I was texting Lilly as I sat in my car in the Starbucks parking lot. The wind was howling outside, and I was waiting to meet the newest guy I met through an online dating app, for a quick coffee. While I hate the process, I decided to dabble in the exercise for the sake of experience. After all, I did some research and uncovered that 75% of current relationships were started online so there may be something to it.
Me: Where are you?
Lilly: Home cooking
Me: Okay, I’m at the Starbucks parking lot meeting Joe. I’m not sure how his height is going to be, but I need to just get it over with and see.
Lilly: What Starbucks are you at?
Me: The one by my house. Lol
Me: Call me in 20 minutes. If I pick up, ask me for a ride and I’ll let him know I need to leave.
From her quick response, I immediately knew she was preoccupied and would mess it up in one way or another but that’s when I saw him speed up in his white Jeep Cherokee so I didn’t have time to call her to clarify details. I was immediately grateful for the two vodka nips I picked up and guzzled before I decided to meet him at Starbucks. He hopped out his car and I when say hopped out, that’s exactly what I mean. He needed to hop to reach the ground. Ok here we go…
I got out of my car and smiled brightly. We gave a friendly side hug before we ran in to get out of the cold. The café was warm and empty. As we stood in line, he chatted animatedly about many things all at once. I was gorgeous; my hair smelled good like strawberry; it was freezing outside; he just took a shower at the gym and he knew exactly what coffee he wanted to order.
My initial impression (because we were at eye level) was he had soft kind eyes and small features. His lips were large but slightly chapped. His hat was faced backwards and was most likely the smallest hat he could find in an adult size but it was still too big. I felt the urge to tap it off his head and throw it across the counter. I could feel my anxiety rising. Why am I being mean?
“How can I help you?”, a visibly irritated female barista asked as I stood at the menu board with a confused look on my face. My look wasn’t about whether I wanted a tall or venti coffee. I was thinking about the little person standing behind me and imagined him excitedly assessing my ass. I wanted to kick him away.
Joe saved the day by ordering a fancy long latte that he obviously drank regularly. To save myself from further irritation, I said, “I’ll have the same in decaf.” Last thing I need is to be up all night with this damn coffee
While he waited for his fancy latte, I walked away and found two chairs in the corner that we could sit in. I was thinking Lilly had about 10 more minutes to call me and ask me for a ride.
I sat down and waited for him to join me. He picked up our two coffees and as he walked toward me to sit down with a huge smile, I fought the urge to push him out the way and run out to my car before anyone came in and recognized me. I imagined what they would say. I saw Nadia today talking to a little person. She must have been interviewing him for a job! That’s so nice! That’s a good alibi. I thought. Let me cross my leg and put my professional voice on.
Joe takes his seat, hands me his coffee and exclaims how happy he is that I didn’t catfish him. He can’t believe I look just like my pictures. I smile a big toothy smile but a small part of me wonders if there is a hidden camera somewhere capturing my knee shaking as I resist the chance to point out that although his face looks the same as the selfies he sent me, the camera must have added an enlargement detail.
He is good at keeping the conversation geared toward himself and I’m forced to sit through understanding the Keto diet, how he lost 20 pounds in one month by following it and why certain political policies are not bad. My phone finally rings. I’m thrilled to grab it out of my jacket and see Lilly’s name.
Lilly: Hey how’s it going?!
Me: Oh really, What time? You need a ride?
Lilly: No! I’m cooking now (ugh I knew she would forget the code)
Me: Yes, don’t worry. I’ll be there soon!
Lilly: Well I’m still cooking. The food won’t be done for another hour!
Me: Ok, bye see you soon!
I hung up before she could talk anymore and ruin my cover. I looked up with a look of disappointment.
“Is everything okay?” The poor fellow eyes me with concern.
“Oh yes that was my best friend. She is going to need a ride later to her mom’s house so I will need to go get her soon.”
“Oh, that’s too bad I was going to invite you to my house and make you some wings in the air fryer. You would love it!”
“Aww, maybe next time! Well at least I have a few more minutes to finish our coffee.”
The next 5 minutes I noticed his knuckles were hairy, his teeth were tiny like they belonged in a 7-year old’s mouth and the first two were pointed toward each other. His size 5 sneaker dangled daintily as he easily crossed his leg while he broke down the latest recipe that he was planning to cook under the Keto diet guidelines (It’s a lifestyle).
Long story short, I got through my pretend job interview by being slightly buzzed, bored and determined to follow through on this coffee date. I gave him a breakdown on why I am not ready for a relationship and how basically I’m just meeting people to hang out with sometimes. He seemed to accept that and understand my explanation for not wanting to make immediate next day plans, but I could tell he would text me later that day.
I gave him a kiss on the cheek and a hug goodbye then breathed a sigh of relief that I had gotten through it without running into anyone or crying. As I drove toward Lilly’s house to eat and hopefully drink a glass of wine, I laughed out loud at the absurd circumstances in my life that brought me to Joe and our “interview” at Starbucks. Dating is going to be brutal. I dread the day that I find someone that I’m attracted to only to watch him take a call from his friend giving him a way out.
I guess the trick to this bullshit is to keep laughing because if I don’t find humor in it, the alternative may be to get stuck in my own mind, become bitter and lose the opportunity to meet someone that just may be what I need in this stage of my life…Nothing is permanent after all. At the very least, I’m inspiring stories and that alone is worth the 30 minutes in Starbucks looking at small teeth as I conversated with an entertaining character.
Update: He text me later that night and the next day and made it clear he was not happy that he noticed I was still logged on to the dating app. Needless to say, I politely wished him well.