To do things alone is to exclude all sorts of unexpected elements, to be deprived of infatuations and awkward moments. Going grocery shopping alone is a progressive action of crossing the items off the list (even though they can go out of sequence); going out to dine alone is a predictable pattern of sitting down at my go-to restaurant, eating my usual chicken, followed by walking back home while contemplating irrelevant thoughts.
Things are noticeably different when I go on a date — pacing, conversations, even mannerism — although somewhat orchestrated, never follow such linear progression. The second date with C was at an art gallery, where a weekly drink-and-draw session took place. While the group was doing 5-minute sketches of a nude model, she and I leisurely sat by the bar and ordered wine while chatting pleasantry.
“I like your urban sketches”, she smiled while flipping through my sketch book.
“This is not a mere sketch book, but a book of my adventures.” I didn’t even know where I was going with this.
“Here I went to a series of places across the city in search of Rococo architecture, and that was because I got inspired by this beautiful house at the most unexpected place downtown.” I was half-jokingly improvising a story based on my sketches. She giggled. I was elated.
When we got up to the buffet table beside the bar, she showed hesitation at the choices of food. Out of nowhere, I burst out,
“My bad, I forgot you’re vegetarian!” But she was not, and she stated such. Embarrassed as I naturally was, and lacking the quick wit to tango up such awkward moments, I apologized and looped back to the previous topic of conversation. Such was the case that happens from time to time in general, in which people mix up who they dated, what their traits were, and what food preferences they had. I was on the receiving end of this a few times before, some observant ones noticed my momentary confusion and apologized, whereas others remained oblivious and just carried on.
C and I ended up spending a cheerful night drawing at the gallery, followed by eating at a pizzeria afterwards with some more wine. I enjoyed her company tremendously while still vaguely remembering the faux-pas I’d pulled earlier. On the way to the subway entrance, she suggested a place where we should go next time, and I kissed her good night.
Had I not had a terribly bland first date with C, I wouldn’t have been impressed how smoothly the second date had gone. But since it was the case, I couldn’t help but replaying the night in my head as I walked toward my subway line a few blocks away: the way her curly hair fell on her shoulder, the way she giggled to my jokes, the way we looked at each other over the wine — those moments were like battered wheat flour being skimmed and layered over and over a frying pan over medium heat, creating a crêpe with delicate texture — looks natural yet still full of surprises.
Never mind whether it was I that made all the right moves and pulled her heartstrings, or she was guiding me into her experiment, the contrast between spending the night alone versus with a date cannot be more stark. And never mind that even though the third date with C ended up with more kisses and giggles, we never saw each other again. Life with curveballs can catch you off-guard, but is far more intriguing than one with 9–5's, calendar reminders, stale office coffees, and speed dial to voice mails.