Sister Date

—Friday, May 11, 2012—

Sister Date was one date that people often had questions about. Wasn’t that incestuous? Totally gross?? Morally incomprehensible??? Well you can calm down…because I don’t even have a sister. I had to date someone else’s sister for this one.IMG_2002

The original idea was that I had to go out with the sister of a friend of mine, as that seemed mildly taboo, but also, was probably super common in many societies. This was One Hundred Dates though, so it had to work out to be a bit more interesting than simply taking out a friend’s sister.

In fact, I was taking out Ariana’s sister, Jodie. You might remember Ariana from the Mets game we attended, or from the time we got tattoos together. It was fitting that my sister date, defined as “sister of a friend” was the sister of one of my past dates. It said a lot about what this project had done for me that year. Not only had it given me a couple great dates with Ariana, but it had given me a great new friend.  Ariana was one of the most significant people I met during that year and I considered her a dear friend whom I cared about deeply.

And apparently, she thought of me highly enough to set me up with her sister.

Ariana had first suggested that I go out with Jodie months earlier, during the previous Fall. She had mentioned on numerous occasions how well she thought Jodie and I would get along — dating or otherwise — but while the the idea of going out with her intrigued me, I was hesitant.

From what I had heard about Jodie, I agreed that we would get along well, which was one reason why I didn’t jump at the offer. What if I actually liked Jodie? Wouldn’t that be super awkward? I mean, Ariana and I had been intimately involved and we had definitely had feelings for each other, even if they were safely on the back burner by the time she suggested dating Jodie. We talked about how perfect it would be, from a sociological standpoint, to have my sister date be the sister of someone I’d been romantically involved with, but even that bait couldn’t get me to bite that Fall.

However, by late Spring, a lot had changed. Ariana had a live-in boyfriend. We were both in a better place with a lot of things. And we had learned how to become good friends and not let that other sex/love/romance shit get in the way.

And if I was being honest, and Jodie turned out to be anything like Ariana, then I would definitely want to date her.

Sister, sister, never knew how much I missed ya.

I had first texted with Jodie a few months earlier, about going on a date, but she was leaving for Nashville that week and wouldn’t be back for three and a half months. She was going to partake in a very small ministry program (Only her and two other people) run by a local church there, that was essentially a faith-based personal growth program. We texted back and forth for most of the evening and even in those texts, I could tell that we shared some sensibilities and that she was someone I would get along with well. 

It took until May of 2012, seven or so months since it had first been suggested, but we had finally got around to a date. She had returned to Long Island just a week or two earlier and we made plans to go out.

Actually, she would first be going to my improv show (Ariana’s suggestion, I swear) and then we would hit the town. So, she was in for a pretty full dose of Evan for the evening. 

I showed up to the Magnet and got Jodie a ticket to be held at the box office. I texted her to tell her that she just needed to give them her name. Then, I warmed up with my team, SCORESBY, for the show. I’m happy that no date ever saw me warm up for an improv show because to the untrained eye, it looked like a bunch of adults playing children’s games. Okay, maybe that was what it was.

Jodie texted me just before showtime to say that she’d be a few minutes late, so when I saw a new face, framed by short red hair, appear in the audience after our first scene, I knew it was her.

The show was fun. I played a dog who got fucked, fucked other dogs and then 69’ed an additional dog, so the date was definitely off to an impressive start.

After the show, I finally got to meet Jodie. She gave me a hug hello and I noticed immediately that smelled like her sister. They looked somewhat similar too, but I already knew that. I had a flash of recognition in someone I did not know.

She met my friends Tony, Pat and Lindsey. As my roommate, Pat knew Ariana and so I introduced Jodie as Ariana’s sister to him. He said, “Oh! She told me where to get my hair cut,” and pointed at his head. I realized right then that it was kind of awkward to acknowledge the fact that my roommate knew Ariana because, you know, how else would he know her other than her being at our apartment? Whoops! Great start.

After all of the little niceties, we left the theater and walked towards the subway. We talked about her day and I began to notice how much she sounded like Ariana and that they shared similar mannerisms. It was surreal to so clearly recognize someone I had never met before. It was bizarre at first.

Jodie had been nannying that day and had locked her keys, both sets, in her car. Understandably, it had created a pretty big pain in her ass that day, though she told me it could have been worse. At least she was able to get it all figured out and no children suffered.

My day had been pretty normal. Maybe unproductive, if anything, but that was somewhat typical for a Friday. [Can you sense my unwavering apathy?]

She mentioned something about her friend Jess, that maybe they’d be meet later, and I had a momentary drop in excitement. Maybe it would be a shorter date that I had thought.

We rode the train down to the West Village and as we came above ground, I asked Jodie if she liked Italian food. I had a few options of restaurants in mind, knowing that we would make the decision together. Jodie was fine with Italian food though, and informed me that she was a picky eater. I knew that already, since Ariana had told me ahead of time. She didn’t want me to mess up a date with her sister, after all! Neither did I, and Italian was a safe bet. 

It was a short walk to the restaurant and I asked Jodie about her week. Friends of hers from Nashville had been in town. They musicians and sounded like a very fun bunch. 

Arriving at Piadina, I told them that it was just the two of us. There were many open tables in the restaurant but they seated us right next to another two top, leaving little privacy for either party in the sparsely populated room. There was obviously something I didn’t know about the food service industry, but it struck me as odd anytime something like this was done. 

Jodie ordered a chicken cutlet, which sounded like a safe bet, and I got the special parpadalle with ragu. I had eaten a lot of Italian food lately, but that was fine by me. I would have never noticed that while living in Boston, but with so many culinary options in NYC, it was rare that I was going to the same types of restaurants regularly. Pizza excluded, of course.

I asked Jodie all about Nashville and the few months she had recently spent there. She described the ministry program to me, why she’d participated in the first place and what she had taken away from it. She told me about how they spent their days, the different people she had met and the community surrounding the whole thing. It sounded really nice. 

She asked about the project, so we talked about that for a while. Jodie was somewhat familiar with it because of Ariana, but there was still a lot to talk about. I learned that she had been single almost two years. Same as me. Only one month difference. 

Our food arrived, which was quite good, and we turned the conversation to the subject of faith. We actually discussed her faith a lot, which I was prepared for, since I knew it was a very important part of her life. She lived with this notion of trying different things and knowing God would choose the right path for her in the end.

Despite my staunch secular nature, I could relate to her descriptions of faith. In fact, most of the faith based things that Jodie talked about were things I felt myself, that I believed in, but without a God at the center of it all.

Improv was my religion. I didn’t want to propagate this “improv is a cult” thing, but there was a good amount of truth to it. “Life philosophy” might be more suitable a term than “religion,” but either way, I had lived my life by the tenants of improv for some time. Following instincts and trusting that I would figure it out, or that someone else would take care of me, was an improv idea that seemed to overlap with Jodie’s Christian faith, amongst others.

We talked about the importance of trusting and loving those around you. Community was vital in both the improv and church worlds. There were a lot of great things discussed, including gay marriage, which was totally not a hot button issue between us.

I told her about the small level of familiarity I had with Christian schools and highly-religious non-Catholics, as I had experienced through a summer camp, a neighboring town’s Christian school and my mother’s church. My mom had both attended and worked at a non-denominational Christian church in town for several years before her death. Jodie and I talked about Christian stereotypes like those portrayed in the movie Saved! and like we had seen in real life. Christian rock bands like Relient K had been at the center of such a teen culture.

Somehow, someway we stumbled across the topic of monogamy and marriage as a whole. We managed to talk about these things, along with the idea of having children, for some time and even stuck around for a while after eating to continue chatting.

Jodie was incredibly friendly and, behind the strong Christian identity, not too different from me. Also, not crazy different from Ariana. It was cool to see that despite from fundamental separations, we were very compatible people. Plus, she was funny. And cute!

It took us a few minutes to decide what to do next, but I was happy just to know that we’d be moving on from dinner together. We finally settled on checking out Fat Cat, which was very close to where we already were.

As expected on a Friday night, Fat Cat was packed, so we ended up just ordering beers and standing by the bar. One way or another, as I often did throughout my year, I started talking about my dead mom. Jodie already knew about most of that stuff because she had read the Tattoo Date I’d gone on with Ariana. She referenced how in Hot Rod, Rod mentions that his dad is “super dead.” That made me laugh. I should tell people my mom is super dead more often.

After one beer, we decided to leave Fat Cat. Not only was was it simply too noisy and crowded at the time to work well for our date, but Ariana had reached out to Jodie, saying that we should meet her and her boyfriend at a bar a little ways away.

At first, I was hesitant to meet up with them. Not only would it be the first time I’d meet Ariana’s boyfriend, but we’d be confronting head on any and all awkwardness which might be created by dating two different sisters, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. But, then again, I was also like, Fuck it. I’m already out with her sister. Let’s make this as weird as possible.

We were meeting them at The Half King, which was a little bit of a walk for us, but it gave us a good chance to talk. As we drifted north, we chatted about music and I listed bands that I had liked in high school to see if we matched up at all. Jodie was into slightly more aggressive, but also Christian, versions of the pop-punk bands that I had loved. It was cool to see the slight deviation in what our teenage minds absorbed. We also talked about Tom Gabel’s then recent coming out as transgendered and being know henceforth as Laura Jane Grace. So fucking punk rock.

Along the way, we stopped into a Starbucks to use the bathroom and I bought a brownie. Jodie relieved herself and I consumed the sugary treat as we continued north. We talked about bands we were currently into and she recommended I listen to mewithoutYou when I got a chance. She had liked them for years.

Arriving at The Half King, we were greeted by an excited Ariana and her boyfriend, Kelley. We were happy to report to big sister that the date was going well and that we were enjoying ourselves. It was also nice to finally meet Kelley, who I had heard much about — he was funny and very friendly. He got Jodie and I some beers from the bar and we all hung out for a while, chatting.

I was slightly on edge because I was unsure just how aware Kelley was of my relationship with Ariana and if he was either wary of me, or just thought I was super weird for going out with her sister. I’m tempted to say that neither of these things were true because he was nothing but kind to me, but those nerves were certainly present.

After a little while of our double-sister-date hang out, Jodie had to get going to Penn Station to catch her train home. We said goodbye to Ariana and Kelley and left with enough time to get us to her train on time.

It wasn’t a long walk and it flew by with Jodie along for the ride. I don’t recall what we talked about, but in no time, we were at the doors of Penn Station saying goodnight. I gave her a hug and thanked her for coming to my show, being my date for the night and for recommending some music. We said farewell and both headed home.

Though the date had been a bit surreal at first, it ended like so many great ones, with a wonderful night behind us and a new connection made.

Jodie: Made it home safely. Thanks for walking me to penn and stuff that was real gentlemanly of you! 2:20 AM

Me: Of course! Glad you’re home safe. I just walked in myself. Have a goodnight! :-) 2:21 AM

Jodie: Splendid! Sweet dreams :) 2:21 AM