Singer Peggy Lee originally sang sultrily about “Fever” and then Madonna added another layer of nuance some years later. And for those who doubt spring fever, I suggest that you mosey on down to the local watering hole and set up shop. Order your wine, whiskey or beer, and then just watch what happens. You might just see something like this.
She arrived first and secured a place at the far end of the bar — the far, far end of the bar. Just because people meet in a public place doesn’t mean that they want all the public to know about it.
“May I get you something?” the bartender asked.
“I’m waiting for someone,” she replied.
Even these days, some women don’t feel comfortable sitting at a bar by themselves. Often, they offer explanations that no one asked for.
“My husband is parking the car,” and “My friends are meeting me here” are not actual answers to “Would you like something?” An attorney might say those were “nonresponsive to the question.” But bars aren’t courtrooms. Courting rooms, perhaps, but that is completely different.
Ten minutes later and she was looking around anxiously. Spring might have sprung but even spring has a time limit.
A shot of tequila was ordered and then drunk quickly.
“Can you take this away?’” she asked, wiping her mouth and pointing at the empty glass she had just set down. When I first started bartending, tequila shots always came with a lime wedge and saltshaker. These days, few want the former and no one ever wants the latter. Change is as constant as it is inevitable.
She produced a credit card and put it in the little jar that held the check. She did it with the card facing her — a common mistake — because if you, the customer, can see it, then that means that the bartender cannot.
“Can you close this out?” she asked, holding up the little jar, its chit still facing away from the bartender.
After we ran the card, she ripped up her copy into tiny confetti-like shreds, which is not necessary these days because there is no identifying information left on those receipts. All the good stuff is stored electronically. She then pushed the little pile of confetti toward the bartender.
“And can you clean this up?”
Ten minutes, another shot, another credit card transaction and another pile of confetti later, her date finally arrived.
Oddly, no apology was forthcoming. Usually first dates — and this had all the earmarks of a first date — are when people are on their best behavior. But the internet has changed first dates. These days first dates are often first meetings, and that is a whole new wrinkle.
He sat there as they went through all the first date behaviors that happen when two people have never met in person. An awkward handshake, followed by an awkward hug with an even more awkward kiss on the cheek. The two stared forward as they spoke, her fixing her hair constantly and he with his hands stuffed firmly into his jacket pockets.
It wasn’t romantic. In fact, it was awkward. And it went on for a long time. It was almost as if they were in a bar by default, not by design.
The bartender roamed back in forth in front of them. There was talk of likes and dislikes, of mothers and fathers, of favorite places and favorite foods. There was a touch of the forearm and a whisking away of hair from a face. There were two margaritas for him and a half a glass of rosé for her.
“I only usually have one glass of wine on a date,” she lied at one point. If he could smell the tequila, he didn’t say anything.
As first dates go, it was a nine out of 10 for awkwardness. But they kept at it. Determined is the word I might use. Where there is a will, there is a way.
“I’m sorry,” he said finally. “I know this is awkward, but I don’t usually date single women.”
The bartender dropped his shaker at that. And there was an awkward moment where he tried his best to clean up espresso martini from all the surfaces involved. While he did so, the couple tried to pretend that the last comment hadn’t caused that.
Leaving me with these thoughts
• You can find almost anything you want on the internet — or anybody you want.
• Sometimes people do things in public because they can’t do them at home.
• “Everyone gets everything he wants,” says Capt. Willard ominously at the beginning of the 1979 film “Apocalypse Now.”
• The success rate in pretending that you didn’t hear something often depends on what was said.
• Three feet away is 3 feet away. People should remember that.