Breakfast Date

—Friday, April 20, 2012—

Even the best laid plans could go wrong. But this plan was pretty cool. It was adventurous even, especially considering that it revolved around a meal that many people simply skipped.

Isabelle had emailed me almost a month before our date, after she had stumbled upon my tumblr via her tumblr, or something like that. She told about herself — a twenty-something alternative type who lived in Chicago — and related to the plight of transitioning from serial monogamist to single person in the world. Her email included her tumblr username, where I could see photos of her and learn about her personality, and also, an invitation for a date.

This random woman from the internet told me that she would be in NYC for work in April and wanted to go on a date if I was up for it. After considering her email and tumblr, I was quickly sold on this idea. Isabelle seemed awesome. I replied to her, accepted her offer and we set about navigating the logistics.

We exchanged emails, texts and instant messages over the weeks leading up to our date and it seemed clear very early on that we would get along well. Isabelle was very easy going and super fun to talk to.

In trying to plan what we might do for our date, I took a number of things into consideration before suggesting anything to her. Isabelle worked for a travel company that put strangers in your home (Or put you in a stranger’s home) and while in NYC, she would be staying either with friends for at company locations. As such, she seemed like the type of person who was adventurous and open-minded when it came to housing arrangements. Also, she wanted to see me do improv while she was in town.

I had an improv show with my team SCORESBY on the Friday night of Isabelle’s visit and nothing to do the next day except — potentially — go on a date. I figured that Isabelle could be that date. So, I added this all up and proposed to Isabelle that she attend the SCORESBY show on Friday, stay at my place for the night and then we could get breakfast together on Saturday morning for Breakfast Date.

Though I’d been a bit nervous to suggest this idea — mostly because I was asking a complete stranger to stay with me on the first night we’d meet (But also because it was in the context of a date) — Isabelle was totally on board with it. I really didn’t have to convince her or anything, which I thought was really cool. She was a totally open-minded person and clearly very trusting. I mean, she could been a crazy person, but probably not any more insane than I could handle.

Another reason I suggested Breakfast Date to Isabelle was that it was actually somewhat hard to get a date for breakfast in NYC. Everyone and their fucking mom did brunch and no one enjoyed being up early and trying to impress another human. I had long assumed that if I was going to have breakfast with someone for a date, they would have to live in Astoria, or be staying with me, although the latter was far less likely. And yet, Isabelle, who was visiting from Chicago, had agreed to fill that role without ever meeting me.

Given her readiness to stay at my place, all of my friends theorized that I was going to get laid. They were probably right, but if I’d mastered any art, it was the art of not having sex when it seemed most likely.

The only wrench in our plans was that between the time that we had planned the date and Isabelle had arrived in NYC, SCORESBY had made plans to film a sketch at my apartment at around 2 p.m that Saturday. I had run this by Isabelle and she told me it was fine. She was a comedy fan and said that she’d probably stick around, as long as that was cool. Plus, with the shoot beginning at 2 p.m., we’d still have plenty of time for breakfast in the morning. I was happy to have such a cooperative and enthusiastic date and my excitement for our date grew as the weekend neared.

That Friday, we made plans to meet up in the early evening outside of my office building, and I got out of work a little earlier than she was going to be able to meet me, so I went across the street with some co-workers for a happy hour beer. Isabelle was on her way and I talked to a co-worker’s friend about OHD. He thought it was awesome and told me he wanted to do it himself. “Yeah man, it is awesome,” I confirmed. I mean, shit, I had a woman staying with me that night and I had done almost nothing to make it happen. It was most certainly awesome.

Isabelle texted me to say that she was outside of my building and wearing an “obnoxiously pink” dress. I said goodbye to my co-workers and stepped out of the bar, seeing something bright and pink across the way.

As I approached, Isabelle was facing the other direction and didn’t see me coming. Before she even turned around, I could tell she had a cool sense of style as her dress was super rad. I suppose I’d known that from social media, but you never knew how people were presenting themselves online. For instance, it was hard to know from any picture on the internet that I looked silly in a trucker hat and had chicken legs. Just kidding — everyone looks silly in a trucker hat. Anyway, she didn’t really look any different than I’d been led to believe, so I marked that down in the win column.

I playfully snuck up on her and announced myself with what I hoped was not a terrifying hello.

Isabelle turned around, smiling, and gave me a hug. I asked her about her day and her journey from Chicago (She had arrived on Wednesday night). Everything had been good, she told me, with the highlight being the rowdy time she’d had with some friends in Brooklyn the previous night. She didn’t actually tell me she’d been in Brooklyn, but she described the place they were at as superhero themed bar, so I assumed it was. She later confirmed this suspicion. Brooklyn was too easy.

So, Isabelle wanted to know, where was this show we were going to? I told her it was uptown at a hostel and we began walking to the nearest train. Yes, SCORESBY was doing a show in a hostel that night. A couple of my friends from the Magnet had been running a show there for a number of months and they said it was fun. In some ways, the hostel guests were a built-in audience. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I told Isabelle it should be entertaining nonetheless.

On the train ride up, there was a group of annoying teenagers that I wanted to strangle. When I expressed this to Isabelle, she understood the desire. They were annoying and the train was packed, which only exacerbated the problem.

We get off the 1 train at 103rd Street and climbed the stairs up into the waning evening sunlight. We were not above ground for more than 30 seconds before running into someone that I knew, a fellow improviser named Emily, whom I’d actually done a show with the night before. We chatted with Emily for a minute or two and she even debated coming to the hostel show since she lived right around there, but ultimately decided to stick to her original plans of going to UCB to see Stone Cold Fox. We couldn’t compete with the big boys.

Continuing up the block, Isabelle and I turned down Amsterdam Avenue towards the hostel and walked by my friends Tony and Sarah sitting in a Ben & Jerry’s, eating ice cream. Tony was on SCORESBY with me and Sarah was his fiancé. We stepped inside to greet them and I introduced Isabelle, or as she said, Izzy. Okay, I thought, I’ll call her Izzy from now on.

Under normal circumstances, I would avoid bringing a date to one of my improv shows, or even to have them hang around with my friends. It could put a lot of pressure on a person to meet their date’s friends. But our date was really the next morning, wasn’t it? Our Breakfast Date, I mean. Either way, I was kind of treating that Friday night with a more casual air that I normally would have and more-or-less treating Izzy like a friend who was visiting from out of town. We were already pretty comfortable with each other, it seemed, so I felt okay doing that.

Part of this casualness was also in an attempt to not put too much pressure on the fact that she was staying at my place that night. If you were to ask the vast majority of women who have ever come home with me on a first date, they’d probably tell you that I was a bit reserved. It was nearly always the case. This was because I had trouble balancing the expectations of both parties and the potential guilt over breaking them.

In particular, if a woman was staying at my place out of (some perceived) necessity — a very late night, a geographical nightmare or, in this case, a visitor in town — I always felt preemptive guilt if I suspected that romance might spark up. I never wanted a woman to think that the necessity of the arrangement led me to believe that I was entitled to anything sexual. As such, I played it cool in many of these scenarios and my Friday night with Izzy was no different. If anything, I played it even more aloof than usual because we were around friends and I didn’t want them to draw any negative judgements either.

The four of us walked over to HI New York hostel and, after trying to go in the wrong door, were met by the rest of the SCORESBY gang for that night — Jenny, Brian and Brian’s girlfriend, Kelleen. We found the actual entrance and hung out inside for a few minutes before we had to get ready for the show. I had to leave Izzy to fend for herself with the other girlfriends/fiancés/life partners while we warmed up for the show, but I had faith that she’d be fine.

It didn’t look like there would be much of an audience that night, just the three women who’d come with us, the other performers and a random DJ who was staying at the hostel. It appeared to be a light night for boarders and even though we held up the start of the show a bit, no one was really there as the hosts came out to introduce the evening. 

About half-way through their introduction, a wave of guests flooded the basement performance space and the audience filled up like magic. It was kind of crazy and entire welcomed.

The whole show ended up being really fun and our set was a blast. I thought I killed it with a bit about a drunken cat and a few glory hole jokes, which was all standard fare. Izzy enjoyed herself too, which was the most important part. I wouldn’t have wanted to drag a person in town from Chicago to a stupid indie improv show that was no fun. That would have made me feel real dumb.

We all lingered around outside the hostel for way too long after the show but it gave Izzy a chance to chat with my improv friends and to get more comfortable with them, which was good all around. Finally, a majority of us decided to grab drinks at a nearby bar which a mutual friend had recommended.

Walking into Ding Dong Lounge, I liked the place immediately. It was dark, sort of a dive, but more punk rock than run down. Plus, it had cheap beers, which was a rarity for that part of town. We all sat around talking and our round of drinks ended with a long discussion about our top five celebrity cheat lists. And celebrity fuck lists. And celebrity marriage lists. Lists on lists on lists. Izzy was integrated right into the closely knit group of friends and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

Jenny had already left us to meet up with her boyfriend and it seemed as though everybody had somebody serious except for Izzy and I, but I guess we had each other. I wondered how much that stood out to her, that we were the one tenuous pair amongst a crowd of committed couples. It didn’t phase me, but maybe that was because I was used to having dates around. Anyway, she seemed fine with it, so I trusted my instincts and didn’t think too much about it. After all, new couples dealt with that kind of thing all the time, right?

Leaving Ding Dong, we walked with Tony and Sarah towards the train and Izzy asked me what was next. I kind of wanted to go see a show at the Magnet — Whiskey Tango Foxtrot — especially since my friend Bianca, who was in the show, had come to our hostel show. She had talked it up to Izzy while lingering outside of the hostel and Izzy seemed interested in seeing it as well. I felt bad dragging her to another improv thing, but she agreed to the idea without any convincing, so we headed downtown with Tony and Sarah.

We said goodbye to our two friends at Times Square and jumped off at the next stop, Penn Station. Once above ground, Izzy asked me where we were and I tried to describe Chelsea to her geographically and and also, culturally. It was kind of like the area of Chicago that contained Wrigleyville and Boys Town, maybe? With sports and gays right next to each other. That seemed about right.

In the shadow of MSG, we stepped into NY Pizza Suprema to grab a quick bite to eat with the caveat that we needed to be in and out in 15 minutes if we were going to catch the show. Izzy paid for my pizza, which was super nice, and I guess she did so because I had bought her a beer at the last place. She was cool about it and I liked her approach, which was rooted in friendliness. I got a couple slices of upside down and she ordered my other favorite slice, the grandma.

We ate quickly, chatted a but and it was all very nice. There was nothing really off-putting about Izzy at all, which was great considering she would be staying with me for the next 24 hours, roughly. We managed to curb our conversation just enough to finish and leave in time for the show.

Inside the Magnet, we were wait-listed initially, but it looked like we would get in, given the number of people waiting there in the lobby. I spotted Bobbie — my Hiking Date and fellow improv buddy — across the way and we went over to talk with her and…her man. Oh hey. So many dates, guys. Dates talking to dates. I remembered that she’d told me about him, but they’d only been out two or three times when I’d first heard of him, so I’d nearly forgotten. It was also nice because Billie was super cool with OHD, so she didn’t make a thing out of Izzy being one of my dates.

We were, in fact, granted admission and Billie even saved us a couple seats next to her and her man. We dropped our bags in our seats but both needed to pee, so we went to the bathroom. Standing in line, a fellow Magnet performer stepped in behind us and asked me if this was a date. Like, a OHD date. Izzy and I both smiled, laughed and said, “Yes.”

There was no sense in explaining that the date was actually the next morning, so I simply confirmed that it was a date for the project. As soon as Izzy stepped into the bathroom, my performer friend apologized for making it weird. I laughed and assured her that I didn’t care. “Please,” I told her, “If I didn’t want to be found out, I wouldn’t have brought a date to the Magnet.” Plus, I was sure that the SCORESBY women had asked Izzy about the project earlier, so it couldn’t have been too awkward for her. She was obviously comfortable with being a participant and that put my mind at ease.

I used the bathroom after Izzy exited and made it to my seat just as the show’s opening number came to an end. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was a comedic burlesque show that featured sexy dancing and funny characters. It was a blast. Bianca and the rest of the performers killed it.

Unfortunately, I was too tired to hide it and by the time we exited the theater, I was fading fast. We walked towards 8th Avenue and Izzy asked where we were going. “To a cab,” I told her. “To where?” she followed up. “HOME,” I clarified. It was 1 a.m. and I was super sleepy. She looked at me with an expression of “You weren’t fooling anyone,” and informed me that it was obvious from how I looked at the show. I hated being that tired audience member, but I was really wiped out.

On the way home, I talked about taxis in NYC and how they didn’t like to go to Brooklyn but were fine with going to Queens for some unknown reason. Izzy told me about some of the neighborhoods of Chicago and how it was laid out. I contrasted with descriptions of NYC neighborhoods and soon enough, we were home. Yes. Home.

Entering into my apartment, I gave Izzy an abbreviated tour as we walked towards my bedroom. I asked if she would prefer that I ready the couch for her, inflate the air mattress or if she’d rather share my bed. She opted for the bed share program and I was all like, Cool, because I knew that our chances of making out had just increased at least sevenfold.

I had taken note early in the night of the fact that Izzy only had a big purse with her and seemingly no overnight bag or anything of the sort. I thought maybe she had something stashed away in her purse, as though it were Hermione Granger’s beaded handbag, but that turned out not to be the case. After winding down and chatting for a little while, Izzy asked to borrow t-shirt, which I was more than happy to supply.

Handing it to her, I wondered, Is she just going to get changed in front of me? Yes, yes she was. It was super cool, and even though all signs were pointing towards sex, I still didn’t want to assume anything. Maybe she just wasn’t shy, like, at all. It’s not that I had thought she was shy, but this was next-level confidence. Women with this much confidence threw me off as much as under-confident women could. She was confident enough to change in front of me, yet she hadn’t made a move all night. Maybe she knew that she had me in the palm of her hand and was just toying with me, albeit in a playful manner.

Long story short, I turned around as Izzy got changed because I reacted to such scenarios like a middle school boy. Once changed into bedtime clothes, we got into bed and talked and talked. I rambled about being tired all the time and how I never slept enough. Blah blah blah. I half really wanted to pass out and half really wanted to make out, but I still feared breaking that expectation barrier and so, eventually, I turned off the lights and we tucked in.

It was only a few moments after settling into the big spoon, little spoon configuration that Izzy found the courage I could not and spun around to initiate kissy time. Though I was tired, I was very happy that Izzy had done what I had waffled over all night, as the attraction had built to a fever pitch by that point. I won’t get into any further details, but you can assume whatever you want. (MAYBE WE TURNED INTO LIZARDS????)

Before passing out, I contemplated whether or not I should set an alarm, but I knew that I would probably wake up naturally around 10 a.m., as was typical for me, and we could figure out our day from there.

—Saturday, April 21, 2012—

I woke up briefly. Or at least, I half woke up. I really didn’t feel like getting up, so I closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep. This moment was repeated several times that next morning as I fought with myself to regain consciousness.

Finally, both Izzy and I fully woke up and I rolled over to check the time on my phone.

Fuck. It was 1:15 p.m., which meant that the SCORESBY gang would be there in 45 minutes. Shit. How had we slept that long? I was pissed not only because I felt rushed, but also, there was no way we’d have enough time for breakfast.

I told Izzy that we had to get up and get ready. I brushed my teeth and brought Izzy her purse, which she’d left in the living room. I rushed back into the bathroom to shower and felt stupid about oversleeping.

Angry with myself for fucking up our date, I figured that we could do a breakfast for dinner kind of thing later that day. Once out of the shower, I told Izzy that we would figure out breakfast later, and in the meantime, we could go to the deli for food. She traded bathroom places with me and I got dressed. Once she was out, we headed to the deli.IMG_1968

Since we’d probably be at the deli when everyone from SCORESBY was getting to my place, I took out my phone to text them that I was going to be down the street for a few minutes.

Oh. Never mind. Brian and Tony were there, at Othello. What a coincidence! They were in line for sandwiches, so we joined them. We all placed our orders and I also texted with Jenny and told her to go to the deli. A couple minutes later, we were all gathered at Othello and secured a table outside. It was really nice that everyone had already met Izzy the night prior, otherwise, this all would have been incredibly awkward. We ate our sandwiches and talked about period cups. It was great.

Back at my place, we went over the script, set up the shoot and shot the damn sketch we were there to shoot. Izzy appeared entertained throughout, so I didn’t feel bad that she was essentially waiting around for us to finish, though she was confined to my bedroom for stretches of time while we filmed in the living room.

The only small drawback of having Izzy there, and integrating her so fully into the group, was that she  piped up occasionally to give comedic suggestions for the sketch. It felt a bit awkward because she as largely ignored, but she didn’t know any better that suggesting ideas to the writers of a sketch was somewhat taboo. For anyone who wasn’t involved in comedy, or a part of a specific group, it was hard to know where to draw the line between a bunch of friends hanging out, tossing ideas around (As we had been at the deli) and a sketch group filming a scripted piece (Which implied a certain respect for the author attached to it). Either way, it wasn’t a huge deal, just something that the odd context brought out.

The shoot took a couple hours and it was painless overall. Everyone left around 4 or 5 o’clock, leaving Izzy and I to our own devices.

Wanting to be a good date to Izzy, I tried to think about things we could do in Astoria or LIC, but the MoMI and PS1 were either closed or closing very soon. This was a bummer. We talked about movies and television programs by dissecting my DVD collection and decided that maybe we’d watch something later on. It seemed like a nice way to kill some time on a Saturday and was a generally date-appropriate idea. Much of our conversation was about how I rarely took the time to watch movies or television shows. This seemed to come up often on dates, as it had that Wednesday night with Kathleen, but whatever, it was true.

However, I didn’t simply want to lounge around all day, so I suggested that we take a walk down to Astoria Park. I’d never actually been there, but my roommate Pat visited the park a decent amount and it sounded like a good enough date idea to me. Izzy was up for it, so we set out on a little stroll.

Walking the few blocks to the park, we talked about our workplaces. Though Izzy worked largely at home, she occasionally had to visit the firm’s corporate offices and our companies had certain things in common. They were both technology companies, so we discussed what we liked about that world and where it seemed there was room for improvement in our specific jobs. 

Wandering through Astoria Park, which was beautiful that day, Izzy and I discussed NYC’s layout and its neighborhoods. From the park, we could see across the East River to Manhattan and Randall’s Island, which was what had spurred the conversation. We debated whether or not NYC was segregated and she told me that Chicago was very much so. It was an interesting conversation. I didn’t think NYC was drastically segregated, more like pocketed, but I wondered if I held that perception because I only really engaged with gentrified areas. How did one notice segregation without visiting all parts of the city? Even the Queens enclaves that I’d been to were generally safe ones like Jackson Heights and Flushing.

We also talked about different cities we maybe wanted to live in and the types of places we were drawn to, noting which characteristics made for a likable city.

By the time we made it back to my apartment, it was still nice out, so I suggested we grab a drink at Mosaic, which had its windows open to the warm Spring air.

Upon entering Mosaic, it seemed as though there was a private party going on, but one of the bartenders, Billy, waved us towards the bar. He let me know that they were merely setting up for a surprise birthday and that the place wasn’t being rented out. We were more than welcome, and so I pulled out a seat at the bar for Izzy and then took the spot next to her. 

After we both decided to get the Texas Brown Ale — which was a collaboration between Bear Republic, Fat Head’s and Stone — we talked a ton about travel and different places around the US and the world that we wanted to visit. Billy interrupted us from time to time, politely, to ask us about certain details we were discussing and it was actually kind of nice to know that weren’t totally alone. Others were listening! Also, I liked that Izzy and I had similar tastes in beer.

I got up to use the can and took it as an opportunity to reply to some text messages I’d received from other women I’d dated or would be dating. One of them was from my date for the next day, informing me that we’d have to cancel due to the weather. Dammit. It was going to be hard to reschedule, but at least I wouldn’t have to have that awkward conversation the next day where I had to say, “Hey Izzy, wake up. I know it’s early, but remember, you have to leave so I can go on another date.” I’d done that a few times over the course of the project and it was never really all that fun.

Izzy used the bathroom after me and I paid for our beers while she was in the can. I thanked Billy and we left Mosaic for our next stop. Despite having slept so much the previous night, I desperately wanted to nap, but it was also about time for a meal. “Breakfast?” I asked Izzy, to which she agreed. Let’s do the damn thing.

I ran up to my apartment to grab a jacket, as it had cooled off a bit, and then we made tracks towards Neptune Diner. It was the perfect time for breakfast: 7 p.m. on a Saturday night.

We settled into our booth and debated what to get for breakfast (dinner). I ordered silver dollar pancakes, corned beef hash and coffee while Izzy went for eggs and home fries. She had actually had to ask me what home fries were, which I thought was funny. I didn’t want to sound incredulous, but after describing them to her, I asked her what else they might be called. She guessed hash browns, but no, those were something different. Home fries were home fries. Breakfast potatoes, maybe? I didn’t know. Izzy didn’t know either. A regional breakfast mystery for the ages.

Although Izzy lived in Chicago, had gone to school in Chicago and had spent time in Korea and Thailand, she actually grew up in Detroit with her single mother. I’d been mildly fascinated by Detroit as a crumbling American city for years, but I’d never known anyone actually from there.

“It’s really cool for anyone that likes ghost towns,” she told me, confirming my suspicion that it was a little wild out there. She told me about the packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets and how some people wouldn’t stop at red lights out of fear of being carjacked. It sounded like a difficult place to grow up but Izzy said that it was kind of cool now, since it was being rebuilt by a lot of artist types. Why did people continue to live there? I had wanted to know. Because you could buy a house for $15,000. That was a pretty good reason, I admitted.

Izzy also told me about growing up with her mom and about a crazy uncle of hers who had robbed them. He was actually a great uncle who lived across the street from them and the robbery was all sentimental stuff, which was lucky in a way, but even more horrible in another. It was a pretty crazy story.

Back on the topic of run down cities, I told her about New England locales like Bridgeport and New Haven in Connecticut, Providence in Rhode Island, and Worcester and Lowell in Massachusetts. Many of them owed much of their resilience to artistic and university communities. And though it was tempting, with its $15,000 houses, Izzy said that she couldn’t move back to Detroit. Chicago simply had too much to offer — too many friends and too much to do. That was how I felt about NYC too. I mean, maybe I’d move back to Boston, but fuck if I’d move back to Detroit.

Breakfast was more than enough food and I was stuffed by the time we finished our meal. We settled up on the meager bill and Izzy insisted that I had paid for too much already, but that wasn’t true. We’d been pretty good about splitting things actually. She’d bought by sandwich earlier, I’d bought her beer, etcetera. I can’t even remember who ended up buying breakfast, but I assume we split it.

As we exited the diner, Izzy said that she felt like taking a nap and I totally agreed, since the food had only increased my desire to sleep. Maybe we should just take a nap? I considered. It actually did seem like a really nice idea. Maybe we could watch a movie and pass out? Izzy said that sounded good. Plus, it was another opportunity to make out, which we’d been delaying all day.

Once back at my apartment, Izzy asked the logical question of, “Is it a nap if it’s 9:30 [p.m.]? Isn’t that just going to bed?” I laughed and told her, “Only if you don’t wake up again. I’ll probably wake up again.”

We got on my bed, yawned, talked and, shortly thereafter, began kissing again. As things got somewhat heated, and clothes started coming off, Izzy commented, “Well, this isn’t a nap.” No, it was not. It was much better than a nap.

After turning into lizards again, Izzy and I laid next to each other and eventually drifted off to sleep. A brief nap ensued and when I woke up a little while later to use the bathroom, we both agreed that the nap had done us good. Rejuvenated from our respite, we decided to finally watch a movie.

Izzy suggested one of her favorite films, The Fall, and I was easily convinced to watch it. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, thanking Izzy for the recommendation, but by the time it was over, I was exhausted once again. I shut off the lights, rolled over and we went to sleep for the night.

—Sunday, April 22, 2012—

The next morning, Sunday morning, I woke up a little ahead of Izzy, but stayed right where I was for a while. It was actually a very reasonable hour, as opposed to our oversleeping the day before. Eventually, we both woke up and lay in bed talking for a while.

Izzy told me about when she was once bitten by a dog, very badly (I think it was one of those big Chinese chow chows), and how it had required plastic surgery. I would have hardly been able tell had she not told me, and it was great that she’d had a very full recovery, though she had developed a fear of needles that never quite went away. Eek. It sounded scary.

I don’t remember how it came up, but I told Izzy about the coincidence I’d discovered regarding by recent Celebrity Date, Donna Vivino, and my mother. A couple weeks prior, my friend Tony had asked me if anyone ever thought my tattoo was silly because I had my own initials tattooed on my arm. He knew full well that they were also my mother’s initials, EFB, but not everyone would know that. I told him that people either knew me well enough to know that they were my mom’s initials, or they had to ask what “E.F.B.” stood for, in which case I’d point out that they were for my mom but also my own.

After processing my answer, Tony paused and told me that the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also had the same initials, EFB, and that was where the name Elphaba had come from for the Wicked Witch of the West. At that moment, my brain exploded a little bit. I was named, in some sense, after my creator — my mother — and she was the only other EFB in my life. I had just been on an immensely pleasurable date with a woman who played Elphaba in Wicked The Musical, an EFB by another name, who was also named after her creator. I interpreted very few things to have some kind of mystical meaning, as I’d never been religious, but I was always willing to listen to the universe when it came to matters of my mother. I was a little awestruck.

When I finally went to check on Tony’s claims and read about the origin of Elphaba, I found that the author’s initials were actually LFB (Lyman Frank Baum) and that Tony had been mistaken. It was close, but no cigar, and I was a bit disheartened. However, there was a redeeming coincidence in that my mother’s maiden middle name was Louise. As such, her full name after marriage was Ellen Louise Forde Barden, or ELFB. If that wasn’t some kind of proxy for Elphaba, I didn’t know what was. Anyway, it was a random story, but a cool coincidence, and maybe provided some kind of mystical reason for why I’d been so drawn to Donna.

Once out of bed, I showered, we both got dressed and we went to Sparrow for food.

At Sparrow, we ate breakfast for the second time in as many meals and talked a lot about bars that we liked. We also talked about music and musician friends, with Izzy reminding me of her friends Sidewalk Chalk, and me telling her about Dead Boots, who had a show in Brooklyn that upcoming Tuesday. Izzy was still going to be in town, and I think we had already discussed plans that she would come along with me to see them. It sounded like it would be fun.

After eating, and after spending the better part of two full days together, I walked Izzy to the train. She said she would see me on Tuesday, we hugged goodbye and she got on the subway out of Queens.

It hadn’t exactly gone according to plan, but Breakfast Date had been a success and I’d gotten to know a complete stranger quite well in the process. The logistics of it weren’t pretty, but it was a win nonetheless.