I've been on a lot of dates recently. I'm not saying this out of an inflated ego and excessive self pride. I say this because majority of the dates I go on are nothing to brag about. Yes, I've met a handful of great guys, but majority of the dates I go on are awkward and head nowhere. As a self-deprecating writer, I've decided to start a series called The Dating Chronicles. A tribute to failed dates and the woes of 20 something single-dom.
The Hand Thief
A few minutes early, I settle into a small booth at the front of the bar. I take in my surroundings, scanning the dimly lit Art Deco room. A waitress approaches me with a menu and I order a gimlet. A few sips in he arrives, greeting me with a nervous smile that makes his eyes go small. He's tall with dark straight hair and a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of his nose. Taking the seat across from me, I ask him about his day. He orders a whiskey and leans back in his seat. We talk alma maters, mountains, and Malcolm Gladwell books. Places we've been, things we've seen, and adventures we've had. His nerves disappear with the whisky. Clinking the bare ice cubes in his glass, he orders a round of IPAs for the two of us. I hate IPAs, but it's easier not to say anything.
I slowly sip the bitter beer and forget to listen as he talks about his recent move to Denver. Instead, I sift through pros and cons I've unconsciously made about him. Making my way back to reality, I find myself in a conversation about skiing. I smile and nod like I'd been listening the whole time. Somewhere within the past hour, I've decided that this isn't going anywhere.
He polishes off his beer and orders another. My stomach starts to churn with hunger and I suggest we grab a slice of pizza a few blocks away. The optimistic part of me asks him to dinner in hopes of finding a redeeming quality that will reverse the decision I've made. The selfish half of me asks him to dinner out of the desperate desire for company. We split the bill in half, and make our way out the door.
A few strides into our walk, he reaches for my hand. His rough fingers wrap around each of mine, his thumb strokes the back of my hand. My fingers stay imprisoned between his, paralyzed by shock. In the short 23 years I've lived on this earth, the act of hand holding is strictly reserved for circumstance and people that are far and few. My hands are chaste territory, not meant for holding on the first date.
Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I wrack my brain for an easy escape. I spot Union Station at the end of the street and use my hostage hand to point at it with enthusiasm. "See, that right there? That's Union Station. It just opened up to the public this week after having been renovated." Uninterested he says, "cool" and snakes his hand back into mine.
This time, I don't play nice. I shake my hand out of his and walk with my arm in front of me, Hitler style. Realizing my horrible gesture, I lower my arm back down to my side just in time for him to smuggle my hand back into his. I debate making a run for it but decide that my hunger is top priority.
We reach the pizza joint where I order for the two of us without even looking at the menu, giving him a taste of his own IPA medicine. I get up to go to the "bathroom" and follow our server into the back. I look at him with desperation, asking him to please makes these pizzas fast. When I return, Happy Hands reaches across the table for mine. So much of me wanted to look him in the eye and explain how weird his hand holding was, but I didn't want to embarrass him with the truth.
By the grace of God, the pizzas come out in record time, forcing the hand holding to come to an end. I give the server my card and dinner is finished in record time. I hail a cab the second we walk out the door and bid the hand thief a good night.