A few days ago at work, a certain person with whom I once went on a date returned to work at the library. My supervisor was showing him some work she wanted him to do, and as they passed by, she stopped.
"Oh, have you two met?"
Short, awkward silence.
And the memories came flooding back.
Note: I unfortunately did not record the following events until nearly four months after their occurrance. If you happened to be an oh-so-lucky firsthand listener of this account, the awkwardness of which I was coerced into relating at my "Going to Europe" party (which took place a few days after the date), and notice any details I am missing, please divulge.
Once upon a time, as I was working on compiling some enormously interesting bibliographic information (yes, that was definitely an oxymoron) into an unbelievably large spreadsheet on the Mac in the Viola Archives, another MAD librarian (Music and Dance librarian--MAD, that’s what we call ourselves...) came in and started working on a computer nearby. As we worked, we got to talking, as may hardly be surprising when your work is as interesting as cataloging LPs or compiling bibliographic information that may very well never EVER be seen by a pair of human eyes again. Our conversation started out with the usual "where are you from, what’s your major" type questions, but we got off on to some slightly more interesting tangents. His name was Tim*, he said he was from New York, and he was a Computer Science major. However, he was minoring in about 50 subjects, and really, I’m only slightly exaggerating. He’s one of those people who would love to be a professional student. A few highlights from what I learned that afternoon: He has taken nearly every single dance class BYU has to offer, including ballet. He speaks Korean, because he served his mission there. When I asked him what he liked least about the mission, he said it was the food. When I asked him what he missed most from his mission, he said it was the food. Go figure. He loves mountain biking, and gives off the aura of "If I had a choice between buying a really nice bike or buying a car, I’d buy the bike." And he’s a little bit on the short side. Not terribly so, but about an inch shorter than I am, which kind of messes with the whole social norm/conception of "big, manly protector." It didn’t quite bother me as much as Mr. Collins would’ve, though. Teehee. Anyway, we (Tim and I, not Mr. Collins) do have at least one thing in common—we both love music--maybe in different ways--but still, we love it. Having worked at the MAD library, he’s more music literate than, I dare say, most other CS majors.
So, we finished our conversation that day, and I thought that was that. But then, one warm, sunny morning (at least that's what it looked like from the longing glances I stole out the window) only a few days later, we both found ourselves once again working in the Archives. And kind of out of the blue, he asked me if I wanted to go to the opera. I was a bit surprised. Nay, shocked. Yes, we had had a couple of conversations, but well…I was still taken aback. However, I agreed that I would like to go to the opera, and so he said he would get the tickets. He called me later and left me a voicemail, the gist of which was: "Hi, this is Tim. *pause* Um, so I got the tickets. They’re for Friday the 13th. Hopefully that’s not unlucky for our date. Heh heh. *long pause* Well, I guess I’ll talk to you later. Give me a call. *another pause* Well, I mean, you don’t have to call me if you don’t want to, obviously. *awkwardly long pause* Um...okay, so...see you later."
The date wasn't coming up for a couple weeks, so it kind of went to the back-burner until a day or two before the 13th, when he called me again. This time I was able to answer my phone, and, well, you would think that the conversation couldn't get TOO awkward, as he was just calling to arrange a time to "pick me up." Only thing was, he had no car. Lucky for us, however, the opera was at the HFAC, so I told him I could just meet him somewhere on campus. We ended up agreeing to meet at the library. He mentioned that he wanted to go to dinner as well, so we decided to meet an hour and a half before the opera.
Friday the 13th arrives. Nothing particular ominous or unlucky happened during the day, and I was looking forward to seeing the opera that night. We met at the agreed time, and started up some small talk as we exited the library. As we made our way across Brigham Square, there was a bit of a lull in the conversation, and he took the opportunity to ask me where I wanted to go for dinner. He said, "I was just going to go to the Cougareat, but it's already closed, so I guess we'll have to go somewhere else." Yes, I know that without a car, choices are limited, but...the Cougareat?! Anyway. There are, of course, several nearby restaurants on 9th East, so we kept walking East. He asked me what I felt like eating, and I told him I was basically up for whatever. He said he'd been craving a "big, juicy, hamburger," so we headed to the Creamery on 9th. We got there, and the place was full with the usual Friday night crowd. We finally made it up to the counter to order, and he ordered himself a burger, and then asked me what I wanted. I told him what kind of burger I wanted, and so he ordered that too. Then the girl behind the counter asked him if we wanted any fries, and after a pause, he said something like, "Well, I guess we could splurge and get some." So he ordered some fries (but a really strange kind: black pepper...bleh), and then the girl behind the counter told him that it would almost be just as cheap to order the meal, and then we'd each get a drink and ice cream as well. He turned to me and asked if I really wanted a drink. Um, so what was I supposed to say? That he was beginning to strongly remind me of my very stingy brother (well, my stingy brother as of a year ago)? After a bit of a pause, he was finally like, "Well, I guess we can go all out and get the meal." So, the girl at the counter rang us up, gave us our cups, and told us she'd call his name when the order was ready. There was a vacant booth over by the window, so we went and sat down to wait.
I decided to go for the classic "tell me about your mission" conversation starter. And it worked, thank goodness. I got him going, and he had plenty to say. And it was interesting. He told me some cool experiences he had had. And about Korea, their culture, food, etc. Finally, the people behind the counter called his name, and Tim went and got our order. He brought it back to the table, set it down, and pulled his food toward him, so I got mine, and decided to try one of the Black Pepper fries. As soon as I had bitten into one, however, he said, "Shall we bless it?"
I was totally caught off guard, but he was definitely being serious. So I put my fry down, and, there, in the middle of about fifty other people on a Friday night at the Creamery on 9th, Tim said a nice, long blessing on the food...and a lot of other things too. Don't get me wrong, saying a blessing on food before you eat is definitely the right thing to do, but perhaps not out loud in the middle of a busy restaurant. And like I said, it wasn't just a quick blessing on the food. He expounded on several things, including his hopes for our date. And oh, it was just A-W-K-W-A-R-D. When the "amen" finally came, I felt that I had had the epitomized "BYU dating experience." But no, there was still more to come...
After we had finished our burgers, we got our ice cream and started walking back to the HFAC, as it was almost 7:30. He had finished his by the time we got there, but I was only about halfway done with mine, so we stood out on the front steps of the HFAC, I eating my ice cream (I don't think he could have born the pain of seeing me throw any of it away), and him standing there just waiting, while throngs of people were walking past into the HFAC. Finally, we went inside, and he went to the restroom while I "finished" the rest of my ice cream and threw it away. I ran into one of my music major friends, and we started talking while we were waiting for our dates. Then Tim came back and stood there like a vulture protecting his prey, and so after I introduced them to each other, my friend quickly left. So we headed into the de Jong and found our seats. We looked through the program to pass the time, pointing out all the people we knew, and at long last, the blessed opera began. I enjoyed it a lot--it was a comedy, and before I knew it, it was intermission. Tim apparently hadn't been quite so enthralled as I had been, however, because he had been making all sorts of paper airplanes with the program. He proceeded to show me several designs, but finally the opera started up again, so he had to stop. By the time the opera ended, Tim was definitely ready to get out of there. He had his latest paper jet in hand, and to my horrified mortification, as we got out into the hallway amidst the throngs of people and were climbing the stairs to get out of the de Jong, he said, "Hm, I wonder if it will fly!" And threw it into the crowd. Needless to say, it did not fly very well at all, and I'm sure it probably hit some poor, unsuspecting 80-year-old grandpa in the head.
So, we got out into the cool night air, and just as I was about to say thank you and good night (literally, my mouth had already formed the words), he turned to me and said, "So, what do you want to do now?" After biting my words back, I had a quick mental debate, and came to the speedy conclusion that 10:00 was a perfectly respectable time to say good-bye. My parents had let me borrow the car that weekend because I was going home, so after I said I should probably go, he said he'd walk me to it. When we got there, I asked him if he wanted a ride home (talk about a backwards date), but he said that he had his mountain bike parked on campus that he was going to ride home. So then came the awkward "doorstep" scene, except it wasn't on the doorstep, but in the middle of a parking lot full of other cars and people. I told him thanks again, that I'd had a good time, enjoyed the opera, etc. etc. etc., and I unlocked the car (definitely no fiddling with the keys) and opened the door. But he still just kept standing there. So I reiterated my words, and then actually got in the car, but he STILL kept standing there. I didn't know what else I could politely do, so I just said (yet again) thank you and good-bye, and closed the door and put the keys in the ignition. And finally, FINALLY, he waved, and turned around and started walking away. With a humongously ginormous sigh of relief, I hustled out of the parking lot, figuring that if I had been exposed to even an ounce more awkwardness, I probably would have drowned in it. Lucky for me, soon after that date, I left for Prague, so I only had to go through the awkward seeing-your-date-at-work thing a couple times.
And that is my awkward date story of the year. And probably for the rest of my dating career. And then some.
*name has been changed for somewhat obvious reasons