—Friday, July 29, 2011—
Truth: I hate it when women see my apartment looking like a mess.
For a few hours, I’d been cleaning my apartment and making sure everything looked decent while Norah rode the bus from Boston. I folded laundry, made my bed, organized the clutter, scrubbed the bathroom and assured that the living room looked like a decent place to exist despite not having a television. I was sitting at my computer, right next to a running box fan, and I was listening to music when I saw that Norah was calling me.
She told me she was at my place and I rushed to buzz her in, figuring I may not have heard the buzzer buzzing in the kitchen. As I heard the buzzer buzz three floors down, I could also hear Norah’s voice — both through my phone and through my apartment door. She was standing right outside my door in the hallway when I opened it a second later, still on the phone with me.
Norah informed me that she was able to get into my building due to the open front door. Then, when I didn’t answer her knocking, she had walked into my mostly dark apartment, stood in the middle of my living room, with a song playing from her iPhone and loudly spoke my name. Getting worried that she had just wandered into a stranger’s home, Norah retreated back into the hallway and called my phone.
I guess my music was on a bit louder than I thought.
We greeted each other with a hug and a “so good to see you.”
I knew Norah from college. College which, for me, had ended just over three years earlier. Norah and I had been, what I would deem friends, for approximately six months at the time of our date, maybe even less. She’d gone from acquaintance to confidant in a very short amount of time and was one of the fastest friends I’d ever made. She had an awesome personality — open minded, kind and friendly — and was super cute to boot!
We had developed a unique relationship which blurred the lines of friendship and romance for something that was both wholeheartedly comfortable and on the edge of its seat. It was ill-defined and yet extremely pleasant. We had each gained an importance in each other’s lives without demanding each other’s time nor energy. Recently, Norah had been one of my best friends and yet she retained that excitement associated with new people in my life. It was the best of both worlds: daring and yet, honest.
Before we set out on our Truth or Dare Date, we established some ground rules:
No dares which would likely result in arrest.
All Truths could be turned back on the inquisitor without the loss of a turn.
No familial shaming, e.g. “Call your father and confess that you’ll be having a child.”
We sat on my bed as we finalized the rules and eventually fell into talking about our respective days at work. Eventually, we needed to get going. Norah and I were both hungry and it was getting late to start such an adventurous date.
There was really only one way to begin:
“Truth or Dare?” I asked.
Norah chose Dare.
“Make out with me,” I said to her.
Surprisingly enough, the dare was well received and we totally made out.
Once we’d gotten past that inevitable moment in the evening, we could actually head out to dinner. I say ‘inevitable’ because Norah and I had made out the last few times we’d seen each other, not because all women made out with me on dates.
As we left the apartment, Norah took her first turn and I selected Truth. She asked me which of my dates thus far had been my favorite and she knew me well enough to guess my favorite even before I told her, She was not surprised when I gave her my answer, though at this point, I can’t recall which date I told her. Probably Wedding Date, because it was so adventurous.
Norah opted for a Truth as we walked down the street towards local eatery Sparrow. I asked her if she’d ever had a crush on a teacher, professor, or coach. She had to think about it a bit before coming up with an answer and then turned it back on me. As we were being seated at the restaurant, I told her about the International Studies professor I had back at school who was an absolute dream. [Dr. Terry-Ann Jones: If you’re out there and single, I’ve loved you for years.] The waitress handed us our menus and two waters arrived shortly. Staying well hydrated is an underrated aspect of good dating.
Our waitress pointed out the specials on a board behind me and I snarled at how gross pâté was, despite having never tried it. Norah’s next move was to dare me to order the pâté. And so it was that I would eat pâté for the first time in my life.
Not everything we talked about was related to the ongoing game of Truth or Dare — we merely kept it in the air at all times. There was real date stuff going on as well.
Once we placed our orders, Norah chose Dare. With our refreshing summer cocktails in hand, we proceeded to play the Penis Game in the crowded gastro-pub. Just in case you’ve never been a suburban kid in middle school or high school, the Penis Game is a simple game in which, starting quietly, each player attempts to say the word ‘Penis’ louder than the previous player. After a few rounds at shouting volume, Norah took first prize. I was not surprised. I expected to lose that one. As was to be expected in NYC, only a few people even turned to look at us.
From there we launched into a series of Truths. The pâté, I shall have you know, was actually fairly decent despite not being my favorite thing on the planet. Norah asked why I loved my most recent ex, who I was unabashedly, and even foolishly, in love with. I asked Norah the same of her most recent. We had talked about our exes a good amount in the past. It was actually one of the things we connected over originally.
I provided Norah with the same reason I’d given everyone who ever asked that same question: I had no good excuse for why I loved her and that was exactly why I believed in it so much. Irrational, I know, but how was it that I could have felt so strongly f0r someone who, in many ways, it didn’t make any sense for me to even be with? The only explanation was that it was love. Real, honest to goodness love. I was crazy about her. Crazy being an operative word there.
As we picked through our dishes, Norah and I mostly went back and forth on a variety of Truths, in between which a bevy of follow up questions are asked. It was extremely difficult to wade through such loaded questions and not want to know more and so we broke the form of the game to explore things as they arose organically. That stretch of exploration was really what made playing Truth or Dare such a good date. It was an exciting and engaging way to go beyond the typical questions asked on a date and to find surprising answers in the other person.
Throughout our meal, the questions included:
“Why did you originally reconnect with me?”
“What’s your biggest sexual insecurity?”
“Who were your crushes in college?”
“What was your best sexual experience?”
“How many people have you slept with?”
“Do you like going down on girls/guys?”
Clearly, sex was on our minds, but when you’re in your early to mid twenties and you have free reign to ask someone of the opposite gender whatever you want, what else are you going to talk about? It was refreshing to be honest and candid with someone about things most people don’t ask about or offer up as information. Plus, those questions merely served as tinder to much greater discussion filled with details previously unknown to either party. It made for great dinner conversation.
Norah dared me to ask our waitress for her number. I told her I would do it on the way out. A bit later, I dared Norah to make a scene and break up with me when the check came. After that, I would ask the waitress for her number. By the time we finished our meal, it appeared that our server’s shift had ended, so neither of those dares came to fruition. Too bad. Those were both good ones.
We strolled down the sidewalk and around the corner in search of a not-so-distant bar where we could keep the game going. On the way, we found ourselves passing by a school surrounded by high fences and scaffolding. The place had been under construction all summer.
I chose Dare, when Norah next asked me, and she dared me to scale the fence into the closed school grounds. I was up the scaffolding and over the fence in a few seconds. She told me to meet her on the other side of the school. On my way to the back of the grounds, I saw that I was cut off from the blacktop by a fairly large fence, which I then had to scale. I dropped down on the other side and saw Norah coming around the block. I then saw that my only way out of the next entrapment was to scale another double-high fence. Usually, such a task wouldn’t be difficult, but as I was wearing only flip flops on my feet, it was a pain in the ass. I dropped down again. Dare complete. We directed some lost drunks towards a beer garden and headed on our way.
The game slowed down a bit as we walked to the bar. The structure faded as we simply talked to one another like adults. We sauntered into a local pub and found two seats at the bar.
Two blue collar guys in their thirties were next to us, chatting it up with the staff. They gave a friendly hello and I dared Norah to flirt with them. I could see quickly that it would be the end of our night. Jimmy, and his cousin Andrew, were as drunk as skunks and they were loving Norah. They cracked me up at first, but eventually it became boring to not have a date any more. Jim was saying whatever he could to win Norah’s favor.
Between exchanges with Jimmy, Andrew and Norah, I talked to the bartenders a bit and everyone seemed a little surprised to find out that Norah was not my girlfriend. Moreover, they were confused why I was there with her and why I was letting Jimmy and Andrew take up all her time. Only Norah and I knew what was going on, which was why it ended up being fun. Forty-five minutes later, the pair of plumbers from Queens called it quits and went home for the night, but not before getting Norah’s number.
We finished our beers and walked home under the summer night’s sky. It was about 3:30 a.m. as we sat back in my bedroom and Norah asked me, for the last time, “Truth or Dare?”
“Dare,” I said.
“Play me a song on your guitar,” she demanded.
And so, as quietly as possible, I sang her a song about a woman I once loved so loudly that the reverberations can still be heard in my life today. Truth.