History Class

first date

This tag is associated with 4 posts

Smoke and Mirrors

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy...

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy…

There’s an undeniably perverse sex appeal to smoking that transcends rhyme or reason.

I know, I don’t like it either. It’s a bad penny that keeps showing up in your pocket, covered in grime, but somehow still works. I can’t help seeing it and thinking, “Yea, alright then. I’ll let it slide.” Somehow still ups the tally.

The guy from this week (yet to be named; I’m waiting to see if date two occurs) is a smoker. Said he’s quitting, but I suspect that’s a dating ploy. So many people list is as a dealbreaker, he’s probably adapted to social norms. I’d much rather people be unapologetic. The Mistake was a smoker, and didn’t claim otherwise; he simply made sure I had a full drink and was content before popping outside for a quick one. But unlike with him, this week I joined.

When a date smokes, I usually send them out on their own and amuse myself talking to the server/bartender/surrounding patrons. I’m perfectly comfortable taking care of myself, and I appreciate the added proof to the guy that I don’t need his constant presence to enjoy my night. I’m not clingy, and don’t require incessant attention. It’s monotonous.

Unless you smoke gross cigarettes. A coworker of mine smokes something nasty, and each time we talk after a break outside, I have to fight gagging. And these excursions occur every twenty minutes. I don’t know which poison of choice he carries, but the smell trails after him like a shadow of ash and odor. It’s awful.

Some don’t bother me; I think it’s the more natural tobacco. The scent triggers memories of college parties and nights with Big Bro’s friends in Philly or home. It’s basement shows and late-night rages, wandering South Street for pizza and following DJ sounds to a new dive. They’re good memories. And I smoke hookah anyway, so not all tobacco rubs me wrong. As a social smoker, I see the shared enjoyment of it. The communal moments circled around a shisha or ashtray. The particular intimacy of a shared cigarette, or leaning to accept someone’s offered flame. There is something illicit in such communion; it’s dark and alluring.

What does hit me wrong are the brands crafted solely for chain smokers. You can actually smell the addiction in the air. It’s all strained teeth, yellow skin, and cancer. It’s my aunt’s chemo, head scarves, and funeral. It’s the kids that barely survived our high school, and a few that didn’t. They smell of degenerates, death, and dumbasses. I might date smartasses, and a few jackasses– but I never date dumbasses. If a were ever out with a guy that smoked these, he would never reach date two. Kissing these smokers is like kissing an ashtray of disease. Just don’t do it. I don’t want all of my kisses to taste bad.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

Thankfully, Mystery Man’s smoke doesn’t bother me. In fact, I switched it up and joined his breaks this week. He seemed a little more nervous than me, and relaxed more in his zone. Our bartender is an industry acquaintance, and was more than entertaining on the patio. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to ensure him that I don’t mind cigarettes, though I don’t personally partake. I mentioned hookah, and he perked up that he had never tried it but was curious. So I explained, and added that one of my goals during my time in the Middle East was to learn how to blow smoke rings. We compared notes on the easiest way to make them, and promised I’d show him a few great spots if he’d like. I think this is when the date turned to more comfortable level for us both. The chemistry ignited and caught fire.

So he’s an interesting one. He’s older (a topic to be discussed in my upcoming article, “What’s Your Number?”), taller (despite size not always mattering, I really do enjoy a 6″4 guy), and new to the area. I love new people. Showing them around, sharing the city as I know it… nothing beats it. Because they’re just as excited as I am; others who have lived here as long or longer than I are typically calmer or more jaded about our town. I prefer the excitement.

And he is subtly exciting. He’s old enough to know who he is, what he wants, but young enough to still want something new. He lives rather far out in suburbia, and deeply regrets it– something I find attractive. I only want to see people interested in being in the middle of it all. He is rather good at dropping the most interesting comments into conversation in the most quietly unassuming way. Instead of asking if I like Doctor Who, he mentions how our topic is like an episode. (And I fucking love Doctor Who– very geek chic.) While talking about how he didn’t start drinking until his later-20’s, he modestly credited it to having to be out on his own at age 17, being responsible with a full-time job instead of partying. In lieu of declaring the much-sought-after ability to keep rhythm and dance, he broke off mid-thought and said he loves the blues tune the band was playing, and the inspiration to dance was distracting him. He loves live music, but also likes to be able to hear the person he’s with? Alright, then– let’s move to the back bar, where it’s a little quieter. And hey, there’s even a real fire back there! (Both figuratively and literally.)

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

He’s comfortable with who he is. He admitted the first thing he drank was a period of Rumplemints (of which he had to get the bartender to hit me a shot, since my lack-of-girly-drinking had never had it). So maybe he actually is unapologetic in personality; he laughed enough at himself for it, and maintains it’s a delicious liquor. He mentions his experiences being single in DC in a relaxed way, and has no problem with questions. He asks some on his own, too. By the end of the night, he offered to drive me home. We parked outside my house to finish a conversation long enough to make me wonder if I should kiss him. But I refrained; I made the first move twice with him already. First, in contacting him; second, in asking him out. I know he’s older, but he needs to make the next move.  I need him to make the next move.

When I mentioned earlier in the night that I usually go to Madam’s on Thursdays for salsa and karaoke, he looked thoughtful and said he could probably make it. So I texted him yesterday that my friends are definitely going; he has an early flight Friday, and said maybe. Today, I texted that I promise the roof patio will be open to smoke this time, and I promise I won’t make him do birthday cake shots with the bartender again. He wrote back laughing. I understand flights and late nights don’t mix, but I can’t help hanging on the suspense if he’ll put in the effort. (And therefore judging a possible lack of it if he doesn’t show.) He’s attractive, tall, older, interesting– and fuck me, he looked hot smoking those damned cigarettes.

I don’t know if his smoke is hiding mirrors or if this is a genuine and sustainable interest, but color me intrigued.

Late– for a Very Important Date!

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Hint: never leave a girl waiting at the bar.

Or at least it could have been.

Waiting for a date at Jack Rose, I learned more about Notre Dame basketball than I care to remember (my F’in Irish friends would be so proud). By the time he arrived, I had already turned one attractive guy down and had been chatted up by the charismatic bartender for a solid fifteen minutes.

Here’s the thing about being late: it’s not just what it says about your priorities on meeting me. It’s not just my time you waste. It’s about the interest you lose to the hotter, more ambitious men at the bar who are not only approaching me– they’re present. Too bad this kid struck out before he even arrived.

I swear, I gave him a chance. He was as tall as advertised. Definitely as smart. But just not as cute, and his lack of punctuality cost him. Time is money, no? This is why, when I give advice to guy friends, I tell them to get there early. That way, they don’t leave opportunity for this to occur. And bonus: they have time to down a Scotch to calm any nerves. [Or just to enjoy in solitude.] Honestly, that’s why I don’t mind arriving first. Just sucks for the guy when the unfortunate happens…

He shoots! He misses...

He shoots! He misses…

The dating collateral lost by running late creates a sub- or fully-conscious predisposition to judge any further dealings with you at that level. Before you even take your seat, I’ve seen cute guys. I’ve been hit on by cute guys. And now, I expect you to match or improve on my night so far. No matter how cute some of you are, these memories will remain. If, at the beginning, I think, “this bartender is hot”– at the end, I will still think, “this bartender is hot”. With the addition of “and my date is not”.

Sorry, but the truth’s a bitch. If he had shown up on time, I wouldn’t have had attractive experiences to get me all charged up for disappointment. I still wouldn’t have been attracted enough for a second date either way [probably not]. But it might’ve been a more successful date [maybe]. He at least might have had the chance to ask to meet up again [unlikely]. Instead, we had interesting conversation while I internally had to block myself from scoping out the bartender too often.

The night would've gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck...

The night would’ve gone so differently if the bartender had been wearing that awful turtleneck…

So while you’re banging you head against the metro door, cursing yourself for running late [or just not giving a shit, because you’re an asshole], just remember this: all those thoughts of the girl you’re meeting being stolen by some charming stranger at the bar? It isn’t paranoia. It’s actually happening.

Because while my date was struggling with the Red Line, I had a bourbon bought by the bartender who then introduced himself, asked again where I mentioned I work, and talked about returning the favor by coming to visit my bar sometime.

Guess who had my number in their pocket by the end of the night.

Does size matter?

I swear I’m going as her for Halloween one of these years– any takers to be my Roger?

Get your minds out of the gutter– I’m talking about height.

As a rather tall woman myself [stretching out to an often-contested but even 6″], height has played quite a role in my life. But hey– if Jessica Rabbit was a statuesque sex symbol with a shorter, adoring man, then anything is possible, right? I keep repeating a favorite book quote in my head while thinking about this post, “We’re all the same height lying down.” (Kudos if you comment where it’s from!)

There are some pretty ridiculous variables that go into attraction and compatibility, so there’s no point in borrowing trouble and making up new ones… but size is undeniable. Tradition– and basic animal instinct– dictates a larger male/ smaller female dichotomy. But is it required, or just a socially-learned habit?

I don’t know how many times girlfriends joked that it would be great if I were a guy, because I’m their favorite height. Or guy friends tried flattering me by saying they would totally date me if I were shorter– as if that would make a girl feel better, you goobers.

My new standard response. LOVE IT

Apparently it doesn’t bother one of my guy friends (let’s call him Theon, because he’ll like that). He’s dated girls an inch or so taller, and had no problem with it; he actually thinks it’s girls that are ones uncomfortable with the role reversal. A girlfriend and I responded that we always thought it was guys with the height hang-up, and that taller women make them feel less manly or something. Theon laughed and said that he always feels like a man, so he doesn’t have a problem with it… for the most part. “Only, when you’re holding hands with a taller girl, your arm lengths are mismatched and it gets tiring bending your elbow all the time. It’s very hard to look cool with the awkward elbow…”

Awkward elbows aside, I’ve heard the same from several other average-height male friends. My co-worker [of the “Shit Charming Guys Say” article] says that taller women have a certain attitude that he finds attractive– he often tells me that he loves the way I walk around the restaurant with this calm confidence that says “don’t mess with me”. He then proceeds to attempt an imitation, and always fails miserably with a huge grin on his face. But his bottom line is that height doesn’t matter so much as body type. The taller women he’s dated were up to four inches taller, but curvy or slim; compared to his built, stocky figure, it matches. So I’m thinking that Pop-eye and Olive Oil might have been an appropriate representation?

Men don’t have to be taller to be charming.

My romantic history is in no way restricted to 6″4 giants– I’m an equal-opportunity dater! A number of past interests were just my height (which means slightly shorter, since I’ve great posture and a lot of guys don’t), and a few shorter. One was even significantly shorter– by a good five inches. I mostly attribute that to the fact we were friends first (persistence really can earn you a ticket out of the Friend Zone!) Another factor, though, was body type. He might’ve been shorter, but he was stocky and muscular, and I never felt big around him. Despite our reversed vertical roles, he always made me feel properly portioned and feminine.

My problem has always been that dancing and music play very big roles in my life, and mechanical issues arise with shorter guys. Especially since I also like wearing heels on occasion. So it has a lot to do with attitude and self-esteem. Do you have the confidence to date someone of the opposite height-expectation? It worked out the one time with my shorter guy, we danced naturally and had a blast with it. If you’re attracted to them and get along, isn’t the rest just a bunch of details to iron out later? You can always figure out a way to hold hands without the awkward elbow somewhere down the road.

Last night, I met up with a guy that I knew was an inch or so shorter [let’s call him the Classicist, over our shared love of ancient history]. He’s rather cute, and intriguing as hell, so I rolled with it and figured I’d have interesting conversation over drinks at the very least. It went better than well– by the end, we both admitted we hadn’t had such a great time talking to someone in a long while. And he dances; when the subject came up, he jumped on it enthusiastically. At the very end, as we decided we both had fun and would like to meet up again, he leaned in for a good night kiss– that also went very well. So I think we might be able to figure our vertical differences out… we’ll see.

Go On, and Kiss the Girl

If I don’t want to kiss a guy by the end of a first date, then what’s the point? There, I said it.

I’m not in the market for a frog prince—I’d like a post-transformation guy, with no sign of sliminess to be seen. I really don’t think that is too much to ask.

I’m not saying there’s always a goodnight kiss—I know I’m a forward girl, but it’s not always the right time. BUT if that lack of a kiss isn’t disappointing—or if it’s preferable, even—then I don’t think we’re in the cards at all. That fundamental desire has to be there.

There’s a question asked about first dates: do you expect to determine your compatibility emotionally, spiritually, financially, or sexually by the end of it? My answer is definitely physical compatibility. It’s always been the easiest for me to determine, but not because I’ve a specific ‘type’. I actually have crazy eclectic taste.

There just needs to be that certain sort of spark, on top of whatever about various guys is attractive to me. I generally like them tall and lanky, though some more muscular guys have been thrown in the mix. Blondes aren’t on the list too often, but it’s always a personality thing and not physicality. Eye color doesn’t have much impact—I like the whole color wheel. I’m bigger on eye CONTACT. And someone who’s comfortable in their own skin.

I might find out something incompatible intellectually about a guy further on—say, he’s actually a neo-fascist with the hots for Mubarak, or maybe a closeted NRA member running around in a Democrat’s clothing—but I might not find that out the first date. What I CAN find out without much detail is if I want to kiss him, and by the end of the night if there’s potential for more.

I also wait to see if he’ll make the first move to kiss me. My history has seen a lot of kissing initiated by yours truly rather than the guy, because at that age I “intimidated the hell” out of guys. I’m not all that old-fashioned, it is more about testing him out. I can be a bit of a headstrong girl, so when it comes down to it, I want to know if the guy sees my challenge and wants to meet it.

Recently, I was on a really cute date. The night had gone great, definitely feeling mutual vibes going on, and we had already talked about meeting up again several times. Since we were in my neighborhood, he offered to walk me home, and did the dragging-out-conversation-on-the-front-stoop” cliche, that eventually ended with “so, can I kiss you?” I made the wise choice, and nodded. It definitely added to the night.

If it’s a first date– especially a blind date– I think it’s alright for the guy to ask as his segue into a goodnight kiss. Typically, I’d rather a guy just go for it, but this time around it was damn charming. Maybe it was his puppy-dog brown eyes, or scruffy dimples, or just the whole combination in general… but it worked.

This spark just might be catching flame.

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