Date vs. Not a Date (part I)

Not a date was a couple of nights ago. Date was tonight.

Not a date started Monday night when Chris and I got in the car after dinner and I suggested we could do something else. Chris looked at the clock, and as it wasn’t even eight p.m., agreed it was still early. But he was exhausted and would pass. How about tomorrow night? he suggested.

Tuesday night, as I set off for my one hour of work, I called him during my ten block walk of a commute. I told him the bad news, that I had found out we had missed one of the more impressive rides at California Adventure, and we therefore needed to go back. We missed the one that would have us fly over the landscapes of California. It was in a building that we never went into. We had even gotten handstamps when we left, on the off chance we changed our minds about leaving. He asked was mine still visible, as his wasn’t. I looked, and mine was gone too. Damn! No free re-entry for us.

I told him the real reason I called was to see if he wanted to go out, like he had rainchecked the previous night. Sure, was the reply. Once he found out I was in my neighborhood, he suggested the Edison. No, not an option on a Tuesday night. They aren’t open. I knew this already. They are not open Sunday through Tuesday or some such. How they manage to stay in business, other than to create such demand for the nights they are open, is all I can figure. I suggested he do research while I worked, and I would call when I was done, while thinking about where too.

Yes, while tutoring, I think about places to go drinking afterwards. Then again, that is no different than when I held a corporate cube job, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. Especially when tutoring at night, the beginning of my social life!

When I was done, having not thought about it at all, I called and found out that Chris was already on his way to downtown, and that he would just meet me at Bar 107, where we had been before. He was maybe ten minutes out. I was about ten minutes from my car, not my preferred method of arriving in downtown for drinks. But when I got downtown, parking was plentiful, and the bar was empty! There was the bartender and two other patrons, whom the bartender told me were his boys. And no Chris.

I also found out there is an actual happy hour. The reason I am always confused about what I will be charged. Rarely, I make it for the $5 drinks of happy hour. 3 to 8 pm, M-F. Who knew? Obviously not me. Tonight was chili night. But it was not vegetarian, so I passed. But Chris enjoyed it.

We drank. We compared how our photos had turned out from California Adventure, and we both agreed our photos had come out surprisingly well. We continued the conspiracy theory talk of months ago, and finally I heard the end of the reasoning. Ahh. Somehow it did not surprise me. But it did depress me. He could tell I was a bit overwhelmed, and at times he would stop, wait to hear if I would ask the next obvious question before continuing. He said he had this conversation with other people, and they were not always open to hearing how not in the interest of people our own government may be. I stuck with it. But at some point, we did start talking about road trips, since I wanted to determine how serious he had been about wanting to do one together. It finally came out. He wanted to see the Redwoods. Ahh. Finally, a destination! I excused myself.

I walked outside, to my car parked directly oppposite, and grabbed a U.S. road atlas and brought it back inside. Of course I keep it in my car. One never knows when you may find yourself suddenly on your way to some other part of the nation, and you may need a map.

We showed one another where we previously lived, where we had grown up, how close it was to what. And then we looked at California. I pointed to the places California Adventure was evoking. Look at how close Monterey and Santa Cruz were together! We traced Highway 1, and I asked had he been to Hearst Castle in San Simeon? The answer was no. The road trip was beginning to shape up. Here was a brewery, I pointed to Hopland, here’s another in Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Fort Bragg…. and wineries too. Places I had seen but hadn’t stopped, because who would drive my car if I stopped for drinks?

I had stopped drinking at some point, although he was offering to buy me more drinks. I was fiddling with my keys, and he asked if I needed to leave. I stopped and realized I did, only because the music was so loud now, I couldn’t hear myself think. We were nearly shouting at one another, and our heads were close together. He agreed, and we left. We decided to stop at the wine bar the next block up, as I had shown him the menu the last time we had been downtown. It being such a short walk, he hadn’t finished his cigarette by the time we were at the door. I asked how much longer he needed, he said about four minutes, and I took him on a stroll of some other parts of downtown. We  returned to the Must, and were greeted with a “The kitchen is closed, but we are still serving drinks, choose your own seat.” We sat at an enormous table by the window, because we could.

I ordered the cheapest red wine, and knew on sight I would never finish it. The glasses there are enormous. He ordered La Chouffe, a Belgian beer. I told him that they served tater tots here, with Velveeta and Ranch dressings. The Velveeta went best, I had decided. He looked at me and wondered why they couldn’t still serve tater tots. Not much kitchen work for that.

After finishing his 12 oz. beer, he asked for the menu to see what else to try. I told him to help himself to my wine, I wouldn’t be able to finish it. He tasted it. We both agreed it was very good, cheapness be damned. Even so, he decided to get his own glass, of another Italian red.

We both were having a good time. He spoke of his own home brewing and wine making experiences. He was now talking about whether or not he should move downtown, there was so much to do now, as compared to when he lived in Produce Row about ten years ago.

The server announced that they would be closing soon. We looked at our clocks and realized they must close at midnight.  He quickly quaffed his drink and reached over to drink more of mine.

“Hey!” I said. “Did I say you could have more of my drink?”

He looked perplexed. “Uh, yeah. You said you wouldn’t be able to finish yours and to help myself.”

“And then you ordered your own drink. Rights rescinded on mine. You made your choice.” Now, I know I am extremely weird about my personal space. Not having grown up in a family where people eat off other people’s plates, when I am with other people who think my food is their food, it drives me mad. Why have your own plate if you think someone else’s is yours? I have one friend in particular who never asks, and just grabs food off my plate. When I pay for it, I expect all of it to be mine, unless I offer it up. When I am done. The thing with that friend is she never asks. And often she starts doing it before she is even finished with her own food. I just want to be asked, so I can think about it and determine how hungry I really am.

“But, seeing as you just paid the bill for both of us, I suppose this drink really is yours anyway, so help yourself.” I had offered to pay for mine, but he didn’t have change to break my bill, and since it was only $5, he just decided to pay for both of us.

The other thing in this case is I am well used to someone eating off my plate, if I am in an intimate relationship with them. Seeing as we have now spent many hours together, several days, and there has been no closer resolution as to what our status is, I have decided we obviously must just be friends. Even when talking about the road trip, and mentioning I am used to just sleeping in my car, and there is just barely enough room for two people to curl up on the back seat together, or we could stay in motels, he gave me no indication as to what his actual preference would be.

Mentally, I throw my hands up in frustration. Shouldn’t these things be obvious, if there is mutual interest? How many people offer to go on days long road trips with someone of the opposite sex if there isn’t some interest? But there have been no further attempts to touch me, not in any intimate sort of way. And certainly no kissing. Or hugs. Or anything. Just a lot of time spent together.

Because that was how I perceived his drinking my wine, as a moment of intimacy. If we aren’t to be intimate in any physical way, then he has no right to any other sort of motions that could be interpreted as intimacy, like sharing food or drink from the same glass or plate. I’m sure that sounds bizarre, but that’s how I felt about it. No can do. I don’t want to be confused on the issue. I know full well he has no idea I am thinking this, am drawing this line. But drawing this line I am, for my own sanity. Friends. Fine, I can do friends. Respect my boundaries.

We left, my glass still with a little wine left in it.

I was feeling responsible for him, as he had drunk far more than I, and he was in no shape to drive home, yet. I told him that. He didn’t disagree, and we began to stroll. He was happy to wander through downtown. “Fuck yeah,” were his exact words. At one point, we were strolling through skid row. There were clusters of people, and at one point a woman disengaged herself from a knot, and came over, offering us something. Something to do with flying. We politely declined.

As we walked away, Chris said, “Now, what could she possibly be offering, me out with my girlfriend? She couldn’t have been propositioning me, could she have been? Or do you think it was drugs?”

“I’m pretty sure it was drugs.”

“Well, what kind? Don’t you want to know what she was offering? Maybe it was something really good!” I knew he was joking, but I restrained him anyway as he began to wander back in her direction. I distracted him by showing him a dive bar right there, and he wanted to go take a look.

I was about to take him for another wander in a different direction, when he recognized we were on the corner where both our cars were parked. He was definitely better, but still, I didn’t think he should be driving yet. We said goodnight and went our separate directions. The bar was now definitely full of people, with them spilling out onto the street, the blaring music filling the air.

Did he say girlfriend, in reference to myself? But he was just addressing the dealer’s perspective, right? It didn’t mean anything, right? I could drive myself crazy with these thoughts of what does he think, or I could let it play out, or I could ask. I think the middle choice. If I get too frustrated I will just ask.

I sent him a list of places as website links I thought would be interesting on the road trip and called him today to see what he thought. He mentioned he thought a camper van would be great. I said, you do the research, find out if we can get one. He laughed. We came up with some dates that work for both of us. Apparently I have the more restrictive schedule. We agreed a week and a half sounds ideal for a vacation. Is it still a vacation if you have nothing to vacate from? I mentioned I have resources to book reservations various places, but need to have specific dates. We talked of taking Highway 1 up and the 101 back down. I mentioned I have camping gear, so we had plenty of sleeping options.

And…. that’s it. I will do nothing further about this road trip until some action is taken on his part. It may or may not happen. I don’t really care. It could be lots of fun, as we do seem to enjoy one another’s company, but I don’t want to do all the planning by myself. We would need to get clear on the sleeping arrangements, whose car to take, how much money to spend each day, etc. Lots to be decided, discussed, planned. Not time consuming, as all of it can be decided quite quickly. But sharing things with a friend is different than sharing things with a boyfriend. They just are. And knowing which one we might be, would be extremely helpful.

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