Beer Goggles: Another 1st Date

So I am going on this journey of dating and I got a lot of positive responses from my last dating story, so here goes another story of another weird first date!

So this is how I learned what to be open-minded about and what I can (and have the right) to say no to.

Mostly, I was enthralled by this date because it was the first time since corona that I could Go Out and Meet People! The bars were open! The number of people infected was down to like, 15. Of course, this was a month ago, when things started to reopen and people were optimistic about doing things In Person. So I had my corona-tinted glasses on.

The date started with me being early (see, I’m learning people!) and realizing that I hadn’t eaten much that date. My favorite date to go on is to drink, because dating is hard, and I might as well have the help of alcohol to keep my anxiety at bay. If you don’t have anxiety, it’s like having a constant stomach-ache that repeatedly reminds you every single thing that you are doing wrong. Posture. Breathing. Speaking. Smiling. Like, no one needs that, especially in the stomach area.

So, drinking on an empty stomach is not the best. I was wearing a mask, as the rules in Israel are that one must wear a mask (thick enough that you cannot blow out a candle by exhaling) at all times out of doors. I wear those super fun medical masks that are large and blue and are too big for my face. I see lots of people buying helpful and colorful cloth masks to match their outfits. Not me! As you know, I am a doctor. So when the guy shows up (also early, what a nerd) (just kidding) and I say, “Can we have coffee instead of a beer?” he only hears mumble mumble coffee because I speak very softly AND had a mask on. So he goes,

“Sure, go get coffee and then we can get a beer.”

Great.

So I walk into a coffee shop kind of panicking. Nothing helps my already pounding heart more than a jolt of caffeine. I also have this thing where I don’t like eating in front of someone I don’t know, do you have that too? Let me know if it’s just another fun thing that my anxiety does to me. So, I get in line. I order a Chai Latte. Does it have caffeine in it? Probably. Is it delicious? Very. I pay.

Then, I see my date speaking to this guy who looks very homeless slash high on religion. You know the type. Unless you don’t. He had a guitar with him and long hair. Does that help?

Anyway, my date was reciting some kind of passage of what I guessed was Gemara. (Bible stuff, for those of you who don’t know what that is). And he went on for at least 6 minutes. It felt like ages. Just staring at Guitar Guy in the eyes and saying lots of Hebrew nonsense. I stand awkwardly nearby. Should I sit? Should I make Guitar Guy go away?

Finally he finishes and Guitar Guy says, “Sorry to keep you from your boyfriend,” which was fun , and my date says “not a boyfriend, just a friend,” and I watch Guitar Guy amble away.

“What the fuck was that?” I asked, finally sitting. It wasn’t angrily. I just legit didn’t know what he was saying. Or why.

“Oh, I’m a huge fan of that guy!” was a reply that I wasn’t expecting. Then the guy rambled on about how he saw Guitar Guy one time playing guitar (shock!) and he recorded him and also Guitar Guy was famous and he also loved hearing Torah and he asked my date if he had learned any new things that he could share and my date said well yes I have the entire 1st chapter of some (Bible) book memorized. (It’s the book that Chabad people read, as this guy is “ex-Chabad” as he claims.) And then he proceeded to just say the whole chapter.

Great.

Then, two Israeli guys next door to the coffee place started shouting at each other and I said “Let’s go to a bar.”

The problem with this is a) I still am going to drink on an empty stomach and now b) I have a very dairy coffee drink with me. Kosher bars (most bars/restaurants out here in Jerusalem are kosher) are usually meat and you cannot bring outside food, especially dairy, into the bar. But I’d so rather be away from that strange situation.

We go to a bar that I actually went to a couple times. It has good beer, which is nice because I like beer. We sit down.

“Alana?” some random kid asks excitedly, who was sitting on the stool next to me.

“Um..” I say, confused.

“It’s me! From Denver!”

Apparently some kid from Denver had grown up and joined the army and now lived in Israel. What a tiny country we live in. What a small world. I vaguely remembered him, but the last time I saw him he was like 8 so he changed a bit.

That was the good part of the date.

We sit down and I try to discreetly finish my coffee.

My date isn’t asking me any questions about myself. This doesn’t register until later, when my friends asked me what we talked about and I say, “Well, he just answered my questions.” Not that the conversation didn’t flow. He had a lot to say about his ex. And that was most of the date, complaints about his ex. (Red flag, Alana!) And how she moved away with their four kids and he isn’t exactly sure where they are. (RED FLAG RED FLAG).

Half an hour in, he glances at his phone. I am so enthralled in being outside that it just makes everything seem better. Also, I don’t mind if people check their phones on dates. I teach students with ADHD and I’m not offended that someone is checking in/doing something else while also spending time with me. Chill about the phones people. Unless they’re staring at the screen for hours on end.

But then my date goes, “My shadchanit (matchmaker) wants to meet with me now. She’s a few minutes away. I’ll tell her I’ll come in half an hour.”

Um. Excuse me? Your what now?

I try to play it cool. I somehow don’t add this to the pile of red flags this guy is clearly laying down at my feet.

“What music do you like?” I ask. Sure. Go with the flow. Don’t be too picky.

Finally, after another hour of discussion and me being excited by being able to go outside and see people, I suggested we meet again. I don’t know, I was clearly not thinking straight.

The guy was gracious enough to just smile and say “We’ll be in touch.” At least one of us had the sense to know we were not a good match.

And yes, I did text him a few days later and say “Yeah, no,” but it took a bit of thinking and help from my friends to realize how the date really went.

So that was a learning experience! And I’m ready for the next.

English teacher by trade, story writer for fun