This final (for real) post needs no introduction. Thanks for making it through “How to have a ‘crush,'” “The office and burritos,” “The almost date,” and the beginning of “The date.” Now ON WITH THE SHOW!
This pretty much has nothing to do with Bongo and me, but when I parked down Bongo’s street, a black PT Cruiser pulled up and parked a few feet ahead of me. Out of the driver’s seat stepped a rotund Black man in a full-on gold and yellow pinstripe zoot suit. The shirt he wore underneath was a deep, royal purple. His outfit was topped off with a matching gold and yellow pinstripe fedora and a purple ribbon, of course.
This was going to be a fun day!
Much to my surprise I had little trouble finding Bongo’s apartment. I still needed female support for what I was about to embark on, so I called Brooklyn as I ascended the stairs to his second floor unit. As the phone rang I realized she was probably sleeping in and it would be rude to knock on Bongo’s door when I was on the phone. Just as I caught a glimpse of the golden number on his apartment door, I quickly hung up and ran away back down to the bottom landing of the stairs.
Then I called Bongo and asked cluelessly, “What number is it? Are you on the second floor, then?” I re-ascended the stairs.
I had to play it smooth. Sometimes, all I can think of doing is playing dumb.
Activity I: Hiking.
The hike was nice. I did my best to hide my panting during our ongoing conversation. Going through the motions of the “So, what did you major in?” talk is pretty difficult when you’re walking up a steep, pebbly grade. We made each other laugh and breathed in fresh air. It was blazing hot that day but the air was clear, giving us gorgeous views of the Bay. I was as comfortable with him when we were quiet as I was when we were chatting.
As we walked by a flowered tree on the park’s grounds, a blossom attached itself to my hair. Bongo, walking ahead, turned around and said, “You have something in your hair.” I couldn’t see myself or discern if that “something” might be a bug, so I flicked at my head. I missed. Bongo came over, picked it out for me, and kept walking.
Our first physical contact!
Activity II: Transformers.
Since Bongo drove us to the hiking trail, I drove us to the movie theatre. As it was opening day of Shia Lebeouf’s major silver screen debut, there was a long line stretching outside of the cineplex. Bongo volunteered to check on tickets while I held a place in line.
When he returned, he handed me my ticket but refused my money. Pretty much my only indicator of Date or No Date? is whether or not the guy pays for something, so things were looking up.
A classic date itinerary often includes “dinner and a movie,” but I hadn’t been on many of these “dates” before, and definitely not many that involved sitting side-by-side in a darkened movie theatre. Until Bongo came along, my most recent experience with such a date involved a guy that really just wanted to live out his horny teenager fantasies. That’s another story for another time, but one that left a big red stamp of POTENTIALLY AWKWARD on any future filmwatching opportunities for me and Any Guy.
There was no brushing of fingers or games of footsie during the movie. The most action that took place while the action movie played was me offering Bongo some Simpsons fruit snacks. Even then, I made him pick them out himself. I’m a very shy creature, in case you didn’t notice. Of course, as we walked out of the theatre, I told Bongo I liked it, but I couldn’t not bring up the cheesy dialogue.
Not so good of a movie, but the date was still ranking high!
Activity III: Failing at coordinating fireworks with friends and TV.
As I drove back to Bongo’s apartment, uncertainty poked at my brain. Was I supposed to drop him off? Did he just want a new California friend to hang out with? Should we say good-bye in the car or was I supposed to park, shake his hand, and restart the ignition for my drive home?
“So… Did you want me to drop you off, or…[dies off]?” I awkwardly asked.
“Oh, you can drop me off if you need to get going or you can…[dies off] Whatever your plans are.”
Ever so sly, I requested if I could use his bathroom. Access: Granted. I made a semi-necessary trip to his bathroom, came out, and made up some story about needing to call my friends to see what there plans were for fireworks. Turns out Bongo needed to check in on some firework plans, too, so we sat in his living room talking on our cell phones to people that the other person didn’t know. Such an American scene.
My hometown friends didn’t have anything set in stone, so I was off the hook for having to decide between Bongo and friends. Bongo finished up on his end and relayed a similar situation; his friends weren’t sure what they were doing yet. It was only late afternoon, so one couldn’t expect twentysomethings to know what they’d be doing come dark. I expressed my interest in sticking around to watch fireworks with Bongo and his friends and thankfully Bongo accepted my quasi-self invitation.
But we all know I wasn’t staying for the fireworks.
Anyway, now we had a golden opportunity to kill time until dinner. We watched cartoons on Bongo’s TV. It was my first time watching cartoons with an animation nerd, and when Bongo made comments like “The character design on this show is so good,” I just wanted to jump the futon he was sitting on and pinch his cheeks.
This was moving really fast for me. I don’t watch a lot of TV, nor do I ever go to friends’ homes just to sit and watch TV. But here I was watching TV with Bongo, our third one-on-one activity of the day, and it didn’t feel awkward or forced to be sitting in adjacent chairs watching a third object exchanging in little conversation. It was just hanging out, and I was surprised by the naturalness of it all.
Activity IV: Bongo Burger.
Dinner time came and we got some food at Bongo Burger. (Not actually why I nicknamed him Bongo, but it is a pretty cute coincidence, isn’t it?) Here’s where I don’t know what to do on dates. Was I supposed to pay for Bongo’s meal? I wasn’t sure, and I was left wondering if I had just pulled the Asshole Card as we sat and waited for our sandwiches. All I had was the Inexperienced Card, I swear!
I’m not very good at not attacking fries so for the rest of the drive and walk to fireworks I had to concentrate on ignoring the starch offerings in my paper bag and “acting normal.” Everybody’s favorite oxymoronic pastime.
Activity V: FIREWORKS!
Bongo parked as close as we could get to the Berkeley Marina, which really wasn’t very close at all. This gave him an opportunity to get in touch with his friends and figure out how we would meet up with them. End of story, they flaked. YES! This date thing was going awesome.
It was like a mass exodus to the sandy hills of the Marina. We found a spot to sit and, thanks to the random blanket I kept in the trunk of my car, sat down next to each other eating our food.
My head was about to explode. Fireworks were going off, cute little kids were running around me, I had a gyro burger and fries, and I was sitting next to the guy I had been pining over for months. Alone. I have lived through many romance comedy-esque moments in my life and most of them ended up blowing up in my face, so I did my best to simply relish all the things going on. My french fries kept my nervous fingers occupied, but even the default act of eating could not fully prepare me for what was about to take place.
I don’t know how it happened, but Bongo and I were touching. At our sides! My entire left side was touching his entire right side and this was just plain crazy. He had finished his dinner before I had and somehow we were sitting next next to each other. I was still delivering fries to my mouth at this point but decided the motion was too jarring to send him assurance that I didn’t mind my side touching his side. I hastily rolled my paper bag closed and returned my upper body to center. I probably felt like a rigid bookcase next to him, so I tried to relax. It’s pretty amazing that neither one of us dislodged for the rest of the fireworks show.
Throughout the entire day of hiking, Transforming, cartoon-watching, and just overall being with Bongo, I was unsure of how he felt. Sure, he paid for my movie ticket, but I didn’t pay for his dinner. It was very possible that I might have broken a dating rule. Maybe he had nixed me from his list. Maybe he was just a really nice person who paid for his friends’ things once in a while, and in inviting me out he was hoping to gain another California friend. He’s from the East Coast, they probably have more rigid dating rules, don’t they? Who knows what conventions I may have broken throughout our date. I don’t do well with conventions. Maybe Bongo loves them. Maybe Bongo hates girls whose heads are about to explode in excitement.
Now that we were touching, though, well now the game was clear. Obviously I worry a lot about how I come off to the opposite sex when I am interested in them. I become shy and and passive. Such had been my MO:
Things with Bongo were going so well today, though, that I decided I needed to crawl out of my “I’m scared of boys!” shell. I was going to be bold. I was not going to regret what could become of this day. I was going to tell him I like him. I was going to tell him I like him by giving him a kiss on the cheek at the end of the night. He was absolutely sending vibes my way and I needed to stop worrying about the impression I was giving him.
Thus, it was settled. I couldn’t wait to try this whole Being Bold with Boys thing. I couldn’t wait to give him a peck on the cheek and say “Thank you for the wonderful day.”
I was feelin’ all kindsa Strong Woman when we left the Marina. I even slipped my arm through his as we walked back to his car, something I have never done with any guy who didn’t make the move first. To my delight, he didn’t squirm or start any sentences with “Actually, I’m sorry, I was just thinking of us as friends…”
We got in his car, me trying to hide my beaming smile behind a pursed lip grin. This day had been better than anything I could have imagined.
Activity VI: Cutest conversation ever.
As Bongo parked his car he said to me, “I’ll walk you to your cah.” The specially placed pronunciation tweak was actually a big deal to me. I love people who talk in voices and whip out 5-second impersonations when they tell stories, and that Bongo shed any sort of hesitations about sharing this side of himself with me heightened my interest and bolstered my confidence. (Or maybe I just didn’t hear him right…)
As he walked me to my car, I was contemplating slipping my arm through his again when he caught me off guard
“So, was this a date?” He asked.
Shit, I didn’t know! Guys are supposed to answer that question ahead of time! I thought we had already passed the grey area of Date or No Date? I remembered that I decided to show him I like him, though, so I did what any other nervous, uncertain person would do and I answered his question with a question. To better disguise my flusteredness, I started needlessly digging through my purse for my car keys (which are always in one spot) and buried my face in appearing busy.
“Umm, is that what you were hoping it would be?” Any possibility of eye contact was to be avoided at this point.
“Well, yeah.” (Oh, thank God!) “I mean, I had a good time. And I’d like to do this again some time.” (Or something like that. All I really remember are the important words: yeah, good time, again.)
Keys retrieved. I needed to hide the excitement on my face again so I hustled to my car as I spoke to my trunk, “Yeah, I’d love that, actually.” Now I busied myself with putting my folded blanket into my completely empty boot.
“I had a really good time,” I said to my trunk as I shut the lid. I said “good,” but I meant “great.”
I forced a wave of confidence through myself as I turned to him, focused squarely on the SAN FRANCISCO emblazened across his sweatshirt, and aimed my two arms straight through his two arms. I gave him a big ol’ hug.
“Thanks,” I said.
Then I was gonna do it. I was turning my head up to him to land one on his cheek. This was going to be the sweetest move of the century.
But something was wrong! Someone messed up my design! Bongo turned his face toward me, but if I was going to kiss him on the cheek he needed to stay still facing forward. But he’s still moving toward me! No time to move! My lips were losing their pucker and I felt my eyes widen in shock. He’s totally messing with the sweetest move of the century!
Faster than it began, we had kissed on the lips. And it was completely awkward. Our lips came together to form a quick X, and as he pulled away I was flabbergasted.
I stood there for a few seconds and he walked away. He said “good night” to me but I was still trying to gather myself. I stammered out some pretty dumb words,
“Thanks for, for… Thanksfor hittingmeup.”
WHAT??? Oh my GOD that was lame.
I crawled into my car, sat in the driver’s seat, and muttered “Stupid-stupid-stupid!” like it was my mantra. Yes, that really just happened. And now it was time to get my ass home.
On the drive home I wanted to conference call everyone I knew to predict the life expectancy of a dating relationship that started off with an awkward kiss. As I drove I realized too late that I should have printed out directions for my route instead of backtracking based off of Google Maps. Calling Bongo for help was absolutely out of the question. I had just left him and I couldn’t force any audible sound out of my mouth, anyway. I roamed around lost for about an hour, but my detour brought me to an impromptu fireworks show staged by two Black kids in the middle of a North Oakland street.
Inside and outside, I was glowing, too.
Previous: Part V – The date.