Tonight was my first date in almost a year.
Yes, a year.
My girlfriend, Debbie, had set me up with one of her co-workers, Derek. We were going to some new restaurant in downtown Toronto, Lavender, supposedly a rapper owns it. hopefully, the food is better than his rhymes. Seeing I hadn’t been out in a damned year, I decided to make myself look like something. I put on my favourite little black dress and some sexy heels.
Let’s hope this isn’t a waste of makeup.
“OK, earrings in. Purse packed. Makeup done. I look good, don’t I, Barkleigh?”
Barkleigh’s my dog.
“OK, boy, I’ll see you in a bit.”
I was meeting Derek for seven at the restaurant. I put turned on Heart & Soul on my satellite radio and headed downtown. I walked through the restaurant doors at six-fifty-eight.
You will learn that I’m always on time.
“Hi, has Derek Robinson arrived?” I asked the hostess.
“No, he hasn’t arrived as yet, but I can seat you – or you can wait at the bar?”
“I’ll wait at the table.”
“Right this way.”
She led me through the swanky restaurant to a table by a waterfall. I was impressed. I got settled and sipped my water. I caught the eye of a couple of men waiting by the bar. They smiled. I smiled back warily. I checked my watch, seven minutes after seven. OK, he’s a little late – nothing big. I sipped my water and waited.
Seven-fifteen and no Derek. I was starting to get annoyed. I don’t buy into CPT – coloured people’s time. If you’re supposed to be somewhere at seven, be there at seven. I nibbled on a piece of potato bread and hoped the men at the bar weren’t trying to gather up courage to walk over here. I checked my watch again. I could be finishing that Kamara Jones article, watching Netflix, painting my toenails–“Nia? I’m Derek. Sorry I’m late.”
Before me stood five feet 10 inches of chocolate. Picture Idris Elba – no accent.
“Hi Derek.” I shook his hand. He sat across from me. “So, what kept you?”
“You know, umm… stuff. But I’m here now.” He smiled, showing off a row of perfect teeth. I’m here now? Like I should be pleased that he found the time to arrive at our pre-scheduled date.
OK, Nia, don’t write him off before you get to know him.
“Nia, you are working that dress.”
“Thank you,” I said. “So, Debbie told me that you’re a graphic designer.”
“Yep, I am. And you’re a writer?”
“Yes, I am.” The waiter came by and took our drink orders.
“So, what do you write about?” A man who’s interested in what I do? Score. “Anything erotic?”
Huhn? Where did that come from? “Excuse me?” I know this man isn’t getting silly with me. Debbie told me this guy was churchgoing, decent, hardworking and childless: a reason for me to leave my house on a Friday night.
“My bad. I’m just trying to break the ice. What kind of writing?” He smiled. I smiled back.
Just give him a chance.
“I’m a freelance writer. I write about a lot – music, pop culture, relationships, whatever I find interestimg and that I can sell.e.”
“That’s cool. My sister is studying journalism at Ryerson.”
“For real? That’s great. I went to Concordia—“
“That’s in Montreal, right?”
“Yeah, I grew up in Montreal.”
“I’ve been a few times – lots of cool places to hang out.”
“I didn’t really enjoy it when I was living there – struggling student and all – but I like visiting.”
“I love to travel,” he said. “Montreal was one of the first places I visited when I could finally afford to go on vacation.”
“Well, that’s something that we have in common; I love to travel. I’m trying to plan a trip to Barbados this winter – I have some family there.”
“You’re joking, right? I have family there!”
Well, it seems like things were going really well. We had so much in common – traveling, family connections, even a journalism connection. We continued talking until the waiter came back to take our orders. We ordered some appetizers and continued talking.
“I’m really enjoying your company,” Derek said, smiling. Sigh. Could it be so easy? I was hearing horror stories about getting back into the dating game, but this has been pretty easy. I’ll have to treat Debbie to a coffee on me.
“I’m enjoying your company too.” I bit into a shrinp. Yum.
He smiled and I felt a slight change in his demeanor. I mean, of course after analyzing the situation, I could feel a change in his attitude. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. He sat back in his chair and said, “I’m glad Debbie hooked us up. So, I live two blocks away. Let’s get dinner to go–“
Wait, he only lives two blocks away and he was late? But that’s beside the point – why exactly does he want to leave?
“Derek, why would you want to leave? We’re having a good time right here.”
“We could have a better time at my place. Come on, I’m feeling you and I know you’re feeling me.”
Whoa! Did I miss something? Did I accidentally do something that he could interpret as me wanting to go home with him? The dress is hot, but not that hot.
“Let’s stay here. The restaurant’s gorgeous—“
“You’re gorgeous.” He grabbed my hand and licked his lips. “Baby, let’s not play games, OK? I’m too old for that.”
OK, how did it go from ‘I’m having a great time’ to ‘this man must be out of his mind’?
“Derek, I’m not interested in going to your place.”
“See, y’ou’re playing games. Don’t act like you don’t want me,” he said.
Bish, what? Sir, I can’t.
I started to giggle, and then I realized he was serious. This man seriously thought that this…sad, sad attempt to guilt me into sleeping with him would work.
Why, I groaned to myself. Why couldn’t we just have a nice night out?
I shook my head. Maybe it worked before on some poor vulnerable woman, but it sure as hell ain’t working on me. I’d gone through enough with men; I didn’t need to subject myself to Derek Robinson, as fine as he may be.
I rested my head on my hands and looked at this wasteman. “Derek, what would make you think that I would want more than dinner?”
“Look, we’re both adults. Why are you acting like a little girl? I think you’re hot. You think I’m hot. Let’s get outta here,” he said. He folded his arms and licked his lips. Ewww. “I’m not into playing games – unless it’s in the bedroom.”
And he’s corny.
I checked my watch, eight o’clock. I could swing by my favourite Greek restaurant and get home by nine.
“Goodnight Derek.” I picked up my purse and walked out.
“Hey! Who do you think is paying for your half?” he yelled behind me.
Ugh. Tonight’s an ice cream night. Let’s hope the grocery store’s still open.
By nine-fifteen, was home and the only man I wanted to spend any time with was waiting at the front door.
“I’m back already, B.,” Barkleigh looked at me and barked. I changed my clothes, took him for a quick walk, came back home and called Debbie.
“Debbie, I thought you said he was decent.”
“Girl, what are you doing at home? I thought I wouldn’t hear from you until tomorrow.”
“Your boy is a jackass.”
“Jackass? Isn’t that harsh?”
“No! First, he showed up late. Then, he wanted us to take dinner to go and go back to his place—“
“To do what?”
“What do you think?” Good grief. I love Debbie, but she can be slow.
“Unfortunately, I’m not lying. Why would you take me to one of the most popular restaurants in Toronto to take dinner to go? Do you think this is Wendy’s?”
“He is a jackass!” she said.
“Then, when I left his lecherous backside in the restaurant, he wanted to know,” I inhaled, “who was going to pay for my half of the bill.”
I heard the sharp intake of breath.
“He didn’t!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, he did.” I ate another mouthful of ice cream. “Debbie, I’m done. I’m just going to be single. I’m going to stop looking and just chill.”
“And he seemed so nice,” Debbie said sadly.