Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Post: Muted Lights, Small City

*Disclaimer: I don't love the way that Andy talks about women all the time. But he assures me this is how things work in: "The Real World." Besides, some male perspective on my undeniably neurotic, female blog is always welcome and I encourage any male writer, philosopher, romantic or despicable pick-up artist to send me whatever material that inspiration might strike. @andywhitedc is a DC resident, author and social media manager. His first guest post depicting yet another bad date and entitled "The Layers" can be found here. Comments are always appreciated and thanks to Andy for guest posting. Also, "plonk" means wine (in case you don't speak Brit). Enjoy.*

MUTED LIGHTS, SMALL CITY
By Andy White

Bar Dupont. You've been here before, and you will again, but tonight the ever hopefuls are crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder. The conversation is loud, the lights low, and your pupils widen as they grasp for focus. You scan the room and don't see her, or what her photos have told you to expect. Your pretty good bar karma doesn't let you down and you slip into a table in the corner just as a guy is leaving and wait.

And wait. A text rolls in letting you know she's going to be late and you roll with it. What else could you do? You get a glass of the cheap plonk marked up to $11 and note its tepid consistency at warmed over room temperature as you roll it around with your tongue.

When she finally does surface you're happy. She looks like her photos and she seems to be in shape. You don't know her, and she doesn't know you, but she's not thick around the gills so you're happy. She takes about 15 minutes to look through the menu before asking the waiter for a recommendation. You drive the conversation as she does so and almost immediately it feels like an effort. She smiles - occasionally - and laughs - occasionally - but it's like operating a fork lift truck: lots of heavy lifting and manual labor to-boot. But still, she's there and you're there and her lips sometimes curl upwards at the right times. It's enough.

The music is muted and muddied and you can't make it out but it apparently it's too loud for her. She becomes silent and sullen and remarks that she is not usually like this but the plasma television above her head is on and it's annoying her peripheral. You look up at the TV and back down to her again. The set pulsates its tri-color mix with abandon, yet your eyes fail to feel assailed. You feign sympathy as she tries to send her drink back, the waiter's recommendation having failed to make its mark.

This time the silence lingers. The double-wammy of the medium to soft strains of background jazz and the television on mute sends her into a stunned silence. You let the thread drop and see how long it drags in the mud. After 30 seconds the uncomfortable silence transcends all expectation and you realize there's nothing more to be said. You flinch first and signal for the bill. She gives a half nod, as though conserving all energy and body movement for the 4 block walk home. The bill and its arrival isn't exactly expedient which works in your favor as her mouth opens and words tumble out. You fail to grab them and their import becomes null and void, but yet you wonder what if you had.

Bar Dupont. You've been outside before and you will again, but for now you wait and you smile, for there is nothing else you can do.

The following day you get a text from her thanking you for the date but explaining that she is not ready to date. You smile to yourself, for there is nothing else you can do.

16 comments:

Toddy said...

A'right, since Andy did me the honor of writing me yet another guest blog chronicling his war wounds in the trenches of dating, I feel as though I am obliged to comment and comment first. What I want to know is how much of this date not going well i.e the obviously not flowing conversation was just that you guys were strangers, meeting "blindly" and also possibly that you guys just weren't a good fit or match? Versus was SHE herself a really bad date and not carrying her end of the bargain? What I'm trying to get at was DID SHE DO SOMETHING WRONG to be a bad date and make it a bad date? You refer to her as "silent" and "sullen" and taking a long time to order and complaining about the television. But you also say she smiled and laughed. What could she have done better? Was it her? Or was this date doomed from the start? I'd love to know more. -T.

Andy said...

Lots of details were left out. Let's just say I think she probably popped prozac just to stay a coherent member of society.

Laura said...

I didn't realize how lovely Bar Dupont is. I will have to visit it straightaway.

It doesn't sound to me like she did anything particularly "wrong," more like there was just no chemistry?

Toddy said...

Laura - thank you for your comment. I believe you are a first time commenter? And have your own blog too which I'll have to check out. YES - that is a picture of Bar Dupont and YES - it is a pretty lovely atmosphere. Since its also a HOTEL bar, you get an interesting mix of hotel guests (corporate and not) and locals always willing to strike up a conversation with one another at the bar when sitting alone. They have EXCELLENT and interesting signature cocktail choices, albeit yes, somewhat expensive, and I have gone there many times with a girl friend or two when we were feeling like a special hh treat was in order. As for the date, I too get the sense that there just was no chemistry and that if there had been those other little things would NOT have irked Andy. But I can see how from his point of view that he probably WANTED it to go so well so he saw how it DIDNT go well and saw those flaws AMPLIFIED. I'm still wishing you would give us MORE DETAILS!!!-T.

bupkiss said...

Well, she was late, but that can be forgivable. The sending back the wine thing seems like not a good move. I don't think I would send something back on a 1st date unless it was REALLY bad.

I get the sense from this post and this guy's last that dating in DC has left him a little bitter. Bad dates are part of the process! (Hopefully you at least get a good story out of it, though). And it only takes one that's, you know, not bad.

Toddy said...

oooooooooh bupkiss VERY good point about the wine. I totally forgot about the wine. I NEVER EVER EVER send anything back. Like ever. My mom will, but only if its something thats supposed to be HOT and it is super cold. My father (who is really educated/snobby about wine) says you can only SEND wine back if it has gone BAD, not if you don't like it because everyone's taste is subjective and it was your choice. Just because YOU picked wrong doesn't mean there is ANYTHING wrong with it. Also, disagree a bit with not a big deal sending back. Maybe sending something back ISN'T that big of a deal but it could say A LOT about who a person is. Fussy, negative, self-serving, entitled, hard-to-please, difficult, high-maintenance etc. On the other hand, the wine could've tasted like gasoline and it could've been perfectly appropriate. As to dating bitterness, in Andy's defense - who wouldn't be bitter? girl or guy - date after date after date after wretched date. The girl painstakingly spending time, money and effort on clothes, makeup, shoes, hair, skin. The guy carefully planning and scheduling dates and paying and paying and paying yet again. Only for one big rude or lying or unpleasant or unfortunate or just poorly matched date after another after another. But you ARE RIGHT that POSITIVITY and ATTITUDE goes a long way and trying to have fun with the process and lower expectations. ALSO - knowing - it only takes one. And that that one - is worth the bad dates for! Cheers, T.

Andy said...

Laura, I can't believe you have never been to Bar Dupont. I wonder what sort of hovels you have been favouring in its stead?!?

Secondly, I am more about style and less about substance (in my writing, natch), so many details have been left out or glossed over. One of these were the 20 minutes we spent arguing with the waiter and then the manager to get a refund for the drink she didn't care for.

Toddy said...

So what you are saying is...we must read between your lovely stylized lines???? ...gotcha...:-)

DefJamDemocrat said...

Andy, I hope that all of us women aren't as bad as the ones you've dated - running out on the check, insisting on sending things back left and right after being late - it's horrible. Best of luck to you, but try to be optimistic. It's so much more attractive than pessimism!

And great choice - that place looks awesome. I'm another DCer who hasn't been.

Anonymous said...

Deadly dull date and miserable experience but at least she was thin. Sorry but I'd pick chubby with a side of fun over this painful dalliance.

Toddy said...

Is Anonymous really you Andy writing in hiding or by accident not identified or is whoever wrote that your long-lost twin because thats hysterical. I know I shouldn't laugh but it really is. I'm chubby with a side of fun myself so I guess I should be offended, but at least I'm not boring.

And who are all you locals who haven't been to Bar Dupont? Get on it. T.

Toddy said...

My bad! I've discovered the anonymous poster is NOT Andy. Which makes sense because Andy is definitely not a chubby chaser... :-)

C_Girl said...

Embarrassing me in front of the server or bartender by acting like a prat is a dealbreaker for me. I had a date once with a totally brilliant guy. Before we met I was totally intimidated by his career and education. Then, he harangued the waiter at Granville Moore's endlessly about how superior wine is to beer, and all of the many, many things he didn't like about the beer the waiter recommended...it's a reliable sign of being a crappy person, I think, how one acts in the bar.

Toddy said...

CGirl-I 100% agree. I will not and can not date someone who is ever rude to anyone in any kind of service industry. Servers, Flight Attendants, Cleaners, Maintenance, Store Clerks etc. etc. etc. How people TREAT PEOPLE, especially the people THEY DONT KNOW is a tell tale sign of what kind of person they are and how they feel about themselves in relation to the rest of the world. ENTITLEMENT to me is worse than most things. Especially those of us fortunate enough to be fortunate in life, need to be aware that its just that, good fortune (and possibly hard work) but has nothing to do with the fact that we are superior to anyone else in anyway, never were, never will be. T.

andy said...

C_Girl, there was one upside to her performance: the manager waived the check entirely!

Sarah said...

I love how the writer makes a bad date sound almost poetic. That takes talent. Mine just sound like car accidents.