As is often the case, it started out so promising. But some awful things lurked under his shirt...
It was a warm summer day when Josh walked in to the café I was working at in Philly. The café was a perfect combination of coffee shop, bar, and restaurant. It was like Cheers, except that it was open all day long and the staff was much younger and cuter.
The clientele was an interesting mix of obnoxious fanny-packed tourists, actors dressed as Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross who entertained the obnoxious tourists, first dates and locals. The locals, of course, were always our favorite. They were friendly, tipped the most and never asked us idiotic questions like "where the hell is my soup?" or "how on earth are you out of strawberry smoothies?"
The best kinds of regulars were the ones that were cute and hit on us.
It was the ideal place to be for single girls – there was a never-ending plethora of men that streamed through the café hanging out for hours while they read the paper or worked on their latest novel. I had just broken up with somebody so I was eager to get back in the dating game.
When Josh walked in, all the girls let out a collective "OMG!" gasp. He was well over six feet tall, with short brown hair, piercing blue eyes and full sleeve tattoos. For a group of women who all harbored a predilection for all things rocker-related, he was a vision – a vision that I wanted, other girls be damned.
Thankfully, I didn't have to fight too hard because Georgina the hostess, unaware of my plot, sat him in my section. Had she known I wanted to snag him, I'm sure she would have sat him anywhere else.
"Hey, I'm Rachel. Do you know what you'd like to order?"
That sentence sounds wholly unsexy when written, but trust me it sounded very flirty when it came out of my mouth.
"Hey Rachel," he said with a sh*t-eating grin. (That sort of grin is the surest sign that a guy is interested in hooking up. As I got older, I realized it's also the surest sign that said guy will NOT be relationship material.) "I'd like to order a really hot cappuccino."
"Okay, coming right up," I said with a similarly scatalogical-themed grin.
Since the café was relatively empty, I decided to sit down and chat with him. "So do you live around here?" I asked.
"Actually, I live in Northern Liberties. But I work down the street at Spice City." Spice City was the latest and hottest Asian fusion restaurant in the city.
"Are you a waiter too?" I asked.
"Nope, I'm a chef."
Now I was officially swooning.
He was hot and he could cook. Could it get any better? We continued chatting until the patrons at the other tables started coming up to me and asking for things like forks and glasses of water. So annoying.
He stayed until the end of my shift a couple hours later and asked me for my phone number. Of course, I gave it to him and went home floating on Cloud 9. Or maybe Cloud 100. We went out the following week. He wowed me with stories of kitchen backstabbing and his latest creations. I dazzled him with stories of me dumping sour mix into some bitchy customer's to-go drink.
Since I actually liked him, I decided I wanted to remain chaste, so all we did was kiss the first night. He dropped me off at home and we made plans for a second date.
The next day at work I was telling Vietnam Bob (the homeless Vietnam vet who frequented our café for free coffee and faucet "baths") all about my date when he said, "I don't know about that one, honey. He seems off..."
"But he's so cute!" I protested.
"He just seems a little weird," Bob said, not offering anything specific.
I was a little peeved at Vietnam Bob's Debbie Downer attitude, but then again, he loved my ex so I chalked it up to bias.
Our second date was even better than the first — partially because I was definitely toasted this time, and also because I was sure that I was falling in love. Here was this hot, tattooed star chef on a date with ME! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops like one of the Allies after fall of Germany. "HE LIKES ME! EAT THAT GEORGINA/EX-BOYFRIEND/EVERYONE ELSE!"
We drove around until we got to a spot just by the river, parked and furiously made out like two rabbits in heat (that is, if rabbits were to make out instead of have sex). When the magical third date came, I knew it was finally time to do the deed.
Things were getting hot and heavy when he decided to pull his shirt off. He was even buffer than I thought, sporting six-pack abs and even more tats. I was admiring his fine physique when I noticed a giant smiley cauliflower with a face staring at me from his right side. I stopped and squinted.
That couldn't be right, right? It was dark and I was prone to bad vision. But nope, there it was loud and proud. Not only was there a cauliflower, there was also a zucchini, a tomato and broccoli! There was a whole damn cornucopia of smiling vegetables staring at me! They weren't even evil vegetables, which theoretically might be okay. They were smiling like rejects from Sesame Street.
"Wow, those are some interesting tattoos you have there," I said inquisitively.
"Oh yeah, I just wanted something to represent my passion for cooking. So I figured why not vegetables?" he explained.
"They're so… smiley." I said hesitantly.
"I've got another tattoo on this side too," he said motioning to his left side. It was a BARNEY tattoo. As in, the purple dinosaur.
"Oh wow, why Barney?" I asked, now becoming very nervous and fearful.
"Barney is my middle name."
Don't get me wrong, I love tattoos (something which I think has to do with my past life as a French aristocrat, but that's another story), but bad tattoos were not okay under any circumstances. I pictured going to the beach together as people pointed and laughed at him. What would I tell our future kids? How could I look at him with a straight face? How could I take a guy seriously who had several smiling vegetables and Barney tattooed on his body?
I had to get out.
We made out a little more, before I stopped him. "I'm sorry, I don't think I'm ready to do this. I just broke up with someone not that long ago and this just feels weird." I made a really sad face.
"Oh, okay. That's cool. We can stop."
"Sorry. Well I'll see you around." And with that I hightailed it out of there.
Thankfully, Josh never stopped in again. It's too bad because Georgina might have liked those vegetable tattoos.