21. First dates
Do you remember yours? You had a horse drawn carriage pick you up, and take you to an expensive restaurant. Nobody was under/over dressed, there were no awkward silences, the food on the Italian restaurant menu was easy to pronounce. . . Perfection.
It was the second week of college, and I had gotten my first number, but still struggled on how to ask out a woman. A friend of mine offered me tickets to a “concert”. She mentioned that it was going to be hip hop, cool people, and her boyfriend was going to perform.
“Oh, sure. How much?”
I got the pair of tickets and called Amy that same night. She said yes, and we set the time for me to go pick her up and head over the following week. There was a California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) nearby, and the plan was to hit both places that night. I was excited, but scared at the same time for not knowing what this whole thing was going to be about. After discussing it with my roommate, I decided that there was nothing to be fearful about and that I was just going to wing it to have a good time.
The day had finally arrived and we headed over to the center of L.A. My first sign of trouble was the traffic, which wasn’t supposed to take place for another two hours. That usually means one of two things: an accident, or construction on the roads. I wasn’t panicking –there was no need to. The need for panic was coming up later that night.
We arrived at CPK, only to find a large yellow tape across the front door. It apparently had a recent problem and was forced to close for the day. Still not panicking, I looked over at Amy and she smiled and suggested we go elsewhere, and pointed across the street. Oh, Carl’s Jr. Well, at least she didn’t mind cheap food. I admitted feeling a little embarrassed that I took her to eat burgers at a fast food place, but she made me feel a little better by telling me that it was her first time at one of them.
The failure didn’t end there. As we arrived at the address listed on the tickets, we found ourselves in front of a bar. After having our hands marked with HUGE X’s they let us in. We followed a girl with big hoop earrings through the bar and into .. the backyard!?
Oh no. Trash cans on fire, five or six people maximum out there, and a large speaker in the front of what they called a “stage”. People attempting to rap were taking over, and that’s when I realized that I was in some type of underground rapping joint and that I needed to get out of there to stop myself from being less embarrassed. Amy felt uncomfortable, and so did I. We agreed to leave the place after about half an hour and then headed back to campus. She went to her dorm room, and that was that.
Many things have changed since then. I still wing it sometimes because the improvisation makes it really fun and interesting, but I always try to be prepared. Looking up traffic conditions, making sure eateries are operational, and I have a super secret backup idea just in case all else fails.
Three years later, Amy and I bumped into each other on campus. We agreed that our date had been awkward. She pointed out that she didn’t know what to say, that she was overdressed for the occasion, and that she had trouble understanding what the people were rapping about.