Whirlygig: 66: Out on the Town

A blind date brews up hope

Keeping the Faith
One of the toughest things for me personally is remaining open. Am I alone in this, or do you agree? Perhaps I should explain what it is I have difficulty opening up to and why remaining there is so difficult.

Having told people jokingly that I only go out on a referral basis, occasionally a referral comes my way. You know, when a friend calls up and says, "I have someone you should meet. He's a great guy."

This is when I'm filled with mixed emotions ranging from gratefulness to angst. Once again I feel compelled to get my dating hat on, open up my personal life and answer questions ranging from where I grew up to what happened to my last relationship. I think I'd rather have my wisdom teeth extracted. Then again, I'm an adult with adult needs currently going unmet.

Plus I don't want to discourage my girlfriends from playing matchmaker in the future, as hope does spring eternal when it comes to winning the lottery and finding a life partner.

My friend Patty sets it up that her great guy and I will meet for a drink at Watson Brothers Brewery in Blue Ash on Wednesday after work. Patty offers to get her husband to meet her there as well if I'm too nervous to go it alone. While the prospect of awkward conversation isn't something I look forward to, I assure her I'll do my best to mind my manners and make nice over a drink. I'm comforted by the fact that I have dinner plans at 7, which means this initial meeting has a time frame I can live with.

Walking into Watson Brothers, I'm surprised that it's easy to find Patty's friend, Tom, as it's packed at 5:30 on Wednesday but he's the only one sitting alone looking as apprehensive as I feel. He seems relieved when I tell him that indeed I'm Wendy and order a stiff drink. Who said junior high feelings are left at the door when you enter adulthood?

Tom and I discuss the recent onslaught of snow and cold temperatures. We stay away from the tougher topic of what both of us are doing having a blind date at the suggestion of mutual friends. Eventually the weather and restaurant discussion wears out. We admit that we're slightly uncomfortable with the aftermath of this meeting. What will we tell our pals about their matchmaking skills?

I break the ice with a tale of one blind date in my past. I could swear that person was playing in another sandbox yet looking for a woman to potentially marry. Tom makes me swear that I'm not making up the story. I assure him it's too awful to imagine, especially since it had happened to me right here in Cincinnati. This is when I decided I'd only go out on a referral basis through friends and not trust the people I met through work.

Plus the aftermath got a little tricky when they asked me how I liked Mike from radiology on my next visit. Of course, I gave them the politically correct (and kind) story of a past relationship resurfacing. It spared them the truth that I thought it was time Mike came out of the closet.

Tom is amused by my tale and somewhat sympathetic when I confess that it's a tad difficult to be open to the first date stuff. He has a sense of humor and keeps his questions light by asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

So much for junior high antics. We skip right back to elementary playgrounds and treehouse dreams where the sky was the limit. I admit to wanting to live in the mountains in the summer, leading equestrian tours for fun, and then moving to the islands in the winter, where I'd serve ice-cold beers on the beach.

Tom says he's not sure what he wanted to be as he never plans on growing up. That fact doesn't give him great marks in the potential life partner category, but it certainly helps me keep the faith that blind dates don't have to painful. A date can be silly and fun, just like that tree house in the backyard when we were kids.

— Wendy Robinson

Sending Out an SOS
I think I've figured out the nature of my relationship with my friend Jen. She's in a very happy relationship with her boyfriend of four years and is concerned that I'm nowhere near close to even starting a relationship.

Every so often, mostly when her boyfriend is out with the guys or at work, I get a call from her asking me to go along with her while she runs errands. Jen is always passing along relationship advice to me during these errand runs, and this past Saturday was no different.

During our brunch at my new favorite greasy spoon, the Blue Jay in Northside, Jen told me she wanted to go to Kroger and Wal-Mart. I assumed she meant the Queen City Kroger on Mitchell Avenue and the Wal-Mart off of Ridge Avenue. I was very mistaken. She wanted to go shopping at the Kroger/Wal-Mart shopping complex on the West side of town.

Our mission at Kroger was to buy a tub of sour cream and two packages of chipped beef. The only problem was that neither Jen nor I knew what chipped beef was. Plus, "Maneater" by Hall and Oates playing on the overhead speakers distracted me from our goal.

After walking up and down the meat and deli aisles a few times, we decided to ask the lady at the deli counter for help in determining what chipped beef is and where to find it.

She said, "Chipped beef? That's just SOS."

Jen and I looked at each other. Neither one of us knew what she meant by. I asked her what "SOS" was.

She said, "It's shredded beef cooked in a brown gravy normally served on a piece of bread."

"So why did you call it 'SOS?' " I asked.

She motioned us to the counter and whispered, "It's an old Army term for Shit on a Shingle" and told us where to find what we needed.

On the way back to the meat counter to pick up the SOS, I began babbling about the fact that Hall and Oates had a new album out and had recently had a No. 1 song on the adult contemporary music charts. I realized that Jen had stopped to look at something. I turned around, looked at where I was and screamed, "I'm in the girly aisle!"

Jen said, "I told you not to look, but you were too busy yakking away!"

That's when I quickly learned this week's lesson on relationships. When you embarrass a woman in a public place, retribution will be fast and painful.

Jen made me go with her to Wal-Mart, where I had to hold all of items while she picked them out. First a handful of chocolate bars, then it was off to the women's clothing section of the store for 20 minutes of underwear shopping. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about all the different colors, materials and styles of women's underwear.

Jen thinks it's moments like this that will make me a better boyfriend when I start dating again. I believe it teaches me how better to avoid similar situations in the future.

— R.L. Newman

You read Whirlygig every week, now we want to hear your stories. Send them to [email protected].

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