It seemed like a good idea at the time, three Houston dates squeezed into a twenty four hour period. It is a feat never attempted by me before. Ever. I don’t get out much.
The first date: Friday afternoon
Friday morning, Sadie and I set out for an hour walk along the Bayou. I’m planning on being there a little early, maybe spend sometime exploring. I hear they have great thrift stores on Westheimer and Dunlavy.
An hour and a half later, we’re still walking.
But it’s a beautiful day, and the park is full of small surprises.
An hour and forty-five minutes later, fifteen minutes before my date, we’re still walking. And I realize: I don’t know his name. My dog’s drags behind me, surely bemoaning having chosen me as her person. The sun’s insistent on being warm and bright. My cellphone, as usual, is perilously close to running out of batteries. And the one email where he signed his name is buried amongst other queries from other gentlemen who want to discuss things like whether or not I like virgins, what I ate for dinner, and if I’d like to chat.
An hour and fifty-five minutes later, I’m sitting at the cafe, my dog curled up in the safe haven of her bag. I found his name. Doug. I will never forget his name again.
I sit at the front of the cafe with a coffee and watch my cellphone slowly die.
Ten minutes later, he walks through the door. We sit outside.
He’s handsome. He’s successful. He drives a nice car. He loves his life.
As city girl, caught up in the swirl of perpetual adolescence and stunted responsibility, I confess that I’m not used to dating stable characters. Comfort’s outside of my comfort zone.
In short, I am perplexed by people who play golf.
Doug plays golf.
He likes me, I sense, but he doesn’t understand me. He never will. I am outside his vocabulary.
But he does drive us home. Sadie is happy about that.
The second date: Friday evening.
11:05 p.m. I walk into Phoenicia’s, a little wine bar a few blocks from the hotel. I told him might be a little bit late.
I was. A little.
Country blue grass music spills out through the closed doors. I’m wearing my date dress with sensible black tights. And as I reach for the door handle, I realize I haven’t washed the date dress it since before the Denver jogging debacle.
I dearly miss my San Francisco dating counsel. I’m here, in Houston. And I’m alone.
The place isn’t packed. There are only a few tables filled. And I don’t see my date. I wander through the tables. I stand in the middle of the floor. Not here.
And then someone waves. A vague chimera of a one and a half inch picture manages a stiff smile and I sit down.
He’s impeccably dressed. A few years older looking than his pictures. Good shoes, perfect socks, starched button down shirt. Clean cut. Heavy heart. Hopeful eyes.
He drinks Perrier. I drink wine.
The music’s great, and we hobble out a conversation about this and that. He has a varied history: academic, software developer, lawyer, novelist. He readily discusses his higher intellect. We journey through his life in Philadelphia, New York, Houston.
Later, he tells me I’m different than everyone else. He says he likes me because he can’t tell what I’ll say next.
He’s a fascinating man, struggling to find a little satisfaction in this concrete, oil-spill town. And I am someone who doesn’t want what everyone else wants. That must be a breathe of fresh air.
12:37 a.m. I ask him if he plays golf. I don’t remember his answer.
Third date: Saturday morning.
7:30 a.m. Wake up.
7:45 a.m. Take a shower.
8:00 a.m. Bleary eyed, get dressed. Bleary eyed, put on make-up. Bleary eyed, find leash. Bleary eyed, find hiding dog.
8:12 a.m. Venture forth into the world, past the hotel doorman who, with an almost cruel consistency, says good morning.
9:10 a.m. Go to a hole in the wall French cafe. Fortify self with coffee. Sit outside with unruly dog who doesn’t like children. Intervene between unruly dog and child when appropriate. Once again, find yourself in the uncomfortable position of genuinely liking your date and enjoying even the silliest story of how he learned to make crepes.
11 a.m. Drive back to Discovery Green. Say good-bye. Make vague plans about next date.
11:15 a.m. Walk back to hotel and admit to self that you are a terrible scientist and a sucker for a good croissant.
12 p.m. Go to work.