I left work yesterday and headed back to the city, calling Mike and telling him to come over for dinner. As I crossed the bridge, the desire to actually cook something dissolved and I called Mike back.
“Want to go out? Kate’s working at the Fillmore Grill tonight. Let’s just meet there.”
I was early, and after I waved at Kate in her fancy little dress-shirt, necktie and apron, I saddled up to the bar and ordered a drink. Without a book, I could only re-read the wine-list for so long without looking like an idiot. I began to eavesdrop on the couple next to me, on what I guessed was their third date.
Both of them were “on”, sitting up super straight and engaging each other is forced witty banter. I was in heaven, watching 30-something bald guy overcompensate by rambling on about his high school band while 30-something desperate spinster was just happy she wasn’t me, sitting at a bar alone on Valentine’s Day.
Kate came up to the bar and grabbed a water.
“Hey Kate. I need a piece of paper.”
“To take notes.”
“For the blog?”
“I didn’t know you did that.”
“Well, now you do. Normally, I have a notebook, but…”
Kate had already run off, rapidly returning with a huge piece of Fillmore Grill notepaper from the upstairs office. I pulled out a pen at the most defining moment of any date conversation.
Bald guy looked at his date and loudly asked, “So what’s your favorite movie?”
Yes! Oh, this is so good. I’m so glad this is the conversation I’m eavesdropping on. This could not be more fabulous. Had either of them looked over, they’d have seen me leaning in, pen ready to strike paper. I was waiting for her to say something wonderfully judge-able, like Must Love Dogs or Double Jeopardy. But she responded with the highly unimpressive, “I don’t know. What’s YOUR favorite movie?”
I think I actually cringed.
Bald guy perked up, delighted to respond with the predictable, “Shawshank Redemption! Have you seen it?”
“Of course. I love that movie.”
Duh. Everyone loves that movie. Who doesn’t like Shawshank? No one, that’s who.
“What about Usual Suspects?”
Oh my god. I could barely contain myself, I was so ready to explode. It doesn’t count if you watch it on TNT, folks. Worse, he started mis-quoting lines and doing a shitty impression of Fenster. I scribbled furiously as bald guy did the unthinkable.
“What about Animal House?”
How I didn’t pick up my wine and throw it in his face is a miracle. I sipped it instead, and took my notes. Suddenly, a well-dressed middle aged man in the jeans/blazer combo appeared next to me. He sat down, ordered a beer, pulled out a leather-bound notebook and began writing.
What the fuck? This guy is ripping me off.
There’s only room for one mysterious barstool note-taker pal, and I was here first.
But I couldn’t help myself. “What are you writing?”
“About me. What are you writing?”
“About me. Well, actually right now it’s about the people next to me.”
“Yeah, I think they’re on their third date.”
“How do you know?”
“I can just tell. I’ve been on a lot of third dates, I guess.”
“Can I listen too? What are they talking about?”
“Movies. Ugh, they’re having a really upsetting conversation about movies.”
He looked past me and at the couple, as talk of Tommy Boy wafted by.
“Keep listening. I’ll want an update in 5 minutes.”
He returned to his journal and I returned to my piece of paper. This was an interesting turn of events, finding a kindred spirit in the jeans/blazer combo on the barstool next to me writing in his leather-bound journal.
I wrote about him and wondered if he was writing about me.
The date continued, and I picked up terrifying sentences like, “We’re having an AMAZING connection!” which I immediately reported to kindred-spirit.
Kindred-spirit was funny, offering his thoughts on the possibility of third date sex and the insecurities of the American male.
Mike soon arrived, and giggled as he walked through the restaurant watching me deep in conversation with a middle aged guy in the blazer/jeans combo with the leather bound notebook. Kate got ready to seat us and blazer/jeans said his goodbyes, off to an Anti-Valentine’s Party with a woman he has a secret crush on and her lesbian acquaintance.
“Who’s your new friend?” Mike asked, as we sat down and checked out the menu.
“He’s a kindred spirit, Michael.”
“A kindred spirit, huh? That’s very you.”
Hey, anyone that saddles up to a bar alone, pulls out a leather-bound journal and fancy pen and begins to write mysteriously is alright by me. And certainly better than anyone who, when his date goes to the ladies room, orders another round by saying, “Hey, can I get another beer for me and a glass of wine for the missus. Well, er, um, not the Mrs. Uh, she’s not my wife or anything. Um, uh, I can’t believe I just said that. Don’t tell her, okay?”
Oh my god…