(Names have been changed to protect the bastards)
I'm a college student, having wound up in Texas after moving from the city I love more than life itself (New York) after quitting art school and randomly, drunkenly, choosing my next destination.
In January of 2002, I returned to San Antonio from a winter trip back home to find my Monte Carlo out of commission. I was trying to figure out what was wrong with it when I met Anita, who had just moved into the apartment below mine in our on-campus housing complex.
Anita gave me a ride to the supermarket in return for my offer of cooking her whatever she wanted. We spoke in casual acquaintance when seeing each other for the next month, and finally in February she told me she loved lasagna, and I went out (via the bus) and gathered the ingredients.
After a long day of preparing, she showed up an hour early at 6. My roommate, Enrique, who usually went to the gym at 6:30, came out of the shower as we were making small talk. Before I could introduce him to Anita, they'd begun talking.
It seems they had met at a club the weekend before. Deciding to forgo his trip to the gym (and his in-born sense of the rules among men), Enrique decided to hang out, talking to Anita about the local clubs while I finished cooking. Not having an interest in clubs, I had little to say, which seemed to suit Enrique well. He was still chatting her up as dinner was served, which I was obliged out of common decency to offer him a share in.
After dinner, several friends of Enrique's showed up, as did some vodka and another bottle of wine, perhaps to replace the one the three of us had drunk over dinner. This is where the trouble began. Though I speak a small amount of Spanish, the area I grew up in was predominantly Puerto Rican. My elementary gringo comprehension of the language couldn't keep up with the Mexican accents and slang of Anita, Enrique and friends, and I chose to revert to the universal language of music, putting on U2's "All That You Can't Leave Behind." It was an album I loved both on its own merits and even more so because of the help it gave me in making it through the traumas of the September that had come before.
As Bono sang, Enrique suggested that we all go out to a bar. This is when I first saw that he was not simply clueless, but treacherous. Anita was 22, he and his friends all were of age or had fake IDs, and at the time I was only 20. He knew this.
Acting as if it were an afterthought, he asked if I would mind. Wanting to scream out the obvious strings of insults, I only answered, "Of course not." I may have been drunk and already feeling jilted, but an Irish-Catholic upbringing forces you to never prevent another from having a good time. As they walked out the door, Enrique asked to borrow the U2 CD, and I ignorantly obliged.
I took the last bottle of wine and went to my room. I was surprised though, when only minutes after leaving for the bar I heard through my window the sound of a car pulling into the lot, the sound of my roommate's voice and Anita's mingling in the crisp Texas winter air.
The one thing I did not hear was my door opening.
Pissed at the situation and drunk off cheap red wine, I took my guitar out to my balcony to finish off the bottle and play stereotypical jilted-intellectual songs like "Creep" until I passed out. But even as I tried to play guitar and wallow in self-pity, Enrique cock-blocked me once more.
The sound of my then-beloved U2 CD floated through the air, and as I listened it was painfully obvious that the source of the noise could only be Anita's apartment, directly below mine.
My roommate never came home that night, and I've never gotten my CD back or cooked for Anita since.
The world's shortest date
Following the end of a long-term, long-distance relationship, a well-meaning friend convinced me to put a personal ad online. "Hey," she said, "you can write a good story about it and maybe you'll meet someone you like."
About a month later I had been out on one date with a nice guy who drank too much and had tried to kiss me at the end of the night, forcing me to turn my cheek and get my friend Laura to walk to my car with me. Another date was half a foot shorter than me and surprised that I didn't want a serious relationship after one dinner out. Neither of them warranted a second date, but I figured I could stand one more try at the online dating thing.
I had a dinner date scheduled for 6 p.m. with a guy I'd been e-mailing for a couple of weeks. We had talked on the phone once and it didn't go too well because I was in a drug-induced haze from painkillers at the time, following a shoulder injury, and his personal details eluded me. It didn't help that I was e-mailing two Davids at the time and couldn't keep straight which one was which. The conversation went something like this:
"So you work at the newspaper?"
"No, I sell mattresses."
"Oh, OK. Well you play soccer, right? Soccer's a great game."
"No, I don't play soccer."
"Oh. Uh. Baseball? No, football never mind, damn drugs, I can't think straight. Sorry, what sport are you into?"
"I do a little mountain biking," he said, sounding a little irritated.
"Oh, mountain biking," I enthused drowsily. "That's nice, I have a mountain bike too. But you don't play soccer?"
"It's David, right?"
On the day of my big date with David, a guy I knew from the real world came to my house. I cooked him lunch. He brought a bottle of wine and we spent hours talking, then drove to a nearby nature preserve and walked in the woods for a couple of hours. We had only known each other for a short time and we talked enthusiastically, get to know one another, excited that we had so much in common. Our conversation was so intriguing that I lost track of time and realized that I only had 45 minutes until my dinner date with David.
I drove home, changed clothes and added jewelry, lipstick and mascara. A spritz of perfume and I was ready to go. My friend was still there so I kissed him on the cheek and said goodbye, then headed out the door.
I was ten minutes late to the restaurant, and David was standing outside the door. He had driven an hour, while I was only 15 minutes away, so I thought that it was lucky that we had arrived at roughly the same time. How wrong I was.
I walked toward him with a smile, hand extended, to greet his icy, "You're late."
Retracting my hand and sobering my countenance, I felt my blood pressure go up as I wanted to defend myself against his rudeness, but in an effort to salvage the evening I apologized profusely and explained that I had spent the afternoon with a friend and had been late getting home from a hike.
"But it's only a few minutes, right?" I added and he grunted as we walked to our table where a half-finished Dr Pepper sat dripping with condensation.
Apparently, our man had been early.
As I sat down I smiled again and with an affected air of confidence and joviality said, "Well, it's nice to meet you finally."
David shrugged and scowled and said, "Yeah, I guess so." Then his eyes flashed angrily and I felt my hair stand on end. If this guy was this pissed off about a little thing like 10 minutes, imagine if I actually did something worthy of this wrath. I decided quickly that I never wanted to see this man get really angry. In fact, I never wanted to see this man again.
It crossed my mind that if I hurried home maybe I would pass my new guy on the road and I could stop him and carry on with our pleasant day. Standing from the table, I said levelly, "I think that it would be best if we end this now." I slung my purse over my shoulder and strode out of the restaurant to my car, keys in hand. He was just leaving as I drove past the door to the restaurant and waved half-heartedly.
I resisted the urge to flip him the bird.
-- Amber Heintzberger
In praise of the cheesy pick-up line
It was a Saturday when I first met him. I was in a hurry, had to be at a wedding, needed a present and a card. Found the gift, couldn't concentrate on finding a blank card. Heard a deep, pleasant voice asking if I needed any help. Looked around to spy a tall, dark, good-looking man standing mere feet away from me. But as I said, I was in a hurry, didn't think anything except "He's cute, gotta get outta here." He helped me find an appropriate card, we exchanged a few words, and I was on my way.
Something about him stuck in my brain, because that night and the next, he was in my dreams. Nothing sexual, just saw his face in one and saw him looking at me when he didn't know I was looking in another. So I went back to the shop he works at a couple of days later. No luck, he only works there a few days a week, Monday not being one of them. But I'd just missed him, he'd picked up his paycheck minutes before I got there.
The woman I was questioning about him encouraged me to leave my name and number or to call the next day and ask for him. I left without leaving any info, but couldn't resist calling the shop the next morning, armed with the knowledge of his name. I asked for him, but alas, he wasn't there, and when I inquired when he would be in was met with a rude "I don't know." I said thank you and declined to leave a message and hung up. Minutes later my phone rang. It was THE phone number from THE shop.
How did they get my number? Oh yeah, caller I.D. I answered, heard a female voice calling out the name of the man who'd been on my mind for the past couple of days for whatever reason. What would I say to him now that it came right down to it? When he finally got on the phone, I felt stupid but explained who I was, when I was in the shop, what I was wearing that day, what he helped me find.
I can't believe what I said to him next: "I've had some dreams about you since we first met. Do you want to help me figure out why?"
Can you believe he said yes? It's only been a month, but this guy is something else. He's different than any other person I've ever met. He tells me all the time how much he "digs" me and I have to say, I'm digging him too. Here's to chance encounters and cheesy pick-up lines that are the honest-to-God truth.