Back in the Numbers Game
I’d been online dating detoxing for a few months, and looking for men in ‘real life’ instead. I’d met a range of guys on the spectrum of weird to wonderful, mainly in bars. It had been fun, but I was ready to re-join the numbers game, and to have more sober conversations.
I ventured back via the Happn app, and matched with someone I was interested in quickly. I was attracted by his age (30), education (Stanford), dark hair (including visible chest hair), Jewishness, and cute face.
The girlfriends who I happened to be with at the time peer pressured me into asking him out quickly (a successful, Jewish, Stanford lawyer? Get in there!). It was probably the least amount of message exchanges I’d ever had before meeting someone online.
After rearranging twice due to scheduling difficulties, we met on a Thursday night. We were both East Villagers, and he suggested the bar. I wore white distressed jeans, a white, sleeveless top (unbuttoned just the right amount), and my favorite Madewell, black leather, lace-up sandals.
First Date Formula
I immediately found him attractive. He was definitely not as lean as he looked in his profile pictures, but I liked his build. He had dark, friendly, sparkly eyes and a fast pace of walk and talk. The first bar was too busy to stay, but conversation flowed as we made our way to an alternative, The Evelyn – which has recently closed down.
We sat at the bar, on corner seats, and ordered strong cocktails. His background was fascinating: his family were Russian immigrants, he grew up in a rough part of New York, and was so studious that he was accepted into college a few years early.
He was super interested in me, which I loved, and asked intelligent question after question. We had the same habit of being unable to help ourselves from following new and interesting conversation offshoots (and offshoots of offshoots), before eventually returning to the original thread.
At one point he asked the bartender for a pen, and drew an algebra puzzle for me on a napkin. I had no idea what was going on, but loved it nonetheless. I noticed that for the one drink I’d had, he’d rapidly knocked back three. He assured me he could hold his liquor, and that he didn’t get hangovers.
High Scoring Eats
We made our way to The Wayland – an excellent, atmospheric East Village bar. We bagged perfect seats at the open windows, overlooking the warm and breezy street. I’d sensibly lined my stomach with brown rice pasta before coming out, but he was starving, and ordered three dishes. He insisted I shared everything – an offer I can never refuse.
The food was 10/10: a hot, pulled chicken sandwich with pickle, brimming with sweet, smoky and sour flavors; rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes that were crisp on the outside and silky on the inside, and lightly fried, chili and coriander cauliflower florets with a cooling herbed-yogurt. Sensational. We devoured the plates with great pleasure; he was clearly a fellow foodie.
Two drinks later for him and one for me, I became aware of the extent to which he was touching me. At roughly 20 second intervals he would brush my forearm. Once you register something like that, it’s hard to un-notice it. The more he drank, the more he leaned into my space. A couple of times when telling a story, he got excited and stood up closer to me, while I continued to sit.
I called him out, in the hope that it would calm down: “I’m English – I’m not used to being touched so much!” He apologized, but the behavior resumed shortly after.
At one point I was looking away and he sneakily lent forward to kiss the top of my arm. It was kind of cute, but kind of a lot. He reminded me of my childhood boxer dog, who had to have constant physical contact with you (which meant she often sat on your foot).
By now he was obviously tipsy, and compliments were coming thicker and faster. There’s only so many times in a night you can be told how beautiful, amazing, funny, nice-smelling, and sweet you are. He also kept commenting on how sexy my accent was. Yada yada yada.
It was an authenticity issue; how could somebody possibly know that these things were true about me from one date? He was clearly getting carried away. The joke he made about how many kids we were going to have didn’t help the situation.
Toe-ing the Line
The night climaxed when he told me how much he enjoyed giving foot massages. Never one to pass up a massage, we relocated to a low table in the corner. He carefully removed my sandals, and started firmly massaging the sole of my foot.
He looked more pleasured than I did, and proceeded to confess his foot fetish, while complimenting me on my toe polish. When he announced: “I’m trying really hard not to put your toes in my mouth right now,” I realized it was time to call it a night.
He walked me home, and casually blurted that his favorite thing in the world was going down on women (the ultimate sales pitch). A sucker for oral, this may have encouraged me towards the brief ‘fuck it’ moment at the door when I decided to kiss him. It was wet and sloppy, and I wasn’t into it; the progressive slush-fest of the evening had been enough to turn me off.
I was honest when he texted two days later, and explained that he was ‘way too much for me’. He suggested we meet for dinner, and that he wouldn’t drink. By the age of 30, I feel like a person should roughly know their alcohol limits – and stick to these on a first date at least.
I’d calculated my answer to his love equation, and I don’t think it was the one he was hoping for:
(EXCESSIVE BOOZING + EXCESSIVE TOUCHING + EXCESSIVE SWOONING) x FETISHES THAT CAN’T BE CONTROLLED IN PUBLIC = 0 MORE DATES.
I politely declined his offer. My feet almost scored the man of their dreams, but sadly I did not.