“Would you like to go out for sushi?”
I cringed slightly, because I am a moderately superstitious person and since the previous date was also at a sushi joint, I didn’t want to doom my first date with John.
John was not a phone talker–in fact when I gave him my phone number after he asked me out, he said he preferred to not exchange numbers until after the first date. I only gave him my number in the name of practicality, should either he or I suffer a tragic car accident en route to the date and need to get in touch. Especially given that, just like my previous date, said sushi joint was quite a hefty drive from my home.
John’s emails to me were incredibly formal, but as I pretend I’m a writer, I chalk up formal emails to someone who values the written word.
I arrived at the sushi place wearing the exact same outfit I wore on the previous date: dark wash jeans with a black floral print v-neck shirt that shows just enough cleavage. Classy cleavage, if you will. (Though in hindsight, maybe I needed to switch up my “date outfit” to change the luck.) I scanned the restaurant and saw someone who looked a little like John, but anemic compared to his photos.
“John?” I approached the anemic-looking man sitting by himself.
“Hi Julie!” He stood up and extended his hand in a very formal manner. I shook his hand, and we sat in our booth.
When I’m on a first date, I’m all about figuring out what to order first and then getting around to talking. So I found a couple of items that looked similar to sushi I loved at my favorite sushi spot and ordered those, and John ordered several of whatever he wanted.
And then we started to talk.
Something wasn’t quite right about the way he was conversing. It was almost as if he was working from a script. Like he was so concerned that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about that he allotted a specific amount of time for each discussion topic.
But at least he was interested in what I had to say, which was so different from the previous date. There was still something about John that concerned me, and I couldn’t figure it out right away. And as he was explaining to me the audition process (he was active in community theater) I realized what it was–he had many of the verbal mannerisms and physical tics as some of my students on the Autism spectrum. I don’t know if he actually was, but the bigger issue was that he was a carbon copy of one of my students.
It explained the formality of his emails, the handshake, the scripted conversation. He was so very nice, and when dinner was over, he asked if he could walk me to my car, which of course I agreed to. He stiffly offered me a hug, and I got in my car and drove home.
That’s the down side to being a teacher–so many things can ruin a guy. If he has the same name as the kid who called me a racist, or looks remotely like the kid(s) who refused to do any work and be surly about it, it affects how I view him. Not fair, I know. But it just is what it is.
Not that it was a horrible date at all–it really wasn’t. It was a lovely evening with only one super awkward moment (the conversation had died, I looked around desperately for a conversation starter, looked back at him only to find him staring at me intently), and it was nice to be out with a nice man who liked to talk as much as he liked to listen.
But I was pretty sure I would never hear from him again, and I never did. And that’s okay.