Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Night at the Metropolis

Dear Readers, I hate dating. It makes me uncomfortable, and I wish there were another way around it. I may have a bit of exaggerated anxiety when it comes to dating, but doesn’t everybody?

I’m afraid of being stood up, I would be humiliated by a bad date, I hate when people watch me eat, and I fear that the more things I order off the menu, the more he expects me to do him. An escalating price range subliminally begets escalating sexual expectations. Yet, despite the amount of discomfort felt on the first date, it still makes a girl feel special when a guy is willing to spend a little cash to hang out with her.

It made me feel just that when, on my daily walk to the Fields Corner library, a man asked me out. He spoke with such earnest enthusiasm as he complimented me, as if I were the most beautiful woman he had ever seen on this side of the Mississippi River. He was busy moving furniture into his apartment, so he handed me his business card and we arranged to meet each other for dinner. “Hey, Karen,” he yelled as I was approaching the corner, “ while you’re at the library, think about where you want to eat. I’ll take you anywhere you want.”

Glee is what I felt. This was not a college boy with a twenty dollar dinner limit. Here was a man who owned his own car dealership. On the way home from the library I saw one of the free magazines that review local restaurants and nightclubs and the like. I grabbed one and searched for a good review, and landed on a restaurant called Metropolis. It was located in one of the oldest and most expensive neighborhoods in Boston and the article suggested I try the veal scaloppini. The price was reasonable and the veal was free-range. Hell to the yes, I thought to myself.

At nine o’clock that night, he rang the bell and I sauntered downstairs in my velvet peep toe platforms to find a man in Walmart jeans and blue/red on white low-top Top Ten Adidas. You may not remember what those sneakers are, because their glory days in my city faded the year I finished high school. I began to fear that he would be turned away for wearing those clothes within five miles of the South End.

He walked me to the car, and before I could remember to put my seatbelt on I wanted him to take me home. I realize that the enthusiasm with which he complimented me was not because I was a breathtaking beauty; it was because he was either mentally ill or just really stupid. I had no idea how I missed this. He had impressed me by telling me that he was writing a screenplay, and I was glad to be in the company of a fellow writer. But he spoke for close to 10 minutes with awe and fascination about his editor, commending her for her ability to differentiate to, two, and too or their, there, and they’re. The Boston Public School system is one of the better ones in this country. How the hell did this guy miss that grammar lesson on homonyms.

It wasn’t until later, when we were talking about school and he only told me which elementary and middle schools he attended that I realized he never even went to high school, let alone graduated. I peeked into my black Iguana skin clutch to find his business card. I realized that he didn’t own a dealership, but that he worked on commission for a cheesy website. All my glamorous illusions were being shattered like a drunk driver’s windshield on the 4th of July.

We arrived at the restaurant and it was beautiful. It was tucked into one of Boston’s historic brownstones on Tremont St. The restaurant seated no more than 64 people, and the setting was comfortable, relaxed, and intimate and the maĆ®tre d’ was a warm hostess.

My date removed his bubble jacket to reveal a striped Sean John shirt, that would make Diddy himself laugh. It was a shirt that Marshalls has been trying to get rid of for about five years. He also had three large gold chains. This man was so 90s hip hop. It was embarrassing, because, I’m 2010 chic.

He spoke nervously and in depth about the most insignificant things. And I looked in his eyes and though he looked back at me, they were blank and distant, almost empty. Our waiter asked what we wanted to drink. I ordered water and asked about the veal, which he highly recommended. “That’s what I’m getting, then,” I concluded.

“Are you all set sir?” my cute waiter asked. My date mumbled something nervously, but he didn’t even look up. Mind you he no less than six feet and over 200 lbs, and my waiter was about 5’7’’ and pretty. Still the man across the booth was afraid to look him in the eye. When the waiter left, he asked me to order for him. I thought it was because he was going to the bathroom, but he just sat there. When the waiter returned, I ordered for the both of us, without question. Not because I wasn’t curious, but because I didn’t care for answers. I wanted out.

He kept talking nervously, but none of his thoughts made any sense. He talked extensively about things like parking tickets, even though I told him I don’t even know how to drive. He delved deep into his emotional pit, describing how his recently passed grandmother speaks to him in his dreams. I usually try not to mention my deceased mother until after the second date, to avoid low spirits. He expressed a conspiracy theory about white people and their hatred of blacks. Two of my closest friends are white and a half so naturally that discussion made me uncomfortable, especially in a tiny little restaurant where even the kitchen staff can hear your every breath.

Finally, to change the tide of the conversation, I asked him about his screenplay. I had to fight laughter with all my might. I won’t give too many details, just in case it actually does become a Blockbuster. It was a film about three urban woman trying to help their community. He couldn’t tell me how they went about helping it, only that they were about solutions rather than the problem. Then I asked about the main characters and he answered, “I want the role of Mary to be played by Mary J. Blige, but I don’t want her to be Mary J. Blige. I just want her to be Mary. I want Latifah to be played by Queen Latifah, but I don’t want her to be Queen Latifah. I just want her to be Latifah. I want the role of Kim to be played by Lil Kim, but I don’t want her to be Lil Kim. I just want her to be Kim.” I had to end this comedy of errors right there.

I skipped desert, though I love all things sweet, and on the ride home when he asked, “You coming over, Karen?” I answered, “Oh, I can’t, I have to get in the bed, but I had a wonderful time.” I had had a horrible experience, and not even free-range veal was enough to assuage the painful memories I continue to endure. It may be several months before I can ever date again.


  1. yes...dates are quite awkward...but you got through it.

  2. Anonymous2/02/2010

    Aw. This is funny, sad and a tad (note: a tad) sweet.

    Perhaps you made him nervous? Perhaps he was so in awe of you that he tried too hard and ended up behaving like .... well, what you described.

    Chalk it up as your "good deed of the day" and free dinner! lol


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