—Friday, March 16, 2012—
You know what I always say: Don’t be a schlub in the club. This date was definitely the one time I had to worry about that the most, since I’d actually be in a club for once. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be a schlub.
This date all began on OkCupid with some questions from Smallz regarding One Hundred Dates. Usually when I would receive these kinds of messages, there would some invitation for a date, or an offer to help out, if you will. After several messages though, this did not seem to be the case with Smallz. After six messages, she mentioned that she’d be down for getting a drink and picking my brain about the blog, but I told her I didn’t really have time for that. If she wanted to be a real date, not just a casual drink while we discussed OHD, then I would be able to do that instead.
Smallz said she would be down for a date and after texting about potential ideas for a couple weeks, we decided to hit up Santos Party House for Club Date. It was an “alternative” club, so it would likely be a more comfortable experience than some of the clubbier clubs in Manhattan. I was scared of Meatpacking and I had neither stiletto heels nor shoulder-length, ombre Jared Leto hair, so avoiding it seemed like a good idea.
Even though Santos would be less judgmental, I recognized, on my way to work that day, that I hadn’t put sufficient effort into my wardrobe. Typically, I would bring a change of clothes for a date, but on this day, I thought I could get away with my office attire for day and evening. While at work, I reconsidered what I was wearing and was even more unsure about it. If we were going to a regular club, then yes, it actually might have been fine. But for Santos, I would likely be a little too formal or preppy. After all, it was where all the cool kids hung out.
I met Smallz in front of Da Mikele, an Italian joint in TriBeCa. She looked cute and was definitely dressed for a casual club experience, which was rad. I gave her a hug and apologized for my tardiness. We went inside and had no trouble getting a table. I was surprised that TriBeCa wasn’t hopping on a Friday night.
On our way to the table, we both noticed that Adele’s “Someone Like You” was playing. I asked her if she had ever heard it. This became my running joke for the night — asking Smallz if she’d heard a really popular song. My dad joke repertoire was gaining some momentum. Bad jokes aside, I commented that it was pretty depressing dinner music and asked Smallz if she had dealt with any trauma lately, since such a song was only good for certain icebreakers on a first date. I thought it was pretty funny, but I couldn’t tell if she thought so, which meant it probably wasn’t.
Once we were seated, Smallz immediately spoke up: “Okay, the first thing I need to ask you is: Why do you have a cardboard cutout of yourself?” I assumed that she had seen it on the OHD twitter along the way and she confirmed this was the case. I explained to her that my friend Mike had ordered it for an improv show and then dropped it off at my house later because, obviously, no one else wanted it. I thought it was pretty great though, having a cardboard cutout of myself, but then again, I was pretty narcissistic.
Our waiter asked us for our drink order, but we had been busy talking about my cardboard cutout, so he needed to come back again. Smallz told me earlier that day that we she had similarly studied abroad in Florence, so clearly, Italian was a good choice for dinner. Also, she had read a bunch on OHD, which was how she’d known about my study abroad experience.
We finally ordered a bottle of wine, but asked for a few more minutes to figure out our food situation. Clearly, we were not so great at the ordering thing. By the time we did finally place our orders, I think our waiter was mildly annoyed with us, but come on man, we were just lost in conversation. This was a first date, after all.
Within an appetizer, we had caught each other up on most of the important things such as living situations, colleges attended and where we were at with life at the moment. Smallz had recently quit her PR job and was looking for something else as she lived out her funemployment in Brooklyn. A Chi-town native, she had gone to NYU for undergrad. I always wondered about those NYU kids. It was such a different experience than what I’d had in the Connecticut suburbs.
She told me about some of her best friends and that she knew of Gaby (creator of 100 Interviews and OHD inspiration) and Josh (comedian and onetime boyfriend to Gaby) through a good friend of hers at Emerson College. It was a cool connection. I had no idea that Smallz knew of 100 Interviews until then. I guess that wasn’t weird, but I hadn’t run into anyone who was independently familiar with it and I thought that was rad. The caprese salad we shared was pretty good, but in need of better tomatoes and more balsamic. Always more balsamic.
I ordered a risotto and Smallz got a gnocchi, telling me that she hated it when two people at a table ordered the same thing, so should it ever happen, she would readily change her order. I could understand her gripe. It did seem pretty dumb to both order the same thing. At least get different dishes so you can try more than one thing. I suppose if it’s some place you go all the time and you’ve had everything, then fine, but that’s typically not the case.
We talked for a while about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which Smallz had visited only two weeks prior. It took us a while to remember the name of the sixth HP book — so much so that we almost looked it up on our phones — but then I finally remembered that it was The Half-Blood Prince. God, such amateurs. She told me about her trip and about how awesome the theme park had been. We also discussed favorite movies and she told me I should go to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co sometime for their Forrest Gump trivia. Normally, I wouldn’t consider going to such a hell hole, in the middle of Times Square, but at little Forrest Gump trivia could be fun.
The restaurant had the funniest music selection for a reasonably tame place. There were some modern hits like Adele and Lady GaGa, but also lots of slightly outdated hits. It was all pretty great. As Smallz put it, the soundtrack was all “music that would be playing at an H&M in 2009.” I thought it was a perfect assessment. Frequently throughout dinner, we returned to commenting on the music and I frequently exclaimed, “Ohmygod, have you heard this song before?” It was definitely getting old, but I loved it for some reason.
Smallz asked if “Have you heard this song before?” was my favorite joke and I told her that it was actually a brand new one. Typically, her favorite was pointing to some undesirable character and saying, “That’s my boyfriend.” It was remarkably similar to my all time favorite bit of pointing to someone similarly odd and saying, “That’s my dad.” I was so happy that we shared a common love for dumb bits.
I have yet to mention that Smallz was very funny. She had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor that I loved. She was not someone I felt like I needed to watch my mouth around either, which was great. She was blunt and funny.
We exchanged experiences of heartbreak as we ate our delicious food and worked through the bottle of wine. We talked about Italy and, as Smallz told me where she had lived, I tried to piece together Florence’s streets from my memory. It was not easy, which made me kind of sad, but it was nice to know I hadn’t lost it all.
After we finished our meals, we were left with our wine for a while longer. We sat there, chatting and polishing off the wine for some time, which undoubtedly annoyed our waiter a bit. Smallz covered the bottle of wine and I picked up the rest of the bill. It was a lovely arrangement.
The party over at Santo’s house wasn’t really going to get started for another hour, so we walked next door to a bar named Souths. I had felt tired up until the very end of dinner and had already warned Smallz that, although I might look tired, that was just how I always looked. I was always tired, but as we sat down at Souths, I got my second wind, as I knew I would. So I wanted her to know that I wasn’t actually dying.
Souths wasn’t crowded either and we grabbed two seats at the end of the bar. As we checked out the menu and ordered our drinks, I asked Smallz what she typically liked to drink. She said she drank mostly whiskey and I told her about all the women on OkC who listed whiskey as a favorite and she laughed. Yeah, it was kind of a Brooklyn stereotype, but whatever, it was just what she liked. I swear I was not condemning her, it was just funny.
And it made sense. She was sick of vodka, gin, rum and tequila because that was all she drank in college. After talking to a number of women about this, I’d found that college seemed to ruin a number of spirits for them because they usually drank the cheapest, shittiest versions and in terribly high quantities. We talked about about drinking and eating things you didn’t normally enjoy when you knew they were of high enough quality. For example — I don’t like Spanakopita, but if your old Greek grandmother made it from scratch, I’m going to check it out.
Smallz said that she never noticed the whiskey tendency when scoping out women on OkCupid, so she was surprised to hear that I’d caught that vibe. Oh yeah — Smallz was queer and pretty open about it, which was cool. Her two roommates were actually a queer female couple, which I suppose meant nothing more than you had to be cool with people having whatever sexuality they liked if you wanted to date Smallz.
We ended up talking about Japan somehow and about how the Japanese were far more polite than us and why Americans couldn’t just be a little nicer to each other. At this point, the guy behind us in the bar interrupted. “Not to be eavesdropping, but I think it’s just a case of overstimulation sometimes,” he commented. It was interesting that he wasn’t just a drunk guy saying something stupid, but actually had a point. It was somewhat true, I conceded. I had never thought about that. If I donated to every person asking for money in NYC, I’d be broke. Still, if everyone always thought that way, then no one would ever help anyone and we’d all be fucked. There had to be a balance.
Souths ended up consuming a little over an hour of our time before we noticed that it was time to get to Santos. Smallz used the bathroom, I paid our tab and we took off towards the party. It was a short walk to Santos and the line wasn’t too crazy by the time we got there. We first tried to go into some free MasterCard sponsored event at the club, but Smallz didn’t have a MasterCard, so we couldn’t do that. It was like, whatever though, because the door girls kind of sucked.
Smallz told me that she used to have to work the line when hosting PR events and that it was awful, so she didn’t hold their rude demeanor against them. We waited in the cash money line to be let in, which was the number one thing I couldn’t understand about why people went to clubs, because you spent a significant portion of your leisure time standing in a line, waiting to pay just to be inside a place. I guess we got to watch as people who knew the bands and DJs were waved through the line in front of us. Eventually, maybe after ten minutes, we were permitted entry. It really wasn’t that bad. We paid the cover and headed downstairs.
For a few years, I had heard a lot of hype about Santos Party House and I was very curious to see what it would be like. We went to coat check, I used the bathroom and then we checked out the dance floor.
I was unimpressed initially. There were a pair of really shitty rappers on stage doing their thing and the floor was not full yet. It was still early, to be fair. It was also a good time to get some drinks so we did just that. Smallz picked up the tab, which was very nice, and we took a cruise around the space. We found a Bowflex on one side of the floor and it was awesome. We took a seat on the nearby wall-length padded bench to wait out the current set, in hopes of something a little better coming along.
Smallz and I sat next to each other, close to one another, and observed the scene around us. We had joked about bottle service before we got there — we assumed Santos wasn’t the type of place that would have it — but sure enough, a woman from the club started setting up for a bottle delivery right across from us. Following the bottle placement, in trickled a group of bros the likes Santos had maybe never seen.
They were all dressed similarly, with ill fitting white dress shirts, untucked, over dark jeans. One dude was wearing pleated khakis, for Christ’s sake. It was gross. I proceeded to make fun of them immediately and for a long while. Mostly because I was dressed similarly (albeit far more attractively) and felt insecure. Smallz wasted no time is pointing this out, which was great. Anyone who could call me on my hypocrisy hours after meeting me was someone I would likely get along with.
Though I chilled out a bit on the Haterade, the men across from us did become a topic of conversation. What compelled dudes like this to come to some place so alternative? Was it cheaper than the sleeker clubs? Did one of them love it and they were all agreeably along for the ride? Did they like “weird” girls? I didn’t want to judge too harshly, although I totally was, but their decision to be hanging out at Santos felt very odd.
Smallz mentioned for the second time that night that she had two different colored eyes (which was also in her OkC profile) but I had yet to notice because the lighting had been dark all night. She assured me though that they were different colors and I believed her.
Because of the loud music, we went in and out of being able to hear each other, so there was a lot of close ear talking, which was a fantastic (albeit slightly annoying) way to break down personal space barriers. I was usually looking for an excuse to invade a date’s personal space in a welcome and unaggressive manner and the noise of the club was actually helping me do just that.
We finished our drinks and Smallz suggested a bathroom break before getting another. As we went towards the bathrooms, Smallz handed me her drink and said, “Don’t roofie me. That would be awkward.” Indeed it would have been. We reunited after tinkles and headed toward the bar.
There was a DJ on stage by this time and as we worked our way across the crowded dance floor, the mood struck me and I turned around to face Smallz, going in for a kiss as I did so. Fortunately, she was into it. I was into it. It was all pretty good, if not a tiny bit sloppy. I kind of loved it. It was spontaneous, mutual and fun. We kissed again and then cut across the dance floor, pausing to dance a bit along the way. I was looking to get to the other side and, after a couple minutes, we arrived at our destination.
The Bowflex was empty and waiting for us.
We sat down facing each other, with the bro party to our right, and talked about how awesome our current situation was. The place was packed now. There were some endearingly awkward dancers, some cool kids with skateboards and us. But we were on a Bowflex, which for sure made us better than everyone else. How does a couple not make out when they find themselves on a bowflex??? It’s impossible. So, we made out a bunch. “Let’s get another drink?” I sort of yelled over the music.
Smallz and I made our way back across the room, dancing as we went, over to the bar. At first, Smallz pushed me ahead in the bar mob, because it was a gay male bartender, but it didn’t do much good since we were pausing to make out every minute or so. Even if he hadn’t seen the dead giveaway that I was straight, it was also packed in there, so it took a while to get our drinks. Plus, Smallz had to pay her tab, but we got back to the dance floor eventually.
By this time, if you couldn’t tell, we were drunk. We weren’t super fucked up yet, but definitely in that solid drunk place where one more beer had the potential to be a backbreaker. As we got back on the dance floor, we saw that there was now a two person band on stage rocking out. They were kind of punk, but with just one guitar and drums. I liked them. Smallz stood in front of me and we worked our way towards the stage, bopping along to the tunes. The bottle service bros were out on the floor in full force, not understanding the music though everyone else was pretty into it. Unfortunately, the band only played for 15 or 20 minutes before the guitarist threw down his axe and they exited the stage.
Another DJ came out and kept the party going. Our drinks were mostly gone and we danced, made out, danced, made out, danced, made out — you get it. I could feel myself starting to get tired, for real this time, and knew that I didn’t want any more drinks, so as we both finished our beverages, I shouted in Smallz’s ear, “Want to get out of here?” She nodded and we wandered off. We hit the bathroom, grabbed our coats and were out of there.
Back outside, there was still a good line of people waiting to get in the club but we got through the crowd to the open sidewalk.
“So,” Smallz muttered.
“So…” I replied.
“What’s your policy on first date sleepovers?” she asked.
“I don’t have one,” I answered.
Finding a cab back to Smallz’s place took a little time, but it was worth the effort and we collapsed in a drunken embrace as we got into the car and she told the driver where we were going.
So much for being a schlub.