I met him the week before Easter. Nothing to do with the matchmaking service. I was on my way to an underground supper club in Oakland close to the Berkeley border. We met at the door, walking in at the same time. After we registered, he asked, “And where will you be sitting?”
“I think I’ll sit at the big table right in the middle.”
“Well I will sit right next to you, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.”
Dan was tall, broad-shouldered–a good looking guy. He was charming. Friendly, too, with a wide-grinned smile; he made an effort to chat freely with everyone.
“So, Dan, are you from around here?” I was expecting the typical transplant response. Instead, I was shocked.
“I actually grew up in Alameda. Then I went to Berkeley. Now I live in Castro Valley.”
“Shit! I grew up in Alameda, went to Berkeley, now I live in San Francisco. That’s crazy. Where’d you go to high school?”
“I went to St. Joe’s.”
We continued to trade stories throughout the night, warmed up by the common background. I was more than delighted to hand over my business card when he asked for my contact information at the end of the night.
He emailed the next day. He called to wish me a Happy Easter. We settled on a dinner date. He had even kindly suggested that I pick a nice place I had been wanting to try.
I picked Cafe Majestic which had gotten rave reviews for its very young chef and the innovative cuisine. Always the gentleman, Dan was waiting for me ahead of time. He complimented me, gave me a hug, said he was really glad to see me again.
The dinner was perfect. The date was perfect. Until the bill came.
The waitress set the bill on the table. As soon as she did that, Dan took out his wallet, procured three twenty dollar bills, then fanned them out on the clean white linen table. He didn’t even look at the bill. He didn’t touch it. Simply fanned out his money.
I was so shocked. More shocked with this than when I met him initially and learned that we grew up in the same place and went to the same college. I didn’t know what to do. Stunned, I muttered, “Ummmm, uhhh, ummm.”
He looked at me and asked, “do you not take cash?”
I repeated, “Ummmm, uhhh, ummm. I guess I’ll put the rest on my credit card.” I looked at the bill which came out to $100. With tip, the bill was $120.
I was so confused. I’ve gone on a lot of dates but never had I felt so degraded by the ultimate financing situation. I was infuriated, mentally replaying how he had eaten more (definitely more than half), and ordered two more expensive glasses of wine while I stuck to cheaper glasses.
He walked me to my car. I was distant and waved good-bye when he said we should do that again.
As I slammed the car door, I seethed, “What the fuck was that shit? Does he think I’m rich or something? Maybe he didn’t like me. Figured he’d simply split the bill. But what civilized man is not going to even look at the bill. How embarrassing! Even the waitress looked at me with pity. Ugh!” I raced home, ready to sleep it off.
The next morning when I got to work, there was an email from Dan. Something to the sort that he had a great time. Would love to go out again for dinner, the theater, anything else I was interested in.
“Why?” I continued to rage. “So we can split everything again?”
He continued to email, asking me to accompany him to Passover Seder, to come to Santa Cruz and visit his family (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews). I was perplexed. Is he simply cheap? I continued to stew. I didn’t respond.
After the second non-response, he sent a third email. “Not sure what’s going on. I sincerely hope that you’re ok. Haven’t heard from you and getting concerned. If you can let me know you’re alright. If you don’t want to see me again, that’s fine, but would hope that you would let me know that as well.”
I caved. I pulled the ‘been really busy at work’ excuse. He deserves another chance. One more. We’ll see what happens with the bill.