When I was growing up, I took great joy in clipping coupons for my mother. I’d cut with care, sort, check dates, and, when we went food shopping, I’d proudly hand my bounty of twenty-five cent discounts to the cashier. I’d review receipt and revel in the calculated savings. After all, who doesn’t like a bargain?
On some very special days, the stores would have double coupons. And what good days those were! Not only did my coupon cutting diligence pay off, but the likelihood of my mother using one of those coupons for the Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, or the Pop Tarts I surreptitiously snuck into our cart, was high. More often than not, those coupons made their way to the cashier’s flying fingers.
Last Sunday, I was on my second martini, happy hour two-for-one at the Thirsty Crow, when a crazy red-headed Mexican actor/ waiter pulled up a chair and joined our table. Sitting across from me was my date, a grey-haired, understated American-Irish bartender/ writer. Full service.
The red-headed Mexican thought I was someone else, but once discovered I was actually me, he hunkered down, bought drinks for my date, and told us a long, rambling story about his six hour walk to Santa Monica. He also made a detailed case about how good he was in bed and explained why Brazillian women are far more attractive than Argentinian women. That argument was a little hard to follow.
My other date took it all in stride, adding to the conversation when appropriate. I multi-tasked by practicing drunk Spanish.
They were the perfect pair. My red-headed Mexican waiter was flamboyantly amusing, and every so often, my dry-witted Irish-American bartender lobbed a show-stopping response – all the time buying drinks for each other.
It was like two dates in one.
Later that night, sitting across a different table from my grey-haired date, eating his french fries as he assessed my dating skills, I thought about my coupon cutting days. I also used to send off for information from retirement communities, free samples of kitchen wipes, or biblical information from advertising mail-order churches. I’d scour the pamphlets they sent for information, cut out the pictures, and maybe squirrel away a coupon or two for a free coke at a greasy spoon in Florida I’d never go to.
Those were the days when I thought people came in pairs. Two parents. Two older sisters who got along just fine without me. Everyone had a best friend or a budding middle-school romance. And there I was. I never wanted to be a “we,” so, instead, I settled for a lonely me.
But when it works, I’m thinking, my dog curled snuggly on my lap as I type with one hand, two for one can be pretty damn nice.
And a two for one date at a two for one happy hour? What a bargain!