We're sitting in a booth and our thighs are nearly touching. I'm very, very aware of the nearlyness.
It's early days for us, but what I know of him, I like: the penchant for argyle, the passion for his work, the way his eyes linger over me...
But then it hits: a huge wave of insecurity washes over the already tipsy vessel we call the U.S.S Second Date. He thinks he's being polite, making casual conversation. He has no idea he's just entered my danger zone. I'm doing my best impression of a blandly smiling mannequin but on the inside the red lights are flashing, the captain is screaming Jump ship! and I'm frantically casting about for a lifeboat, an inflatable vest, a bloated corpse, anything.
He's just asked me about my gym habits. The stupid fucking gym. Possibly I walked right into this line of questioning having just been making fun of the yuppie zombie lululame-os in my yoga class, but no matter who's to blame (and I'm still favouring him for this one), there's no squirming my way out of the subject matter.
And why do I not want to talk about the gym?
It's not the particular shade of tomato that I turn upon exertion. It's not the mickey's worth of gin that I sweat out my pores. It's not the way spandex makes my ass look like it should be zoned for its own area code.
It's that I'm slow.
Now, I am prepared to let this be the one thing he's better at than I am. But I'm not just slower than him, slower than men. I'm also slower than all women, most toddlers, obese senior citizens, three-legged turtles, and 7 year old Heinz ketchup. I'm extraordinarily unimpressive.
And right now he's looking at me like I'm the bee's knees, like he can't believe how brilliant my non sequiturs are, like he can't get over how lucky he is to be paying for my chicken parmigiano.
Of course it's an illusion. I don't normally reapply my lipgloss 17 times an hour, and he doesn't normally reshave before dinner, and neither of us usually exist on diets consisting solely of breath mints, and yet here we are. I know it, he knows it, but we're both enjoying it nonetheless. The thing about dating is: if you like the illusion well enough, then you might take the time to peak behind the scenes and get a glimpse of the creepy little wizard who's been running the whole show.
And right now, with the candles flickering between us, and his thumb rubbing my palm, it's not time to pop the bubble. I don't need him to know the boobs-squashed-in-a-sports-bra side of me, the struggling-to-bench-press-25lbs-if-I'm-lucky side of me, the couldn't-run-faster-if-a-bear-was-chasing-me side of me.
So I distract him the only way I know how (while keeping my top on): I put my hand on his chest, and I lean in real close and I whisper You know what? You haven't kissed me yet today and though it's not true in the slightest, I know damn well he won't call me on it.
Pretty soon we're in the alleyway behind the restaurant with my back pressed against the gritty brick wall. It's raining out, but it's a surprisingly warm September rain, and the luscious drops that fall on my bare shoulders just make for a slicker sensation when he runs his hands up and down my arms. He tastes like wine and looks handsome in the moonlight.
Screw the gym: distraction is my new favourite sport.