The red flags of excessive drinking and chronic lateness do their best to ruin a great thing.
The thought, "Oh God, he has to hate me," is never a good sign during a first date. But when you're two hours late and he hasn't responded to your last text, it's not possible to think of anything else. Let's start from the beginning.
We met on a train ride from New York to Connecticut. We were with a large group headed to a mutual friend of a friend's barbeque extravaganza. Anyone familiar with Metro North knows that an hour-and-a-half long trip is not complete without a trip to the bar car and a conversation started over an $8 can of Miller.
Sean was a different kind of guy. I was used to going out with smart guys (I went to a good college and live in New York), but he was a different kind of smart. A smart that took itself less seriously. A smart that didn't calculate ways to work in its earning power into every conversation. A smart that could do anything but didn't define itself by what it did, if that makes sense. Needless to say, I found him very interesting. We split off at the barbeque but he managed to ask for my phone number (smart of him) before he headed back to the city. 5 Ways To Practically ENSURE He Asks You Out For A Second Date
Flash-forward a week or so: Sean called, told me how much he enjoyed chatting with me and wondered what I was doing the following Friday. I was very excited to see him but I was a little reluctant to set up an actual date on a weekend when my free time was so limited. I had recently been promoted, and my new position involved signing my life over to my manager (whom we'll call Kip). I now leased personal time from him and did my best to spend weekend time with friends. Sean said Thursday was fine. 5 Worst First Dates Ever
We agreed to meet at one of the million indistinguishable Irish sports pubs in Manhattan, and settled on 8 PM. I did my absolute best to get out of work at a decent hour. In fact, I had so much time on my hands that I did a little shopping on my way to the date. A mistake. After picking up a handful of things (tights, tees and the like) from a favorite discount store, I was back on track. Unfortunately, it was already 8. I texted Sean mentioning that I'd be a few minutes late, which may not have been necessary given that anything before fifteen minutes late in New York is on-time to early. Dating Disaster: A Guy, A Girl, Her Gas
When I arrived, he was all smiles. We hugged, he grabbed his beer—he had been fashionably early—and we made for a table. I reached into my purse to make sure my phone was turned off and noticed that a two-pound lump of Italian leather was missing. I had left my wallet at the store. I had to retrieve it. He offered to go for me, then offered to go with me, and then offered money for a cab. Embarrassed, I turned him down on all accounts and went back to the store, leaving my bags behind.
Fortunately and unfortunately, this happens a lot at this store. The manager takes lost wallets, handbags, cell phones, keys and other sundries back to his closet-sized office for safekeeping. And then, in this one very specific case, he goes to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately, this was a few years ago when cell phones were not quite as ubiquitous, so I was informed that I'd just have to wait and consider myself "lucky" that he was coming back that night. I waited and texted Sean. He had moved back to the bar, feeling guilty to have a waitress serve him just beer. When the manager returned, he also told me how lucky I was that he was back that night: jackass. But the mission was accomplished and it wasn't even 9 o'clock. Drinking On A Date: How Much Is Too Much?
I hustled back to Paddy O'Stereotype's in something that could be described as a huff, very aware that I was starting to sweat. When I arrived, the bartender that had been chatting with Sean started laughing and patted him on the arm. Sean drained the rest of his pint glass and made his way over. "Are you still cool with this place? Do you mind if we get something to eat? I haven't eaten since lunch," he asked. As I'm about to suggest we get a couple of burgers, my phone rings. It's time to pay the piper.
My new boss Kip, raised on the philosophy that you're not paid for your actual work but for your time, had a few questions for me. The phone reception at the bar was spotty on a good day and the coverage grew worse the deeper I went inside. After giving Sean the symbol for "Sorry, this is work, can you believe it? Of all the rotten luck, it'll just take a sec..." I was off to the street. "The Kipper" needed to talk through a few things regarding a project I was working on. We talked through several issues that probably could've waited eleven hours but were "serious." I looked to my left and saw Sean was looking at me through the window. I smiled at him and began taking my call on a brisk walk, which lasted a solid 25 minutes.
As I finally hung up, I looked down and through the sweat I'd built up from my walk-and-talk to see I had missed a few calls, which I assumed were Sean telling me he had sold my discount clothing items and I'd never see him again. But, they were from my friend Amanda. After listening to her barely audible message, I sent Sean a text letting him know that I'd be back in a jiffy. He responded, "Ok." Not good. The 5 'Golden Rules' Of Texting A Dude You're Super-Into
It turns out Amanda had guy problems (as usual). The initial tone of the conversation led me to believe that the problem was serious, but it ended up being more of an "All guys are assholes" call. I kept intimating that I'd talk to her later but couldn't actually hang up on her—she was my friend, and I barely knew this incredibly patient guy knocking back Budweisers at the bar. I sent a one-sentence update to Sean that went something like, "Best friend having guy problems, pls eat, see u soon." I paced and talked Amanda off of a make-believe ledge. Sean did not write me back.
At a freckle to ten, I returned to the bar to see the bartender, Sean's new "bestie," pour Sean a shot of something brown and liable to remove varnish from wood. Sean hugged me—a little on the gropey side—and made some joke like, "Where've you been all my life?" a little too close to my face. I apologized profusely and asked him if he'd eaten; he had not. We sat at a table and he sat down a little too hard, almost going over backwards in his chair. He was two out of three sheets to the wind. The conversation started out awkward and glassy-eyed on his part. He informed me that the bartender had been giving him drinks on account of him being such a standup guy to wait for me. Normally, he slurred, the book he'd brought would have been enough company but after an hour of drinking by himself, his reading comprehension followed me onto the street. In a moment of too much honesty, he admitted to thinking about leaving but felt really awful trying to get my clothing purchases back to me because the hosiery would absolutely not fit him. In not so many words, he called me out on being rude. I really wanted to leave. The planet. If Your Partner Does These 12 Things, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN
Instead, I started drinking a little faster and he slowed down. We probably had the best bland burgers I've ever had as we chatted past midnight. Earlier, as I walked back from my phone calls, I assumed I'd have to sleep with him if I ever wanted to see him again, but it was an incredibly pleasant date. And at the stroke of one AM, he got up and announced that it was probably time for him to call it a night.
As we walked out of the bar, he got my earlier text and said, "Looks like you'll be getting here any minute." Then he kissed me, booze breath and all. Six years later, we're married. Sometimes I'm really late, and occasionally, he drinks too much while he's waiting.