It is finally here, the start of warm weather in the capital. After a dreary, wet, seemingly never-ending winter, the days are starting to get longer and we are beginning to feel a glimpse of springtime temperatures. This means patios all down 14th street are starting to open, and we all begin spending way too time crammed into small spaces with strangers. The Pearl Dive patio is one of my favorite places to spend a beautiful afternoon (unfortunately, 90% of DC residents also share this view so that little piece of sidewalk is often completely filled with people between 5:30pm-8pm most days of the week).
Larry and I made plans to see each other the week after I got back from California, and that Thursday happened to be a particularly beautiful day. We decided to take advantage of it and planned to meet at Pearl Dive right after work. I had worked out that morning, so I just needed to change after getting home and was ready relatively early. I started walking over to Pearl Dive when my good friend and neighbor, Kevin, started a group chat asking who wanted to meet up for happy hour at Pearl Dive. Immediately people responded, making plans to meet there immediately. This caused me to worry just a little…. while I was happy at the idea of seeing friends at one of our favorite warm weather spots, it is a little awkward when you are going on a date to a place where all of your friends are going to be. Especially when this is a relatively early date (this would be our third official date). I got there around the same time as a few other folks and as we all caught up, I told them I was meeting a guy there, and my friend KBS asked me, “Do you think your first kiss is happening tonight?” Well, I guess I had been hoping that it would happen at some point, but we also had not seen each other in two weeks so I was not sure if the momentum was still there from our previous two great dates, or if there was even still attraction there. My other friends then chimed in, “Oh it has to happen tonight. Because four dates is too long to go without something happening.” Well shit guys, way to put the pressure on. So before this conversation, the thought was in the back of my mind, but after this after conversation where everyone vehemently agreed that this kiss just had to happen tonight, my face resembled the emoji with the eyes bugging out and the rosy cheeks. Larry showed up a little bit later, and after introducing him to everyone and finishing up our beers we decided to go somewhere else for dinner.
I suggested Le Diplomate because we both wanted to sit outside somewhere and Le Dip seemed unusually not crowded. We managed to get seated right away on the heated patio where we were greeted by the world’s most enthusiastic server, who we realized was also perhaps the Le Diplomate’s most devoted fan. He was incredibly energetic while describing every dish on the menu and at one point made such prolonged eye contact with me while detailing the mushroom tart that I had to quickly look away. Instead, I focused on Larry’s perfect face (seriously though, how does someone get such flawless skin?) which actually made me slightly more nervous than the server’s intensity. We decided to start with an order of the tuna carpaccio which was drizzled with leek vinaigrette. This was the great light appetizer on a warm afternoon. For my main course, I got the steak frites because red meat prevents anemia, right? The generous serving of hanger steak was perfectly cooked: the outside was crusty while the inside was rosy and tender. This also came with a heaping pile of crunchy French fries, which I dipped into the accompanying butter sauce. Larry went with the half roasted chicken, which he said was extremely good. For dessert we got the chocolate caramel tart, which came with hazelnut ice cream. Originally we were deciding between the chocolate caramel tart and the creme brulee, but our server was absolutely adamant that we order the tart. By adamant, I mean that he actually raised his voice and insisted that we had no choice but to order the chocolate tart. And who is going to argue with that? In the end, I am glad we went with his recommendation, because the chocolate was silky and the tart was perfectly flaky and sweet. Overall, another solid meal at Le Diplomate. I have yet to be disappointed by any experience at Le Diplomate, and am thrilled that I always have this option so close to my place.
It was still relatively early when we finished our meal, and Larry asked if I still had time to grab a drink (he was on “spring break” for his grad program so did not have to go into the office or school the next morning). I suggested 2 Birds 1 Stone, which is an underground 60-seat lounge/cocktail bar located below Doi Moi. It is run by Adam Bernbach, who also handles the drink program at Proof and Estadio. It was not that crowded on this Thursday night, and we settled into one of the alcoves towards the middle of the bar and people-watched while sipping two whiskey cocktails. I still cannot get over how hilarious I find Larry (also, I find it hilarious that I am referring to him as Larry because I keep picturing Jerry Gergich from Parks and Recreation whenever I type that out). Actually, I cannot get over how insert every positive adjective ever created by the English language Larry is. Every story he tells has me either giggling or actually laughing out loud. He is so smart and well spoken. He is incredibly successful. And he is insanely good looking. I actually feel slightly self conscious when I look at him. There was a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology that suggests for women, dating a less attractive man may result in a happier, more emotionally satisfying relationship. If that is the case, I would have the emotionally unsatisfying, unhappy relationship with Larry because I think the man is the definition of FINE (pronounced “FIONE”). Anyway, I must have gotten distracted by all the giggling and the staring at him because all of a sudden I realized we were one of the last people in the bar and it was almost 2am. This was definitely way past my bedtime. Also, I had spent over seven hours with this man and the first kiss still had not happened. Maybe because of the conversations I had with my friends before the date, maybe because it was so incredibly late, maybe it is because I knew he would be out of town the following weekend, maybe it was because I find him just unbelievably attractive, but I just wanted the first kiss to be so good. But now the date was pretty much over and we had shared as much physical contact as two sleeping infants on a play date orchestrated by their parents.
After our drinks at 2 Birds, Larry mentioned hailing a cab because it had gotten a little colder outside. I did not want to say good bye yet, so I said that we could get the same cab and he could drop me off at my place on the way back to his (also thinking this would give us more time for a potential first kiss). We hopped into a cab, and after I told the driver my cross streets, my brain started going a little crazy. The back of a cab seemed like an awkward place to have a first kiss, and Larry also did not seem like the type of guy who engages in public make outs (nothing against this, and I would take a kiss from Larry wherever I could get one). Now I was wondering if this kiss was going to happen at all, since our night was coming to an end and I am pretty sure by this point I was blabbering nonsense at 345098 words per minute in an attempt to not be super awkward (definitely failed at this). As the cab pulled up to my building, I was not quite sure how to exit. Should I do the awkward good bye hug? Good bye hugs in cars are always so awkward. You both are contorting your body and then you have slid across the seat out the door while praying the fabric of your pants do not make a weird squeaking sound as they rub against the car leather seats. I started to turn my body when Larry pulled his credit card and quickly swiped it. He opened the door and got out of the cab with me, saying, “I’ll just walk you to your door and get call an uber.” Well first of all, that saves me from the awkward car hug good bye. Second of all, that is a smooth move, if he was indeed planning on initiating this kiss. Third of all, now I was back to thinking that the chance for this kiss was back on the table. Fourth of all, this now meant my brain was back to going nuts (should have probably inhaled a muscle relaxer at this point) and I don’t even remember what I was saying but I do remember that I was indeed talking so that’s probably a sign I was just word vomiting gibberish. I am just hoping it was at least English gibberish. Larry pulled out his phone to request an uber, and said to me, “Okay! Uber is coming in four minutes.” My brain then screamed at me, “THERE ARE TWO HUNDRED FORTY SECONDS FOR THIS KISS TO HAPPEN.” Suddenly, an image of a giant clock popped into my head and I started counting down. Note to self: definitely keep an emergency xanax around so things like this do not happen. Larry leaned forward to hug me good-bye, and as I looked to him, we both leaned in and kissed. My first thought was YES! But that is where my thinking should have just ended. I should have just focused on the first thing, which is simple excitement. Instead, I wanted the kiss to be so good, so badly, I tried to talk myself into making the kiss the best. This is never a good thing. You should not think about the mechanics of kissing while you are actually kissing because kissing is a weird, weird thing. You’re mashing and moving your lips against someone else’s and for some weird reason it feels glorious. Kissing just feels fantastic, but there is no logical reason why exchanging saliva with a near stranger is amazing. Well in this case, I started thinking to myself, “Better make sure your upper lip is in sync with his!” Then I tried to concentrate on my upper lip. Have you ever tried to “sync your lip” with someone else’s? I really hope the answer to that is no, and I also hope you never really try because what does it even mean “sync your lip up”?! Then I thought, “Oh crap, is your lower lip in sync? Maybe concentrate on that.” This was followed by, “Shit! You haven’t thought about your tongue at all! Don’t neglect the tongue!” Before I knew it, the uber had arrived (THANK GOD), and he was pulling away (SHOCKING). He kissed me on the cheek and said he would let me know when he was back in town.
As I walked back into my building, I wanted to bang my head against the elevator door. This kiss with the perfect man had finally happened, and it was definitely far from perfect. I had managed to care so much about it that I could not function like a normal human being when the moment arrived.