That Picky Awkward Guy
Last night there seemed to be a chance.
Anything was possible last night.
That was the trouble with last nights.
They were always followed by this mornings.
— Terry Pratchett in ‘Small Gods’
To be honest, it was not an awful date.
I met her on a dating website. And yes, I was THAT desperate that I signed up to that site. You see, I’ve been single for, well, for as long as I can remember. I’ve been single for a long time that sometimes I thought that I’ve getting more into bisexuality. Because when you have been single that long, you just crave for affection that you simply don’t care where does it come from.
Even my grandmother had thrown a question to my dad,
“Did he like women?”
In fact, the answer is YES. I prefer heterosexual relationship over its opposite. I wanted to breed, to have an offspring of my own genetic lineage. To make a copy of myself and let my gene live for another generation. But apparently wanting and having are entirely different matters.
So one day I decided to join that dating website. That website was quite sophisticated, instead of browsing through the candidates you’ll be recommended some people whose psychological profile matches yours. The downside is that you’ll have to fill some long and quite exhausting questionnaires so they can build your psychological profile in their database to match with other candidates.
Another interesting point about that site is that you can set your own preference for your match; age, gender, religious belief, and the most important one for me was LOCATION. I set my location to “same city”, which eliminated the possibility of finding a match whose location is too far away. I cannot drive both motorcycle and car, and since the transportation system in this country was not what I would call reliable, my option for transportation was excruciatingly limited.
Everything was set, and all I have to do was just to wait until a notification came into my e-mail, saying that there’s a match for me.
And then it did.
There were four matches for me. I deemed one of them as not interesting, judging from her physical appearance of course, so I clicked the small X button at the top right corner of her profile picture, removing her from my list of matches. I trust my instinct in the matter of judging first impression, since it had evolved for some reasons, and I think failure to distinguish potential partner wasn’t among them.
I moved on to another match. This one looks nice, so clicked on and look at her profile. In “About Me” section was:
I LOVE GOD!! GOD IS MY LIFE!! AND I LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!! LET’S LOVE GOD TOGETHER!!
The lovely handy small X button was there for a purpose after all, so I clicked it again. I’m getting used to the view of a picture vanishing from my matches list.
Then I continued to the next two profiles. I found them quite nice, at least they were not too overwhelming for me, nor fall below my first impression threshold; and I also didn’t find anything weird in their profile. So I initiated a chat with both of them.
If you were paying enough attention to my story from the beginning, you might be able to tell what kind of message did I sent to them.
Yep, that’s right.
I tried to type longer, but my awkwardness wont let me. Two characters was the maximum limit. I’ve got nothing to lose though. It would be nice if one of them replied, and if none of them do, at least I’ve tried.
Right when I’m about to pack my stuffs, at the end of my office hours, I checked on my profile, and hey!! A REPLY!!
“Hi.” she wrote.
I got excited and immediately cancel my plan to go home. I typed vigorously on my keyboard. Then I hit backspace, erasing what I’ve typed. I typed again right from the beginning, and then backspaced it off again. Type. Backspace. Type. Backspace. Type. Backspace. Despair.
My hand kept on denying the direct order from my head to write down what it was supposed to write, maybe it was because I can’t even make up my mind on what to write, or maybe it was a sudden onset of Parkinson’s Disease, or I was just having an epileptic seizure. All of them were equally possible at that time. I spent approximately 1.5 hours to painfully craft a reply for that girl.
After a quite long internal discussion with myself, I finally decided a topic and wrote:
“I know from your profile that you love to read, what kind of book do you read?”
Yes, it seems so formal, I’ve just sent an e-mail to one of my client just before I received her reply; and for me, formal writing is one of the habit that was hard to shake off.
I thought, as it took me too long to reply that post, maybe she’s already gone living happily ever after with a golden-haired prince she just met at the crossroad on her way home. But the fact that she replied just 1 minute after I sent my last message, had disproved that hypothesis.
“Haha, you’re interesting! Here’s my number, add me on whatsapp: XXXXXXXXXX you have one right?” she replied.
That was my prompt response for her reply. After all the trembling and seizures had calmed down, the conversation continued.
“Of course, see you there.” I wrote.
I got off from my office, it was so late that the janitor and the security were the only ones left. Once I got home, I ran up to my room and sat nervously at the corner of my bed, holding my phone with my sweaty palm.
WHAT SHOULD I TEXT?!
I’m tired of this conflicts in my head, so I just go with:
“Hi! I’m the guy from that dating site.”
Somewhat generic, but I thought that it should be all right. Right?
And it was.
She replied almost instantly.
“Fantasy!” she wrote.
“I’m answering your question. I love fantasy books!” she clarified.
“Ah, I see! Fantasy! J.R.R. Tolkien?”
“Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.”
Anyone who could wrote the inscription of The One Ring in Mordor’s Black Speech should be immediately recognized as Lord of the Ring’s Fans, that’s what I’ve always thought.
“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Impressive! What else?” I replied.
“More black speech? Or you want some elvish?”
“I mean, the books. Have you read another series?”
“I’ve read many of them. You don’t expect me to write them all here, do you?”
“Well okay, but just for example, if I say, ‘Valar Morghulis’. You say?”
“Nice! That’s quite common catchphrase though. haha.”
“Yes, it’s quite common. But now let me ask you a question.”
“If you can choose a world to live in, which one of those fantasy world would you choose? Harry Potter’s? Middle Earth? Westeros? Shangri La? Neverland? Narnia?” she wrote.
From the number of worlds she was referencing to, I imagined her face must be filled with excitement as she wrote. Then I replied.
“I’d live in Ankh-morpork.”
“Ankh-morpork? The city in Discworld?”
“You’ve got unique taste, to choose to live in such eccentric world.”
Whoa, she recognized Discworld! The excitement had gone through the roof in my part.
“You really did read a lot of fantasy book, I guess.” I finally typed.
“You too.. ☺” she replied.
AN EMOTICON!!! Damn I missed that kind of thrill. I had just suddenly got fluent in texting and had a quite fantastic conversation with a geeky girl, yet the only thing occupying my head was the fact that she used an emoticon for the first time. Right after that, she dropped the bomb.
“I think we should meet!” she wrote, complete with an exclamation mark.
And I thought the same.
During the arranging process of our rendezvous appointment, I found another thing to be excited about her, more than her passionate interest to fiction literature, and it was her love for foods.
If I have to name two things I’m good at, I’ll mention reading and COOKING. I love to cook just like gravity loves to pull things down to earth. Cooking gives me chance to get more intimate with the foods I love. By knowing how to make them, I found myself feeling even more grateful as I consume them.
We spent the next half an hour to talk about foods, until we finally reached the topic about our favorite foods. She told me that her favorite kind of food was Italian cuisine, and I told her that mine was a bit simpler, just steak. Then she jumped through and suggest a steak restaurant as the site for our first face-to-face conversation.
And I agreed.
Although my naive inexperienced mind highlighted that I’m missing this chance to impress her with my culinary prowess, and that I should have asked her to come over and cook for her. But the wiser part of me said that it can wait. All I have to do is to ensure that there will be another chance for me to do it. Plus, it will be less creepier this way, agreeing to her request.
In addition to determining the time and place of our first encounter, to preserve the excitement, we have also agreed that we should not engage in further online communication until the promised day. Then at the end of that texting session, I asked her.
“So is it a date?”
“Of course, you silly head!” she answered.
Two days later.
The promised day finally came, quite earlier than what has predicted by any religion. I walked out of my porch, I saw the sky and earth perfectly intact, unlike myself which was at the brink of exploding out of excitement which I barely can contain. They said if earth was to be compressed in to the size of a marble, there will be a black hole. At that time, I can almost empathize with black holes.
I texted her.
“Yep. I’m wearing bright blue. And I hope you’ve already memorized my face from my profile pic. hehe. See you there.”
I was hoping her to mistook my gawkiness for coolness. But it looks like I was hoping in vain, and the story proceeds.
I got there first. I picked a table quite in the middle of the room, at the center of the noise vortex of that restaurant. I was a bit wishing that the crowd might distract me from my stiffness, and also with all those noises, we might have to lean on closer to each other if we want to have proper conversation. Quite sleek.
She came about 5 minutes later. I recognized her instantly in her casual shirt and denim, her glasses reflected the restaurant’s lamp light. She looks ordinary that night but very interesting, just as what I expected. I waved at her, she caught me on her sight and then she waved back. She sat in front of me, put her purse in her lap and stared at me with her body leaned forward.
“What’s up?” she said. Her voice startled me like a firecracker in the cold and dark winter night.
“Hey…” I really want to scold myself for this unimpressive response.
“Have you ordered?” she looked around.
“Nope. I figured that it would be better if we order together.”
“Okay, so let’s order!” she waved to a waiter. “You first.”
The waiter came, and pulled out his notebook and his pen.
“Grilled Rib Eye, Medium Rare, and Coca-cola.” I ordered. The waiter wrote them away and gave a glance to her, waiting for her response.
After a couple of ‘hmm’s and ‘umm’s she finally decided.
“Grilled Sirloin, and Coca-cola also.”
“Doneness?” the waiter inquired.
“Ah I forgot. Well done, please.” her words stroke me like a thunder.
“Sorry?” I asked her again, in hope that what I’ve heard was wrong.
“That will ruin the steak.”
“There’s no difference, I won’t let any half-cooked food into my mouth. It’s disgusting.” thus, whatever words that I’ve collected at the tip of my tongue suddenly evaporated into thin air. I just sat there in silence, trying to make sense of a cruel reality that had just unfolded before me. The waiter repeated our orders, and then slid away from our table.
She called herself food lover but she ordered a WELL DONE?
This is blasphemy.
How could someone call herself a food lover while at the same time calling the juiciness of rare steak DISGUSTING. I’m not a religious person, but if I got something so close to a religion, it will be Food. To eat is to live, to absorb the life of other organism to prolong ours. It’s so spiritual for me, and when a steak is being cooked well done, the last remnant of the goodness of the steak is ruined. Like a chewing gum that has been chewed for a week nonstop, it still serve its function as something to chew, but it has lost its meaning.
I’ve lost my words, and somehow what she did was a major turnoff for me.
“I don’t understand why would anyone put the squelching mess of uncooked steak into their mouth. So filthy.” she started. I don’t know if she was trying to start a conversation or a war, but she started something.
“You think so?” I responded, trying to be as civil as possible, holding at bay my savage urge to give her an uppercut.
After that point, I’ve lost all my interest to her. I can’t start any conversation and I was only giving minimal response to her endeavor to engage me in a meaningful exchange of words. It looked like she had sensed that something was wrong and asked about it to me multiple times. But by then I was too repulsed to explain anything, and all I can do is just enjoy the rest of the date with my delicious juicy steak, while enduring the sight of her eating a ruined sorry piece of meat she called “decent steak”. I wept for the steak.
We don’t talk much after the meal, and she even looked frustrated. She was confused about what had just happened. Well, to be fair, it’s not really her fault, it’s mine. I’m the one who was overly sensitive about that issue. Other than her doneness preference, she was quite nice. But what can I say, apparently how people prefer their steak was vitally important to me, even until now.
So the date ended that night, a while after the meal I called the waiter, asking for bill. I paid for all of them. I walked her to the nearest taxi stop, since I don’t have any ride. I said thank you for this dinner. She said sorry. I said sorry too. She said that she wished to know why I was acting so weird, and whether it was her fault. I said that it was not; that she was cute and interesting, but I had another sudden personal problem that I cannot explain. Then I apologized again. She got on to her taxi and took off. She texted me to say thanks. I replied out of common courtesy. Then no text ever sent between us ever again.
I hope I’ll have better luck next time.
Maybe I should put it on my profile:
“Steak Lover. Well done? We’re done!”