Date #1: The accidental group date

Ethan caught my eye (on Tinder) with a handsome smile and very silly sunglasses. Oh, and the puppy in his hands. Guys, take note: Girls love puppies.  And smiles. It is amazing to me how many men don’t smile in their profile pictures. Why would I want to date someone who is scowling at me? Not only did Ethan smile in most of his photos, but his smile was that silly kind of smile that hints at a fun personality. Additionally, two of his photos showed him playing electric guitar. As a musician who has a weak spot for other musicians, I had no choice but to Swipe Right.

Ethan was a few minutes late for our lunch date at one of my favorite bars, but that never bothers me. Things happen. Places are unfamiliar. Parking can be a hassle. If someone is looking like they’ll be more than 15 minutes late, a message would be good, but he was only about 10 minutes behind. When he greeted me he opened his arms for a hug. I usually wouldn’t advise a man to go in for a hug (with a woman) on the first meeting. It’s a little too familiar, for many women.  We can be very protective of our personal space around strange men and, regardless of how much chatting you’ve done online, at your first in-person meeting you are still considered a strange man. At the end of the date – if it went well – hug away. But a good smile and handshake should be good for that first hello. Just don’t make it too formal. That being said, when I met my very first Tinder date I went in for a hug.  My brain was questioning my actions before the hug was even over, but I couldn’t back out in the middle and regain my personal space.  I think the warm smile and greeting from my date just immediately put me at ease so I felt comfortable enough for the more familiar greeting. I hate to perpetuate a double-standard, but, in a heterosexual situation, it’s best to just leave the Hug Or Not To Hug question in the hands of the woman.
In this case, though, a hug was fine. What confused me, however, was the seating arrangement that followed. I’d been sitting at the bar and stood up to greet him, but when we turned to sit down Ethan left a bar stool between us. WTF does that mean? Was I not as attractive as he’d hoped? Was I reading too much into it? Was it a mistake that he was too shy to correct? My mind focused on this detail for the first several minutes so I’m not really sure how our conversation started. The bartender approached and asked what he wanted to drink. He paused for a moment and asked, “what are you drinking?” I liked that he checked in a little bit (I was drinking champagne, by the way) before ordering his beer. A 2:30 lunch date at a bar can be a little confusing. On the one hand, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon and polite society says you don’t start drinking that early. On the other hand, you’re on a date at a bar with a girl who has orange hair and dreadlocks. What does polite society have to say about that?
We continued talking and I learned that he was a guitarist in a local rock band. His humility when talking about his band was adorable, considering that they’d just returned from a month-long tour in the UK and were about to start recording their 5th album. Our conversation eventually turned to me and the work I do for a certain annual festival. A man at the end of the bar drunkenly called out, “I’ve been to that festival 3 times!” We acknowledged him and listened for a few minutes while he told us about his experience, then turned back toward each other and attempted to continue our private conversation. Unfortunately, Drunk Guy wasn’t done with us and he interrupted us every few minutes for the next 30 minutes. I found it both annoying and humorous, and we glad to see that Ethan didn’t seem too bothered by it, either. I think observing how people handle awkward situations is a great test of their character. Had he rudely ignored the guy or gotten noticably irritated I might have assumed we handle a lot of other situations differently, as well, and decided that we weren’t a good match.

Drunk Guy eventually left to play pool and we continued talking. Not 5 minutes later, though, a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in several months walked in and sat next to me at the bar. This is one of the dangers of taking a date to a bar you frequent. You’re very likely to run into people you know and risk alientating your date. I thought it was safe, in this case, because we were meeting in the middle of the day on a Monday. Lesson learned. The three of us chatted a little while longer while we paid our tabs, and then it was time to leave. He walked me to my bike and joked, “Are you okay to drive?” I laughed and told him yes, mostly likely, and we hugged goodbye. As he walked off he called out, “we should have another drink sometime.”

I wasn’t completely excited about Ethan, but I’d had a nice enough time to want to see him again. Later that night I sent him a message on Tinder telling him I’d had a nice time and apologized that our lunch had accidentally turned into a “group date.” I gave him my phone number and told him to shoot me a text if he’d like to go out again sometime. I know this quick contact is against The Rules of dating, but I really don’t see any point in waiting to tell someone you had a nice time. I haven’t heard back yet, though, so maybe I’m alone in this.