Ice Skating Date

—Monday, December 12, 2011—

Oh Winter, you beautifully cold bitch, or perhaps, you terribly handsome bastard. I don’t want to assume Winter’s gender.

The week of this date, New York was experiencing one of the first decent cold streaks of the winter, so it seemed only right to get some ice skating in. I hadn’t been in years, I don’t think, so it was bound to be fun.

Lucky for me, I had been set up on this little date. My companion for the night, Kelly, was a former co-worker of my then co-worker Phil’s then girlfriend, now fiancé, Monica. Pretty easy to figure that one out, right? Let’s break it down again!

I worked with Phil. Phil’s girlfriend, now fiancé, was Monica. Monica used to work with Kelly. Monica reached out to Kelly to set up this date. Got it? Fabulous.

Kelly and I had emailed back and forth a week earlier and exchanged a few text messages the day before.  She warned me that she might fall on her “tush” and I became a tad worried that I was going out with someone who might be a bit too young for me. “Tush” was just such a silly, childish word.

Can you imagine if a woman ever whispered to you, while having sex, “put it in my tush?”

I would die from laughing. I would literally die.

Ice Skating Date 1

As I walked to Bryant Park, I already suspected that there might be some minor confusion in meeting up. I had told her to meet at the western entrance of the park and then specified the corner of 40th Street & 6th Avenue. As it turned out, those were two different locations. The western entrance to Bryant Park was at 41st & 6th. I bet most people wouldn’t really worry about this kind of thing, but if I had screwed up someone else’s logistics, it would have stressed me out.

I waited for Kelly on the corner since I figured that was the direction she would be coming from. If she was going to meet me at the entrance, she would have to walk by there first. So, I waited.

It was 7 p.m., our official meeting time, and I didn’t see Kelly yet. Maybe she was at the entrance. I walked up to 41st and searched the large, sprawling staircase on the edge of the park. She was not there, but I could wait someplace conspicuous. I stood in the middle of the stairs and texted her to tell her where I was. As my eyes scanned the area again, Kelly appeared. She hadn’t even received my text yet.

As soon as she greeted me, I could see how very bubbly and immediately friendly Kelly was. I loved it. It would be a good date, I could already tell.

So yeah, check this place out! The miserably branded Citi Pond at Bryant Park! [The sponsorship has since ben ceded to Bank of America.] I hadn’t actually been down there since winter had begun but there were a number of little “Holiday Shops” set up all around, a dining area, a bar and the ice skating rink. It was really cute. Kelly had been there before and assured me that everything the little shops sold was crap. Nevertheless, I would probably be willing to pay too much money for the junk there. It was all about the charm.

As we walked through the Winter village, I got my first introduction to Kelly, learning some basic information about her. We reviewed our loose connection to each other through Monica and Phil, what exactly she did for work at Macy’s, and inexactly what I did for work at Eze Castle. It sounded like she had one of those jobs that she’d been in for too long and maybe it was time to look for something else, but that described most everyone I knew, so maybe it didn’t say much about her specifically. I could certainly relate.

We walked around the rink, by the enormous Christmas tree, and decided to do full lap before we actually laced up to skate. She asked me about the project quite a bit — what had compelled me to do it, if finding dates was hard and questions such as those. We also talked about living in New York and what we enjoyed about it. It soon became clear that she wasn’t the innocent “tush” girl I had thought she might be. Kelly liked to party and had even injured herself that past Halloween in what might have been an alcohol related incident. She swore just as much as I did, so I knew I was in good company. I wondered where the hell that “tush” comment might have come from.

Eventually, we wrapped back around to the rink entrance and it was time to get our skate on. Kelly was understandably nervous — she hadn’t been skating in years. I tried to figure out for myself how long it had been. The last time I had been on ice skates was the spring break of my Freshman year of college, which was 2005, so it had been a little over six and a half years. That wasn’t terrible, I suppose. Definitely pretty bad though.

Ice Skating Date 2

We entered the lobby area, on the south side of the rink, and were directed towards the skate rental counter. I paid for our skates, in a sign of good faith, and Kelly thanked me. Skates in hands, we sat down to lace up our blades. I was somewhat anal about certain things, like boot laces, so Kelly got her skates on well before me and as I tied the knot of my first skate, she asked if I needed any help. No, I assured her, I was just fine. I may have been slow, but I had it covered, trust me.

To our feet we go! Oh man. I hadn’t walked on skates for years and years, it was an interesting sensation. I’m not sure if sensation is the right word, but you totally know what I’m saying.

It was kind of nerve-racking, stepping onto the ice. I assumed that I would be okay with the whole skating thing, but then again, I could have fallen flat on my ass. And what if Kelly couldn’t handle herself? I certainly didn’t know if I was good enough to support another person. We hit the ice devoid of confidence.

As I entered the rink and glided the first few feet, my body remembered what ice skating felt like. The first steps (were they really steps?) were tedious but successful. Kelly was doing just as well. It was great. We made our first loop around the rink without any hitches. Look at us! We’re doing it, mom!  We were like the big kids!!! Really though, it was a huge relief.

At the very least, we would survive the physical challenge part of the date. All we had to worry about from that point on was the date part of the date.

The conversation flowed forth with little effort as we didn’t know very much about each other, giving us plenty to discuss. College came up as a significant conversation. I had gone to a small school in the Northeast that wished it had frats or any claim to fame, and she had attended to a big Southwestern school with a nationally recognized athletic program and a party scene.

Kelly was from Pennsylvania, and though I could understand the desire to get away from this part of the country for a while, I had been too scared to branch out when I went to college. I still don’t think I’m a big state college type, but I definitely admired the desire to take on such a dramatic change of scenery.

Here’s something Kelly and I could definitely agree on: We were both jealous of the young kids in the center of the ice who were skating like little pros. They were doing all these little tricks that made us look like geriatrics leaning on our walkers.

Their flourishes reminded me of watching figure skating as a kid, which was a thing that happened fairly often. Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton and all those other hotties were household names. My mom liked to watch figure skating, and since I was often on the couch next to her, I would frequently enjoy the competitions with her while my dad and brother were busy cutting down trees or crafting weapons out of steel.

As we glided about, she told me more about her accident on Halloween. She had stumbled and hurt her chin badly, even having to go to the emergency room that night. And it had definitely involved alcohol. It was a good thing weren’t drunk. She might have fallen and I might have talked about women who wouldn’t love me.

Speaking of which. I wondered what Julie was up to that night.

The bulk of our conversation revolved around relationships and dating. We talked about our romantic histories a bit and the NYC dating scene. Her experiences with it were quite different than mine, but that was probably true of most women in New York, considering that I was a man and that I had this project. OHD frequently made my experiences atypical, no matter how normal I wanted them to be.

One thing that I found particularly unsettling about Kelly’s dating past was that she seemed to attract unfaithful men. She was at the point where she wondered if she was the problem, as if she brought it upon herself, which was so unfortunate to hear. I refused to believe that the trend was her fault.

The bottom line is that no one should have to cheat. If you don’t want to be be monogamous, be open about it and find someone who’s okay with your desires. Don’t lie to your partner and cheat on them. And while there are exceptions to every rule, I think it’s one of the worst things you can do to someone. I mean, shit, it actually makes the victim wonder if something is wrong with them. Kelly was a victim, not a perpetrator. To make her feel responsible was fucking terrible. I tried to reassure her that those were bad men and that she had been unlucky to find them.

In the future though, maybe she wanted to make sure she was not committed to someone unless they absolutely deserved it.

We were not skating for too long before they needed to do an ice cleaning. Everyone was cleared from the rink and we went to wait in the waiting area (as if you have a better name for it).

I hoped there would a Zamboni involved in this process. Yes! There was. Thank Heavens.

Kelly and I discussed the skating thus far and the skaters around us. I was surprised how many young, non-white kids there were there, many of them with their own skates. I guess I just didn’t think of large cities as popular places for ice skating, and especially not something that blacks and latinos were really into. Fuck me, right?

We also noted how once we had started skating, neither of us felt cold. A little blood moving through the body did wonders for warmth. It had been fun so far and the definitely foreign dudes next to us seemed to agree.

Finally, they let us back out onto the ice and we were doing great as we made our first few passes around. All of a sudden, a young guy cut between Kelly and I and collided with me. In that instant, I thought, “Great, this is when I fall on my ass and look like an idiot.” The other guy faltered and tumbled to the ice. Surprisingly, I steadied myself and stayed upright. Check that shit out! The perp popped right back up and apologized. I asked if he was all right and he said “Yes,” adding that being drunk probably helped. Ah. He was SWI. Got it.

We talked more about the project and if I had learned anything so far. She asked me about what happened if I fell for someone and I told her that such a thing had happened. And that it sucked.

I thought again about Julie, my Comic Con Date. I wondered what she was doing and if she was disappointed that I was on a date. I knew that she saw everything I posted online. I mean, I saw EVERYTHING she posted online. It actually drove me nuts sometimes, so maybe I did the same to her.

I was going to Boston that weekend to see her. I kept telling myself that I was going to visit friends as well, but I was really going to see Julie. I had it bad for her.

The whole wintry scene was beautiful and Hallmark perfect for a date. It would have been really amazing and cute to be doing it with someone I connected with, like Julie, and while Kelly was fun, it was kind of wasted on her. She was not my type. I could tell after ten minutes that she was not someone I would want to be with in the long run. I was not going to be cute with her. There was no heavy flirtation. She was just a really fun person and a good date.

I don’t mean to complain. I’m just retroactively venting. I would have rather been holding someone’s hand and gliding around the ice. That was what an ice skating date was all about.

I wished I had a hand to hold.

After a while longer and some more good conversation, we both decided we’d had enough of the ice. Ankles were beginning to tire and it was getting a bit colder. We retrieved our shoes and returned our skates. On our way out of the complex, we decided on a place for dinner. I had Yelped! a few places earlier, so I gave her some choices of cuisine, but she said it was up to me. I chose Cuban, so we walked two blocks down to a restaurant called Havana.

The place was relatively empty. It was Monday, after all, and late for dinner, so we got a seat without delay. The date wasn’t a bad situation, it was just a situation I was no longer psyched about, but I decided to make the best of it. We got an appetizer, ordered our meals and went for a bottle of red to get us minorly drunk.

Our conversation was pleasant and interesting. I was not bored at all, but I was just not connecting. It was my own damn fault. I couldn’t stop thinking about Julie.

The food was great. I had a shrimp paella type thing and I really enjoyed it. Kelly’s meal came with a side of beans, but she opted not to have them. I wondered if that was something a lot of women did on dates. You know, so they wouldn’t get farty. Probably a good idea. Funny though.

It was all good. The dinner was nice, but it was time to get going home.

I walked Kelly the 10 or 15 minutes to her home in Murray Hill. I hoped she would have better luck finding guys. She was very nice. She was good looking. And she was definitely fun and outgoing. She deserved much more than the lot she had been given in the past.

She was just not for me. I don’t explicitly say that about many of my dates, but that was the overarching theme of this one, especially since I knew there was someone else out there I really wanted.

I texted Julie when I got home.

Over the previous weekend, Julie had told me that she was still hung up on her ex. I told her that I was still hung up on OHD. The whole situation was pretty fucked, but she texted back excitedly and put a smile on my face.

I couldn’t wait to see her that Friday.