It's still a few hours until the coffee date. Another one. Not with Brad. This is a first. There have been loads of firsts. Enough for baristas to start mocking me.
"Grande Nonfat Latte's back. The other guy keeps checking his phone. I give them eighteen minutes."
"Should've just ordered a tall."
I ought to have the conversational routine down by now. Funny anecdotes. An obscure literary reference to feign intelligence. Neck stretch warm ups to prepare for generous head nodding. But I'm always unprepared. I'm determined to be authentic. Let each conversation unfold--and unravel--on its own demerits.
There is more at stake as years pass and I continue to have coffee experiences with an indistinct aftertaste. Hints of lemon and oak and casual rejection. Time ticks. I’m 51. The wrinkles will become more prominent. The belly won’t stay tucked in forever. I’m past prime and still searching. Am I stuck in the discount bin with a pile of irregulars? The “As Is” sign sends passersby into a quick jog.
A year back in Vancouver and I’ve already worn out my welcome. Plenty of Fish has a “Meet Me” page where a stream of profiles pop up and you click Yes, No or Maybe. When I checked today, the message said, “Sorry—our Meet Me list shows you users we’ve specifically chosen for you! Sometimes, this list runs out.” This was a hunch I didn’t want confirmed.
It’s all up to this one coffee with Brad. Guy with a new pup. I’m hoping he’ll bring him. Dogs always like me. At least that’ll be something.
There’s less at stake, too. With rejection comes restraint and resignation. Any newness to dating has worn away. The nerves aren’t there either. If I get that it’s-been-nice-meeting-you vibe, I can shrug it off on the way home. I got to pat a dog. Hurrah.
There’s still time to work myself up into a positive, hopeful state. That will come on the half-hour walk to his local Starbucks. Haven’t had a first coffee at that location in ages. With all the hope I stir up, some of it will be channeled into hoping the baristas don’t recognize me. Presumably, I could confuse them and order a Grande Decaf Iced Americano instead.
A fresh start.
Maybe a different outcome.