museum and zoo dates

Museum and zoo dates are daunting; there’s too much to judge.  At the museum, if he’s too slow, or wants headphones, or even worse, wants to visit the ancient musical instrument room, I’m going to be annoyed before the date even begins.  The affected furled brow and nod, the sawhorse analysis stance: all signs point to no.   

But I like you, so now there’s pressure to be interesting.  I’ll put on my glasses.  I don’t care how it was made or its political implications, its breakthrough in a movement.  I just want to look at it and see if there’s a story, or better yet, maybe I just want to ignore it.  I can’t stand people who can’t ignore art.  They use maps and make double knots.  Relax.

My favorite painting in the MET is by Joan Mitchell; see, even the art I like sounds like chick rock.  Too many judgments.  I told you. 

Then there’s the pressure of the zoo because if you like the reptiles or birds and I like the monkeys and sea lions, I’m already thinking about destiny and how, sorry, bird man, you can’t be mine.

Good dates involve fondue or an acoustic guitar.  I might just fall in love.  It’s my weakness, like cleavage and thigh highs do it for men. 

Afternoon dates rival evenings.  They consist of walks.  In the fall, you’re outside the MET; the slanted glass wall is your backdrop.  It smells wet and of roasted nuts and hope; you hear things in the leaves.  You see leashes and couples and it has just rained so the bark is darker, and the leaves are glowing orange.  You’re in a movie outside yourself, and it’s hard to forget these moments—even how the sidewalk was that day—but you do.

Evenings should be jeans intimate.  Our conversation feels like we’re kids looking for insects under rocks, grass stained, then building a fort from sheets and blankets, using lamps as anchors.  Our conversations would feel like we’ve known each other since then. 

Definitely fondue, a fireplace, and jeans.  Mittens when we arrive, holding hands when we leave. But in the summer, white wine or red sangria somewhere sandy, where we can wear flip-flops and be exhausted and laugh and tell funny stories.  Then just stare. 

Raw bar.  Oysters and Riesling.  Piano music.  I wish Manhattan had real piano bars where people sing along and crumple dollar bills into cokctail napkins then throw them at the pianist, the song request scribbled on the napkin. 

Finger painting. 

Moroccan food, sitting Indian style on square pillows, in a private room incase we get sloppy and need to make out. 

A boat ride. 

A double-decker.  We’d be tourists in Manhattan, and take pictures and begin to speak with European accents because everyone on the bus does.  I would get an I LOVE NYC postcard and mail it to you.  We’d eat steak and drink wine, and I’d eat too much creamed spinach, but we’d listen to Sinatra, and then we’d dance, right there on the sidewalk, drunk with possibilities, and you’d lead, and dip me, and I’d remember our night as a standard.

We’d have one appetizer between the two of us at several restaurants we always wanted to try.  We’d restaurant hop our way through Manhattan, and I’d take matches from each place when you weren’t looking, and I’d remember everything.  You’d feed me French fries, and we’d eat mussels and drink too much wine, we’d have chocolate soufflé, and you’d let me eat the strawberry garnish. 

We’d walk to Brooklyn, and then eat pizza, maybe the ice cream.

You’d take me to see a band, and then we’d eat ribs and lick and smell our fingers all night.

You’d get me drunk and blast Karma Police, on repeat, until I came. 

I’d be in charge of always buying our ice cream, so if we broke up, Mr. Softee would make you cry, and the pangs of the song would kill your cravings.

You’d invite me to be your date for a work function.  And you’d be proud and suddenly a little more brilliant and quick.  Everyone would laugh a little more and pat your shoulder.  And when no one was looking, I’d wipe something from the corner of your mouth, staring up at you.  Then I’d mouth, “I love you sloppy.” but no sound would come out, just a smile.

We’d hold hands.

You’d teach me something new, and I’d think you’re brilliant. You’d become the seexy teacher who knows everything, as if he’s speaking with a British accent, and who is as captivating as a story.  And then we’d have seex, and I’d be powerful again.  You’d be back in a small wooden chair with a small desk, looking up at me now, in the same way, the way you look at me after reading my story, or my poem, or my mind.

We’d meet again, and this time you’d talk too much.  You’d say all the things you thought the first time we met, but you wouldn’t care because now you felt driven and passionate and more alive by saying the things you had meant to, or the things that were too forward or too scary or outrageous to say to a stranger, and when you’d leave, you’d hold my hand longer than you should, and I’d let you.

You’d know to help me with my coat, to stand when I excuse myself from the table, to walk near the curb, to go down the stairs first, to open doors… and I’d feel safe and climb on top of you and whisper in your ear, “thank you.”  And you’d think for dinner, and I’d think—for everything.

We’d order in and wear socks and watch movies, and you’d let me lay on you, and we’d eat grilled cheese, lots of triangles, and it would be rainy and gray, and you’d make old fashioned chocolate milk, with a thick layer in the bottom of your glass, and you’d hit me with a pillow when I’d silently fart.  And I’d bury my head into you, red and smiling.

You’d look at me and tell me I am beautiful as if it were the first time you’d ever said it.  You’d say it too often, though, because you’d be drunk.  You would tell me you want to rescue me, that what Gabe did to me was horrible and wrong, and that you’re not all like that.  But your girlfriend would be in your bed asleep as you said it to me.  And then I’d furl my eyebrows and survey the bar for Gabe. You’re a stranger; you can’t mean my Gabe. You’d say his name like you knew him, so now things become surreal, like seeing your doorman in a different neighborhood.  Then you’d throw in an “I know you’re sad” for good measure. " I want to make you smile, the way Linus makes you smile, that one’s my favorite," you’d say.  "I want to make you waffles with powdered sugar, then take you to the zoo."  But you don’t know how I worry about the zoo. 

Joan Mitchell Painting


  1. for the tall chick… there it is in black and white.

    "How to Make Stephanie Fall in Love with You"

    or maybe it's all used up now steph… no one can buy you mr. softee and impress you because its already got someone's name on it. no one can roll up your jeans in the rain cuz someone else already did it. i mean, what if i wrote the bitchy chick from miami a love note on the placemat from the place we went on our first date… and now i hate her. does it count? is it used up? can i do that again? or is it the serendipity and the uniqueness that makes those things so important. can you create those moments or do they just have to happen? everyone wants to be special.

  2. Oh my gawsh. Man, this entry came just as I met a new fantastic girl – and it was beautifully written to make me think about everything at once. Damn you and your writing skills.

  3. It all sounds absolutely wonderful.

    Who/what are the Karma Police? Or is that the town where Andy Griffith was the sheriff?

    But zoos are not happy places. The animals need to be free. (I know, I know, we're preserving the biodiversity of various endangered species …) Still.

    You're work is evocative and provocative all at once.

    Hag sameach.

  4. where are you? it's been too long. we just met and already i know you…

    …and miss you.

  5. for some reason, i dont think that "Mr Softee" would impress Steph. haha.

  6. Wow, that was amazing.
    It reminded me of dancing in the middle of the street, barefoot with the headlights glowing and knowing there could never be so perfect a moment.

    You truly are an amazing writer and I will be in line to buy your novel the day it comes out…

  7. The smell of honey roasted peanuts from a vendor in Boston Common in early winter. I find dancing in the first snowfall incredibly romantic. At the risk of sounding like a cheeseball latching on to your favorites, I share your romantic enthusiasm for most of the list. In museums, I get too close to the paintings to see the brushstrokes, and usually set off the proximity alarm. I spend as much time looking at the frame and the display as the painting. I nearly got thrown out of the Smithsonian because I was blowing on a Calder mobile to make it move. Hey Dumbass Security guard, It's a mobile, it's the intention of the artist that it move. I dig science museums.

  8. For some reason I feel like an intruder for commenting…
    There is something in the way you phrase thoughts, a ruffled story-line, that turns these everyday occurrences into timeless fairy-tales. Your honesty, open-mindedness and tendency to turn lyrical take my breath away.
    However, it was that first comment, by Michael I think, that practically reduced me into tears; there was so much bitterness in what he said, and it all sounded so true, that your post now looks like a sad love story. If all those perfect dates, those dreamy memories, failed like all the rest, how much of a chance do the rest stand?!
    On every classic memory you have, there's a name tag of someone who's now gone. And we all want to mean something, to leave a unique imprint, to be remembered.
    How many more original dates do you think you'll have? How many of them will try to impress you with something they've read about you? Won't you eventually feel worn out?
    I am intruding. Good luck to you and a happy upcoming new year.

  9. What's with the stupid spelling of SEX? What is this seex? Seexy? It's cloying and terrible. Ugh. You use enough profanity that you cannot spell that? Affected.


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