I sat at the bar all dressed up– newly-glossed lips and everything– reading the obituary section. I had tried looking casual sitting there nursing my Club Soda, but it wasn’t working so I grabbed a section of the paper that someone left at the end of the bar. Just my luck, it was the fucking obituaries.
I read with great interest about the people who’d recently passed on.
Tilly Mendelson– beloved wife and mother, survived by her husband John and her nine children.
Jesus Christ, was she Mormon? Nine children? She has more offspring than I have friends and family combined.
My astonishment at Tilly’s fecundity notwithstanding, I decided that reading the obits was a bad way to pass the time before my date showed up.
Ten minutes ticked by. The restaurant was filling in behind me with hungry patrons eager to get the Tuesday night prix fixe special. I could smell the steak frites at the table behind me. I was the only one at the bar, and I felt sorry for the bored-looking bartender so I asked for more Club Soda with extra cherries.
Fuck it, I might as well talk to the bartender.
“I’m waiting for a blind date,” I offered.
“How long are you gonna wait?” He asked, while his hands were busy doing bartender-y things like wiping glasses with a white rag and arranging olives, cherries, and lime wedges in that plastic container that looked like adjacent coffins without lids.
“I’ve probably already waited too long. If this was a college literature class where the professor was late, I’d already be half way across the quad by now.”
Laughing, my new BF (bartender friend) suggested, “Never, ever wait more than 10 minutes.” He was so resolute. He should know; he must see dating dramas play out all the time. “Tell your friend who set you up to try harder next time,” he added amicably.
Then I laughed, since my friend Annie set me up on this blind date. I didn’t tell my BF that I was laughing because Annie is severely visually impaired, so this date was actually a double-blind.
BF excused himself to wait on a couple who arrived a few stools down from me. I read a few more obituaries– a state judge, a hospice worker, and a retired architect– all dearly departed and leaving behind loved ones whose names were crammed into the text columns of the newspaper.
At 22 minutes after 7 PM, I knew my blind date wasn’t going to show. I left a $10.00 tip along with the dog-eared copy of the newspaper on the bar. I walked home slowly lamenting that this double-blind experiment had failed. I prayed not to turn the evening into a parade of self-pitying thoughts, all variations on the theme “I am alone, I will always be alone, and I will die alone.”
I caught a glimpse of myself in window of Anthropologie– my reflection brought me back to the present. I smiled at myself, the way I imagined that Tilly Mendelson’s husband and children smiled at her. What’s so different about me? Who says I won’t end up just like Tilly– a big family and a long life?
And it came over me– a sense that it was all going to be OK for me. Someday. I was wandering in a romantic no-fly zone right then, but I could imagine with perfect clarity: one day I would pass a window just like this with someone’s hand in mine.
Not tonight, but someday.
Someday, I would be part of a couple, a family, a little world of people. I didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes, and I wasn’t going to have to wait forever.