Manero

Not-So-Blind Date #1

By: Leo_72

A cute girl who likes salsa and happened to love my favorite book sent me a string of messages on OkCupid.

“Who’s hiding behind those headphones?”

“What are you getting away from when you run?”

“What does music really mean to you? OMG!”

I replied by sending her a couple of my killer salsa choices via YouTube. She hit back in a couple of hours with two additional links. Her song choices were good and, more importantly, came with an email address. Bingo! Her email helped me figure out her name, which led me straight to Facebook—a place to get more information than what was volunteered in her dating profile. She was really cute, and had more pictures. There she was in all her photo album glory: really cute, partying, traveling, hanging out with coworkers, occupying Wall Street...

My reply email went out shortly after. I decided to give her the option to do the same background check. I guess those are the rules now.

We agreed to have a drink on a Thursday. We chose a bar near her place—a Spanish tapas place I knew (you can’t go wrong with the prosciutto, cheese and wine combination)—so that she could run back home if she was annoyed.

The place was packed, so we sat at the bar and ordered a plate and a couple of glasses of Rioja. And we dove in. Karen is a biologist by trade, struggling with the funding for her current research. She didn’t go out much, moved out of her boyfriend’s place five months ago and was trying to stay away from friends that reminded her of that guy... Oh, and I was her third date through OkCupid—or so she claimed. Big plus: she came from out of my music world, so we had no people in common.

The wine went down smoothly, so when we were done with our glasses, we headed to Little Branch, a downtown speakeasy spot where we hit on a few more first-date topics as we sipped our cocktails: the love and hate we all feel for NYC, other cities we’d rather live in, where we were in our respective lives... And then a little cute kiss came along. Karen went for it, probably as an award for me not showing desperation to get her into bed right away. The truth is that I had no place of my own (still practicing couch surfing after my separation), so I was kind of limited in that sense—but I felt that she was okay with taking it slow.

It was late. We were both far away from home, so we walked together to the subway, with a few stops in some dark corners for some more kissing. We went our separate ways in the subway, agreeing on doing it again soon. Those drinks and the taste of new lips in my mouth made my mind ramble. I suddenly started thinking about following up with a girl I had gone out with earlier, but whose kisses hadn’t really sparked the “butterflies” I had just felt with Karen. Would I waste her time if I called her again just to see where it went? Would I be “betraying” what had just happened with Karen?

Apparently, nobody can play this game without using somebody or being used, without hurting or being hurt. The kissing frogs metaphor—you know, dating as many people as you can until you find your prince or princess—started to make sense as a complex reality more than as a fairy tale device. Also, does having more experience, and having found true love once before, make it easier or harder to try to find it again in a city with so many options like New York?

I certainly had more questions than answers, but I knew this much: New York was smiling again.

Leo_72 is a DJ and lives in Brooklyn. He can be found in dating sites under a slightly different nickname.