I only said three true things all night.
They were: “I don’t know how I feel about that,” “Judith Light gave this to me,” and “no.”
It’s his damn fault. He started the date off with a barrage of questions. What do you do? How long have you been in Dallas? Where do you live?
If I’d told the truth to begin with, the date would’ve never happened. So I made stuff up. And then I had to make more stuff up.
“I’m a set-dresser. I’ve been in Dallas less than a year. I live over that way.”
We were sitting by the window in the Iron Cactus. He was impeccably dressed, in a slick sort of way. His silk patterned shirt opened at the neck to reveal just a little of his chest hair. His suit was tailored. His shoes were smart. He had swagger and confidence, a raspy voice and sleepy eyes. He leaned back in his chair, wide open.
I was badly in need of a margarita. Answering his questions with half truths and lies seemed a fair price to pay.
“I saw your smile from across the room. I knew it was you at the door.” he said.
“Did you take your profile picture downtown?”
“Downtown. Yes.” The picture was taken in the East Village, New York City. Downtown.
“I recognized the view.”
It occurs to me that online dating and pathological lying sashay hand and hand in a pas de deux of digital desperation and earthy loneliness. Greed meets charity. Dreams meet reality. Curiosity meets evasion. Sitting across from an almost stranger is the result.
“Do you trust me,” he asked after I’d finished my drink.
Trust is a funny word, especially when you’ve been lying for an hour straight.
“Let’s go to Deep Ellum.”
“I like your sweater.”
“Thank you. Judith Light gave it to me.”
“I don’t know who that is.”
“She doesn’t know who you are, either.”
He guided me through foot traffic with his hand on the small of my back. Opened the passenger side door for me. He had CDs stacked in his truck. Steely Dan, The Eurythmics, The Cranberries.
I held them on my lap as we drove.
“Does the Angry Dog have a jukebox or a band,” he asked.
“It depends on the night,” I said. I’d never been.
We stepped inside. I spotted a co-worker sitting at the bar.
“We can’t go in there,” I said.
“I just saw someone who keeps asking me out.”
We walked towards another cluster of bars.
“Do you think you’re cute?”
I considered the question. “I hear it an awful lot. I guess it’s true.”
“You’re odd looking.”
“You look odd.”
I paused for a moment. “I don’t know how I feel about that.”
“You’ll like it tomorrow.”
We walked to The Free Man. A four piece band with a snare drum and a saxophone screamed in the corner. An old man in a fedora danced in the front of the crowd. His smile widened every time a drunk girl passed by. My date guided me to a far corner booth. I slid in. He handed me a beer.
He sidled next to me and stared at my face for a good, long while. I hid my smile inside the pint glass.
“I like your nose.”
“You have a nice nose.”
The band played. The old guy danced. The drunk girls checked their make-up in the bathroom mirror.
“Can I kiss you?”
“No.” I laughed.
“Because I don’t want you to.”
“What’s the difference if I kiss you now or on the fifth date,” he asked.
“I’m going to see you again.”
“I’ll be right back. I’m getting another beer.”
At the end of the night, I walked in the direction of the “that way” where I had said I lived, winding my way through a path brick townhouses. He watched from his truck. Each house looked the same as the next, but in the distance, the Dallas skyline shone. I knew my dog was sleeping in the hotel room in a cave she crafted from the edges of the blanket that brushed the floor by the foot of the bed.
Lies are merely words. Words are merely words. But if you don’t talk, you can’t lie. And I knew my dog didn’t need me to say a single thing.