Blind Date

—Friday, January 13, 2012—

It was Friday the 13th, and I was in a real bonerjam.

Two out of my last three dates had cancelled on me, which meant I was two dates behind pace. I was about to wrap up the first two weeks of 2012 with only one date under my belt. I took stock of the situation during my first hour at work that day and decided that something needed to be done.

Originally, I hadn’t planned on dating that weekend and was going to accept the fact that it would set me back by one — an easy deficit to overcome. I was going up to Boston on Saturday to visit my dad for his 60th birthday, but missing that weekend would have put me three dates behind with those cancellations — too big a hole. That would be no way to start the second half of the project, so I had to find a date for that night.

With few options as to which of the remaining 49 dates I could do that night, I decided that Blind Date would be the most practical to try to land.

A blind date is all about going in without really knowing what the date will be like. Ideally, I wouldn’t know anything about her, and this was especially important when it came to what she looked like. I always hoped for the date to be about as “blind” as possible, and it seemed fitting that I arrived at work that day totally unprepared to go out with someone that night. 

My date and I would have to meet each other dressed as we were and as tired as one might be after a day of work. (Well, I assumed she was working, but I had no idea. Plus, who knew if her Thursday night had taken a lot out of her? I know I was tired). There wouldn’t be much room for preparation, but diving right in was something I loved.

I threw up posts on the OHD website, on Facebook and on Twitter around 10 a.m. Within an hour, I had a few friends tell me they were reaching out and they’d let me know. I gave everyone the same guidelines:

  1. I don’t know her.
  2. She doesn’t know me.
  3. She’s someone I’d actually want to date.

Feelers were out and one friend almost had someone, but she ended up being too shy — apparently intimidated by the prospect of being a blog post.

A few hours later, I again asked for assistance, and this time it arrived immediately. I received an email from my high school girlfriend’s former roommate — someone I probably hadn’t seen or heard from in three years, but was lucky enough to be friends with on Facebook. She said she had a date for me and gave me the name and phone number for one of her childhood friends living in NYC. I was thrilled when I read that email.

Her name was Lindsey, and I had her phone number. I sent Lindsey a text and waited.

As I waited, I heard back from at least three other friends with affirmatives on dates for the night, but I wanted to wait for Lindsey. It was rude to offer my hand and then back down. (I’d only done it once, and that was for Man Date, so it hardly counted. As we all know, men don’t have feelings.)

Forty-four minutes later, Lindsey texted me back with an affirmative for our date that night and she also confirmed that she had no clue what I looked like. Superb.

Me: Hey Lindsey! My name is Evan and we both know Annie Nicks. I need a blind date for tonight and she gave me your number. Would you be interested?

Lindsey: Hi Evan, yes I am interested. I’ll be working until about 6 p.m. down in tribeca. Does that work for you?

Me: Yeah! Awesome. I get out of work at 6 as well, in Times Square. I can figure out something to do before then. And, just to check, this is blind on ur side too?

Lindsey: Sounds good. And yes, I don’t know what you look like.

Me: hah. perfect. exciting times. I’ll shoot you a text in a bit when I’ve got some ideas.

A couple hours later, I was attempting to sort out a good place to eat between our two locations and settled on Westville West in the West Village. It was an obvious choice, really. The family of Westville restaurants were awesome places for dates because they were affordable, casual, well-situated and offered a variety of simple, fresh foods on which to dine. Lindsey was sold on my suggestion and we agreed to meet at 7 p.m.

Me: Hello again! Are you a vegetarian or vegan?

Lindsey: Hey! Not exactly, but when given the option I have been trying vegetarian dishes. Whatever works for you.

Me: How about Westville West? 210 W10th St. And then if you’re not sick of me, we have a couple options, post-dinner. Say 7 p.m.?

Lindsey: 7 p.m. sounds great! Full disclosure – I didn’t start my day knowing I’d be going on a blind date so I dressed rather casual.

Me: No worries! I didn’t know either, so I’m dressed for work and have a backpack. haha. I’ll see you at 7!

Lindsey: Phew! See you then!

Behold, the power of social networking.

Since I hadn’t prepared to go on a date that night, I was dressed for work in slacks, a button up and dress shoes. The icing on the lame-ass cake was the corporate-branded fleece I had used as an inner layer to my winter jacket. There were times when I could look like a real yuppie, but this was pushing the limits. All I really knew about Lindsey was that she was a dancer, so the chances that she liked straight-laced corporate dudes was minimal.

On my way out of the office, I left the fleece behind and ventured out into the stifling cold one-layer short. I soon found myself at the Times Square Gap, looking for a charcoal v-neck sweater to layer with, but they did not have a great selection. The best thing I could find was a thick, chunky thing with a high neck roll. It was comfortable enough, but I couldn’t tell if it looked stupid or not and I didn’t want to drop cash on anything I was rushing to buy. I decided that I could brave the cold for one night and left without buying it.IMG_1551

I hopped on the 1 train and made it down to Christopher Street with enough time to arrive at Westville a few minutes early. Oh man, the place was tiny! I’d only been to their larger Chelsea location, and their West Village place only seated 20 people, maybe. On top of that, the restaurant was full.

At least Lindsey wasn’t already there waiting. I Yelped! a few places nearby to research other options and felt we’d be okay if a table didn’t open. Luckily for me, there was a heat lamp outside for people waiting, so it was not nearly as cold as it could have been. I sat below the heater — the only patron waiting there — so that I could claim one of the tables as soon as one cleared. I noticed a couple with their credit card in the billfold — a good sign.

The waitress poked her head outside and asked if I was waiting for one more. Yep! She said to let her know when my date arrived. Awesome. Cool. She had my back. It was going to work out.

Only a couple minutes later, I turned to my right and saw a young woman approaching me with a smile on her face. 

“Lindsey? Yes, Lindsey!”

 Fantastic. She greeted me with a big friendly hug, and I felt a sigh of relief.

“It’s nice to meet you. Let’s get in there!”

It took a moment to let the other couple out and have our table cleared, but very soon, we were sitting down with menus in front of us.

Oh, and don’t worry! She was cute! And so nice! I could tell right away. That’s all you need to make a blind date a success, right?

Lindsey was familiar with Westville East (In the East Village, duh) but hadn’t been to this one yet. That reminded me, I actually had a friend / former date who worked over there at the time. 

The two of us bantered enough to have completely ignored looking at the menu by the time the waitress asked if we were ready. The first thing we talked about when we sat down was how we both knew Annie. I think Lindsey was surprised to hear that I hadn’t heard from Annie for a few years, only because it was random that she had coordinated the date. Annie and Lindsey grew up together, going through middle school and high school. They went way back! I asked her to remind me where they were raised. Middletown, NJ — that’s right! That was the same town in which I spent my most recent Thanksgiving, meeting Stefanie’s parents. Crazy. What a small world.

We put our drink orders in first — Blue Point Toasted Lager for me and a glass of Prosecco for her. Classy choice, Lindsey! Finally, we paused the chitchat and chose our meals.

Lindsey ordered a salad because she had eaten a late lunch, and I got teriyaki salmon with bok choy because I wanted to appear healthy and loved sodium. She told me about the two dance companies she danced with and worked for, which both sounded interesting. As with most dates, I tried to explain what I did for a living, and it wasn’t so bad this time around. So far, it was going well.

Drinks arrived, we toasted (“Cheers!”), and I thanked her for being there with me.

As we began discussing favorite beers, we ended up in a conversation on great bars around NYC, such as the two beer gardens in Astoria, Barcade in Williamsburg and Zeppelin Beer Hall in Jersey City. She was talking with a friend about potentially living in JC at the time, but that friend preferred Hoboken, on which Lindsey was not keen. I had lived in Hoboken for a year and supported this skepticism. It was never my scene, and didn’t seem like hers either. Hoboken was the only place I’d seen a guy wearing only a tight, black t-shirt in the middle of the winter, as if a single layer of Armani Exchange made him a Serbian supersoldier. This was her general impression too. Astoria hadn’t become my favorite neighborhood yet, but it felt much more comfortable after six months than Hoboken ever did.

I recalled her mentioning that she went to school in the city, but couldn’t remember where. Yes, she clarified, she attended The New School. She spent a lot of time hanging around the Villages, and worked not too far from where we were, so she knew her way around the area better than I did.

By the time our food arrived, the conversation was already flowing well and any concerns about this blind date turning out poorly had drifted out into the wintry freeze of West 10th Street. Lindsey asked me about concerts and we talked about music for a while. Oh, and Sleep No More! We had both been twice, so we talked about that show to a great extent and about immersive theater in general. The idea of a show where the audience was “in on it” was the best thing ever. At least, that was my stance on the matter.

It was a totally delicious little meal and the conversation was delightful. Before the meal was even over, I recall thinking that Lindsey was smart, well-spoken, funny and kind. How lucky were we that it had worked out so well? I’m not sure that I could have asked for much better given the challenge of finding a last-minute blind date. It was a clear case of hitting it off.

We stepped out of Westville not knowing where to go next, and I was rudely reminded of the temperature. It was so damn cold. I was just about to suggest going to Fat Cat, but Lindsey beat me to it — as a place her friends used to play jazz — so they were there all the time. It was probably crowded by that hour anyhow. Hearing her describe it as a place she and her friends had exhausted made Fat Cat sound somewhat juvenile, so I was glad I didn’t get the chance to suggest it. 

Well, where else? Corner Bistro was probably packed, she said. I didn’t know what that was at the time, so I just agreed. Although I was unsure if it was even nearby, I then suggested Art Bar, where I’d been once before in my pre-OHD days (With Movie Theater Date before she was a Date-date).

Yes, she said, we could check that out. As mentioned, she knew the way better than I did, so I followed her lead as we turned up Bleeker Street. The cold could have frozen the nose off of my face but we weren’t at that arm in arm phase yet, so there was no warmth gained by her embrace. 

On our walk there, we talked about movies set in foreign lands such as ‘The Artist,’ ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. After what seemed like a Trans-Siberian train ride, we arrived at Art Bar and were lucky enough to spot a couple vacating their couch all the way in the back corner. Wonderful!

I hadn’t noticed the fireplace the first time I was there, but it was a welcome addition that evening. I was actually thinking, while on my way to Westville, how nice it would be to find somewhere with a fireplace that night. Score one for the Dating Gods.

First thing was first, Lindsey ran to the bathroom. While she was away, I checked my text messages and saw that not only was one of my dates for next weekend rescheduling due to a work conflict (Bad news), but also that I had already gone on a date with her roommate (Hilarious news). It was mind-blowing, especially since they were both complete strangers to me and neither of them realized the connection until the second date was already set. I guess there were only so many women in Astoria crazy enough to date me and it shouldn’t have been too surprising that two of them lived together. It was, however, continuing the unfortunate date canceling streak of 2012.

Upon Lindsey’s return to the couch, we both put in orders of red wine — a Montepulciano for me and a Malbec for her. We toasted to a fun night out and carried on talking.

I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t sit very close to me. Seemingly intentional, she left about a foot of space between us, a move which usually wasn’t a good sign on a date. Body language could speak volumes and it was helpful to be aware of proximity. Does your date apologize for brushing against you? How far away do they sit? Do they reach out and touch you during discussion? All of these things ran through my head when on a date and at that moment, I was picking up on it big time. However, I wasn’t overly concerned because we were having such a great time and — whether or not anything physical came of it — it didn’t really matter.

My Comic Con Date, Julie, was still running through my mind anyway. I was still texting with her and — though I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks — I still had hope, for some reason, of something more.

We further discussed music and the fact that I used to play in bands years back. Then it was loads about dating. We discussed how it brought out the best and worst qualities in people. While many were polite, outgoing, flirtatious and spontaneous, it could also make people trip over words, present false versions of themselves and generally stress themselves out in the end. Online dating, we posited, might be a little more honest in certain ways. Think of this: If I met you in a bar and asked you out, you’d feel more pressured to say okay even if you knew I wasn’t your type. Online dating, by contrast, allowed you to filter out losers like me right at the top. You had that chance to be honest with yourself about what you wanted and didn’t need to decide in an instant.

I told her about the Aziz Ansari show I had seen a month prior and we discussed how performers must have a difficult relationship with love sometimes (Like that’s different than the rest of us). My reasoning was that many of them, myself included, enjoyed high levels of attention, which was likely tough for any single partner to provide or compete with adequately.

We moved on to talk about compliments — how it could be unreasonably difficult to give them, and even to be on the receiving end. She asked if a woman had ever made me uncomfortable with a compliment. 

Yeah. Once. In Italy, during a college summer abroad. This woman had cornered me in a crowd bar to tell me that I was “really attractive.” I didn’t know what else to say back, especially because I had a girlfriend at the time, so all I said in return was, “You’re not so bad yourself.” She didn’t hear me though, and when asked to repeat myself, I simply said, “Thanks!” Truly, one of my better moments with women. 

Eventually I used that conversation to enlighten Lindsey about backdoor compliments such as, “How right now, I want to tell you that you’re really cute, but that’s awkward to just say to your face, so I set it up like I’m giving you an example of a backdoor compliment and there it is: I’ve complimented you in the process.” I felt good about that. A little funny, said something kind and it was possibly even a bit cute.

We talked about museums, art galleries and travel, which got us onto the topic of passions. 

I asked what she loved about dance. Her answer was simple: Moving to music. In her world, there was simply nothing better than the bodily expression of music. When it clicked, it was a beautiful thing. I liked that she had such a genuine and simple answer. I told her about movement workshops I’d taken in college, wrestling in high school and how I could see myself loving dance had I ever done it. My love of those other physical activities would translate well. I was trying to say, “I WISH I COULD REALLY DANCE,” without being completely uncool, and I think Lindsey read between the lines.

Then she wanted to know something: What did I love about improv? So much. I’ve been over the reasons before, but this date really reinforced one of them: How important it was to trust your ensemble. I trusted my social network to find me a date tonight, I couldn’t have guessed the person who found me my date and then I ended up going on an amazing date despite all of the unknowns. I told her right then that I thought it was a great date and doubted it would have ever happened if I hadn’t trusted everyone to have my back. It had worked out so beautifully. She agreed, telling me that she was having a really good time and wasn’t just saying that to be nice. My heart sped up a tick or two when I heard that.

The hour had already passed 11 p.m. and she had a long trip home to NJ, so we decided to get going. As we were about to stand up, there was a flirtatious little hand interaction and we paused, looking at each other. I leaned towards her to kiss, but she only smiled, not going for it. 

“Just, right here?” she asked, laughing. “Just a kiss,” I pleaded, making sure she knew I wasn’t trying to make out in a crowded bar (Though to be fair, I would have). “Oh, okay.” We kissed quickly and it was nice — a very sweet first kiss.

Piling on all available layers, we bundled up, grabbed our things and headed out into the night’s frigid air. She hooked her arm in mine and we strolled along 8th Avenue. Passing by a small park a block away, Lindsey remarked that it was a shame the park was closed since there were benches in there. I was confused at first considering how unpleasant  and utterly Siberian the temperature was for sitting outside, but then it sank in that she was scouting locations for making out.

As we rounded the top corner of the triangular park, she led me to the adjacent fence, away from the prying eyes of 8th Avenue, saying “This will have to do.” For a place to make out, she meant. And make out we did. 

I was a bit taken aback by how forward she was, not because it was unwelcome (Quite the opposite, in fact), but because she was so physically reserved throughout the entire night up to that point. But no longer — I was all kinds of excited to find out that she was into me. I mean, I made zero moves to make it happen, so I was nothing but grateful.

Lindsey pushed me up against the fence and I shit you not, after a few minutes, I could not believe how turned on I was, especially taking into account the number of bulky layers between us. I didn’t think it was possible to get that riled up through a wall of pea coats and sweaters.

Then we spun and she was up against the fence. Reaching up, she let her hair down like some kind of goddess from a fantasy novel. To my delight, it was much longer than I expected and I found my hands entangled in it immediately.

After five or ten minutes of this, I was freezing my skinny, little chicken legs off and noticeably shaking from the cold, but judging by her enthusiasm, it wasn’t ending soon.

In total, we must have made out there, at the end of Greenwich Avenue, for 15 minutes (Maybe longer), and I was an icicle by the end. It was SO cold, but SO hot.

Lindsey and I finished our walk up 8th Avenue to the subway at 14th Street, and escaped from the cold onto a crowded, northbound platform, where we found the most secluded spot possible to continue making out until the train came.

Jesus Christ, I wanted to have sex with her so badly. I was overcome with desire. I don’t think I’d experienced that level of sexual tension, repeatedly broken and reestablished, in recent memory. Unfortunately, she’d already told me that she had to go home that night, so I wouldn’t be taking her with me.

The train came after about ten minutes and we hopped on it. I played with her hair and kissed her on the cheek all the way to Penn Station, where she disembarked so she could catch NJ Transit back to the suburbs. We shared one last kiss before she jumped off the train.

Just jump, this date reminded me. Just jump and trust and everything will be beautiful.

Me: Thank you again. I had an awesome time!

Lindsey: Me too! And who woulda thunk on Friday the 13th? Thanks for great night. Sweet dreams.

Me: haha true! you too. sweet dreams! :)