One night last fall, a gal pal and I visited a new local restaurant/watering hole where the menu is interesting and the beer list ripe with microbrews and craft beers. The place was packed with the novelty of newness and a long wait for tables, so we sat at the bar. Note: saying “we sat at the bar” may be too casual. After scoping out the bar, I strategically chose seats next to an attractive guy with a goatee who I spotted when we first entered the place. While sitting opposite him would have allowed for full admiration of his handsomeness, being next to him meant we might actually talk.
Many wines give me stuffy sinuses and a rash, so I ordered a dark beer from the 70-something beers on the menu. As my friend and I talked, I stole glances over her shoulder at Mr. Handsome, who was drinking a beer alone and not wearing a wedding ring. It seemed we were seated beside an available, age-appropriate man, and I was trying to figure out how to start a conversation, because partway into my pint of dark beer deliciousness, I feared he would not speak first. Feeling ready to consider dating again after a three year boycott, I thought the universe might have put us in the same restaurant for a reason. Of course, sometimes I over-think things.
Thanks to my inescapable dorkiness, varying levels of social anxiety, and the ever present voice of my grandmother telling me at least ten million billion times that “NICE ladies don’t chase boys,” with “chase” including looking at, telephoning, and/or initiating a conversation with an unknown male, breezy conversation openers do not come easily.
Yes, as a woman in America in the 21st century I am free to (and probably should) shed definitions and social restrictions rooted in the Middle Ages and advocated by my grandmother in the last century, but I like some of them. I like it when the man makes the first move and opens conversations -- and opens doors -- and takes the initiative to plan dates. Call me old fashioned. Based on this, you may just call me old.
One time I started a conversation with a man in the lodge of the ski resort where we both worked and we dated for several months afterward. It offended me when he told a friend we met when I “hit on him.” Evidently, his definition of “hit on” was what I considered innocent co-worker conversation, specifically, “Aren’t you _____ from_____? You were a year ahead of me in high school.” If that’s hitting on a guy, it’s easier than I thought.
But back to the guy at the bar. He and I were doing the thing where you notice another person and then avert your eyes when they look at you. Or maybe it’s just me who does it, and he and most of the world’s population beyond high school age are more socially adept at meeting people. Scientific confirmation of this notion would not surprise me.
When Goatee Guy asked for a menu, it felt like a natural opportunity for conversation. I offered what felt like a bold, unsolicited review of our meals. A discussion about my beer followed, with Goatee Guy commenting he “didn’t know that women drink beer,” and acting like this was a revelation akin to the discovery of gold or uranium or chocolate. Seriously?
This guy must not get out much. He was impressed that my beer was as dark as night. I feared if I told him my name graces a plaque in a restaurant in Clarksville, TN for completing not just one, but TWO beer tours comprised of 110 beers each, he might think I was going overboard trying to impress him or worse, that I was lying.
It has me thinking that maybe my dark beer fondness could help me meet a man with a similar interest? In my imagination, I date someone who likes brewery tours and beer festivals and occasionally debating the finer points of Beer A versus Beer B. It’s what I was hoping the time I attended a brewery tour alone, but the only guy who was there without a date told me he didn’t drink, and didn’t seem at all interested in me.
As for Goatee Guy ... we went out a few times -- apple picking, a spontaneous lunch, a couple dinners. I may have accidentally offended him on what turned out to be our last meet-up. While he was using the restroom I paid the check, and he acted really weird when I told him. Maybe it’s the contradiction of my being old fashioned in some things, but not all.