After that, smooth sex sailing. But before the first touch, strangeness and oddball happenings abound.
For instance, the other day I talked with two friends -- Thomas, 60, and Patty, 50 (names changed) -- who have been happily married for 10 years. But no matter. Their ages and maturity levels had no bearing on their first date.
They met for brunch. The Echo or First Watch, they can't agree. Patty, normally a mega-talkative, loud laugher, sat at the table feeling timid, as big-eyed as a harp seal, wondering when the god-awful brunch would end.
"Stressful," Patty says now. "I wanted to go home. And you should have seen his silk-patterned bachelor-player shirt. Horrible."
Usually, she boldly shared her point of view, but with Thomas she was mute, checking her watch. She had a fierce urge to pee, but she was afraid to get up. Annoyed and cautious, with a full bladder, she sat, trapped.
Thomas, normally the shy type, rambled on, unconventionally wordy. Normally, he preferred reading to talking. Yet put him in first date mode, and suddenly he morphed into Robin Williams, full of breathless stories, suggesting more after-meal rambunctious activities.
What caused the madness? They laughed and said in unison, "We liked each other."
Take my friend Mary (name masked), for example.
Chuck, oblivious, turned it up higher. Mary hugged herself, pulling her shirtsleeves over her hands.
I asked her, "Why didn't you turn the A/C off?"
She, a woman who regularly stated how she felt no matter what, shrugged and said, "I was frozen there."
After listening to these stories, I decide, At least I'm not as bad off as you all. I assume that I'm a cool cucumber, a free spirit. Nothing fazes me.
I'm 32. There I am, chilling, casually listening to music, until I see Date Man. Across from me, he looks cute as hell with tats but well-groomed, which is both good and bad.
Good, because he gives me chills. Bad, because since I'm attracted immediately I start acting like an ass. I can tell within minutes if I like someone. Give me 10, and I know whether it's a disaster coming or an affair ready to fly.
But with this one, I don't have time to judge because my nose itches. I scratch it. Then I notice that I'm scratching, and I stop. Then I notice that I've stopped scratching. Then I start thinking I might have something hanging out of the right nostril.
Date Man goes on about something I totally miss, because now I'm worried about grossness hanging from my nose. Then I think, Damn, I scratched my nose again. He probably thinks I'm doing coke.
Next I start the "fiddling stage." I pull at the hem on my shorts, ripping a thread out. I twirl a chunk of hair around my left finger. Then the right. I wish I could smoke. Do I look cool? No, I look like a dork. I hate my shirt. If there were a piano in here, I'd go play it right now. Jesus, get me outta here. I bet when I shaved earlier, I nicked my leg. I bet my leg's bleeding.
Then I look down, checking my leg. All good.
Then I give up, looking at him in the right blue eye. When I try to talk, I stutter. When I notice the stuttering, I start lisping. Then my mouth works, and it's alright. For one sentence. Then there's the next one to tackle. I'm worn out.
Wouldn't it be a relief if we could all bust out with the truth? For example, "I'm scratching my nose because you're beautiful."
How about this: "If I don't piss my pants first, let's make out."
Probably would sufficiently freak out the other half.
I guess there's a place for acting reserved, but I'm shit-tired of mystique. Overly dreamy, maybe, but while I'm going, what if we skipped introductions and instead said, "How 'bout I kiss your right eyelid now?"
I wish I could go back to a few moments and do just that. Then pay the check and never look back.
I suppose there's still time.
CONTACT C.A. MACCONNELL: letters(at)citybeat.com. Living Out Loud runs every week at citybeat.com and the second and fourth issues of each month in the paper.