We were supposed to meet at the restaurant at 8:15. I guess he meant central standard time, because when he finally arrived, I’d already made friends with most of the waiters, and had a few appetizers on the house. He called me Kate—which, to be fair, is pretty close to Karen, my actual name—and handed me a partially crushed bouquet of flowers. His hands were clammy and his shirt looked like it had last been ironed during the Clinton administration.
After one of my new waitress friends found a vase for the flowers, he launched into a story about an electronics shipment gone bad, not even attempting an apology for his tardiness. Twenty minutes later, our waiter managed to stop him from talking about barcode scanning glitches long enough to get a drink order out of him.
I thought it would be fun to have a conversation, but he seemed intent on talking about the electronics shipment, almost as if this was a lecture he had to deliver to an expectant class. The story had begun in Detroit, Michigan, wound its way through Kansas, and was beginning to show glimmers of promise as it neared a UPS depot in New Mexico. Every time I attempted to try and interject a comment, he would hold out his hand to stop me. As the story grew in complexity, he became increasingly animated. Our drinks and food arrived, but he batted them away indifferently. I decided to start eating.
As I chewed thoughtfully, I made a resolution never to line up a date with a guy online ever again. I had been drawn to him because of his proclamation that he was ‘an observant and sensitive man’ seeking a ‘caring, intelligent woman.’ I was thinking that what he really needed was a tape recorder. The story was getting intriguing, at least; it was layered, and had picked up some additional characters from an Ohio crime family.
When the check came, he was winding up the story. At least, that’s what I thought was happening. The check kept sitting there; the story kept going. Realizing that this was indeed the worst date ever, I reached into my wallet and quietly paid the bill. I stood up. He was in mid-sentence.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Home. Good luck with the story.”
He stared at me. “I’m so sorry. I just found out I’m getting my novel published. That’s why I was late. Can I buy you drinks?”
I never thought I’d date a writer—but a part of me wants to find out how the story ends.