He leans in. His body touches mine. Shoulder to thigh. We’re like a two-headed-half-male-half-female-monster with an undecided fashion sense. I wonder what he’s eating that requires such ferocious chomping. Correction, I know what he’s eating. The masala flavor wafts through my nostrils and permeates the pages of my True Love magazine. The chomping is so close to my ear, I begin to wonder if little particles are right this instant, scattering like confetti to the roots of my afro. My precious, precious afro. He squeezes in a little closer. Is that even possible? I flip the half-read page.
“Wait, I’m not done! Hahaha.”
I hear the words, I visualize tiny particles making their way through my ear, to my brain.
“Here. You read.” I can’t seem to get off that bench fast enough.
“Oh come on,” He growls in what he must think is a sexy drawl “It’s fun to read together.” He pats the vacant spot I’ve just vacated. I ignore it.
“I’m going to the ladies’.”
I make my escape before he gets a word in edgewise. Somehow, I’m convinced that it is less about my speed and more about the fact that he’s too busy jamming what looks like two mouthfuls of masala chips into his mouth.
In the ladies’ room, I wash my hands. Wow honey, you really do know how to pick them!
I check my watch. Counting the five minutes I’ve spent in here, I’ve known him for exactly thirty-five minutes. Thirty. Five. Minutes. That’s enough time, to make an educated conclusion, right? I can walk out, and check ‘blind date’ off my list of harrowing things to do, right? And when next I sit with my girls, I can tell them that I survived.
But, let me back up thirty-five minutes. No, let me back up a week to the day my girl set in motion these chain of events.
“Listen, I gave your number to someone…” She announced unceremoniously.
“You did WHAT?”
“Don’t get mad.”
In her mind, she’s just offered a full-blown apology. One I should accept if I know what’s good for me. That’s my girl, Rita. Sometimes I wonder how we’re still friends. She’s so ballsy and self-assured and unapologetic. OK, I realize that comes off like a tonne of admiration. It should. But there are times when It takes every drop in my veins not to scream at her. This right here is one of them.
“Rita, you know I don’t do blind dates.”
“He’s very artistic. You’ll like him.”
Ah, the artistic ones. The default setting for…I don’t know…everyone? ‘Artist’ is not a category of people, it’s a movement. A following. A birthright. And that’s where the math begins to go wrong. For every bona fide artist, there’s a whole lot of masqueraders. The bona fide are busy being bona fide. The masqueraders are…well, your guess is as good as mine.
“I’m not doing it.”
“Oh come on…”
I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll tell you this much; Rita wore me down. Three days later, I said
“FINE. I’ll meet the guy.”
Which brings me to thirty-five minutes ago.
The name of the restaurant is not important. The name of the artist is not important. The names are not to blame, yet both will evoke memories I’d rather forget.
He found me sipping on a krest.
“Have you been here long?”
“Not that long.”
“OK. You’re good though?”
“Yap.” Hint. That is not the sound of a happy woman.
A waitress comes over. He orders a ‘very cold coke.’
“I’m hungry. What can be ready very quickly?”
The waitress rattles off a good number of dishes.
“Give me masala chips and chicken.”
The waitress turns to me. I shake my head.
“Nothing?” he asks.
“I had a really heavy breakfast.”
The waitress leaves.
“I had a gig last night. It went on longer than expected.”
“Yeah. It was LIT! The crowd was impressive and…”
That’s when I zoned out. For fifteen minutes, he spoke. I just sat there making the appropriate oohs and aahs. Then the food came. He pounced on it like a pack of wolves on a deer. Never once taking a break in whatever part of the story he was telling. When he laughed, I swear, I could see his tonsils. That’s when I realized I needed a distraction. There was no way I was watching him eat and talk.
I flipped open the magazine I’d pushed away some 20 minutes earlier. Huge mistake. He instantly slithered to my side of the bench. Cozied right up, as if we were cronies. The magazine was open on the ‘Spice up your sex life’ section.
- Get some thongs and G-strings.
Between loud chomps, he reads this out.
“By the way, do you wear thongs? Hahaha.”
I grimace and say nothing.
“Are you shy? Hahaha.”
- Don’t be shy, act out your fantasies.
“You see! Don’t be shy. Hahaha. Do you fantasize? Hahaha. I want to do anal.”
I flip the page.
“Wait, I’m not done. Hahaha”
That’s when I fled to the bathroom. For the Nth time, my eyes wander to the tiny windows. I’ve always guffawed at that commercial with two guys squeezing out through windows half the size of these ones. Perhaps I should….? Naaaaah. I will not run from this.
I finally bolster the stomach to go back. I’m determined to sit tight.
When I get there, the food is all gone.
“That was long.” He says pointedly.
“Yes, I don’t feel so good.” In my defense, this was the truth and nothing but. “I have to cut this short.”
“Oh…” he appears crestfallen for a second. “And I’m not done reading this article.” He gestures at my magazine. There’s a huge smudge where he must have dropped masala.
“It’s fine, you can keep it.”
“Thank you!” he gushes. “I’ll text you later.”
I walk out without another word.
I’m saving all my words for an ex-friend of mine…what was her name again?