tales of a girl in the city

novembre 04, 2005

Wrong Impressions i.e. First Dates

I am across the table from him, telling some of my secrets.

"First kiss?"

"Matt Tiettemahn. Ninth Grade. Sloppy. Tongue-filled. His mom kept yelling down the stairs, offering me soda. You?"

I don't describe myself at that age, in my brother's Batman t-shirts, writing extra-credit poems for English class. Or the fact that, 'til that kiss and 'til that summer, the only thing I'd ever done with boys was make them laugh.

My date is now on to the next question: "Virginity. Who was your first?"

"Freshman year in college. Gustavo. Rich Kid. Grew up in Manhattan, like you. We did it in my dormroom. My roommate may or may not have been in the top bunk."

Again, I don't tell him about who I was then, how wrong I looked in New York, with a strange haircut and a large, brown dress, more "farmhand" than "Fifth Avenue." I don't tell him either--yet--what a liar Gustavo turned out to be. I'm sharing only some of my secrets, like I said.

My date tells me about his first time, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's a Ralph Lauren Commercial: She attended Yale with his younger brother. She long-distanced it on weekends, coming up to see him at Harvard when she wasn't busy playing squash.

This is about the seventieth thing he's said that makes me focus on my biggest secret--the one I'll never tell--which is that I still can't quite believe all this. Can I date a man who lost his virginity to a squash player? Do I own enough tennis skirts? Will his friends call me "Kitty"? Will "summer" become a verb?

Harvard is 6'5" and handsome and...well, Harvard. The kind of guy who goes out with tall, blonde women who have long, slim fingers and datebooks full of charity events. I sit there imagining the rides he's taken in convertibles, the small-alligator logos on all his golf shirts. And, funny, because though I know that I have kid-hands and not even a wristwatch much less a datebook, I can almost see how I look sitting across from him: blond and tall, telling stories that begin, "When I lived in Italy...."

But by date three we'll have gotten past all of that nonsense. Determined to show him that I'll always be the girl who does extra-credit, I use my kid-hands to carve him a pumpkin. He blows his Harvard Smooth-Guy Cover and bungles his lines right before our first kiss. I don't skip over the John Denver from my iPod as it starts to blare on his stereo. He sends me the photograph that won him first prize. And, before you know it, there we are, meeting each other for real now.

In honor of the occasion, next time I see him I'll tell him how, when I was little, I wore my underwear on the outside.