It’s official. I’ve entered that elite circle of New York Singletons — I’m a Time Out New York “Undateable.”
Just in case you were wondering, that’s me on the left. And the swing coat is vintage-ish, circa 1980. Made in Ireland. The photographer, who was great, was totally baffled by what to do with me in it. My date, Lucas is on the right, and he wore a very similar outfit on our date. I’d say, we both look pretty sharp. Thank goodness for that.
I was 2/3 of the way through a nasty cold which was accompanied by a debilitating cough when an email landed in my inbox from “Undateables” writer, Will Gleason. Was I free to go out to a restaurant and a Broadway show (M Butterfly) tomorrow night?
Technically, yes, but I was also a walking mucus factory… perhaps I had better ask for a rain check when I was feeling more myself? It had taken nearly 6 months for my turn to come up in the queue. I consulted my co-workers, and that one friend who I can count on for sage direction…
Reply: M Butterfly? Sign me up!
An hour later, M Butterfly was off the table, but the date was on. A
All I had was a meeting place, a time, and a name: Lucas. It was a blind date in the most extreme sense: No common friend. No over zealous great aunt who fancies herself a match maker and decided her plumber was a viable candidate. No idea what each other looked like. Not the foggiest about age or profession. Not even a phone number. All I knew about him was that he was single, lived somewhere in New York, and that we shared a certain degree of bravery, and perhaps a total lack of ego (or a deep need for attention?)
Dinner at 6PM at Lincoln Square Steak.
I read the Zagat review of the restaurant, and decided it warranted a dress. I pregamed with a Claritin-D, a partial dose of prescription cough medicine, and a puff on my inhaler. Because in the “First Impression” section of the column timeliness or tardiness is always noted, I planned my travel so that I would be 5 minutes early. I planned too well, and was in the neighborhood 15 minutes early. Despite the wintry bite in the air, I took an extra lap around the block, and regretted not wearing nylons. I noted the apartment building where I used to go for SAT tutoring.
Inside the restaurant, I was escorted to an over-sized round table with a sweeping view of the entire space… and the door. I was the first one there.
The clock struck 6PM. I had already read the menu twice. An older gentleman with distinguished white hair and a pinstripe suit walked up to my table looked around like he was lost, then walked up to me and stuck out his hand.
Oh, my god. I thought. This is my date. This is Lucas. I am older than their usual undateable candidates, and this is what I get. That’s OK. It’s OK. Right? This is OK.
In a thick Italian accent, he introduced himself: “Hello, I am Marco…”
Phew. Not my date. Just the Owner. He explained to me how to order, suggested a few of the dishes they were “famous” for and then we spoke a bit about Chappaqua and grandchildren.
It was now 6:15. I asked for a Tanqueray martini, with a twist.
At 6:20, I took out my phone and sent out texts to the friends to had been primed for post-date debriefs.
He’s late. Am I being stood up?
I emailed Will.
6:25PM Text : Oh! I think he’s here… he has a beard… and he’s short…. oh. no. not him.
6:35 Text: This must be him. He looks about 20…. No. not him either.
6:40PM Internal dialog: I can’t believe this. I’m being stood up. I should probably leave. Where am I going to go? Maybe I should just go home? I think I have some Kraft dinner… Fuck it. Someone else is paying. I want pork belly. How come a steak house doesn’t have pork belly? Oh! There’s bacon. That’ll do.
I call over the waiter, and order the “Sizzling Canadian bacon” and a “Petite Fillet,” medium rare, with a side of roasted brussel sprouts.
“A glass of red wine?” the sommelier asks.
My martini sits only half drunk — there was too much vermouth.
“Yes, please… what is a good…”
“You will have a bottle.”
“I don’t need a bottle. He’s not coming. I just need a glass.’
“You will have a bottle.”
The somm brought over a bottle of Frog’s Leap cab, and decanted it before pouring me a glass. The bacon appeared, and I unabashedly dug in. Perhaps I would drink the whole bottle. Or maybe I would go to those bars nearby that I used to go to with the guys when I was in college. At least one has a dart board, and I was in the mood to launch sharp pointed objects at something.
I could feel a drop of pork fat slide across my lips as I looked up. I tried not to choke on my surprise or my bacon.
It was 7PM. Lucas arrived.
“I emailed Will and called the restaurant to tell them I was on my way, but the restaurant wouldn’t put me on hold. I was stuck on the subway. I’m so sorry. I just moved to New York from Boston. I’ve never been this far north on the West Side.”
From Boston? That explained everything.
Four hours later, we parted ways. Conversation had flowed as easily as the wine, and I was grateful that he had been both good looking and an easy talker… even if he had been an hour late. While the hour wait had been emotionally taxing, it had turned into a convenient ice breaker. And so the question remains — is there, has there, or will there be a date the second? TBD.