There’s awkward, and then there is just plain weird

It wasn’t the pitter-patter of rain that drove the couple inside. It was more of a full on bum rush. Be careful what you wish for, they say, and sometimes they are right.

Manipulating coats, umbrellas, and facemasks took the couple some time. And judging by their difficulties, it was obvious to anyone watching that they were newly together. It was a strangely awkward dance. He tried to help, a tap here, a tug there, a pull there, his hands spent more time hovering than helping. It was clearly their first time, and first times are often more gangling than they are pretty.

He reached for her shoulder as she attempted to disentangle her arm from the heavy coat and ironically flimsy shirt underneath.

There was an untimely touch in the wrong spot, before a heartfelt apology was offered that was rejected with a giggle.

“Don’t be silly,” she said.

Which certainly bode well for the rest of his evening.

The couple weren’t kids, but first or second dates often reduce all of us to adolescents, regardless of our ages. The fact that they were both attractive was not lost on anyone, and particularly, not on one man watching the baseball game at the bar.

While it might be nice for others to admire your date (regardless of sex), to openly stare is quite another thing. It’s certainly not the gentlemanly thing to do.

But the guy at the bar was no gentleman. He had already had an incredibly awkward exchange with the bartender. Weirdness is so often palpable. When one’s job depends on sizing people up in 30 seconds as to: state of inebriation, difficulty level, and profitability, one gets pretty good at sensing these things. 

“I like all wine,” he had said immediately before rejecting six different suggestions.

“Can you recommend any others?”

After six strikes (enough to retire one-third of an inning) I think the bartender had enough, because he set down the wine menu and walked away.

The man in the couple sat with his back to the other man, and not coincidently, to the game. Consciously or unconsciously, it was a statement: nothing was more important than her.

Two glasses of wine later the loner at the bar injected himself into their date for the first time. It’s common for people to strike up conversations with others at bars. But most people realize when others aren’t interested and back off.

The loner was not most people.

“You’re sure pretty,” he said. Which was very awkward for both of them. The added and somewhat disingenuous “both of you” didn’t really help. But when you are already navigating the difficult waters of first courtship, outliers, be they accessories (like jackets and umbrellas) or an accessory (humans), present all kinds of problems.

“Thank you, I guess” she said.

The man with her didn’t really notice, until the loner reached out with his hand. She responded more out of habit than desire.

“I’m Russ,” he said holding her hand for far too long.

She didn’t really know what to do. And neither did her date. Defending someone’s honor is a calculated risk these days. Can you? Should you? Do they want you to? What is appropriate acceptable behavior has become muddied over the years. Traditional gender roles (not to mention traditional genders) are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, they often rear their antiqued heads in the present.

The loner kept interrupting their conversation. Both were too new at this to want to appear rude, and the loner sensed this. He became more brazen.

The twosome managed to have a good time, nonetheless. Funny how things that can ruin a ninth or tenth date seem relatively harmless on a first or second.

When she excused herself to visit the restroom, the loner followed her. The man at the bar was too busy answering urgent texts that he had ignored for the last 30 minutes to notice.

The loner caught up to her by the front desk extending his hand to shake again. When she instinctively reacted, he tried to pull her in for a kiss.

“What are you doing?” she said, pushing him away roughly.

When both returned to their seats, she didn’t say anything to her date, and neither did the loner.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-Dueling was once considered the “gentlemanly” way of handling disputes of character.

– Sociopaths are often defined as people manifesting extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior, as well as a lack of conscience.

-I don’t advocate for violence, but sometimes some people come awfully close to deserving a punch in the face.

-In the bar business we call sociopaths “weirdos,” just saying.