It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I was trying to go on a first date. It would have helped things significantly if Mr. Charming and I hadn't had to keep canceling on one another. But let me rewind for you.
The last you had heard, Mr. Charming had reached out to me on Facebook. We chatted for a couple of hours, and it ended with him asking if I was free to "go get a drink or three" sometime in the next week. I told him my next night off was Wednesday.
To which he replied he would get back to me.
I blinked, confused. Had I already broken some unspoken rules of flirtation by saying Wednesday? Should I have said Thursday? He asked me out. Was he already trying to back out of it? This is how insecure I am, folks.
I remained confused and insecure for the next 36 hours, until Wednesday afternoon, when I still hadn't heard from him, and all of this shit went down. (Summary: I assumed I was being given the brush-off, my mother reached Mrs. Bennett levels of crazy about how I'm driving men away with my written-down opinions, and I got upset.) So then, having semi-tearfully gotten all of my anger out on a blank page, I plopped down in a chair to binge-watch Daredevil on Netflix, already having made new plans to go out with my friend Alice. And I definitely was not planning to check in at the bar on Facebook and post lots of photos of the two of us out having a great time.
Because that would be immature.
And then my phone buzzed. And I looked down and damn it all it was Mr. Charming and I had every intention of telling him to kiss my ass because you do not wait until the afternoon of your alleged date night to actually confirm said date. Except I didn't, because as it turned out, he was on reserve and Crew Scheduling (C.S.) had just called to send him out on a trip and I felt incredibly stupid.
For those non-crew members reading this, yes, Mr. Charming is a pilot, and as you know, I am a Flight Attendant. "Reserve" is a type of schedule that means you are on call for the company. You have actual days off, and you have reserve days during which C.S. basically owns your ass and you can't be more than two hours away from the airport at any given moment, and yes, this is a completely reasonable explanation for not being able to confirm plans.
Now, it would have helped if Mr. Charming had clarified that he was on reserve Wednesday. But in his defense, he had definitely told me he was on a reserve schedule for the month, and he may have assumed I had connected the dots. Which I obviously had not.
So although frustrating and disappointing, this was also completely understandable and forgivable to me. We talked a bit more and I mentioned the fact that my schedule had changed and I was going to be home tomorrow night after all. I was not fishing, I promise. I just mentioned something about possibly going out for St. Paddy's since I had been away during the big city celebration the previous weekend.
Naturally, he said to let him know if I was still out when he got back from his trip, which would have been great, if I didn't have to be up at 3:30 the following morning. I ended up realizing how late it would be by the time he and I actually met up and sent him a message Thursday morning to back out on him (and explain why). He was completely understanding.
So, frustrating though all of this was, there was also this weird realization that here was someone who understood. This guy gets what my job is like. He understands early mornings and being on reserve and generally having trouble making plans. This is someone I would never have to apologize to. Not that I should ever have to apologize to a date about my work life, but…let's just say I've been in that position. A lot. Mr. Manipulation in particular was notorious for guilting me about my job.
But finally, finally, a few days later, we managed to peg down an evening when we were both free. And although I did have another early morning the next day, he suggested happy hour, which was perfectly fine with me.
So I went through my usual pre-first-date panic. Although I was strangely looking forward to this one and didn't have to go down the hall to have one of my roommates talk me out of talking myself out of it. I left the apartment feeling nervous but oddly hopeful. Then the weirdest thing happened. Completely bizarre, almost can't explain it, just plain abnormal.
I had a good time.
Not just a good time. As far as first dates go? I had a great time. Me! He kept me laughing most of the night. We didn't run out of things to talk about. He seemed to be having a good time, too, and was using a lot of that infamous "we" talk. "We should go to a Cubs game." "We should check out x bar, you'd love it there." etc.
Eventually, after being talked into a third round, I finally glanced at my watch and had to call it a night or risk not being remotely functional at work the next morning. I was sorry to end it. Normally I am counting the minutes until I can politely excuse myself from a date.
He paid for the food and drinks without flinching, barely giving me a chance to offer to split. He walked me to the nearest train station. At some point he popped a mint, which I only know because he kissed me goodnight and it was minty-fresh. (I'm pretty sure I still had beer breath by the way. This guy is good, I tell you.) And I believe he offered to pay for my train ride home. I can't be sure because I was a little bit hyper-focused on his minty-fresh mouth. I was also considering the fact that normally I do not like to kiss on a first date, but at the time I was feeling very pro-first-date-kissing and deciding how best to get more of that minty action.
He asked me to let him know when I made it home safely, which I did. Then he told me to let him know how my trip was going over the next couple of days, and I fell asleep with a pathetically sappy smile on my face.
Which was all exquisitely delightful until I had to sit around waiting to see if he would ask me out for a second date. I had almost forgotten how miserable this part of dating is.