—Tuesday, March 6, 2012—
Double your pleasure, double your fun, right? The logic seemed sound enough.
When Morgan and I had gone first gone out, back in October of 2011, we talked about our friends Bradley and Georgia. They seemed like they might be a decent fit for each other, but it took me forever to get this date on the books. Though it had immediately come to mind as an obvious opportunity for a double date, we hadn’t been able to get schedules to line up until one Tuesday in March.
Bradley and I worked together at a financial software company in Midtown and we spent our day at the office both excited and somewhat nervous about that night’s date. Whether it was via email or while we were grabbing coffee, Brad and I kept exchanging expectations and concerns for the date.
He kept asking me, “So what am I supposed to do on this thing?”
“It’s a date Brad, try to enjoy yourself,” I had told him, somewhat jokingly.
When given time to dwell on something, Brad was capable of being the ultimate pessimist. However, once would decide to get involved in something, he was often the life of the party. So I knew it was just a matter of getting him to the date for him to loosen up and enjoy himself.
We were working slightly different hours that day and Brad was on the late shift (7 p.m.). He felt bad that he was keeping us from going out, but I told him that Georgia had class until seven anyway, so it was no big deal. The two of them had magically aligned their schedules such that no one would be at fault.
Though we left work a few minutes late, and the train was slow getting us to 14th Street, we still made it to The Park right on time for our 7:30 p.m. reservation. The ladies were running late, but honestly, it was probably a good thing that the two of us had some time to ourselves before our (assuredly) better halves showed up.
Bradley and I saddled up to the bar with a couple Blue Point Toasted Lagers and discussed the merits of various alcohols, which was more educational on my end, since Brad knew more about hooch than I did. Morgan texted me to let me know that they were on their way and confirmed the cross streets with me.
After a toast to the adventure at hand, Brad seemed to relax a bit and I was glad to have him there. I knew it was going to be a fun night.
The women arrived only about 15 minutes behind schedule and it was no problem at all because the place was huge and not very busy. I’m pretty sure that I had read online that it was a big club on the weekends or after a certain hour or whatever.
Morgan had an awesome furry headband like thing on (I called it a hat at first) and was dressed entirely in black. She looked great, as always. I loved her sense of style. This was my first time meeting Morgan’s friend Georgia, although in Googling either Morgan or Georgia months earlier, I had found a cool article about the two of them studying at St. Andrews in Scotland.
This was a fact I had forgotten, but I did know that I’d seen a small picture of her somewhere, which didn’t tell me a ton, to be honest. Morgan had asserted that she was cute and indeed she was. Shorter than Morgan, which lined up perfectly with my slightly shorter-than-me buddy Bradley.
The hostess asked if we would like to sit inside or in the garden. My first assumption was that this so-called garden must not be outside. It was the first week of March, after all, and it was pretty damn cold outside. In the three seconds we had to decide, I looked at everyone else, whose faces seemed to say, “It’s cold. Why would we want to be in a garden?” and told her we would take the inside, thanks.
As we were led though the main dining room, we could see the garden in the next space over. It was clearly an indoor area, but there were trees with lights and it looked fairly magical. We hotly debated for at least a minute whether or not we should move to the garden. We didn’t though, because we were all a bit too apprehensive to ask. Also, we had a bowling reservation at 9 p.m., so our time was kind of tight.
It took a little while to order everything and we forwent Shares and Starters in the interest of time. We did, however, decide on a bottle of Riesling, as suggested by our server. I ended up as the de facto sommelier probably because I seemed the snobbiest. Or rather, the others were admittedly ignorant of wines and I knew maybe a tiny bit. We were also able to all decide on food. Salmon for Morgan, pasta for Georgia, a turkey burger for Brad and roasted chicken for myself. All in all, this segment of the double date went fairly smoothly, but was a tiny bit awkward because everyone was just meeting and we had decisions to make.
I must say though, I had immediate anxiety about the seating arrangement. We were in a U-shaped booth, so it was two people on the inside and the other two split up between the left and right sides. Somehow, when deciding on seats, it seemed to make sense to have the two boys around one half the table and the two women around the other. A fine enough idea, but the implementation of it was such that Morgan and I were seated opposite each other on the left and right, and Brad and Georgia sat in the middle, next to each other.
Something about it felt wrong almost immediately. You could think of it in two ways. One, it was good to have the pair who didn’t know each other seated together because it might increase the frequency at which they would strike up a conversation. The other way to think about it is that they would feel as if Morgan and I had pushed them towards romance and were attempting to force them into conversation.
Judging by their body language, I felt they had perceived the latter. I SWEAR I DIDN’T MEAN TO GUYS!
I think the ideal set up would have been to stagger us. Me, Morgan, Brad, Georgia. Or maybe just Brad and I in the middle. Or maybe the ladies in the middle. I don’t know. All I know is that we settled on the worst configuration possible and all of these thoughts were running through my head as the bucket (!!!) for our wine was brought over. Fancy shit, huh?
Luckily though, the conversation flowed without problem. We toasted with our wine and the evening was officially underway.
Georgia commented on Morgan’s hair, which had been dramatically reduced quite recently (perhaps that day?) and I apologized because I hadn’t noticed. I mean, in looking at it again, I thought I saw it, but with her black outfit and her dark hair, it seemingly flowed together. Morgan told me she that she liked my haircut and I reminded her that it had been cut a week and a half earlier when we had last seen each other. She had come to an improv show of mine but wasn’t able to hang out afterward because she had to get to another date. The nerve.
Highlights of our dinner included the genesis of my relationship with Bradley. One of them, likely Georgia, asked how we knew each other and I told her that we worked together, which I think Morgan already knew. Then one of them asked when it was that we knew we were friends and not just co-workers? AH. Great question.
The de facto starting point of our friendship would be when we went on our first man date. After a company band practice (Which we also had to explain) way back in 2008, Brad and I grabbed burritos at Anna’s Taqueria and went to the Somerville Theatre to see Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. He also gave me a Western style snap button shirt that day and I drove him home. The women were impressed, but I mean, how could they not be with a story that cute?
And so, we asked how they had met. They were in the same info session or something at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, and had given each other snarky looks regarding some other girl’s comments. From that moment forth, they knew they would be friends and they had been ever since. Georgia was from Manhattan (Upper East, past and present) and Morgan was from north of the city, so they had never been too far apart.
Morgan and I talked about improv for a while since I had recently been placed on a team at the Magnet Theater and we were both trying to make our way through the UCB curriculum. If you recall from our first date, Morgan and I knew each other because of UCB classes. It was a ripe topic for conversation, but Georgia and Bradley were left largely in the dark.
I was keeping a close eye on the time as we carried on with our banter. I asked Morgan about her new job. She had just begun working for a fashion something or other type place, which was really great for her. She had been looking for something promising for a while and it sounded like it might provide her with a real steady gig. Brad talked briefly about growing up in Maryland, then told us about college in Massachusetts and finally, about moving down to NYC.
While Morgan and I were very comfortable from the start, Georgia and Brad took a little more time to loosen up. Not that either came off as shy, but knowing Brad, I could tell he was still a bit restrained, and I suspected the same of Georgia, although they were getting there minute by minute.
As we neared the end of our meal, and approached 9 p.m., I looked for our waiter to get the check. Bradley asked everyone how their meals had been and all were happy with their choices. Brad was good like that, always making sure to check in with folks. I asked for the bill and then left to use the bathroom, leaving Brad on his own. I figured he would be fine. The bathroom was nice and the bill was waiting for us when I returned. Bradley and I offered to pay for the ladies — an offer they graciously accepted — and so we went splitsies on that bad boy.
We were running a little late, but Chelsea Piers was only a block away, so we knew we’d be fine. We walked out into the cold evening and I reminded Morgan that we were pretty much right where our first date had taken place. We had walked around Chelsea Piers before we boarded our boat. This made for a cute little reminiscence session.
Also, we discussed the term “jaywalking”, having no idea where it came from. Maybe a guy named Jay? Bird walking?
“Jerk walking?” I offered.
“Okay Evan,” Morgan laughed, “that makes me think of something else”.
Oh man, did we find that funny — jerk walking as a term for masturbation. “Yeah, I j-walked a few times last week.” This went on to be a running joke for a portion of the night.
After navigating the labyrinth that was Chelsea Piers, we found 300, which was a large bowling venue that made me sign a contract and put down a deposit. It also offered bottle service, as if rappers and clubheads were looking to bowl. It was opening night of their “All You Can Bowl Tuesdays” promotion, so they were having a party. Still though, it was a fucking bowling alley.
Both Morgan and Brad had expired licenses, but they were allowed to enter in spite of them. We checked in with the front desk and went to get shoes. We did a great job of all ending up with shoes that were a little too big. However, we all had too much pride to go exchange them because, let’s get real, we weren’t going to grovel for shoes.
We were assigned Lane 7. Lucky lane number 7. Would that lane actually bring us any luck?
Brad sat down to input our names into the computer and I suggested an alternating male/female order, with Georgia going first. He gave everyone nicknames. Georgia was ARRGGGGHHHHHH because she once had an eye patch as a kid; Brad was T2 (Tremors 2 — it was hotly debated while at dinner whether or not Kevin Bacon had been in it. I confirmed my stance via IMDB that he was in fact not in T2); Morgan was Isotope for reasons I will not explain; and I was Bardogg (I think). The stage was set. Let’s toss some balls!
The waitress came to take our drink orders as Georgia got things started. Their specials that night were $3 Grolsch beers and $7.50 peach CIROC martinis. We knew right away what the guys and gals would be drinking for the rest of the night.
I did not start the first game strong, but I ended up winning it somehow. The women weren’t too hot in that first one but Bradley had put on a good showing. I asked Georgia about her current graduate studies, which were in theatrical acting, and she told me that she wanted to get into film eventually. Her sister was in the biz already.
The conversation during our games turned mostly into observation and humous stuff. There was a DJ spinning tunes and characters on the other lanes to add to the entertainment.
Brad took the second game in a commanding fashion and by the end of it, everyone seemed to be pretty loose. I believe he had the first strike of the night in that game. My only solace was getting gradually closer and closer to Morgan with high fives, proximal standing and sitting next to her.
I assumed that Brad would take most of the games from that point on since he had always been better than me at things which dads and uncles excelled at, bowling included. At best, maybe we would trade victories back and forth.
There was a pink pin rotating through the set and whenever it was the lead pin, a strike won a free Tuesday night of bowling. Somewhere in the third game, I got a few pink pin opportunities and bowled a strike on one of them. I also spilled an entire beer at one point, so that was great too. The couple to our right was awesome and they were very supportive of us as we succeeded at bowling. In turn, we celebrated their accomplishments as well.
At some point around this time, I went from high-fives to the occasional hug with Morgan. It was closest we had ever been. Bradley and Georgia seemed to be getting on well too, which was great.
Also, I had said “Hey girl” and “Hey girl, hey” at least 25 times already. And guess what? I was loving it! It was something Morgan had been saying, in jest, and she was definitely rubbing off on me. I won the third game with the first score that broke 100.
As we got into the fourth game, we had accrued a crazy number of pink lead pins. It was becoming a joke with the DJ, who had to announce each opportunity. I actually started the fourth game off with two strikes in a row. Brad was close behind and Georgia was starting to come on as well. Everyone was feeling good and friendly. High fives and hugs were flowing.
Brad got a strike on a pink pin they give him two passes, one of which went to Georgia. It was great. We would have to come back!
Morgan commented several times how it didn’t feel late at all. The thing was, I partially disagreed with this and I knew Brad disagreed since he had mentioned how it was already past his bedtime, a proclamation which was more or less true.
At one point, while the women were congregating, I leaned over to Brad and said, “Well man, I don’t know what you think, but I think I found you a killer date.” It was true. Georgia was awesome and she only got cuter and cuter as we all got more comfortable. She was fun and a joy to be around. A good dancer too.
Have I not mentioned this? There had been a lot of dancing throughout. The ladies had great ankle dancing skills and I was Beibering all over the place in my bowling shoes. So slick!
It was around this time that I started to think, “Damn, I want to go out with Georgia,” which was a complicated thing to think considering I was already on a date with her friend, who I was into, and she was on a date with my good ole buddy Brad. It wasn’t like I was going to try to ask her out at the end of the night. It was just a thing I thought because she was so awesome. Morgan was already awesome in my mind so, unfair or not, Georgia managed to capture my attention at times by bringing a new kind of cool to the table.
Quietly and strongly, Georgia took the fourth game. Hells yeah. We had created a powerhouse! It was also likely somewhere in the fourth game that I noticed Morgan was hugging me consistently when coming off of a great frame, rather than high-fiving. And these were not just “let’s hug super fast” hugs. There was something behind them. I kissed her on the cheek after a strike and it seemed to be taken well.
Brad knocked over a martini in the fifth game but managed to win anyhow. He was starting to run away with it at this point. I began trying the smaller balls and palming them. Georgia and Morgan started practicing on the empty lane next to us as then men bowled. We had outlasted a lot of other lanes and eventually started making requests to the DJ.
Everything was going really well. The DJ even came over to us at one point to talk and give us his card. We basked in the glory. We were the life of the bowling alley. I don’t think Brad was thinking about his bedtime by that point, only Georgia and how we were ripping the lid off the place.
As we were about to wind it down, a final round of drinks showed up, courtesy of Uncle Brad, and a sixth game ensued. Fucking A! That last game was quite sloppy, but Brad somehow stayed on form and won another. AND Morgan bowled a strike on a pink lead ball. I gave her a kiss on the cheek again. WE ALL HAD FREE PASSES. We swore we would definitely have to do it again.
We got our bill and I have to say, even with the discounted drinks and all night bowling, THAT SHIT WAS EXPENSIVE. There was no need to sort it out right then though. I just started signing John Hancocks left and right. Bradley and I could figure it out later.
There was however, one last order of business: the photo booth. We all piled in and took four terrible photos, which hopefully no one else will ever see.
As we walked out, we noticed we were the last ones left. There was barely even any staff remaining. Holy shit — it was past 2 a.m. We had closed the place down on a Tuesday night. Brad and I would surely regret this fact in the morning, waking up by 7 a.m, but it still seemed worthy of celebration at the time.
The bowling double date had been awesome and we all strolled back out to 11th Avenue to catch cabs. Morgan and I trailed behind Brad and Georgia, talking to each other. We both agreed that it had gone well.
“This has been two pretty great dates, right?” I asked her.
“Yeah,” she agreed.
“I wouldn’t mind a third,” I offered.
She said she would be into it and I cracked a dumb smile. This moment was definitely the most flirtatious and serious we had ever been towards each other. I was a fan. I thought Morgan was awesome. I had thought that for a while. She had always seemed elusive though. This night had changed that, though I hadn’t expected it to, not with other friends there.
Bradley hailed the Upper East Side ladies a taxi and we hugged them goodbye. Then Bradley grabbed one for himself. We shook hands on a job well done and talked about coffee for the next morning.
I waited a bit longer and found my own cab. I drunkenly talked to the driver about foreign currency valuation for almost the entire ride home like I knew what the fuck I was saying.
Coat, ground. Clothes, off. Head, pillow. See you all in four hours for work.