On Saturday night, I had gone out on a first-date. Foolishly, I had mentioned my plans to a few of my friends. So when the telephone rang Sunday morning, I knew that I was about to endure a debriefing. I picked up the phone and said, “Hello.”
“So?” said the voice on the other end.
I recognized the voice and knew exactly what “so” meant. It was my friend Margaret and she was calling to inquire about my date. Margaret had been married for over ten years and lived vicariously through the activity reports of her unmarried friends’ social lives. Although many of my reports are mundane, Margaret allows her imagination to run wild. Her interpretation of my activities is far more exciting than anyone’s life could possibly be, without ending up in jail or on a real-life-caught-on-tape television show.
I decided to make her work for the information, “So, what?” I asked.
She seemed agitated, “You know why I’m calling. How was your date last night?”
“I’m fine, thanks for asking.” I laughed. I paused. “My date? It was fine.”
“Fine? What do you mean by fine? I want details. Where did you go? What did you wear? Did he kiss you?” She stopped herself. “Oh …” she whispered, “is he there now?”
“No, he’s not here.” Geeze.
She tried again, “So?”
What can you say about a first date? We had dinner and conversation. It’s always difficult to determine what a person is really like during a first date. For the most part, everyone is on his best behavior and uses his party-manners. The conversation consists of questions and answers about siblings and hobbies. Sure, there are slight exaggerations about one’s importance at work and his popularity with his friends. But as a rule, first dates are pretty much benign.
“There really isn’t much to report.” I said. “He seemed very nice. We went to an Italian restaurant and had nice conversation.”
“Nice? What does nice mean?”
“Nice means nice,” I explained. “If you’re asking if he pulled out a knife and stabbed me then dumped me in a deserted parking lot, no he didn’t do that. That would be considered not nice.”
“What did you talk about?” She tried a different angle.
“Oh nothing really. Just the normal-first-date-stuff, hobbies, interests. You know, just stuff.”
“Sounds boring.” She sounded disappointed.
“I wouldn’t say boring. I’d say,” I thought for a moment, “uneventful.”
“Well, did he kiss you?” she asked hoping to for something, anything, to hang on to.
“Mar-gar-et,” I was slightly annoyed by the question. It fell into the none-of-your-business category, but I answered anyway. “Sure, yes, he kissed me.” Why did I tell her that? Here it comes … the follow up question.
“Was it a good kiss?” She came alive.
“I’m sorry, Margaret,” I was about to disappoint her. “It was just a peck on the cheek.”
“Oh.” The wind went out of her sails. “Do you think you’ll see him again?”
“I don’t know. If he calls and asks me out again, I would probably go.”
She was completely disappointed and annoyed with me. “Well, don’t do me any favors.”
What? Margaret seemed to interpret the report of the uneventful date as a personal affront, a slap in her face. She didn’t even know this guy. I was confused. “Please, don’t be upset.” I found myself consoling her. “It’s okay, Margaret, really. These things happen. There will be other dates. More exciting dates.”
“Really? Do you think so?” She started to feel better. “If you say so.”
“I promise.” I assured her.