The Unbearable Anxiety Of Dates


At first, I couldn’t find the entrance to the dumb West Village restaurant I was going to for the dumb first date I didn’t want to go on, with the dumb guy whose face had long receded into the the drunken murkiness of the night I met him. I tried calling him, to no avail. Annoyed, I stomped around the corner to try and find cigarettes, only to find the garden entrance, which is apparently the only entrance to the restaurant.

Entering, I see no single man waiting for a date, so I’m only irritated further. Chris, an old coworker from another restaurant, is thankfully one of the owners and sits with me as I down a beer, becoming less and less open to the idea of this date. I voice my thoughts to Chris, one of which being, “would I be a total cunt if I left right now?” Yes, yes, I would be.

So I stay. God, I don’t want to stay.

Right before he shows up, I devise a plan with Chris to get me out of a potential disaster and I take it upon myself to send out seven texts, you know, just in case. Just as I’m thinking, maybe I should be less cynical, he shows up and the opening conversation–if you can call it that–is underwhelming. I deflate, I want to escape, I hate first dates, how many assonances can I make?

As we begin dinner, I’m thinking about work and exes and any number of fluttering thoughts, when The Idea strikes my whimsical little head: …I’m kind of nervous. Holy shit! I. Am. Nervous.

I’ve never liked first dates. They almost inevitably necessitate a series of walled, forced questions, in order to place this brand spanking new person into some sort of understandable context, be it social, political, artistic, what have you. Breaking down the walls of each other and yourself can become tiresome, gruesome and simply not worth the effort, so often, I give up. Usually, around the same time, the symbolic He does too. It’s not enjoyable, but silence is sometimes preferable.

Well, dear readers (golly, y’all must be on the edge of your seats [haters, that was sarcasm])  he didn’t give up. Nor would he let me.

By the end, we were standing outside of the IFC, underneath the glaring fluorescent lights exchanging movies to see and jokes about my generally rather bitchy exterior, pushing off goodbyes, even though I did totally want to go home and pass out. His charm was a wayward one, delayed, but not erased, by its clumsiness.

On the train, I realized I had been pleasantly surprised and confused by this new stranger whose last name I don’t yet remember. There was mystery to him, the omnipresence of a life before he ever met me, a concept that is quite common to most but, after years of dating in my social circle, completely foreign to me. There’s beauty because I won’t know what the next words out of his mouth will be, I don’t yet know when he’s going to try and hold my hand, and failure and success are both equal options. And fuck, that’s unnerving. So unnerving that I go home immediately to eat cold pizza and cupcakes to sort through the unsettled contents of my gut (and the delicious duck dinner in my belly), biting my nails repeatedly as I watch Grey Gardens on HBO at 2 AM.

But for a woman who often shrinks from the pressure of new company, this was a massive step within myself, one that triggered butterflies in my mind, allowing uncertainty to dominate control. All things said, this was most definitely a big deal in a small way.

Anyways, the story goes, I let him kiss me beneath the yellow lights, next to the neon sex shops of Sixth Avenue and the stumbling gays and I totally didn’t mind this date…Still hate dates though. Way too much anxiety.

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image – Guian B.