November 30, 2010

The Worst First Date...Ever

Ladies, if a man tells you that men never tell tales you need to immediately call him upon the carpet and let him know that you know better. Because the reality is that we do share stories with our friends, colleagues and brothers-in-arms. We exchange tales of bravery and childhood stupidity. We talk about the girls that once were and the girls that are. And sometimes after a few beers the tales turn to those that we might prefer to keep under wraps.

I remember one such occasion with a mixture of clarity and confusion. It will be up to you to determine if the haze that lies upon my eyes was placed there by a bottle of single malt or the shifting sands of time. Up to you to decide if I have taken liberties to smooth and polish the tale or tales you might read here.

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll so we must begin.....

Ten years ago when I was a younger man, so much younger than today I was a new father who attacked each day with vigor. Carpe Diem was a motto and a mantra. I was determined to suck the marrow out of life. I had many responsibilities and required but a few hours of sleep so when the call came it was easy to rouse myself from bed.

The man behind the call was a good friend who at the time was among the very few people I knew that was divorced. His mental and emotional state wasn't great and I had spent many hours listening to him talk about the end of a marriage. It was a sad thing, but for the best.

And I was more than a little excited for him when he finally began to date. He deserved to find a good woman and happiness. So when he called and asked if I could meet him at our favorite coffee shop I went expecting to hear a good story.

We sat down, ordered two cups of Joe and a couple of slices of pie. For a moment we did nothing but shoot the breeze and talk about how crazy it was for me to be a father. The baby hadn't come yet, but we were close to D-Day so it was starting to become real. I  laughed at how different our situations were. He was busy trying to find a woman to knock boots with and well, I had done some different knocking.

In a soft voice he began to tell me about his date. She wasn't the first he had gone out with but she was the one he was most excited about. They hit a quiet restaurant for drinks and a meal. He had intentionally made an early reservation so that if things went well they could hit a show afterwards. Aside from he and his date there were relatively few people there.

On the far side of the room there was a table full of older women that kept breaking out into laughter. Just to the right of them a server on break sat quietly eating dinner. About ten feet in front of the server a lone man sat with a drink and a copy of the Wall Street Journal.

Against this backdrop were my friend and his date. Things are going quite well. They are sharing thoughts and stories about themselves. She laughs at his jokes and tells him that she thinks he is quite funny. The meal comes and she makes a point to share hers with him. He starts to think that maybe there is something to this when life happens.

The front door bursts open and the Wicked Witch of the West waltzes in with a team of flying monkeys. She is clearly pissed off and he just knows that she is going to walk up to his date and demand that she give him her ruby slippers.

Ok, scratch that. There were no flying monkeys nor a witch. However, there was a woman. A woman who walked over to the table that the single man was sitting at. My friend watched as the man folded his newspaper and pulled out a chair for the woman.

Now you may be wondering why his eyes weren't focused upon his date and thoughts of book knocking. And that my friends is because the woman who walked into the restaurant just happened to be his ex-wife. Yes, his ex-wife showed up at the same restaurant as he did.

I asked him the obvious question and was told that they had never gone to this restaurant before. It wasn't like he took her to a place that he and the ex-wife used to hang out at. Rather, it seemed that through strange coincidence or a shared love of Italian food they picked the same place to eat at.

Perhaps it is an exaggeration to call it the worst first date ever, but it certainly ranks up there as among the strangest.

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