To start off, I should say that this is very untypical of me: I went on dates with two guys I am interested in the week before I left for California. First of all, I feel like I have not had a real connection with anyone since my last break up in October. So the fact that I am now hanging out with not just one, but two guys who I feel a spark with, is a little crazy to me. Also, the timing is a little awkward because I felt like the dates went great with both people, but wasn’t sure how being away for almost two weeks would affect the momentum. Would their interest in me totally fade if I was not around? It was still too early to assume we would be staying in contact while I was away, and it also seemed presumptuous to be making plans after the dates to get together after I got back. I tried not to think too much about it as I left the ridiculously frigid DC weather for beautiful, sunny Southern California and figured if they wanted to keep in touch with me, they would.
While one guy (let’s call him LZ) surprisingly kept up the texting the whole time I was out of town, wishing me a happy birthday, checking up on how the hikes were going in Death Valley, and locking down the next date. The bartender (see last week’s post on Fainting Goat) checked up on me a couple times, mostly to update me on the never-ending winter weather I had escaped from. I was not sure how if he was actually interested in seeing me again, especially after our first date where he explained his attitude towards dating. Basically, he emphasized that he does not date a lot and does not want to waste his time going to on a date trying to figure out if he likes them, he would just rather go out on a date with someone he already knows that he likes (of course this made me nervous because I had pretty much demanded that he take me out on a date while drunk at his bar). Since I had been slightly aggressive about the first date, I figured that I should back off and let him take the initiative from here. Well, he finally asked me out again after I got back from the West coast!
I warned him that I would be keeping the drinking down to a minimum because of my upcoming half marathon a few days later, so we made plans to meet up at Pop’s Seabar for snacks as a start to the night. Pop’s Seabar is a relatively new addition to Adams Morgan, replacing the ramen spot Taan. This casual “Jersey shore” beach bar comes from the guys of Cashion’s Eat Place and has a raw bar and seafood-focused menu. The evening of the date was a wet, rainy one, and I had to stop by Friendship Heights for a quick haircut so traffic was horrendous by the time I made my way back to DC and I ended up running 20 minutes late. I found B sitting at the bar, and was relieved he was so chill about my delay. We started off with fried smelts and fried calamari (you know, diet food), and I ordered a Jonny Mac Highball (bourbon, tea, lemon, mint, soda water). The Jonny Mac Highball was not good at all. I mean, I love bourbon and I normally love bourbon drinks but this drink was too heavy on the soda water and lemon so it tasted like a super watery, acidic Arnold Palmer. On the other hand, the fried food was pretty good. The batter on the both the calamari and the smelts was light, and fried well without being too oily. Both of these were topped with spicy pickled peppers for a little kick, and tartar sauce.
After we polished these off, B suggested heading next door to Mintwood, especially after he realized I was not a big fan of my cocktail. It was still raining, so I did not mind not having to travel far. We found seats at the bar, and B picked out a glass of wine for me (since I know nothing about wine, except that I like heavier body wines that veer on the sweet side). We decided to get the escargots hush puppies and the chicken liver tartine to snack on (major points for any guy who will eat snails with me) The fried escargots were serviced with a remoulade sauce, which is perfect for dipping these earthy, fried balls of deliciousness. The creamy, slightly sweet chicken liver tartine is served on thin, crunchy crackers. This was probably my favorite snack of the night. I also liked the vibe at Mintwood more than Pop’s, which was relatively empty. I feel slightly self conscious when a bar is so quiet the bartender can hear what I am saying. This is mostly because I occasionally tell weirdly awkward stories on dates (like how I once got my entire head cornrowed on vacation in Jamaica, or how I once ate so many chicken wings I vomited on the lawn of a neighboring fraternity house) and I do not want some stranger judging me. Mintwood was buzzing with people, and the warm ambiance made it a good date atmosphere. It was also a good date because I find B pretty hilarious (something that is a necessary quality in a guy for me). He’s very sarcastic, and will go along with most of the silly/strange things that come out of my mouth. There are also little things that I’ve noticed and appreciate about B. He seems to remember things that I have told him about myself and my family and references these facts, even if they seemed like unimportant details in my own mind. He also seems to convey a genuine, sincere interest in me when asking questions. This stands out to me, because I am the kind of person who is always talking, and will fire off a dozen questions, so sometimes during a date I find that I am putting in a lot more effort to keep the conversation going. With B, I do not feel like I am putting in any effort. The conversation and the jokes just keep flowing.
B then suggested heading a few doors down to Bedrock Billiards for pool. My date phone alarm had not rung yet (I set it for 11:45pm and it was 10pm at this point), so I agreed after warning him that I am terrible at pool. I actually really am terrible at pool. Well, I am terrible at anything at involves hand-eye coordination, so this includes table tennis, pool, mini golf, or just walking on the sidewalk while texting. I am especially bad at pool, so bad that I have never, in 28 years of existence on this earth, successfully executed a break shot. B assured me that this was not a dealbreaker for him, so we walked to the basement bar and ordered a beer (at this point I had stopped drinking). Apparently, there is such thing as “pool leagues” and Tuesday nights happen to the pool league night at Bedrock Billiards. B suggested playing shuffleboard instead, and was shocked when I told him I had never played shuffleboard. He explained the rules, we did a practice round where my discs either went flying off the board or did not even slide past the foul line (there was no happy medium) so now I know that I can add shuffleboard to the long list of things that I am not good at. We played a game, and I noticed that throughout the rounds, B got increasingly more touchy. He was never inappropriate, but he would grab my waist as we walked from one side of the board to the other, or wrap his arm around me while we were talking. And surprisingly, it felt really nice. I have felt a lack of physical chemistry with almost everyone I have come across ever since the end of my last relationship in October. Even while dating C (the second guy I met through Tinder) casually for two months, I found him attractive but I did not feel any physical sparks between us when he touched me. I mean, it was pleasant but completely void of fireworks. Well, when B’s hand grazed my skin, I felt a little butterfly flip in my stomach.
After our one shuffleboard game and one beer, I told B that it was almost time for me to turn into a pumpkin. He did not live too far away, so we decided to walk to his place where I would order an uber. He mentioned hanging out again and we made tentative plans to see each other at the beginning of the week, since I have a half marathon coming up this weekend, and he works on Sundays. As we said our good-byes, he pulled me in for a hug and I looked up at him and suddenly, we were kissing each other. Maybe it is because it was so unexpected, or maybe it was because I had such a fun time on the date, but my mind went completely blank, in a good way, as soon as we kissed. For the first time, in a really long time, my brain did not go crazy. I did not even think about how to meld my mouth into his, I did not try to analyze if it was a good kiss or not, I did not wonder what was going to happen next, I just kept kissing him. And when I pulled away, I felt that immediate giddy feeling that overcomes your limbs and brain after a good kiss. Which brings up something else: I never know what to say after a kiss. I definitely do not know what to do after a goooood kiss (I mean, it has been awhile since I have experienced that). I feel like I just end up staring at the other person with a super goofy/awkward look on my face. In this case, I saw that the uber had arrived so I just made some weird giggling noise before hopping in. Hopefully that did not totally ruin the moment because I’m not trying to find another neighborhood bar right now.