A Ghost Story
After our first date, I broke it off with The Transplant.
I had come to realize that regardless of how stimulating our conversations had been during our time together, stimulating isn’t my default setting. Playful is.
We had been texting about our second date, which he’d sorta planned while visiting Seattle with a friend of his that was in from Chicago. He suggested the M.I.A. documentary, of which I’d never heard.
I knew she was/is a rapper and had even heard one of her songs, which featured some poppy gunshots. Not that I’m a big fan of mainstreaming violence, but rap incorporates violence into its art form regularly.
And I’m not one to claim an understanding of art by any means, so I keep my own counsel on that opinion.
Anyway, before he’d even returned from Seattle, he’d changed his mind about the movie.
No problem, we can do something else.
Truth be told, I was kind of relieved. Not sure I could muster sufficient enthusiasm for a rap documentary in a second date scenario.
“You pick something”, he says.
I playfully replied.
Ok, he was not having playful.
I actually spent the next dozen or so messages texting on eggshells. Deliberately not pointing out that he planned and vetoed the scuttled plan, so he should figure out a replacement. I planned the first date, after all. Anyway, this reservedness was in direct opposition to what he said he really appreciated about me on our first date: that I don’t behave like I’m in an interview, carefully measuring my words and maintaining a cautious demeanor.
Screw that. Eventually a facade drops and then people learn how you really act. I don’t play dating games like that – hey, it’s Why I’m Single #12! – I go into dates dressed like I dress and acting like I act.
So, basically I come across as a teenager who has recently had a stroke.
(Not that kind, Diezel)
Anyway, I think in those dozen texts, I wrangled some form of “apology” for calling him bossy – an attitude which I would appreciate, for the record. I did not enjoy the direction this interaction had taken, and the best he could muster in response was “I’m not offended”. As a stand alone, with no additional words providing context, that just reads like a petulant, “Fine“.
Lemme think about it, I’ll walk by a couple of venues on my way home and see if there’s any groups neither of us have heard of playing…we can have an adventure!
He seemed to like that idea, so I figured an adventure date could help reset the conversation or clearly define his lack of playfulness. Nevertheless, after failing to shake the disease of the prior night’s texts, I decided to pull the rip cord. Here’s how that went.
Yeah, yeah…I didn’t even save him as a contact, I know. My rule is that I don’t save contacts until I know a person’s last name. How many generic Matts does my phone book need?
Matt, BTW was his given name. He and his brother were raised in something of a Christian Cult setting.
After leaving/escaping, he and his brother had both changed their names to non-biblically influenced monikers.
But at least the name he chose for himself simply made him sound like a Seattle-phile or an aggressive fish enthusiast. His brother chose Aphid.
Adults, these days…
But his response at least pointed back toward the reasonable and well-considered person I’d first met. So…date number two was back to Go-Status.
I wasn’t feeling particularly plucky on the big day, which happened to be a Friday night. Turns out that he’d had a rough day at work – an ongoing recent theme as he worked toward getting a new restaurant (not of his) up and running. It is – as is he, if you recall – vegan. Turns out vegans had been incensed by both the restaurant’s name and their use of honey on the menu.
You have to remember that some people are just happy being unhappy.
Was about all I could muster, advice-wise. My inner voice was screaming that a hamburger might improve their collective disposition, but I’m pretty confident that wasn’t a welcome observation.
I surely had no expertise with opening a vegan restaurant. I barely have experience with vegetables.
Show of hands, how many of my friends thought that exact thought right before they read it? A lot, right?
Nevertheless, I also cautioned him that the restaurant could capitulate to a bunch of cranks before it even opened its doors and I guarantee that those people would either:
1) Still never even show up
2) Find something else to bitch about.
Hey, I may not know vegans from vegetables, but I do know a thing or two about sons of bitches.
So, there we were, committed to a date, but neither feeling like going out. We decided on a movie and wine/whine at my place. I reminded him that my TV was in my living room and not my bedroom and he reiterated that he was not interested in just hooking up.
Game on. No…foreshadowing!
When he arrived, we went over to the Brodega across the street for some wine and vegan approved snacks. This she-she neighborhood market would surely have some, high prices on weird foods? I don’t call it a brodega for nothing. We ended up with some fancy chocolate bars – including some from Theo’s, which I decided to not tell him he could have just visited in Seattle. This is how vegan excommunication begins…using honey in your restaurant and eating chocolate.
Vegans are like religious folk: picking and choosing what dogma they will/won’t follow. I found it promising, while also making a note that he’d really traded one cult for another…
We leave the store…and run smack dab into the Silver Fox, who was “out walking his dog”.
How many times did you walk poor George around this block?!?
The Fox swore that when he’d left Big Legrowlski under the auspices of needing to let George out to pee, the bartendresses had made him swear he’d bring George by so they could see him. Feasible enough, but the Brodega still wasn’t on his way home.
I introduced The Fox and The Transplant, who in true introvert form was already walking away as he said hi.
We went back to my place and watched The Kindergarten Teacher, which is as great as you’ve heard…and if you haven’t heard, it’s great! We actually stopped the movie a couple times for pee breaks and also just to talk about the movie. It was really nice to have a fresh movie watching companion. The Fox and I watch shows together, but more often than not our movie breaks are to discuss (one sidedly) the show’s Game of Thrones connections or whether that actor was in this or that or is dead.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The Transplant is 24, though. His mid-movie talk breaks were more aspirational.
High Art Concepts.
It was fun. Inspirational, to be honest. I haven’t indulged my brain like that since my college days of late night studying in the Catskeller, taking breaks to conversationally dissect what we’d just reviewed.
It was quite the mental stretch for me, and it was invigorating.
After the movie, which took three-plus hours to get through, he suggested a change of scene. He asked when the hotel bar next door closed, since I’d kind of raved about it earlier.
Midnight…so, 45-ish minutes. Do you want something else to eat? Drink?
“Not really, just a change of venue”, he replied.
I was kind of relieved, because I wasn’t yet in the frame of mind to take him to my normal haunts. We decided just to walk and see what happened.
What happened was we walked the waterfront and Eastbank Esplanade.
On a Friday. Well, Saturday.
We got back to my place at around 2:45 and at the door to my building, I tried to say goodnight. Apparently, he wasn’t done yet. We’d been holding hands for about four miles as we walked and talked, so I figured I could safely invest a little more time to continue the conversation.
Being 24, The Transplant can put on a good show of maturity, but at the end of the day – or very early the next morning, in this case – that maturity is going to be tested when it comes time to make your actions and words line up.
At around 3:30, I joked that he was going to have to pay for parking soon, by way of closing the chapter on date two. He told me that he’d taken an Uber over.
Then why are we drinking water?!?
I poured us each a glass of wine. Shortly thereafter, he invited himself to stay the night.
Maybe I was special enough that he’d deemed me worthy of escalating this to mating into oblivion status. I told him I thought that was premature, we hadn’t even kissed yet.
“It’s just sleeping“, he teased, suddenly fluent in playfulness.
Yeah, but spooning leads to forking,
I advised, continuing with,
That’s not something I’m not interested in, but I don’t want it to be unintentional.
We talked a bit more, about big stuff. Sexual health and history – I said big stuff, not hot stuff – and he still seemed up for it. I told him I didn’t have condoms, for both good and obvious reasons and he told me he had some in his bag. He also mentioned he’d brought the lube he likes.
Not looking for a hook up my ass.
Not looking for a hook up but brings his own lube on a date? It secretly made me wonder about the veracity of his claim to be able to recite all of his sexual partners’ names – all of which started with a J, allegedly – on one hand.
I don’t seriously doubt his integrity, I think the kid just had an itch he wanted scratched.
Sooo, I added a C to that string of Js and at 6 AM we laid down for some well earned rest.
At 10:30, he was dressed and out the door to shop for his costume for a Halloween party that evening. Around 3 we texted for a bit on how that was going. My last text being something about how I’m glad he was finding what he needed because the Saturday before Halloween could be slim picking for costume stuff.
I’m assuming he just needed to cut a couple of eye holes in a white sheet since I haven’t heard from him since.
And y’know what’s the worst when shituations – wow, the Chrisisms are just cascading out in this post – occur? I’m past worrying about what I may or may not have done to deserve this. I do indulge in a few thoughts of things that he might have felt insecure about driving his actions…
But ultimately, my frustrated parent gene kicks in and I find myself wondering if he got hurt or taken advantage of that night…or worse. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s not a concern I can control. And Portland’s weirdos aren’t all lovable, harmless old curmudgeons.
Being 24, maybe his ego needed to be the dumper versus the dumpee…but he put a lot of effort into that charade, were that the case.
Regardless, after learning that a young fella I used to recreate with on occasion died – two years ago, obviously we weren’t close…just situationally joined on a temporary basis every now and again – a month after I saw him last, well…I just hope this particular ghost story remains theoretical.