hand to my extended hand and I start in.
“Hi, my name is Joan Roberts, and I am very pleased to meet you.” Why not? He’s tall, good looking, with nice teeth, and a lovely smile. He slides along the false leather seat and seats himself to where our hips are touching. I like that. The busboy rushes over with a tray of hot rolls and fills our water glasses. What my friends have said about the fine service starts to ring true. Maurice, the tuxedo-dressed waiter, soon appears and asks in a very respectful voice if either of us would like to start our dinners with a cocktail.
“Not now,” I reply, waiting to see if I should change my order were Arthur to insist.
Arthur smiles at Maurice and every so gently announces, “Sorry, I don’t drink.” No car, not a drinker, and in a stressful job. Is he a nerd? I’d better be careful about what I order as this may end up as Dutch treat. I look around for the ladies’ bathroom in case I need to make a quick retreat.
Maurice reads us the specials for the evening and offers a few suggestions, quickly adding that every item on the menu is à la carte.
I suggest Arthur order first and he does. Skirt steak, medium, with no seasoning, a baked potato, no butter, a garden salad, no dressing, just some lemon slices, and asparagus if they are thin. Hey, this guy is Mister Conservative. No political talk this evening.
I start debating with myself and decide. “I would like to have the broiled white fish, no seasoning.” The reason for that is if we end up kissing at the end of the evening, I don’t want to smell of garlic or any other spice they might cook the whitefish with. No salad, for it’s too much chewing with my mouth. Baked potato is fine with me also, and I too order it with no butter. Nothing else. I don’t want to have to pay for an expensive dinner if he doesn’t pick up the tab.
We discuss city hall goings-on, the financial markets, sports, theater, college experiences and how we got our present employment.
As we are splitting a flourless chocolate cake, à la mode of course, and laughing about something, he asks me to stick out my left hand. I am puzzled, but quickly do so. He has a big smile on his face and tells me that he is glad that I don’t have any engagement or marriage ring marks on my fingers. I look quizzically at him as he continues.
“My parents own a very unique jewelry store in Queens and I always look at the skin tones of my dates, so if we are still dating on your birthday, I will buy you a gift item of jewelry.”
Is he trying to bribe me to possibly sleep with him on our first date? I retreat to the ladies room and ponder. I go back in a few minutes and find him slumped over the side of the booth. He is sleeping and snoring ever so softly. I sit next to him and nudge him. He awakes and apologizes.
Explaining, he says, “I worked all day yesterday until ten at night and came back at one in the morning to finish working on a large hedge fund prospectus and have been working straight through until I took the subway to come here.”
We both get up and I see that he has left a twenty per cent tip for Maurice. He’s still yawning. I’m afraid that this guy is going to fall asleep on the subway and end up on the far end of Harlem. I hear warning bells go off in my head, but what the hell? He didn’t try anything funny during dinner or make any risqué suggestions. So nothing ventured, nothing gained. I suggest to Arthur that he spend the night at my apartment, which is nearby, but that he has to sleep on the couch. He declines first, but then nods his sleepy head, agreeing to my offer, all the while yawning as we exit the restaurant.
Is he playing games with me, or is he honest and telling me the truth? The next statement out of his mouth shocks me.
He turns to me, puts his head down, looks around and every so softly says, “Joan, you should not have any concern about me sleeping over at your place tonight. I have never told anyone this before, but at thirty-four years of age I am still a virgin.”
On future dates, I will be happy and excited to teach him “how to.”