The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume XVII
January 1, 1970The Pre-Date Show
So there I was, sitting in the café with John. John David to be more specific. And he was a John, not a John David, not a Johnny, not a JD. He was a John. He was a very serious young man; even his smile was serious. I did a quick mental internet style profile match as we chatted quietly:
He: is a socially conscious, active member of the Democratic Party.
I: look forward to voting because I get two hours off from work, paid.
He: supports Greenpeace.
I: think the world is a big enough place to absorb my twenty minute showers and copious amounts of garbage.
He: is drinking a Chai Tea.
I: am drinking a bottle of High Fructose Corn Syrup with a dash of water.
He: mentions that the café should do something about separating garbage for recycling – twice.
I: see my previous entry. I think I’ve said all I need to.
He: thinks tuna nets catching dolphins is a travesty.
I: don’t eat tuna fish therefore I’ve never given it any thought.
He: discusses three non-fiction books about world politics.
I: nod my head, focusing on his soft, dewey eyes and smooth skin.
He: works as an engineer for a consulting company, helping companies go green.
I: work for a soul sucking conglomerate out to computerize and take over the world.
We’re perfect for each other.
Here’s how I clocked the encounter. Anywhere between ten to thirty minutes can be spent in small talk. This is where he checks me out, or checks how I’m going to fit into his life. If at the end of this vetting period, he is still feeling somewhere between mildly interested to enchanted, he’ll take a flyer and ask me out.
This vetting period is unnecessary for me since I’m impulsive and make rash decisions without any logical thought process. However, I would like points for being intuitive about my own weaknesses.
Minute Counter – 0-10
Small talk about the book club. “I felt he didn’t really get to the essence of what Chomsky was trying to say.”
Blah, blah, blah, I thought. Chomsky didn’t know what he was trying to say. That’s because it took him three pages to make one point and he probably forgot the point by the time he got to the end. You’re too cute to be an egghead John, I thought. “I think sometimes, an argument can become so caught up in the presentation of the point that the point itself is lost.” Memo to me: write a thank you note to my old college advisor, the Buddha/mercenary computer mogul. He actually taught me how to converse like an educated adult.
John looked at me like he had been hit in the head with a brick. Or he realized he was not speaking with a moron. You’re point being John?
Minute Counter 10-20
Small talk about hobbies, likes, and dislikes. Sometimes I wish, well, isn’t it possible to just get on with it? Does everything have to take forever? Maybe I just don’t like beginnings because I’ve had so many. Joanie doesn’t like this. Joanie is impatient. Joanie wants to dispense with all the bullshit and cut to the chase.
Seriously, am I the only woman to ever want to sit a man down and say “Look, you seem like a nice guy with no priors and no convictions. Let’s keep it simple. Don’t go bald, don’t grow a gut, and don’t pass gas in front of me. I’ll shave my legs and pits, and I won’t hang my bras and hose in the bathroom. I can’t do anything about the cellulite, sorry. Can we get married now?
I didn’t say all that. John looked like he scared easily. But I had to break the tension. When he said "What about you?" I did a hair flip and said “Hi, my name is Joan. I like quiet walks on the beach, a night at the movies, and fine dining.” He laughed. He looked relieved. Glad you’re happy, I thought. You’re adorable. Kissy face time?
Minute 21: The Wingman
John must have called a friend to be on standby. Sneaky. The wingman’s name is Tim. He is shorter and less attractive than John. He comes up behind John and slaps his hand on my man’s shoulder. John gives what I feel to be a look of mock surprise. John should take up a career in the theater. John didn't want to be left alone in case this first meeting - the pre-date - break the ice - boat began sinking like the Titanic.
John, you’re adorable.
“Hey man, how’s it going?” Tim asks.
John stands up. “Good, good.”
Lots of manly hand shaking and backslapping exchanged. I sit demurely, amused by the testosterone laced banter being displayed for my benefit.
“You’re having coffee with this guy?” Tim asks.
“No, I’m having soda with him,” I say with a smile.
“Need to stay awake hunh?” Tim says. “Nah, I’m just kidding you. This is a great guy. Hey man, don’t forget we’re going hang gliding this weekend.”
Excuse me? Oh no, my friend. If we’re going to get married and have 2.5 children, there will not be any hang gliding. I said... on the inside.
Tim and John exchange a few awkward words. “Good to see you man, I’ll call you,” John says to Tim. That is code for “Get lost, I’m doing better than I thought. I don’t need you.”
Tim leaves. John looks relieved. We get into a heavy discussion about books we had to read in college. I avoid mentioning I haven’t finished college yet.
The staff behind the counter stares at us. They give us the evil eye. We have been nursing our Chai Tea and High Fructose Corn Syrup w/ a dash of water for almost an hour. Tougho, I think when John asks “Would you like something else?”
John and I share a candy cookie, which he let me pick out. He is careful to leave me the last piece.
You’re amazing John. And you were nice to the person behind the counter. That means you will be nice to any wait staff we encounter at restaurants. Now, as long as you don’t have any unhealthy addictions to drugs, booze, or internet pornography, we’re good to go.
I mentally plan ahead for the next six months with John. We will engage in frequent fine dining, take long walks, listen to Coleman Hawkins tenor sax CD’s. I will smile and tolerate his hang gliding until we’ve been dating over six months and then gently put the kabosh on any "fun" yet life threatening activities. After all, what if John is the one? What if, as Phoebe would say, he is my lobster? The future father of my children? Can I, in good conscience allow him to propel himself off mountains with nothing but a thin sheet of mylar keeping him from becoming roadkill? I don't think so.
John has not thought about any of this. No problem, I've covered it for him. That’s what I’m here for.
We have just completed our discussion on great jazz saxophonists and are basking in uncomfortable silence. Oh joy.
“Yeah, he’s the best,” John says, to no one in particular. “I have tickets for a really good band next week.” A beat of silence. “Would you like to go?”
I can see his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. You could’ve asked me a half hour ago, John. I would’ve said yes. But I guess we had to play the game, didn’t we? Did we?
“I’d love to go.”
John smiles and breathes a sigh of relief. John and I will go to dinner and see a jazz band and we’ll have a pleasant evening and say nice things to each other. And I won’t think about Duncan. Except for just now, when I just did.
It’s a work in progress, I think. Everything is a work in progress.
Tune in next time as Joan's adventure continues...
Summer's almost over but there's still time for some chick-lit beach reading. Project Jennifer is available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com Pick up a copy and find out how Joan's story began!