I met a man that worked at a restaurant by my apartment in Queens. I had noticed him for a while, and we began the very coy game of smiling and waving at each other as I passed his storefront. It was a quick service Mediterranean restaurant, I enjoyed a few of their dishes so I stopped in once in a while. One Friday night, I went in and it was just him and me inside of the store. He finally spoke to me, and I noticed immediately that he had a thick accent. He was quiet, and had a shy smile; but he was cute, and seemed sweet. We had a little back and forth and he told me that he assumed that I would be going out and painting the town red on a Friday night. He was quite surprised when I admitted that I had no plans. He gave me his number and we talked about going out the next day.
As fate would have it, the next day I came down with a little stomach bug and we had to postpone. But we did eventually go on a date. It was a day date the following Saturday (the day after the date I had in my last blog post). He had to work at 4pm, so we met around noon and grabbed lunch before a movie. At lunch, I had to order for him, he paid for everything, don’t get me wrong, but because of his language barrier, he was extremely quiet or shy. I don’t think he could read the menu very well, he ended up ordering a tuna fish sandwich. I don’t know if he ordered it because he really wanted tuna or if he knew that was a universal thing that he could eat. I felt bad.
During the meal we joked and laughed and had a decent time. He opened up a lot more one on one, and that was something I noticed afterward when I spent a little bit more time with him, when there are multiple people around him, he clams up, but one on one, he’s funny, charming, and sweet. It was a pretty standard, awkward first date. The conversation flowed but we it was that introductory type of conversation.
Afterward, we went to the movies and saw Inferno. I’m a big fan of Tom Hanks, but I hadn’t seen the second film in this trilogy nor had I read the books. I don’t think he even knew what it was. He chose our seats in almost the last row of the theater. I rolled my eyes assuming he was going to try to make a move. Boy, was I wrong. We watched the movie in uncomfortable tension. He put the arm down between us, so I thought, “Okay, I guess that he doesn’t want to try anything.” He sat so stiffly that I felt like he was possibly hurting himself from the strain of keeping himself so still. I was trying to really engage in the film, but I felt bad for my date. He was so nervous. At one point a couple behind us actually did start going at it. He and I laughed nervously, and the couple finally decided not to have sex in the theater and left.
The film had a lot of subtitles and foreign languages, as Tom Hanks’ character travels around eastern Europe. My date speaks multiple languages, he is Algerian and he grew up in Paris. The first thing he tells me as we leave the theater is that he did not really understand the film, but that he could understand the languages spoken every time subtitles were on screen. He teased me for having to read the English translation. I was impressed with this news. He never touched me. Didn’t take my hand or link arms or anything. That threw me off. He had to go to work and I was going into Manhattan, so he walked me to the train, and I leaned in to kiss him, but he made no move, so I kissed his cheek and thanked him for my meal and the movie. He thanked me too and said he would see me later. That was that.
Since his restaurant was about a block from my house, I had to see him almost every day on my walk home. His texts were always short and sporadic. But he continued to smile or wave every time I passed, I sometimes hung around the restaurant to chat with him, but he never seemed like he wanted to go out again. One night, it was very late and we were texting and he told me that if I said the word, he’d come straight over to my house. It was about 2:30 in the morning. I had to work the next day and my roommates were all asleep, so I told him I hated to say no, but I couldn’t. I wonder if that night is the reason we never went out again. I wonder if he believed me to be a flake.
We discussed that we liked each other multiple times, but he never made a move. The last time I spoke to him was Valentine’s Day, I reached out to say hi, and told him he should come see my new apartment. He seemed interested- and then ghosted on me again.
In the end, I think we were too different, and perhaps we weren’t looking for the same things. I hear people say you should date outside of your circle, but I think that if you go too far out of your circle, the unfamiliar territory turns into incompatibility.
(The stories are more R-rated after this, I just had to get these two out of the way).