First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose.
We previously met a couple of times through mutual friends before George got the courage to ask me out, which I happily accepted.
A sushi date for Tuesday night at Arigato was penned in my calendar and from our past interactions, it seemed he would be an easy-to-talk, fun date.
He called, using sentiments such as, “I’ve had a crush on you since day one,” and, “We’re going to have a great time!”
It was sweet. He was excited. I was weary.
If I’ve learned anything about dating it is do not, I repeat, do not have expectations.
You will always be let down.
But, of course, I allowed myself to think this would be different.
Especially when I received this text the night before: “Tomorrow is Tuesday! I’m so looking forward to our date!”
Expectations Ruin Everything
On Tuesday, I found myself walking up State Street towards the restaurant.
I took one last glance in a reflective store window (best way to fully scan an outfit, pre-date) and walked towards the future scene of the crime.
He greeted me with a slight hug, no smile.
What’s his deal?
He mentions a 45-minute wait for a table and asked if I preferred to sit inside or out.
“Whatever is easiest!” I said.
And whatever will lighten the mood.
We grabbed a drink and sat in the waiting area.
I start the 20-questions game – my interview skills kicking in, in the clutch – to do something, anything to make time to go by.
He was quiet, despondent, a wet blanket.
But his attitude was not going to ruin my evening.
And yes, I thought about calling it a night right then and there, but I had driven all the way downtown and made the effort.
Plus, I was having a good hair day.
After what seemed like an hour, the host asked if we’d like to sit at a table or the sushi bar.
With pleading eyes, I said, “Sushi bar, please!” hoping it didn’t come out as desperate as I felt. (Sushi bar = more people nearby and more distractions.)
I sat my drink down (Sauvignon Blanc) and settled in.
Just When I Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse
As soon as the server left with our order (Sea urchin and salmon roe on oysters on the half-shell with quail egg) I ask him the question he’s been fishing for the entirety of this date: “Are you okay?”
This is how the conversation went:
Me: “I don’t mean it in a bad way, but is everything all right?”
George: “Really? I thought I was doing a good job at hiding it.”
Um, no. Not at all.
“I found out some really bad news from work this morning, and I’m kinda depressed about it.”
Did you find this out before or after you called to confirm the date this morning?
[Gulp of wine]
“So… what happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
[Ten minutes of “not talking about it” and a second glass of wine later…]
“I tried to pump myself up today, to get excited about the date.”
“Actually, I thought about canceling…”
“You should have! I would have understood!”
Seriously dude. You should have. I totally get it. Now.
“I’m really sorry, I feel like a putz.”
“It’s okay. You just need time to yourself, to digest everything,”
“I just want to go home and watch Netflix.”
Holy sh*t, did he just say Netflix?
“Please, do! Please go watch Netflix.”
I hugged the pitiful man and walked to my car.
Amused and in disbelief, I immediately called my girlfriend to relay a story I would soon want to forget.