A huge bouquet of flowers arrived at the little Montecito boutique I worked in at the time. When I say huge, I mean huge. It took up half the counter space and the three-foot-tall wooden frame (yes, frame) encompassing the vase was later used as a garden accessory. The card read, “I came in Tuesday and your smile brightened up my day. Would you consider a date with me? No pressure if not. A beautiful girl deserves beautiful flowers anyway,” along with his name and phone number.
Pleasantly surprised and flattered by the gesture, I took the bush home, sat it on my dinning room table, and thought about whether I wanted to go through with this. What’s the harm? I thought. My heart was on the mend and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to get back in the game. And if the date was a total loss, I’d just say I had a deadline and leave.
I called that evening to thank him for the flowers and confirm the date. He phoned back a few minutes after we hung up to say reservations at Toma had been made for the next day. My expectations where none – I barely remembered who he was, so, in a way, I had just set myself up on a blind date.
The big day came, and I wore a conservative, long-sleeve paisley dress with cowboy boots, the best I-may-look-sweet-but-don’t-mess-with-me combo I could find. I made my way to Toma and was the first to arrive. Not a good sign. The host directed me to a table for two by the front window. About 10 minutes later, he walks in. He looked to be in his early 50s, about five-six, slightly bald, and a little sweaty. This should be fun.
“Sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find a parking spot.”
“No problem,” I said. “It’s a lovely view.”
“I’m glad you like it. I called ahead to make sure this table was saved for us. Would you like some wine? I don’t drink, but please get what you want.”
I order a split of sauvignon blanc and buckled up for my first official date out of the gates. From then on, he took the mic. I might have spoken 20 words the entire time. This is how our conversation went:
“Do you surf?”
“Yes, kind of.”
“I surf, too. I learned from my dad when I was twelve and we’d go out every weekend. Man, this one time this wave took me all the way from Ledbetter to East Beach! Well, it felt like it anyway. Yeah, I love surfing. It’s awesome. What else to do you like to do?”
“I love to hike.”
“Oh, me too. There’s this great hike by my house. It’s a huge private property in the hills. I just rented it out to Lamborghini for an event. It was so nice. Lots of money people there…”
He rambled on about how he works as a contractor for the city and never married because works too hard, like, real hard (his words), and barely has time to go out. My mind began to wander, and I realized he needed a therapist or a cheerleader, not a date. He didn’t want to learn about me, he needed someone to tell him he’s doing a great job and pat him on the back. So I gave in; it was the least I could do for the poor dude, and knocked back my split of wine, nodding politely, and throwing out the occasional “wow” and “that’s interesting” when I thought necessary.
The waiter came round and asked if we’d like dessert. I politely interrupted and said I had a deadline, then thanked him for dinner before slipping out. The next day, he sent a bundle of freshly cut sage stems from his garden. I must have mentioned how much I loved it at some point. I thanked him in a text and wished him well.
At times when I burn those little fragrant leaves, I send friendly vibes his way. I hope he’s found what he’s looking for – a good life coach or a woman with the attention span of a saint.