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“You write these signs, don’t you?” she asked me as I made yet another awful zoo-related pun. I don’t, actually, though I do feel like I’ve the skills to do it. But the National Zoo in DC was the second part of my date on Saturday and when rain was pouring down around us in New Orleans during the first part, I wasn’t sure we’d make it there.

Here’s where a TV show would flash: Four Days Earlier

This has nothing to do with Leverage, but they do the # Days Earlier thing all the time.
 

We hadn’t made solid plans, but there was a casual, “I’m going to be there on Tuesday night.” “Oh, well, I’m going to be there, too. It’ll be good to see you there!” sort of conversation beforehand, so I was planning to finish up work at a reasonable time and go out to meet up with her. But I was requested to go into Baltimore for meetings during the day. And then I got junk food while I was there. And then I felt useless by Tuesday night. Dammit, Baltimore!

I texted her with apologies that she wouldn’t see me after all, but followed up with a request to see her some other day while she was in town. As it turned out, she hadn’t been able to go out anyway, so it didn’t matter! She also told me the neighborhood where she was staying and that she’d have free time on Saturday.

I’d previously wondered on twitter whether it’d be reasonable to jump right to a brunch date for a first date and people seemed to think that was a fine idea. She was excited by the idea of brunch (a good sign) and then I asked whether she’d like more details or just to be surprised.

Look, most women like surprises, but I definitely know a few who want to be able to plan exactly what they wear and come up with escape routes and other contingencies. If I knew this woman better, I could have just guessed her preference, but I didn’t, so I asked. Turns out, she likes surprises. I left her with the advice that she should bring her camera and the date was made.

“The Southern Photographer” (SP) and I have known each other for a few years now, but since she lives so far away I normally only see her once or twice a year. The rest of the year, we stay in touch the modern way: mutual facebook stalking. When we have been around each other, it’s always been in big groups of friends. Now, I’m not opposed to asking out one person in the middle of a group, but I never quite got the vibe that it would go anywhere.

This year, she’s been having to budget tighter and it seemed I might not see her at all if her usual travel plans got canceled. In order to persuade her to keep the trip and also to get the ball rolling, I started telling her that I didn’t want her to skip her plans because I was intending to make out with her when I saw her next. Of course, there was the danger that this announcement could have been seen as a threat, but what the hell.

She flirted back. There was talk of making out and dating and orgasms. And then, she told me that she was going to be coming through DC this week. And then there was that Tuesday night and then here I was, needing to figure out where to take her for brunch.

SP was staying near Adams Morgan and I’m not too familiar with the brunch options over there. As I usually do when faced with questions about food, I turned to my friend, The Kitchen Wench. When she went back to grad school here in DC, she stopped updating her blog, but she’s still crazy knowledgeable about where and what to eat around town. When I told her about my search for a Brunch-First-Date in the area, she gave me a nice big list of options and I went internet hunting.

Here’s what I decided I’m looking for in a Brunch offering, for first dates: 1) a variety of interesting egg and not-egg options. You can get omelets and scrambled eggs anywhere, and waffles and pancakes and even french toast are pretty common fare. Even if that’s what my date chose, I wanted something unique. 2) Coziness, not romance. There’s a difference there, you know. Romantic is readily captured in all the cheesy movies, but cozy is a space where two people can be close and hear each other speak and might feel all alone, but without something in the setting that screams “this is a date place!” 3) Mimosas and other brunch drinks. Look, I might not partake myself, but I’m well aware that imbibing of alcohol is an important aspect of the brunch experience.

I chose Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe, particularly because of The Kitchen Wench’s note that seating at the front window makes for a particularly cute date. Also because of the beignets. As The Kitchen Wench pointed out to me, if she didn’t like beignets, then SP probably isn’t someone I’d want to date anyway. Accurate.

I’d seen rain in the forecast as a possibility, so I drove rather than taking the metro, and I went to pick her up from the corner she requested. On the way to brunch I asked if she’d ever been to New Orleans and she told me she had, but hadn’t explored it much. We got to 18th street, I parked easily and quickly, and we walked across to the café, which met with her approval.

I scanned around and saw a small table near the front of the restaurant that was free, but not the choice spot right at the open front window. Still, it was nice enough and we sat down to order. I immediately told SP that one of the surprises was the presence of beignets on the menu. And when I suggested we get an order of three to share, regardless of the rest of our choices, she seemed happy with the idea. Excellent!

Their menu has plenty of options, even for a vegetarian like me, and I made sure to let my date know that mimosas, bloody marys, and similar were available. She ordered the Eggs New Orleans: poached eggs on fried oyster, covered with crabmeat and topped with hollandaise sauce. I got the Bayou Croissant: scrambled farm fresh eggs, served on a butter croissant with pan fried ham, melted provolone and home fries, except I asked for it with no ham.

That basically made my choice an egg and cheese croissant, but that actually didn’t occur to me until later. I mostly got it for the name. Oh, and I also asked for those beignets and we both decided to stick with water. Hey, I offered alcohol!

In a stroke of good timing, just before our server came to ask us for our choices, the couple who were sitting at the front window got up and left. So as soon as we finished telling our waitress what we wanted, I asked if we could also grab the front table and it turned out that we could. Picture-perfect brunch setting: ACHIEVED.

During the rest of our stay at the cafe, we watched people and babies and puppies pass by while we had our delicious food. I pointed out some of the neat sights just across the street, particularly the Madame’s Organ mural and The Black Squirrel bar. We caught up on each others’ lives, made jokes and teased each other, and I found out what she’d been doing while staying in DC.

One of the things she’d done was to start exploring the Zoo, but she’d only had a short while in there. She was a bit sad about that since she hadn’t had the chance to explore a zoo in years. It’s a good thing that this was my second surprise: that we’d be going to the zoo next! That is, if it stopped raining. I did, by the way, have backup plans for if it didn’t stop raining — but the sun came out so I’ll keep those plans for another time.

We packed up and drove over to the Zoo, where I impressed her with my ability to parallel park in a tiny space on a hill, and explore we did. Now, as you may know, the Zoo in DC is a decent size. I’m not going to tell you everything we went to see, but we did explore a lot. She took plenty of photos with her very nice camera (um, her pseudonym is for obvious reasons) and I took plenty with my…phone.

Along the way, I kept firing up the date SONAR to see what I could get back. That’s when I do things like complimenting my date, teasing her in mildly sexual way, emphasizing jokes and conversation by placing a hand on her leg (when we’re sitting) or her arm. If I get a negative feedback, I immediately stop. If it’s positive, then I escalate a bit. With SP, I felt like she didn’t mind but that’s it. That could have meant she wasn’t interested after all, or it could have meant she was just not fond of public displays of affection.

Now, I’m not one for playing games or guessing at uncertain situations. So, somewhere between The Nut Seekers and the Beary Cute Andean bear cubs, I asked her if I was barking up the wrong tree by asking her on a date. She wasn’t really sure how to answer, so I suspected this wasn’t going to go any further. Still, just to clarify, I tried another phrasing of the question and asked if we were going to stay just friends or maybe turn more than friends. That one gave her the choice she was looking for and she went for just friends.

So then I turned and ran!

No, I didn’t do that. Geez! We kept exploring the rest of the zoo! Because I like the zoo and I like her and why not? If we’d cut short our visit, we never would have made it to the Kid’s Farm petting area wherein she spotted the sign that read, “Are Cows Tools?” And my answer was, “Only if they wear their collars popped up.” Obviously.

Plus, we stopped at the Dolci Gelati stand (wow, in the zoo? nice!) on our way out and got their flavor of the day, Pina Colada. She got hers straight and I got half that and half Mango sorbet. The Pina Colada was delicious and creamy and the Mango was fresh and flowery. I offered her a bit of the Mango and she agreed that it had that flowery taste that really makes the difference between good and mediocre. What? I like mango!

One thing that I didn’t bother asking, because it’s not that important, was “Why not?” We had spoken in no uncertain terms about dating, making out, and yes even orgasms before the date. I’d said explicitly that it was a Date when asking her, and she even commented to me how it was good that I did so that she was sure about it. Had I failed to measure up? Was I not as attractive in person? Was it because she was in such an uncertain place in her life?

Here’s why it doesn’t matter: Because I shouldn’t force it. If she started off wanting to kiss me and changed her mind mid-date, anything I did purposefully to try to change her mind would most likely just make her even more certain that nothing was going to happen. So, instead, I just teasingly warned her that I might still try to make out with her the next time I saw her because she’s so pretty. She didn’t tell me not to!

After I drove her home and we hugged good-bye and went our separate ways, I contacted her to ask if I could blog about the date. She responded, “I thought you did a pretty nice job on putting that date together, so you should get some internet credit.”  Well, thank you, SP. I hope the internet agrees with you!

* many photos are creative commons from flickr, click through to source.
* photo of Adams Morgan from wiki commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

About Paul Roth

A vegetarian, agnostic, lindy-hopping, dog-loving tv-watcher who likes to read his own words.
This entry was posted in All, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Beary Cute Date With Beignets

  1. pam says:

    haha YAY!! i love that these are basically your inner monologue with all your reactions to all your check points. ‘she ordered something. EXCELLENT.’ also, i died at your answer to whether cows are tools. i… died.

  2. j says:

    I wish that I could meet guys that would plan dates like that! I seem to end up with the ones that take no initiative at all and make me choose where to go. Needless to say I have not been dating much lately.

    And now I am off to look up what beignets are…

    • Paul Roth says:

      Don’t get me wrong, if a woman I asked out wanted to do something of her own choosing, or nothing at all and just stay in, I’d be happy with either of those choices. But if someone’s going to agree to a date with me, I’m going to try to show how I appreciate it by coming up with date plans. It’s how I convey from the start, “This date with you is important to me.”

      I would suggest that people who ask for a date and then don’t plan anything are guilty of immediately taking the date for granted. And/or they suck.

      Beignets aren’t mysterious; they’re just fried dough and sugar!

  3. SingleDC says:

    Even though ya’ll are still just friends, it sounds like a really well planned out date, props for that!!!

    AND
    I have been trying to find beignets for a very long time… Thanks for the tip! The Cajun in me has been jonesing for them.

    • Paul Roth says:

      I should give the caveat that I’ve had beignets that are better. But, no surprise, they were in NOLA’s French Quarter.

      Thanks for the props!

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