The case of the disappearing date
You've read Blink, right? The book by Malcolm Gladwell about the instinctual ability we all have to make judgments about people, places and things in the blink of an eyelash?
Well, "blink" happens and it happened to me last night.
What's worse than being my age and going out on a date? That's right, being my age and going out on a blind date. The guy--I'll call him Finger Foods--was to meet me at the theater where I was reviewing a play. Get there a half-hour early, I had told him on the phone, and we'd have a drink in the lobby and chat for a bit. Then we'd see the show--a comedy only 55 minutes long--then go out afterward for another cocktail or a light bite at the restaurant next door. He'd sounded excited about the whole thing. Very chatty-chatty on the phone.
So on the stroke of 6:30 p.m. I breezed into the lobby. I was looking good, chilluns. On a chilly winter eve I had on a black lacy skirt, a stretchy velvet top, my new black velvet coat and my favorite glittery earbobs. Henri, the world's greatest hairstylist, had blown my 'do into a poofy-but-sexy array of layers just hours before. I was ready-Teddy.
So I see Finger Foods (he's in the catering biz) standing by the box office. I glide up, extend my well-manicured paw in his direction and say my name.
BLINK! In the instant it took for him to turn in my direction and look me over, I saw it. Revulsion might be too strong a word. But disappointment? Disgust perhaps? Certainly not happy-happy-joy-joy. His face actually visibly sagged. He didn't smile. Didn't say "nice to meet you" or "kiss my ass" or anything.
Finger Foods had the fight-or-flight look. He wanted out and the sooner the better. Whatever it was about me, my face, my poofy hair or my shiny earrings, he didn't like any of it and he didn't like it instantly.
Not so fast, buster. If I had to get dressed up, fork out change for the tollway and drive all the way out there, I was going to make him at least sit through the show with me.
There were crowds there, so the house manager kindly seated me and Finger Foods early so I could get a spot on the aisle (the bettter for writing notes in the dark for review purposes). That meant we were in our places nearly 30 minutes before the 7 o'clock curtain.
FF never looked my way again. Not once. He sat silently, staring at the empty stage in front of us and drumming his stubby fingers on his khaki-clad knees. (I know! Khakis! In winter!)
A brief description of FF: A bit older than me. Not tall. Completely hair-free, like Yul Brynner but without the authoritative skull shape. Dicey dental work, especially among the canines and forward molars. Khakis, red polo shirt, summer-weight navy blazer. In winter. Worth mentioning again.
I'm "opening night at the theater." He's "casual brunch with the grandkids."
Differenced between him and me: I'm willing to give him a chance. You know, get to know him before I "blink" him out into the cornfield.
But I'll be darned if I'm going to force the conversation. So I wait for him to speak.
At about 6:55 he asks me if I take notes in shorthand. No, I tell him, I just scribble stuff in the dark during the performance and try to decode it later.
End of conversational gambits. I think I may have asked him if the E.coli outbreak in salad greens had affected his business. But when he launched into a diatribe about how the liberal media only print negative stories, I tuned him out. (Hey, he said he wasn't a righty--believe me, I ask.)
Show begins. It's funny. He never laughs. I can hear his brain-wheels turning: How do I dump this chick? Can I start coughing now and claim I'm getting the flu? Is there an emergency exit I could crawl to during the scene change?
Curtain comes down at 7:55 and I save him the trouble. In the lobby, I say, "Hey, I could sense that you were plotting your escape, so let's part ways here."
He's so surprised that I've let him off the hook that he blurts out his made-up excuse anyway: "I have to be at this thing at 9."
Poor shmuck. He expects me to believe he has two dates in one night.
He offers to walk me to my car but since I've parked right in front, that's a trip of about 20 steps.
He never says "Nice to have met you" or "Thanks for the free ticket to the show" or "I'm sorry it didn't work out" ner nuthin'. He just lickety-splits.
At 7:58 the date is done and Finger Foods is gone... without ever even waving goodbye.