I was waiting at the smallest table in a retired tobacco barn reading Frankenstein. I was getting more nervous by the second, and I couldn’t even read. The waitress relieved me by standing next to me, and close. She began a monologue about all about the places she’s lived in her lifetime. (the list including countries, states and cities) It made me so grateful to not have to wait at that table alone.
And then I noticed Sam standing at the barn’s entrance. I heard him greet the hostess, “How’s it going,” and I was hiding behind the large woman. She was still telling me about all the places. I looked away from her to look at Sam and he recognized me and came over. He was wearing a hoodie and jeans and his beard looked fuller than the last time.
“Hey,” he said. “Hey.”
I was grateful because for a while we didn’t have to even look at each other. The waiter came to pour tiny amounts of wine into our glasses and while he did this, he began to speak in a new language. This one will coat your tongue with the astringent taste of a sour apple. This one will taste like butter (he said). I enjoyed this because it takes so much less effort to nod and sip than it does to look someone in the eye.
The thing about Sam is that he doesn’t really talk much about himself, but he’s really good at stories and eye contact and this combination plus me being nervous made it easy for me to accidentally say things.
The accidental things began when I began randomly making baby comments. He told me the story of how he negotiated with some boys to buy his dog for 200 bucks. And my response to this story was, “hopefully she can have lots of puppies.”
Sam nodded forgivingly. “I think she’s fixed.”
“Oh so I guess she won’t.”
The first time there was a lull in our conversation I broke through the silence with the words, “My sister is 4 centimeters dilated right now.”
“That’s a great conversation starter,” Sam said.
“Oh.” I said and then continued talking about her dilation experience, “but she’s just lying in bed with the toddlers on her waiting for her husband to get home.” So our conversation conveniently went in the direction of childbirth and we were both starting to sweat because of how hot it was. “I guess I’ve bought into the lie.” he sighed.
“The lie??” I said. And then I understood that he was making a propaganda joke.
“Oh yes, the secret truth is, none of us came through the canal of a woman.”
“Really we all probably come from various planets.”
“And have powers.”
… The other thing I started slipping up in is that I began to share with Sam things about myself. I didn’t want to. The only way to keep these dates casual, is if I disclose only a bare slim whisper of information about myself (and mostly keep it topical).
But I severely messed up on this date. I disclosed things I am even embarrassed to tell myself about.(Things my mother very clearly warned me to never share on a date) Like the fact that I don’t have a high school diploma. I told him about grasping for a sense of self when I moved around so much.
I told him about my pastor and my church and LaDawn’s marijuana pen and Doniki’s nail business. I told him about Patty and how she smokes on the porch because it gives her a break from the demands of life. Then I even told him her partial life story. I described in detail the tattoos she never got but wanted to get.
I told him the name of Patty’s future unborn child: Franchesco Dalphene.
And Sam repeated the name of her future child out loud.
“Franchesco Dalphene.” he said. “Well, his future teachers will look down at the attendance sheet and cast type him for sure.”
When were standing by our cars to say goodbye to each other, he invited me to get food with him. He said, “you don’t have to if you’ve got things to do, but i’m starving.”
I was like, “sure, i’ll get food with you” and so we remembered the buttery green apple sips that cost 80 dollars (no cheese included) fondly and then drove to the Pit BBQ place next to the liquor store. On the front of the building it had the words “Crabs and BBQ that are Beyond Your Belief” inscribed. .
The Pit BBQ place was empty except for the staff, so we sat solitarily at a long white picnic table. The waitress gave us red plastic baskets filled with layers upon layers of shaved beef. I topped each bite with potato chips and horseradish and pickles in order to mask the dryness and flavorlessness of the meat.
I accidentally let something slip again, and it was really inappropriate because what I accidentally said (when he was asking me about CA) was that because of those years sometimes I hate men. Something came over me, but after I said it I wished so badly I could swallow my words.
His eyes got kind of wide and he said, “Oh, gotta go,” and pretended like he had to leave.
but then shook his head and laughed, and I’m really surprised because he actually asked me out again after this. This is a surprise, but he did. I am stupid for doing these date experiments, because I think if I let them carry on someone’s going to get hurt.