The First Date

Over the last week and some change, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a young lady the old-fashioned way: through small bubbles of text on a 5.44 x 2.64 inch screen. Her transmissions have remained timely, witty, and of appropriate length. Her emoji usage: a bit overdone, yet tasteful. And her selfie count? A resounding zero.

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “this seems to be going well. Why not ask her out and see this whole thing implode before your very eyes?”

And so I did that. I asked her out. And then I waited, hunched over in my cubicle, slowly but surely developing scoliosis while staring at my precious pocket internet machine, focusing intently on the grey ellipsis as they danced like little Mexican jumping beans. Moments later, the familiar vibration massaged my palm. Her response had come.

“Yes! Tonight! Let’s meet up for a drink later!”

The threesome of exclamation points could mean only one thing: trouble is looming. “Nobody should be that excited to spend time with me. Surely, my company will prove a disappointment,” I surmised. “And I just got a haircut yesterday, now I’m still deep in that weird post-haircut phase,” I continued, burrowing deep into the trenches of my over-analytical brain. But in the end, I powered through. It was a date.

After settling on a suitable venue and tapping our stubby thumbs through some more digital banter, we realized our homes were within a mere 10-minute walk of one another, information that sparked a mixture of excitement and unease within me.

Tap-tap-tap went my fingers yet again. “How about you walk over to my place, then we’ll head over together?”

She obliged. I tried to fix my stupid haircut in the mirror, failed, and went outside to await her arrival on my stoop. Soon enough, she emerged from the shadowy fog, and I walked down the steps to greet her with a hug.

But nope. There was no hug. As I went in for the common, casual embrace, she went bigger. And in an instant, we were making out for anywhere between nine to twelve seconds.

“Alright then,” I said, feeling a bit violated. “That’s an interesting greeting.”

Like a ninja, she reached down and grabbed my hand with an awkward, unfamiliar finger-lock. “We’re holding hands, too,” she exclaimed. “But like this, not like we’re together!”

Well, here we are. Just moments into the date and still only a few footsteps from my front door. Do I use my limited self-defense training to break the handhold and walk back into my home? Or do I don my dog tags, tell my mother I love her, and step into battle? I quickly assessed the situation. She had one of those cute nose rings in the middle, like an undisciplined cattle. It was time to report for duty.

The walk continued, hand-in-hand. A cool breeze was at our backs as we spoke of how she had cancelled on a guy from Bumble to hang out with me instead, and how she doesn’t have time to waste. We discussed, at length, a Facebook post written by her friend, which had really rubbed her the wrong way. And we even touched on her menstrual cycle, an excerpt from that particular pocket of conversation sounding something like this:

“Ugh, I’m so bloated. I’m on my period. Let’s go somewhere with food instead.”

This changed everything. Our original destination was my go-to. I knew the chi. I knew the floor plan. I knew my moves, and I knew that even if things were to go further downhill, a few drinks would only set me back anywhere between $12–15. But before I had a chance for a rebuttal, she’d ducked into one of the city’s most esteemed and pretentious fine dining establishments, pulling my lifeless body in behind her.

She led me to a high-top near the bar, dropped her jacket and purse, and began walking around the restaurant, greeting what I could only assume were either various friends or groups of complete strangers. I sat on my stool, considering whether or not I might have accidentally ingested peyote.

“I know, like, a million people here,” she eventually reported back.

“Oh, cool,” was all I could muster up.

She shuffled around on her stool, finally just deciding to perch atop it on her knees and scan the room, much like an attentive meerkat on the lookout for predators. She reached for her phone, which, to little surprise, had a completely shattered screen. After reading a few messages aloud, sending a couple of quick responses, and scrolling through her Instagram feed with a double tap here and there, she decided that she’d shift positions once more, this time placing her backside on the stool and her feet in my lap. “I just like to be touched,” she confessed.

We ordered a pair of $12 cocktails, which did a mediocre job in softening the blow of the $19 cheeseburger. She talked about her last date, and about how the guy wore a “Thrasher” shirt, which she pegged as inauthentic, because she could tell he didn’t skate. She talked about her desire to move to New York City, because “San Francisco is sleepy and yeah, [she] might be 29, but [she’s] still a party girl.” She talked about her period some more. She looked at her phone again and said, “Oh, some guy just Super Liked me on Tinder!”

Our food arrived, and I approached my burger as I approach all burgers — strategically, charting a deliberate roadmap to maximize every bite. Shortly after a very important set-up bite to put myself in position for a strong final bite, I took a brief pause to chew and polish off a few fries. Right around this time, life began moving in slow motion as I noticed her hand breach my Plate Zone, pinch my precious final bite between its index finger and thumb, and direct it straight into her mouth. If my will had been damaged before, it was now broken.

We finished up, and I thanklessly footed the bill. While I was scribbling in the tip, she hopped off her stool and patted her stomach with two open hands, like a backwoods uncle who’d just got done shotgunning a Busch in his front yard.

“I’m tired. I want to go home and put on my PJs,” she said.

“Huh,” I thought to myself, “maybe she really did have to go to the bathroom five times to use the toilet and not to use her nose to inhale cocaine.”

“Okay, I can walk you home,” I offered, because my name is Ryan Overhiser: The Sap, The Sucker.

The walk was long, and by the time we strolled up to her place, it was well after midnight. I was tired, too. But I sensed what was coming.

“Come up for a glass of wine. I want snuggles,” she said. My initial “ah, I really should get going” was thwarted by her persistence, and I quickly found myself walking up the stairs to her apartment. Because my name is Ryan Overhiser: The Moron, The Masochist.

Once inside, she got changed, poured us some wine, and put an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” on her laptop. We “snuggled” in her bed, her back to my chest while she cycled through her phone. “This is the textbook definition of modern romance,” I said to myself.

Just as my arm started to go numb, pinned underneath her ribcage, I heard a subtle snore and realized she’d fallen asleep. I tried to maneuver my extremity out, sliding it slowly and carefully, like a spatula beneath the first pancake of the batch. I nearly succeeded, but at the last moment, she stirred and let out one of those I’m-sleeping-but-I’m-kind-of-awake-now grunts.

“I’m going to head out,” I whispered. Another grunt, followed by a mumble. I grabbed my shoes and jacket and made my way to the door while Anthony Bourdain described the wonders of the Colombian countryside. I heard something inaudible come from the bed as I crossed the threshold into the hallway. “Okay, yeah, you too,” I blindly replied and closed the door behind me.

The clock was approaching 2:00am as I walked home on empty, eerily quiet streets, questioning the universe, shaking my head, and laughing to myself. I was confused. I was entertained. And I was, and still am, unsure if I was utterly disgusted or completely and totally head over heels in love. But hey, maybe I’ll get my answer on Saturday. We’re getting coffee!

This story was originally published on my Medium.