My friend, Steve, didn’t approve.
“Jules, you don’t even know this guy. You’re going to get in a car with a guy you don’t know and drive to LA? This doesn’t sound like you. The drive alone will take you an hour and what happens if you don’t like him or you get a bad feeling? Why don’t you do something local, like a movie or grab some coffee?”
“I don’t like coffee.”
The Mister didn’t fare much better with his roommate.
“Dude. You’re taking a girl from the bar to a museum? Why? You’re going to be stuck with her for an hour before you even get there. Do something safer, like coffee.”
“She doesn’t like coffee.”
I picked The Mister up for our first date. His apartment was on the way to LACMA and even though I was acting completely out of character by going on a date with someone I didn’t really know, I’d seen enough episodes of Law & Order to know the handsome guys can have a touch of The Crazy.
I knocked on the door; he called me in. I poked in my head and smiled like someone who goes out on first dates all the time. The Mister stood up from the sofa where he was sitting and smiled, his right hand loosely holding the strap of a backpack sitting next to him.
His roommate, Chad, was aloof. He still thought the museum idea was stupid.
I realized I was still wearing my sunglasses and pushed them up quickly, not wanting to appear rude. They got tangled in my hair and I yanked at them too hard from the nerves. They fell off my forehead and landed lopsided on my nose, giving me the appearance of a nerd freshly shaken by a bully.
The Mister smiled wider.
On the car ride to LACMA he was direct and upfront, like a candidate for a government position who believes in full disclosure.
“You should know I have two tattoos.”
“One on my calf and another on my back. Is that going to be a problem?”
“I don’t think so. I always wanted a tattoo, but I don’t know. They’re permanent, you know?”
“Yeah. Sometimes I like mine, sometimes I don’t.”
I didn’t know what I was doing, so I went for coy and casual.
“I’m not looking for a serious boyfriend.”
“No, I don’t need to get married anytime soon.”
“Well, I would like to get married.”
“Eventually, sure. My brother just got married. He seems happy. Being happy with someone doesn’t seem so bad.”
When we got to the museum we continued to talk. I told him everything I remembered from the biographies of Freida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh I had read that year. He told me everything he knew about ancient Egypt and the antiquities, a subject that up until that very moment used to bore me to tears.
We were there for hours and then it was dark. On the way home, we stopped at Acapulco for dinner. I ordered something grilled, probably fajitas. He ordered a combo plate with a little of everything. He offered me one of his enchiladas, cheese oozing everywhere.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t. I’m lactose intolerant.” Always with the TMI.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Did I just lose points?”
We considered going to a movie after dinner, but decided 8 hours was long enough for a first date.
I figured he would call me two days later. He did, at 8:00am. He went with me to buy shoes but I couldn’t find anything because I was too nervous to concentrate on footwear. At the end of our second date he invited me to visit him at the bar the next day during his shift. I showed up as planned and he offered to make me a smoothie of my choice. Restaurant smoothies are usually full of milk, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I told him to make me whatever everyone usually gets, figuring I would leave shortly before the milk ate away at my bowels.
I watched him talk easily to his customers and toss a few bottles in the air, showing off just a little. He walked back to me, smoothie in hand.
“I made you a Gold Medalist, but I left out the cream. You’re lactose intolerant so no dairy, right?”
Right. I’m lactose intolerant.
And that is how I met The Mister.