Tonight, after seeing a film at our local glbt film fest, Carlos, Marshall, Dennis and I ended up at La Madeleine.
While there, Carlos made mention that he'd been stood up there once, which reminded me that I had been stood up there too.
I'd also had a first date there with a very boring guy from Mississippi the day after Princess Diana had died, but that's not the story I'm telling here.
No, thankfully, what I remember most about this particular location is that it's the site of what I think was the best first date of my life.
This was back in the days before the internet. I'd posted a very brief ad in a local paper (there was a word limit if I remember correctly). The experience was not very successful, needless to say.
One day, however, I got a voice message from someone named "Danny" (not one of my top five attractive names by the way, or anyone's I dare say), but I could tell by the accent that he was not from here, a definite plus.
We chatted briefly (not much on the phone thankfully) and agreed to meet there, since he worked nearby. I knew next to nothing about him. Remember, this was back in the dark ages of blind dating, before photos. I was well aware of what might show up.
Instead, I got there to find a tall, preppy looking guy
(and I immediately regretted wearing white jeans, of all ungodly things. What was I thinking?!)
What made this date all too unique was that he asked me questions. He was genuinely interested in me. I didn't quite know how to respond to this sort of thing. Didn't dating mean listening to someone pontificate about himself for two painful hours and then reject you? That had pretty much been my experience with dating up to that point.
I was just on the cusp of grad school at the time, and he had just finished.
He was teaching at a local university, he mentioned, hence the choice of venue.
He brushed off my curiousity about his writing and asked me about my own writing.
I was too abashed to even be able to discuss it. I didn't even have the words, but he insisted. He wanted to hear some of my work, the best of which I could do was recite some amateurish poems to him (in white jeans no less! I could die now, just thinking about it)
He offered me his agent's number. He bought me some iced tea.
I learned that he had moved down here to write. He and his boyfriend were, at that moment, "on a break."
(From what I've heard...from multiple sources...moving down here inevitably brings upon violent break-ups and uncontrolable alcohol and/or drug abuse to most couples. Completely understandable, really.)
Two things stand out about the date. One was something very subtle. Somewhere during the date, he gently touched my hair. Some sort of paper had flown into it as I was rambling on idiotically, and he reached up and gently picked it out, smiling at me. It was such a sweet gesture that I was completely infatuated.
The other was his main piece of advice to me: "Oh, you really need to move out of this city. You need to move to New York."
Anyway, we stayed there for a good while, all the while he asked questions about me, sincere intelligent questions. You can't imagine how disconcerting this was, like seeing a UFO land outside the cafe or something.
It's an event that in all my dating experience has not been replicated, sadly.
He never did tell me that he had been published. He never bragged about anything at all. Of course, being the neurotic stalker I am, the exact day after meeting him I rushed off to the library, looked up his name and was astonished to find his novel in our own little library!
(He later published another more successful novel, a copy of which I had and lost in the flood.)
Of course, this story ends sadly (as do all my dating stories). A while after we had met, I called him up for another date. He told me regretfully, that he had reconciled with his ex. They moved away soon after. I never did see him again.
The saddest part of this story isn't so much that he "got away" (I'm sure that part was pretty inevitable), but that this dating story is the best I've got.
Or maybe it's the white jeans that are the saddest part.