We met for lunch two days after we connected on the dating site. After trading a few messages on the site, we switched to e-mail and texts. Derek suggested we meet for lunch the next day, a Wednesday, or alternatively, on Friday. But I had a date to meet another man Tuesday evening, and I could not imagine such a quick turnaround for dates with different men. I suggested Friday.
The following day, he hinted at meeting for coffee at the end of his workday. I wondered if he was so eager to meet me because he liked the connection thus far, which was how it felt, or if he just wanted to verify that he should tick me off the list of potential women. I had an appointment and could not meet him, and when I told him that, he said he was just trying to figure out if I was more of a planner or a spur of the moment person.
“I’m both,” I texted back.
“That’s cheating,” he replied.
He wanted me to use getting a cup of coffee as the context, so I texted back saying that if I could break away from my work and didn’t have another obligation, then I would certainly be willing to have a spontaneous meeting.
He liked that answer and suggested we move up our lunch date to the next day, Thursday. And that made me wonder if there was someone else he considered more promising he wanted to meet on Friday. I put that thought aside because there was no way for me to assess his motivation. Besides, I wanted to meet him sooner instead of later. I agreed to meet the following day.
That appointment preventing the coffee date was with my hair stylist. And now that I was meeting Derek for lunch the day after that appointment, the importance of my haircut got ramped up a couple of notches. I didn’t want the usual half inch cut off because I knew it took a couple of days after such a cut for my hair to look good. And I wanted it to look good for that lunch. Until then, no date had made me nervous. This one was activating the little man who sits in my solar plexus and jumps up and down when something good is about to happen. I was feeling positive anticipation, but it was also nervous anticipation.
Only a handful of people knew I was dating, but I added Donna Cristobal, my stylist, to the list. We had known one another for several years and were good friends, not just client and stylist. I owed her the respect of explaining what was going on. Once filled in, she rose up and not only gave me a great cut, she also built a little sexy energy into it. And I knew Donna’s energetic abilities well enough to know that she was capable of little bursts of magic like that.
I still had that little man jumping up and down in my solar plexus the next day as I walked into the restaurant. Derek had gotten there ahead of me and was already seated. He not only stood up as the maître d brought me over to the booth, he came over to collect me from her and greet me. He looked stressed, but as soon as I smiled at him, he seemed to relax.
And from that moment on, things began to flow easily between us. Everything else in the restaurant fell into a distant background that might have been on another planet. Whoever was seated nearby was invisible. Rattling plates? I didn’t notice. There was only the gorgeous man seated across from me. His longish hair was combed straight back and was gray on the sides and in the middle of the top but darker in between the gray patches. It produced an almost striped effect that was unusual and to my eyes, adorable. Dark brown eyes, scruffy but deliberate two-day-old beard, trim body beneath jeans and seersucker shirt over a black tee shirt.
There was something at once intense and slightly goofy about him that suggested intelligence coupled with absorption. And in that moment, he seemed as absorbed with me as I was with him. It was a promising start.
As we left the restaurant after lunch, he offered to carry my rather large purse for me. My decline of the offer probably sounded a bit like a scoff, but I was actually almost incredulous. Rarely had a man made such an offer. He explained that he had often carried his late wife’s purse for her. I knew that the man who offered to carry a woman’s purse for her was a man who was confident about his masculinity, and that made him all the more appealing to me.
I politely declined again.
“Then I guess I’ll take your hand,” he said.
Date number two had also taken my hand as we left the same restaurant, but when Derek took my hand, the effect was completely different. My entire body seemed to relax into it, as if that simple intimacy between us was utterly natural.
Later, he sent me a text thanking me for the lovely, lively lunch. I texted him back, thanking him for the gift of time with him. When he paid for lunch, I told him I would have to make dinner for him in return, and I now reminded him of that offer. He texted back almost immediately saying that he was free the following night, and during our texts arranging it, he said he was glad we’d moved the lunch up to Thursday because we now had another date for Friday.
I pointed out that if he had wondered if I could be spontaneous, this was proof I could be because I was contemplating having him for dinner and making paella with little chance to plan.
“I like that you picked the earliest date,” he texted back. “That tells me that you might like me.”
Like him? Oh yes, I liked him. “I looked at my calendar and saw how complicated next week looks and didn’t want to wait until the following week,” I admitted. “You’re adorable. Easily one of a kind.”
Earlier, he had told me he was pretty unfiltered and that texting fed that tendency. I was beginning to see how that could work. My spontaneous admission was definitely unfiltered.
“You are interesting, deep, and very attractive to me,” he texted back. He also said that he had felt comfortable with me immediately, verifying what I had sensed, and said that he was looking forward to getting to know me better over a relaxing dinner.
Relaxing? I could only hope. In the meantime, I had to pull together a great meal and pull myself together or I might just babble incoherently over that dinner.
Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved. Donna Cristobal owns The Studio Hair Design in Broomfield, Colorado, with her husband, Steven Cristobal.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall