Generally, when a guy has nothing written on his online dating profile other than his name and age, I typically swipe on past him and keep going. For whatever reason, on this guy I decided to swipe right and explore the mystery. Maybe it was a case of late night swiping or swiping after a glass of wine. Either way, he was easy on the eyes.
As we initially starting texting back and forth, I informed him he was being a little mysterious with a blank profile. His response, “That just leaves more to the imagination.” Wise guy.
After a couple exchanges we finally agreed to meet up. He thought a “slice and some drinks” would afford us a great opportunity to talk and get to know one another.
Now I’ve never had pizza on a first date – I mean that is like letting someone know from day one that yes, I can devour pizza. It is more of a ‘I know you well enough to let you see that I can eat’ date. Nevertheless, I gave him points for originality and went with it.
We agreed to meet about halfway between our towns, which normally is about a 25 minute drive to the midpoint; however, since we were meeting on a Friday evening after work at 7, I gave myself a little over an hour to drive there.
It wasn’t enough.
For whatever reason, traffic was especially brutal. By about a quarter til 7 I am texting him to say that I am running late and gave him the estimated time that GPS said I would be there. As the time kept pushing back, I would text him again, apologizing for my tardiness and asking for forgiveness. The catch? I didn’t receive any return texts. None.
I finally arrive about 25 minutes late, find parking, and race on over to the pizza joint where he is casually waiting outside. To me, this is odd. Why? 1. Because it is one of the coldest nights we have had this winter. 2. Because I am embarrassingly late.
I again apologized for my tardiness and explained I tried texting him. He then said, “You did? I guess I wasn’t checking my phone.” Uhhmm… if you are waiting on someone and they don’t show, would you not check your phone? I was confused. In fact, I was so confused that I asked him how long he would have waited for me. He replied that he didn’t have anywhere else to be so didn’t mind waiting. He then said a phrase and looked at me with a smile. I didn’t quite catch, or understand, what he said and looked at him blankly.
Him: It’s from a movie.
That was the first red flag. A movie buff. That quotes lines from a myriad of movies that I have never seen. To give you an idea of how much I don’t want television/movies, I don’t actually own a television.
We got inside and after some prompting from me to ask the wait staff if we should seat ourselves, we were finally seated. Being at a pizza place and ordering a pizza to share presents a host of challenges for a first date. What type of pizza do you like? How much pizza do you want? My hopes for a “slice” were thrown out the window as they didn’t have slices. Since he wasn’t taking any initiative on this, I ventured out with the questions…
Me: What kind of pizza do you like?
Him: I like pineapple, olives, and pepperoni.
Me: Okay, I can do pineapple and olives, but perhaps only the pepperoni on half?
He looked at me, then asked, “You don’t eat meat?” as if it was the first time he had heard the concept (either that or it was a movie quote). The server came over at that time to get our drink order. Yes! I had an out to avoid explaining my food choice preferences and can order a beer and relax… or so I thought. He ordered a water. Water. He didn’t ask what beers they had on draft, or what wines they had; he ordered a water and then looked at me for my order. Keeping on par with my host, I went ahead and ordered an iced tea.
While waiting on our pineapple/olive/pepperoni pizza, he asks me a little more about myself and I share a little, but quickly realized I still don’t know too much about him.
Me: Enough about me. Tell me about yourself.
Him: I’m a mystery.
Me: Right… so that is why we are here to get to know each other a little more… maybe we can start with something easy? Tell me about your family.
He shares a little about mom and dad, and that he doesn’t talk to his siblings at all. I get him to share a little about his background (education, growing up, etc.). He inserts a couple movie quotes to which I continue to respond with blank stares. It goes on like this for about 15 minutes or so until the pizza arrives.
Me: So what do you do now?
Him: I’m a struggling actor.
Me, trying not to choke on my pizza: Oh, what do you mean by that?
He proceeds to tell me how he is working as an actor in Los Angeles, trying to make it. He doesn’t need any actor training, because ‘how hard is it to read a line, right?’ Movie quote by him, blank stare from me. He mentions he was in a scene with a famous actress where he had some lines in a recent movie, but his scene was cut. But he still got paid for his lines. He likes to play evil parts because it is opposite of who he is. Movie quote from him, blank stare from me. He is excited for an audition the next day and has an extra role on Sunday where he will get paid $150 so that is a good paying job.
At some point, he begins showing me scars on his body from surgeries that he has had over his lifetime. To give you perspective, there is still pizza (and water) on the table and he is not simply showing me scars. He lifts up his shirt in the middle of the restaurant with diners seated at tables around us and he proceeds to show the scar down the middle of his chest. He takes off his jacket and pulls up his sleeve to reveal the marks of another surgery. The diners next to us are now watching as this guy practically undresses to reveal all of his surgical scars on his upper body.
At this point, somewhere among the movie quotes and the scars, his story begins to develop. After battling with cancer for 8 years, he finally overcame it after receiving a transplant (which his siblings would not donate to him and therefore why he dislikes his siblings). He decided he was not happy in what he was doing in life and always wanted to pursue a career in acting. This life altering moment was the inspiration to drop everything, move to Los Angeles, and give it a go. It was actually a pretty inspirational story.
After the bill arrives, he pulls a wrinkled $20 bill out of his wallet to pay for the pizza. I don’t know what came over me, perhaps the fact that I billed out a couple thousand that day while he was excited to make $150/day, or the fact that he was a cancer survivor, but I asked him if he wanted me to pay for the pizza and he could pay for dessert. He agreed. Why I thought I would be interested in dessert – I have no idea.
We head across the street and proceed to order ice cream. Yes, ice cream, on the coldest night of the winter so far. There is an indoor bar area at the ice cream place. I head inside to grab a table, but he suggests we order from the traditional outside counter. In the cold.
We proceed to eat ice cream, in the cold, with a sprinkling of movie quotes.
Some kids run by. He states, “You probably want some of those.”
Me: I just want to be warm right now.
He laughs like I made a joke.
I throw away the second half of the ice cream and he is looking at me like I wasted an exorbitant amount of food. He slowly finishes his while I painfully shiver in the cold.
Him: Would you like to get a drink now?
Me: No, I’m too cold. I want to go home.
I’m starting to think he doesn’t understand when I tell him that I’m cold.
Him: A drink will warm you up. How about we get a drink first?
Me: I’m not going to drink and then drive. It would have been better to have a beer with dinner.
Him: Oh. (pause) Well, what would you like to do?
Me: I’m done for the night. I’m too cold. Where did you park?
Him: I didn’t.
Me: Okay, no need to be Mr. Mysterious anymore. What do you mean?
Him: I took the bus.
Me: Okay, where is the bus stop?
Him: It’s about a mile away.
Me: So you walked here in the cold?
Me: What time does the bus come?
Him: Not for another hour.
Me: Do you have a car?
Him: I did. But it broke down and I couldn’t afford to fix it.
I’m hoping this was a movie quote. No such luck. So even though we live in completely opposite directions, I offered to give him a ride home. (It was seriously cold.)
As I drive with the heat on full blast and the seat warmers on max to take this guy who fed me ice cream on a freezing night home, he tells me he is a minimalist and doesn’t need much. I’m thinking this is a conversation point.
Me: I agree with that lifestyle – I don’t like too much stuff either.
Him: Well, just don’t be surprised by where I live. I don’t have a lot of stuff and I don’t need a lot of space.
Okay, I get the hint. It’s a small home.
Me: It’s Southern California. Not everyone lives in a mansion with a lot of space. A home is a home, right?
As the drive continues, we continued to gab about nothing while I begin to thaw out and listen to his movie quotes and the directions to his home.
We pull up to a house. There is a RV parked in the backyard. He says he lives in the RV.
I don’t know how to respond, so I simply say, “Have a good night! Stay warm.”
He thanked me for the ride and hoped to chat with me again.
As if no good deed goes unpunished, I then drove back home through an hour and a half of construction on the freeway.