—Tuesday, May 14, 2012—
Sports! Everyone loves sports…but unfortunately, some sports depend upon the weather, which nearly ruined this date for me. It had been raining most of the day and the forecast had not been good. I needed this kickball game to happen though because of date scheduling. Not only was I running short on days to date, but I was trying to coordinate with my office’s kickball league and a seemingly wonderful woman.
Jacqueline had texted me at least twice since the night before asking if the game was still on. I assured her that it was and I really hoped it wouldn’t be called last minute. I hated messing up other people’s schedules.
Fortunately, as six o’clock rolled around, the forecast was looking good and a group of us headed out of the office for the Lower East Side. Just as I was getting on the train at Rockefeller Center, I got a text from Jacqueline that said she would see me soon — she was just getting on the train at Rock Center.
WHAAA?? She could have been on the very platform I was on, but as I descended with my co-workers, I lost service. I told my co-workers that we very well might run into her. It was funny that she was coming to play kickball with all people I worked with because I was directly injecting my dating life into my work life, which was probably more acceptable at something like a holiday party. My co-workers were cool though, and they were friendly, so I was not too concerned. Plus, they were used to me being a weirdo.
We got all the way down there and hustled to Boss Tweeds Saloon to get changed, have some beer and eat some pizza. I didn’t see Jacqueline anywhere by the time we got to the bar, so I headed into the “men’s locker room” that was a crowed toilet at the back of the bar, to get changed.
A few of us from the office hastily negotiated the logistics of changing in a bar bathroom and emerged several minutes later, looking like the formerly athletic hacks that we were.
To my delight, Jacqueline had arrived while I was getting sexy and I found her standing around the beer and pizza, talking with my co-workers. I greeted her and then more formally introduced her to everyone. I asked her how her day had been and all of that, but before we knew it, someone was pointing out that we had to be at the field. It was time to down the rest of the beer and stuff some pizza in our faces. Jacqueline was not daunted by this and readily helped destroy a pitcher of Bud Lite before we hurried out the door.
We walked over to the field but trailed behind everyone else so that we could actually talk and more reasonably meet each other for the second time. I mean, I’d hardly even talked to her the first time we’d met, so this was almost like starting from scratch.
I had asked Jacqueline for her number, and out on a date, less than two weeks earlier at my friend Bobbie’s birthday party. She was on her way out, hugging people goodbye, and when she got to me, she politely shook my hand, since she had no idea who I was. I didn’t let it go.
She had caught my eye much earlier in the night, but I hadn’t talked to her. She was running around, taking pictures and generally socializing with a lot of people I didn’t know too well. As such, I was hesitant to strike up a conversation with her. I was convinced though, that she was the best looking woman at the party and I was just hoping for some excuse to talk to her.
As I held Jacqueline’s hand, refusing to let the opportunity pass, Bobbie swiftly introduced me, told Jacqueline that I had this dating project and recommended that we go out on a date. To my delight, Jacqueline was on board immediately. I was incredibly happy with how it had gone. And the fact that I got to capitalize on her acceptance so soon was great.
ANYWAY. We walked and talked, about our jobs mainly, which made sense considering we were hanging out with a big group of my co-workers and had both come from our respective offices. Jacqueline worked at a staffing agency in Midtown, but had also spent some years in the theater world, eventually deciding that a consistently decent income and a steady gig were preferable. I didn’t blame her, though at the time, I sought the opposite shift in careers. [Life is fluid and ever changing, guys.]
Our banter was already going well as we arrived to the kickball field (court? diamond?) and our fearless team leaders created a lineup and assigned positions. I was given a bit more credit than Jacqueline, but neither of us were regular kickballers, so we were relegated to less glamorous parts of the lineup. That was fine by us though — at least we got to play. Plus, we were spared the gruesome playground ritual of picking teams and being literally selected last. This was by far the best part of showing up to play kickball with a team.
I was also aware that my co-workers were taking the game somewhat seriously. We were in playoff contention, and this crew was a fairly competitive bunch, so I knew we couldn’t be phoning it in. That was a rule for my dates, after all — no phoning it in.
Here’s a really obvious, and admittedly shallow, reason for why playing a sport makes for a good date: Most athletic clothes are fairly sexy in this era of tights over sweatpants and in May, when you can totally wear shorts. It’s great because you get a fairly realistic look at what your date’s body looks like, sports bras and jockstraps aside. In this case, not only did Jacqueline look great, but I also got to scope out my female co-workers in a way I had never really seen them before. [I don’t work there any longer, so it’s totally cool for me to admit to creeping.]
The game got off to a good start with our team racking up the points and both Jacqueline and I holding our own. The other team fought back as the game went on and it was fairly tense until we opened up our lead again in a later inning.
I’d been doing fine at the plate, but as the game neared its end, I sought a higher level of accomplishment and went to the plate for my last at bat looking to get a big hit. I swung my leg with all my might and fouled. No worries, right? I had two more fouls to give. Another pitch, another big kick, another foul. I had to get real. There was a big gap down the third base line, between the bag and the fielder, and no one in far left for 50 yards. I knew that if I could put it right in that gap, I’d be looking at a triple at least. I geared up one last time and kicked with all my might.
I over-extended, the ball bounced a bit to high and, after it ricocheted off of my shin, down the third base line, I watched it curve two inches to the left of third base for my final foul. I had fucking struck out playing intramural kickball. I don’t know that I’d ever had an athletic failing as disappointing as this.
Walking back to the bench, I was embarrassed not only for my athletic self, but also for my work self, and most importantly, for my date self. I was a real embarrassment.
The shin kick had stung, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. What was a bit odd was that, once back out in the field for our final turn on defense, I noticed that my shin looked to be swelling up a bit. I didn’t think to much of it, but it did hurt a little and it was in the distinct shape of a vein. This wasn’t a bump, this was something swollen that ran down my shin. Still, I thought little of it, figuring it would die down soon.
We won the game after making three outs and there was much rejoicing. Everyone high-fived and life was generally great. It was almost as if I had never struck out at all and I was the only one dwelling on my mistake.
There was post-kickball fun to be had a nearby bar, so after asking Jacqueline if she wanted to tag along, we followed everyone over to the watering hole of choice. Had we lost, maybe Jacqueline and I would have ducked out and gone straight to dinner, but it seemed like we should continue the party for just a little while longer.
Another great thing about something like a team sport for a date is that having other people around to make conversation releases a lot of pressure off of the two people on the date. I’ve mentioned this before with other dates, but it’s good to reinforce the point. Having other people around can actually allow for more conversation and more information sharing between you and your date. It takes a village, you know?
We got to the bar and it was pretty typical of the kind of place I’d expect an intramural sports league to organize communal happy hours — loud music, sort-of-tough dudes and drinking games abound.
Though the games were initially relegated to a few co-workers playing Beirut, which Jacqueline and I didn’t really want to partake in, someone soon suggested that we use the table for a game of flip cup, so that everyone could be involved. I was hesitant to make a date of mine play flip cup on a Tuesday night, before dinner, but Jacqueline reassured me that she was up for it. Plus, we would have looked pretty lame if we were the only people not playing.
You know what? A little flip cup was actually pretty fun on a date. It kept the activity level high and provided many laughs, not to mention a bit of a buzz.
After a game or two of ye olde flip cup, I asked Jacqueline if she wanted to peace out for some private dinner times. We happily left the frat house behind and walked over to Alias Restaurant (Since closed) with a bounce in our step.
We were seated at a table in the back of the small restaurant and settled in for a fun and flirty dinner, both eager to eat, having worked up an appetite over rigorous games of kickball and flip cup.
Here’s where my notes on the date get really sparse, but I can tell you this: We had a lovely dinner and it was filled with a lot of laughter and smiles. Jacqueline’s smile, in particular, was beautiful and nearly always present. That doesn’t even touch on her eyes. Those were wonderful too.
I know we discussed travel and career, among other things. And I hope we talked about our families a bit, but honestly, it’s a distant memory at this point. However, it was a strongly positive memory. By the time we’d met up, played kickball, had some drinks and eaten dinner, I was wholeheartedly dumbstruck by Jacqueline. Something about her felt like a breath of fresh air. That’s not to say I’d had unpleasant dates lately, or that I was in a funk at all, only that Jacqueline really won me over that night in a matter of hours.
Also, there seemed to be real chemistry between us. Maybe it was the drinks we’d had, but by this point in the project, I think I was pretty good at distinguishing between boozy flirtation and the real thing. This was the real thing.
We left Alias and walked north up Clinton. Within a block, we were holding hands. Half a block later, I stopped her and pulled her towards me for a kiss. I couldn’t help myself. I’d had such a wonderful time with her. And lucky for me, the kiss was reciprocated enthusiastically. I was on cloud nine.
I walked with Jacqueline as far as I could. It was either a cab or a train stop where we finally parted and I gave her one last kiss goodnight.
Sadly, I didn’t see Jacqueline until a year later, at our mutual friend Bobbie’s next birthday party. She looked amazing and I immediately snapped back to that night in 2012 when we first went out. But I felt like I’d dropped off the face of the Earth, and though we made small talk that night, nothing more came of it.
I bumped into her again, over last summer, and realized that I was a total idiot. I texted her later and told her that I was sorry for being an airhead and that I wanted to go out sometime. We exchanged a few texts, but when one of them went unanswered, I dropped off the face of the Earth again. I don’t know. I guess like I felt like I was wasting her time. I thought so highly of her, and I wasn’t sure of what I wanted out of a relationship, so I thought it best not to drag her down.
She’s still out there, being awesome, looking beautiful and maybe playing sports with a dude who doesn’t strike himself out so often.
*For the record, my ankle looked like it had a swollen rope going down it for weeks and still flares up from time to time. I think it’s actually kind of a problem, but I forget about it every time I see a doctor.