The Chili’s Guy

After moving to a new area, I was finally ready to meet someone new.  I came across a profile that piqued my interest and swiped right.  He stated he played hockey (and had several pictures of him playing hockey), he was 6’0″ tall, had a quirky quip, and shared we had some of the same general interests.  I figured, “Why not?”

I anticipated Chili’s Guy and I weren’t going to quite match after he revealed he just rolled out of bed at 11 am on a Saturday whereas I being a morning person was up, in and out of the gym, and showered before 8 am.  He also said he was a huge movie buff.  Refer to my blog entry on The Struggling Actor Guy to see where I stand there.

After texting for a bit, we agreed to meet.  We determined we both worked in the same general area so we decided to meet after work.  I suggested one of the local breweries in the area.

He texted, “As long as they have good food.”  Hmmm.  So many questions.  Does he not drink?  Does he care if I do?  Are we just getting an appetizer?  Or a full meal?  Food on a first date brings up too many questions.  There is no polite way to leave in the middle of a meal so I know we’re going to be stuck together at least for an hour.

He then suggested we go “someplace nice.”

The day before the date he texted, “Was wondering if you’d be ok with Chili’s tomorrow.  None of the breweries have great food choices.”

So when I think “someplace nice”, I envision tablecloths, linen napkins, and maybe even dim lighting.  I love trying out new places, finding a new dish in a hole in the wall venue, and genuinely exploring new local venues versus the tried and true chain restaurants such as Chili’s.  In looking at the local brewery menus, they had amazing options with all sorts of novel and trendy foods to try… but I digress.  I sighed and responded “Sure, I’ll meet you there.”

Upon entering the restaurant, I meet Chili’s Guy who is sitting in the waiting area.  As he stands up, I immediately say, “Nice to meet you” and stick out my hand.  He was mid-way into going in for a hug and being punctured in the stomach by my waiting hand before getting the hint and accepting the handshake.

Oh, and he was clearly not 6’0″.  Maybe with his hockey skates on he could aspire to gain those extra inches.  Why do guys lie about their height?  At 5’9″, I’m grateful I decided to wear flats as we were the same height.  He was dressed casually with jeans and a tee.  His shirt?  A T-shirt from a summer blockbuster movie.

I’m hoping we’re there for a drink and an appetizer, but I go along with it when he opted for a table.  We amicably chatted about work and the weather as we followed the host.  The conversation politely continued as the host seated us at a table and set down the menus and paper napkin-wrapped utensils.

Then a funny thing happened.  As soon as the menus hit the table, he literally stopped mid-sentence and communication came to a screeching halt.  He abruptly dove into the menu and quickly flipped back and forth between the pages eyeing the options like he was rapidly searching for a missing clue in the text of the menu.  Taking his cue, I adopted the silence and reviewed the menu.  The silence continued for what seemed like forever.  It was probably a good 45 seconds to a minute without any communication, eye contact, or acknowledgement that I was sitting across from him.

I finally couldn’t stand the silence and eager to say anything, I asked, “So… do you know what you’re going to order?”

He looked up and replied, “Definitely a steak.  I’m seeing if I want anything else though.”

Another thing about me – I don’t eat cow.  I “made a friend” with a cow once, and I just can’t do it without seeing her big brown eyes staring at me.  I don’t pass my food decisions on others, but since this blog is about my perspective on this date, this little bit of background will help you understand my perception for the remainder of this post.    

The server came by and offered to take our drink order.  Since nothing is as I expected so far, and I’m beginning to believe we aren’t going to be ordering cold beers, I deflected to let him order a beverage first.  He ordered a soda.  Tapping myself on the back for predicting this correctly, I went with an iced tea.

He went ahead and ordered his long anticipated steak, medium rare but mostly rare, along with the sides and so many modifications the server had to request he slow down a minute in order to input all of it into his order-taking tablet.  The server looked to me, and to his relief, I ordered a salad with no modifications.

After the server departed, Chili’s Guy explained why he ordered his salad without tomatoes (because he doesn’t like tomatoes, but loves ketchup) and without onions (because he hates onions, but will eat them if they are cooked in a soup).  He launched into a monologue where he explained he doesn’t like too much flavor in food and that he is a picky eater and that his dad is a great cook, but he doesn’t eat what his dad makes because it has too much seasoning.  This went on for awhile as he continued to list a myriad of foods that he does eat, doesn’t eat, and where the exceptions lie.  I participated in this less than enlightening “conversation” with a sprinkling of nods, “ohs”, and “mmm-hmmms.”

When he took a sip of his soda, I decided to dive in and change the subject to something a bit more interesting, “So you play hockey?  How long have you been playing?”

This began the second monologue, starting with how he played baseball as a child, how he wouldn’t coach like his coach did when he played baseball, how he started playing hockey, how much hockey equipment costs, how he goes about not paying full price for anything, and where he shops to get equipment, the fight between the two teams the other day he wasn’t there, the history between a couple of the local players, and well, you get the picture.

Sometime during this monologue, the entrees arrived.  As he continued talking, he cut into his steak and continued to cut it into a myriad of small pieces as if he was preparing it for an imaginary toddler sitting next to him.  He was cutting with such force that the knife was continually scraping and screeching against plate and the table was shaking back and forth.  There seemed to be one particular piece of cartilage that he was putting extra effort in in order to saw through it.  Instead of cutting around the cartilage, he burrowed his brow and pressed harder.  The chalk board scratching screech of the knife against the plate continued and my iced tea was now sloshing in its plastic mug.  All the while, he continuesd talking, ignoring the fact that I’m looking at this situation with a mix of horror and amusement.

I interrupted his monologue and innocently asked, “Uhmm… is the steak okay?”

He replied, “Well, this knife isn’t very sharp, but I’ll get it.”

I suggested, “Perhaps cut around the cartilage?”

“No, I’ll get it.”  He launched right back into the monologue and the table continued to reverberate back and forth with the sawing motion of his knife scraping against the plate.  I took a sip of my iced tea, worried it’d spill out if I left it unattended.

The server came by and he ordered additional blue cheese dressing for his salad.  He proceeded to pour the containers (yes, multiple containers) of dressing on his salad until it is blue cheese dressing soup with some lettuce sprinkled in it.  He dipped his broccoli in the blood from his steak in between bites of the sawed up carcass and just kept going with his one man show, talking about things tangentially aligned with hockey, as he chewed his dinner.

At some point, the second monologue winded down, so I asked another question, “So what do you do?”  And so began the third act with yet another monologue of his recent change in jobs, what they served for lunch at his last job, how much he earned for his hourly rate (yes, you read that right), that he was excited because he’ll probably get another $0.25/hour by the end of the year, the discount he gets at his current job and that’s why he won’t pay full price for a car repair that needs to get done, what the guy next to him at work does in his spare time, etc.  The answer was so comprehensive I can literally tell you what time he takes his lunch break and the name of his boss.

As this third monologue began to wind down, something surprising happened… he asked me a question!  Forty-five minutes into this and he finally inquired about me!

“What do you do?”, he asked.  Now, I disclose the fact that I’m an attorney on my dating profile.  He should know this, but I indulge him anyways and share a little about my career.

His response?  “That’s cool”.  The server came by to clear the table.

As the plates are cleared, he somehow decided that was all he needed to know about me and that I needed an encore performance.  He launched into his love for movies, the number of movies he owns, how he has them organized, and then proceeded to show me pictures of his movie collection on a bookshelf.  Some people show pictures of their pets, some show pictures of their kids or nieces or nephews, but no, I go on the date with the guy that shows a picture of his DVDs lined up on a bookshelf.  He looks to me for a response to his picture.  How do I respond?  “Oh, that’s a lot of DVDs.”  I don’t know what to say.

I’ve decided I’ve had enough of this one-man show and offer to split the check.  Without hesitation, he says sure, grabs the pay device off the center of the table and splits the check, assigning each of us our own meals and beverages.  He has clearly done this before.

We walk towards the exit of the restaurant where he promptly announces that he has to pee, not “use the men’s room” or “use the restroom”, just that he “has to pee”.  Without acknowledging what he said, I responded with a “It was nice meeting you too” and wished him luck on his hockey game that evening.  He walked briskly toward the restrooms and I charged out to my car, aiming to escape the parking lot before he exited the restaurant.

He texted later that night saying it was great meeting me and that they had won their hockey game.  Good for him.





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