—Friday, November 25, 2011—
A date, like many things, is best created piece by piece, assembled by hand and created as a team. Both people need to be on the same page in order to build something that will last.
I was headed to Mikaela’s apartment for our second date. It was my second second date in two days, after spending Thanksgiving with Stefanie the day before, and we were going to build something. I needed to get another date in that week, she needed to assemble a dresser she had ordered and, since we both wanted to go out with each other again, it worked out quite well.
Not really knowing what we would need, I packed up some simple tools. In my backpack were a hammer, some wrenches, a screwdriver and a couple other handy items. I also made sure to pack an extra shirt in case things got sweaty.
Although I was ready to head out, I had to wait for my buddy Mike to stop by and drop off a cardboard cutout of me in my underwear. It was a bit of an odd thing to have in my home, but I was a bit of an odd guy.
Since I was running late, I texted Mikaela to let her know I wouldn’t be there on time, but we’d be at her apartment and on our own schedule, so I doubted it would be a big deal.
The last time I’d been out with Mikaela was for our Shooting Range Date, which ended up being a fun adventure and although I didn’t mention it explicitly in that post, she had stayed over that night. Nothing very salacious happened though. Rather, I learned that she was not comfortable with one night hook ups and that being intimate, in general, was not something she was interested in with most men.
Despite the fact that I was the complete opposite in that regard, I still thought she was an interesting person to be around and I wanted to get to know her more. And while I planned on staying over that night, I didn’t expect anything serious to happen between the sheets.
It took me an Old York minute (one hour) to get to her place in Park Slope, but I was only 30 minutes later than originally planned. A neighbor opened the front door as I called Mikaela to ask for her apartment number. She told me the number but also said that it was unmarked.
I climbed the stairs to her floor and when I got there I had no idea which door was hers. I walked the length of the hallway and was doubling back again when she opened her door to locate me.
Our greeting had an air of “it’s been so long,” but in reality, it hadn’t been. Our first date was only about a month earlier and she had gone to one of my shows a week later. We also chatted and texted on occasion, so I didn’t feel out of touch. Maybe it felt that way simply because we were not a part of each other’s lives yet. I gave her a hug and put my bag down.
I was informed that dinner was nearly ready and she expressed hope that I enjoyed Brussels sprouts. Luckily for us both, I loved those little suckers. She had been kind enough to text me about dietary choices ahead of time. Since she was predominantly vegetarian, she ate a number of things on a normal basis that I probably did not. It was very nice of her to be so considerate.
Also, let’s back up and appreciate how kind it was of her to not only welcome me into her home on our second date but to cook dinner for me as well. I was a lucky human.
Mikaela’s studio apartment wasn’t huge but I imagined it was nearly the perfect size. A kitchen area in one corner was bustling with the goodness of a home cooked meal, while her new couch sat across from it. Her mattress laid in the third, far corner, still on the ground without a frame. She hadn’t lived there for too long, but by her account, it had been too long to still have a mattress on the floor.
I was instructed to pick out some music from her computer and after sifting past artists A through D, I settled on a collection of Elvis songs. I often forget how classic his catalog is.
She asked about my Thanksgiving Day date, which had been the day prior, and I gave her the gist of it. One of the potentially uncomfortable details of putting all of these dates on social media was that there was always the chance for any of the women involved to know exactly when my last date was and what I had done for it. Some even read the posts and knew which ones I liked the best. Fortunately, I had never felt awkward talking about dating with Mikaela, so I didn’t feel odd breaching the subject with her that night.
In return, I asked Mikaela how her Thanksgiving had been and she told me that she spent it alone. She was going to spend it with a friend but there had been an irresponsible mother involved and the two of them never made it to the scheduled meal.
Of course, I felt bad, but not as bad as I would have felt for someone else. Mikaela was incredibly independent and to me, seemed like one of the most well-equipped people to deal with spending a holiday alone. If she was upset about it, she hid it very well.
I told her about my friend Mike visiting and we both talked about our workdays, or lack of a workday for Mikaela. She also commented about how she had no chairs or a table in her apartment, which did not make it too ideal for hosting, but I didn’t mind. Between the couch and kitchen island, we were going to be just fine.
Maybe I was getting ahead of myself, but with Mikaela and I casually chatting about our days and her cooking dinner for the two of us, I kept imagining her place as if we both lived there.
It was the ideal space to share with a wonderful live-in girlfriend. I knew I was romanticizing the notion to a grand extent, but I liked the idea of living in close quarters with a woman. There was something sexy about it. Though, I was sure that the first few bowel movements would quickly strip away that glossy sheen.
Dinner was served: salmon, Brussels sprout medley and wild rice. Everything was delicious. We sat on her couch and ate while discussing the finer points of life and higher education. Mikaela’s academic routine in college had deviated greatly from my own approach. This was unsurprising given our very different personalities, but they had each worked for us in their own ways.
We sat for a few minutes after eating before we recognized that it was nigh time we should build the gosh dern dresser we’d planned on building. Mikaela apologized for not making a desert but said that she had a few sweets for later. I really didn’t need a dessert, but with talk of potential sweets, I was all ears.
All of the pieces, fasteners, nuts and bolts were already out of the box. Mikaela had attempted to start the assembly one night at 2 a.m. and got as far as sticking a few dowels into a few shelf panels. Not a lot to start with, but better than nothing. It wasn’t a true construction project after all — we were assembling a West Elm dresser that had arrived in a box.
She put me in charge of the directions and informed me that I could also serve as main carpenter. As we began assembling the individual shelves, I talked to Mikaela about my dad being a carpenter and general handyman, and how I wished like hell I had taken on more of his skills. I was a handless computer geek compared to him.
Despite my lack of training, everything was coming together nicely. The drawers looked good one we had them together.
We needed some new music, which put us on the subject of what bands we had listened to in our teens. We both liked punk music but Mikaela’s taste was roughly ten years ahead of mine, so she was definitely cooler than me in this regard. The bands I had liked were merely influenced by the bands that she had liked. This reminded me acutely of a conversation I had while on Burlesque Date.
I’ll admit, all of the dresser assembling stuff really wasn’t so difficult. The directions which had once seemed complicated were actually quite straightforward. Mikaela and I were a good team too, both pulling our own weight and cooperating on just about everything. It was nice and refreshing. I can remember so many times in past relationships when accomplishing tasks together had been a pain in the ass. I can’t say it spoke well of those relationships in the end.
The first time I met Mikaela, I remember thinking it would be difficult to spend large amounts of time with her, probably because she was nervous and talked my ear off. But by the time of this date, we were more comfortable around each other and I found spending a long period of time with her quite easy. There was always something to talk about with her.
Check this out! The main framework sort of looked like it was together. We just needed to put on the rear panel. To my dismay, the panel was the only one which didn’t have all the holes pre-drilled. As such, it took us a little longer to attach it and we really had to work together as a team. One person held the panel, another hammered, screwed and adjusted. The process was repeated, each of us alternating tasks, until the rear panel was securely fastened to the rest of the frame.
We were almost there. The legs would bring it all into focus. We each grabbed a couple of the phallic little legs and screwed them on.
ON YOUR FEET, SOLDIER! We flipped the dresser up on its feet and slid the drawers into their tracks.
All finished. It was done. Look at that beauty!
We cleared some things out of the corner of her entranceway and moved the dresser into its final destination. It looked good there — a solid choice on her part.
I rounded up the few tools we had used and we cleaned up the mess we had made in her apartment.
Mikaela took to her refrigerator and pantry to see what she could whip up for dessert. Within a matter of minutes, she had thrown together a pile of chocolate, marshmallow and some other tasty bits, which all made its way into the oven. Once it was all melted together, we had ourselves a cohesive dessert. It was messy, and not the easiest thing in the world to eat, but it was fantastic.
It was getting late as the sugar rush from dessert wore off and she asked if I’d like to get ready for bed, which I indeed wanted to do. We both used the bathroom and generally prepared for slumber as music played quietly in the background.
Mikaela and I crawled into the low laying mattress, and after some awkward pillow talk, I kissed her.
It was an interesting compulsion, the sexual attraction thing I had towards Mikaela, because although I knew from previous experience that nothing heavy would happen, I attempted it anyway. I knew that Mikaela would kiss me and touch me and get me all riled up. I knew that I would desperately want to have sex. And I knew that she wouldn’t do that. I knew that pants would not even come off. And yet, I attempted it.
I’m tempted to say “men are so desperate” but really, I was so desperate. There are few things I would attempt given a guaranteed chance of failure, but sexual attraction is very hard to quell.
The question becomes, why was I desperate?
Was it merely my sex drive? Did I have so much testosterone, that I just had to reproduce? Judging by most every other part of my physiology, that seemed unlikely. Even then, I’d had sex recently, so why did I feel that I needed it from Mikaela?
Was it some kind of competition with myself? Was I proving to myself that I could be a sexual being? That was the sort of King of the Jungle bullshit I tried to steer clear of, but maybe it was there, hidden beneath the surface. Maybe I was no better than all the other meatheads.
Or possibly, I was just lonely and I didn’t know how to cope? Without someone there all the time, sex seemed like an okay replacement. It served as a temporary facsimile of a relationship and made me feel loved for a brief moment. Right? Maybe?
I hadn’t stuck to the game plan to build the date piece by piece. Mikaela and I were on different pages and that had become obvious. I was a carpenter, hammer in hand, with a box full of nails and my lumber hadn’t even been cut yet. Mikaela was taking care to ensure that no one got hurt on the job and I was walking around the worksite with running chainsaw. Mikaela was restraint while I was aggression.
I wasn’t sure about any of those thoughts in my head that night. I don’t know that I have any answers now, but as I fell asleep next to Mikaela, I wished I hadn’t put myself in such a frustrating position. I was happy to be sharing a bed with her, but I had clearly given myself more to worry about than to celebrate.
—Saturday, November 26, 2011—
I collected my belongings the next morning and thanked Mikaela for a great night before making my way to the train. Together, we had built a dresser, and all on my own, I built a sexual tension that would have to wait until I got home to Queens to be relieved.