First Date Disaster Part I {Personal}

If you think there are no new frontiers, 
watch a boy ring the front doorbell on his first date.
olin miller  

To quote one of my favorite movies, 500 Days of Summer:

"This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, 
this is not a love story."

Maybe someday I'll tell this blog an actual love story from my own life
(in fact, I'm very hopeful that I will... soon)
but that is not what today is.
Today is a first date story. An only date story.

The time? Early September in 2010.
The characters? Brennan and me.
Let the equal parts sad and funny story begin:

Brennan was skinny, nerdy, kind of big ear-ed, 
brown haired, brown eyed, brown wire glasses-ed, southern gentleman
He was as born and raised in North Carolina as his twangy accent proved.
After taking a chef military job, he was relocated to the Washington DC area,
rude, traffic-jammed, busy DC.

Brennan + I first met at Target.  I was looking for power tools.
(Yeah, at Target.  I need help.)
He assisted me.  Conversation was friendly.
Nice, Christian military guy.  I could roll with that!

We texted some, enjoyed talking about food, he would ask to call every now and again.  All was pleasant and I thought he was a very nice guy.  (And that he is.)
Then the inevitable happened.  He asked if he could take me to dinner.  I wasn't REALLY sure if I wanted to, but I figured, at the least, it would give me a basis to have some clarity.   I agreed.  Only problem was that I was headed out of town for a week.  When I returned I had plans every night for the next four nights.

But, yes, he could take me to dinner 11 days from now.  Sure.
I really didn't think about him very much, and I was never particularly excited to hear from him.  But I always enjoyed the conversation.  He teased me when I tried to talk in a southern accent, and I teased him for having a completely un-dangerous military job.  "You're basically the kicker on a football team."  

After those 11 days of waiting-for-the-date, I came to the point where I knew I wasn't interested in anything "more."  Nice guy, absolutely. Yeah, nice nice guy.  I'd already agreed to the date, so as any elegant lady would, I kept my word and didn't cancel.  

The dear kid had planned it out all.  He knew where we were going, he had reservations, he even had a special menu item picked out that he thought I would enjoy.  At some point pre-date he mentioned not knowing where parking was downtown.  "Oh," I helpfully saved the day, "let's just take the Metro!  It'll be so much easier that way."  He didn't like my save.  He wanted me to feel like a lady.  Special.  He didn't want to take a public transit train and make me walk.  "I love the Metro.  Please, I WANT to take the Metro."  He gave in.  We made plans to meet at the local Target (charming, huh?) at 6:30 to make our 8:00 dinner reservations downtown.  

I didn't use my favorite eye-shadow.  And I didn't fuss with my hair.  My skinny jeans were sort of dirty and wrinkled.  But, hey, at night who can really tell anyway?
My new navy heels + favorite black Banana Republic shirt completed my half-hearted outfit, and I arrived at Target right on time. Two minutes early to be exact.

15 minutes later Brennan wasn't there.  "If he's standing me up, that's totally cool because I really would rather go home."  I called, and his phone didn't even ring. RIght to a "ding-ding-ding! I'm sorry.  The AT&T customer you are trying to reach, is not available.  Ding-ding-ding!"  Um.  Now what?  Within seconds I got a call.  "Hey Kristen!  Hey! It's Brennan.  I'm so sorry I'm late.  I stopped at the Apple Store on the way home from work and got a new phone.  But it's taking forever to sync.  And I got stuck in traffic before I tried to sync it and I don't even have any of the contacts on my phone anymore so I had to go find your phone number from your business card.  I literally just got home and haven't even showered, but I'm on my way!  I'm coming!"  I felt bad for the sweet, flustered thing.  He was trying so hard.  I assured him I would wait.  He showed up within 10 minutes and we were on our way.

"I'm sorry my car is such a mess," (it wasn't) "I was going to get it cleaned."  No worries, Brennan.  Looks great to me!  

Making surprisingly good time, we rolled into the Metro station and I headed towards the booths to buy a ticket.  But Southern Brennan was already on it.  He had purchased two SmartCards for our evening - one for me, one for him.  "Aw, you didn't have to do that!  Thanks so much!"  I really was impressed that he already had paid for tickets and gotten us EACH one, especially since he's not from this crazy area and doesn't usually ride the Metro!  

We headed to the little-gates-where-you-slide-your-card and, of course, since he's a gentleman, Brennan let me go ahead of him.  I slid right through, no problem.  When he tried, however, his card spit back out at him and a red light flashed.  He tried again.  "Is it upside down?" I offered.  He didn't answer, just tried another gate.  Same thing.  We stood there for a second, on opposite sides of the barriers, looking at each other.  "Try one more time?"  Luckily, fourth try was the charm! And we headed to the train together.  But this incident didn't come without taking a man-toll on the poor guy.  "I just can't win tonight, can I!"

I "haha"-ed and told him not to worry about it.  The train took a while to get moving, and Brennan sat in his seat, checking the time constantly.  Once we finally got moving he was noticeably more calm.  We small-talked about our days, and my mind was mostly on the food I was about to eat.  I'd heard great things about the restaurant.  But after only a few minutes of conversation, I realized we weren't moving.  The other passengers on the train started fidgeting and head-turning out the windows and murmuring about the stopped train, too.

Moments later the overhead announcement came on: "Passengers, we are sorry for the delay.  The Medical Center Station has caught on fire.  All trains are sharing one track to pass through.  Thank you for your patience."  I started to laugh.  Brennan did not.

The Medical Center Station was one stop before ours and only a few stops away, but on a nice summer evening, during rush hour, this wait could take a loooong time.  Brennan decided to call the restaurant and ask if we could move our reservation back.  But we were in a tunnel.  So there was no service.  His hands were fidgety.  Once we made it out of a tunnel, he pulled out his brand spankin' new iPhone to call, only to to be reminded that his phone hadn't synced all the way and he had no contacts on his phone.  

"It's okay!  I'm sure it'll be alright if we are a few minutes late.  Don't worry about it."  He was worried about it.  He sat there, with low reception, googling the restaurant, getting their number off-line, and changing the reservation time.  I sat their admiring my heels.  When we FINALLY arrived at our station, we ran off, ready to book it to dinner.  I slid my SmartCard through the gate and started jogging towards the escalator.  Quickly looking over my shoulder, I saw Brennan stuck on the other side.  Again.  He was not a happy Metro traveler.  After bumping into pregnant ladies, kicking a stroller and backing everyone else up, he just snuck through the gates with someone else.  "I don't know what the matter is!  I don't know why this isn't working!"  

I was out of "it'll be okay's" because I was so hungry, so I just smiled and kept walking.  The escalators took us from the depths of the underground station, to the corner of a bustling, dark, humid and rainy city street.  We walked downhill, in the rain, I in heels, he in shiny black shoes for three whole blocks.  I started running.  So did my mascara.  Then I started to smell.  So I stopped running.  My shoe got stuck in a grate.  Brennan's glasses were all foggy.  It wasn't the most shining moment of history.

After we arrived at the restaurant, and after I spent some time flipping my hair and rubbing hand-lotion under my armpits in the bathroom, we ordered dinner.  And I will say this:  the food was amamamzing.  We ordered a lot.  And we ate a lot.  The waitress and staff at the restaurant actually gave us a round of applause.  "I've NEVER seen two people eat so much!"  Thaaaat's embarrassing.  

The actual conversation over dinner was 90-percent about the food.  I was definitely being kind of difficult - well, not difficult… I just wasn't trying to make conversation too enjoyable?  I can fake it pretty well.  And I didn't want him to get vibes that I was really feeling it.  I don't know.  I just ate my food, talked about the food and was reserved yet hopefully polite?  We did speak about Brennan's newfound debt-free living approach.  He was really excited about it, so I let him talk.  Seemed to make him happy?  He was only one month away from paying that car off in cash, and his plan was to sell it, buy a "new" used car for less then he sold his current car, and start from scratch being debt-free.  His car was a cute little white two-door - and that's about all I could tell you about it.  Well, that and that it was just a few weeks away from being all paid for which made Brennan talkative.  At the end of the meal, the $130 bill came and I almost rolled off my chair.  (At the point it definitely would have been a "roll" too… not a "fall."  I was filled.  And very circular.)

In my head I started mentally adding up his costs for the day: new iPhone + two SmartCards during rush hour + $130 dinner.  Yikes.  I felt bad.  He REALLY was a nice guy.  At least he has a good job?  And he's not 19.  He's an adult.  He can afford this.  He hasn't gone on a first date in three years.  His car is almost paid off.  He has roommates who help pay rent.  Yeah, this is no big deal.

Once he paid, we left and walked back to the Metro.  This time, however, we were so full we couldn't stand straight.  We wobbled UP the hill, in the rain.  I finally took my shoes off.  My breath was short and smelly.  I was so so so excited to get on the Metro and go home.  One of my friends was having a movie night at her house, and if everything went smoothly, I might even be able to change and make it there in time.  Yay!

[part II to be continued tomorrow...]