My stomach hurts. As I try to stay clever things in this conversation in this nice bar next to the Lake. My stomach’s been hurting for days now, but I try to tamp down on the sensations of achy-ness and discomfort as I sip down this beverage that is intended to dull so many things right now, but stomach still hurts. And he’s sitting there next to me, with his smile and his nice, intelligent things that he’s saying. If he knew that my stomach hurt, what would he say then? What would he have said if I had blown off this date? Would he have been sad and dismayed? Would he have called me again? I didn’t want to bank on him calling me again, because I’m aware of the value of doing things right now and not waiting for next week. So I swallowed a bunch of antacids and called a cab to this bar so I can sit here and pretend not to feel too much pain while pretending to feel like I’m interested in being here and engaging in this conversation.
There was no way I could have blown him off, anyways. Look at him. I try not to look at him as he chews on his food and says things to which I am supposed to respond. What are we talking about right now? Oh, yeah, that’s right. We’re doing the first date, introductory dance of, “Where are you from?”
“I’m from here,” I say, already mildly irritated by the question that I have to answer every time I meet someone new. I’ll never be from anywhere different. I’ll always be from here, which is why people often respond with, “Oh, you’re a local! How rare!” That’s what he says, too, and I hate that answer, although I try to check my hatred and irritation at this conversation, because maybe I’m feeling ornery because of my stomach.
What I want to say is, “No, it’s not rare. You just never meet locals because you’re a white transplant from Podunk, Missouri, and the locals are too black and too brown for you to every mingle with. I, however, am the exception because I have a pussy, and I don’t talk like I’m from the hood. Maybe you should deal with your own bigotry.”
But I don’t say that. I never say that. Why would I say that? While I’m aware that short form emasculation can be thrilling in the moment, utterly dismantling someone’s ego slowly, over time – well that is much more rewarding in the long term. Instead, I say, “Yup.”
“So, what do you love about Oakland?” Oh, god, this question. I kick myself because of the stupid shit that I do for free drinks, even when my stomach hurts. I also kick myself for still thinking that this guy is attractive, despite the fact that he is a cookie cutter white boy from somewhere I don’t really care about nor will ever visit. Although I’ll probably be kicking myself more tomorrow, when I’m trying to find a way to artfully dodge his text messages after letting him fuck me haphazardly for five minutes. Ah, yes, the realities of the future sex I’m about to let myself stoop down to are beginning to enter my consciousness, although, no. I tell myself that maybe he’s the type of guy who knows how to FUCK, and not just flop around while I lie there and strain my ears for the sound of my phone for a text message from my best friend telling me she’s at some other bar across town.
Wait, pause, that’s the end of the story. Let’s get back to the right now.
“Oh, you know, the weather,” I respond to his question. I’m trying to find a way to change the topic of conversation as quickly as possible, because one thing that I hate is an outsider’s perspective on a city I’ve lived in for my whole life. “Why did you move here?”
I watch him as he prattles off some answer, and rather than engaging in a conversation about our laundry list of personal facts and life details, let’s start talking about something more interesting. Like, perhaps, the weather. As it’s beaming in from outside of this building. Or, sports. Which is something that I know nothing about, but I’d rather sit here and listen to him talk about, oh, I don’t know, The Warriors? Is that the Bay Area sports team that people are all excited about these days? That’s basketball, I think. I can smile and nod to him talking about basketball. As I sit there and sip on the drink that isn’t making my stomach feel any better, but that’s okay because it’s making my mind a little bit fuzzier, and that’s why I’m drinking in the first place. So, go on.
As we rack up a tab, and suddenly I’m starting to feel a little bit better about the situation. There’s something about an overabundance of alcohol that makes suffering through the first, sober minutes of a date with a complete opposite totally worth it. Because I like this feeling, don’t I? As I start to quell the grumpy thoughts in my mind, and he’s not that bad, is he? He’s handsome enough, or, well, my best friend said that he was hot. I kinda defer to my best friend when it comes to judging whether or not a white man is objectively attractive because I really have no barometer for that. What can I say – I’m from Oakland. I’m only really attracted to black and brown boys, but, hey, every once in a while I think I’m entitled to engage in sexual tourism of the white race. Maybe I’m trying to figure out what all the fuss is about, or, really, I’m trying to figure out why my best friend enjoys fucking white men so much. I think there might be a bit of insidious psychology behind her sexual preferences, but, hey, I’m game for insidious psychology. It sounds like it translates into some pretty devious sexual behaviors, so, count me in.
I mean, I’m sure that’s why he’s picked me out of the hordes of women in this city tonight. Maybe he’s interested in a bit of interracial fuckery, too. Although, I always have to be wary of those ones because I’ve noticed that as Mexican-Filipina woman, I’m the consolation prize for men who have yellow fever. Which is an awkward thing to say, but it’s true. Boys who are seeking out their Korean princess sometimes fall flat and settle for a slightly Asian looking girl like me, which basically means that their frustration with being unable to attain their ideal mate becomes my fault. Note to self: avoid men with yellow fever.
This guy’s charming. I’m sure that’s not it. As he pays the tab and we stumble out into the Oakland night to seek out more booze and an excuse to go back to his house to fondle each other. I wonder what kind of line he’ll use on me, or, as happens from time to time, I’ll have to make the call to call a cab and go home. I’ve been drinking counting all night, but this guy seems like he gets exercise so he has a couple more rounds in him before he succumbs to whiskey dick.
“Let’s go to Radio,” I suggest as we slug through the night. It’s a middle of the road choice – I may or may not know people who are there, although the people that I know who will definitely be there are not the type of people to butt into my date and try to scoop me away from the task at hand. Radio is a safe choice, unless, of course, my ex is there, as he is from time to time. Damn it. We’re already on the way to Radio. Fuck. I really hope my ex isn’t there, because he’s the kind of ex who inspires way too much insecurity in my current or future paramours. Or, I guess, what I’m trying to say is that due to common racial tensions in America, if my exboyfriend is there then my white date will automatically feel inferior due to a perceived (and actual) discrepancy in “size.” You know what I’m talking about. I’m just trying to be sensitive about it.
But Radio it is, and I’m beginning to feel comfortable with the level of witty banter and pop culture references that this alcohol has inspired. Okay, Pilar. Okay. One round here, one round at 355 – no, not there. I’ll see too many people there. Geo Kaye’s – that place is going to be a social wasteland on a Wednesday night. Perfect. Then, from Geo Kaye’s to my place, or his.
I pay for this round, and I excuse myself to the bathroom where I go to readjust my lipstick and scarf down more antacids. I remember that I like Radio as I take a moment to appreciate the bathroom graffiti. I guess there’s something comforting about seeing the tags of my favorite tagger friends on the walls of the bathrooms at the bars where I’m drinking. It just feels like home. And my face looks okay as I pull it and pinch it in the bathroom mirror. There’s nothing I can really do about my wide set jaw at this moment in time, or the fact that my hair makes me look slightly less heterosexual than I actually am, but…whatever. I’m drunk enough to not give a fuck as I plop myself back down next to him at the bar.
“Did you miss me?” I ask cattily while I slurp down my tequila shot.
He laughs. Oh shit. He didn’t miss me.
“I think some of my friends are going to come to Radio,” he says. Fuck. It’s the death knell of tonight’s date.
“Oh, really? When are they coming?”
“They’re on their way now.”
What! I just reapplied my make up so that I could sit in a death circle of his friends, who will, of course, be trying to alternately judge me and fuck me? No, thanks. I know how groups of men work.
“Hm.” I don’t think that there’s a ten minute escape route for this one. If it had been thirty minutes, I could artfully finish my drink and suggest that we go to Geo Kaye’s before his friends show up, citing, “I don’t want to be here all night” as a good reason to evade his friends. Because, who knows? What if his friends show up, and all his friends are total losers? If all his friends are losers, than it just goes to show that he’s a total loser, too. If they’re squares, then he’s a square, too. The friend group is very revealing, and I am not ready for a first date friend group introduction. Although, maybe I’m more worried that all his friends are attractive, and that maybe I’ll wind up trying to fuck one of his friends and therefore fucking up this entire situation.
I can’t tell if I’m hungry or my stomach hurts. Or maybe I’m just getting nervous, but those antacids aren’t working to relieve my early onset date anxiety.
“Well…” I try to think of something to say. I look at my phone instead, and, yes, my best friend has texted me so we sit there, side by side, and I text my best friend for an escape route. Because, fuck this shit. His friends are coming? Clearly this means that he’s not trying to smash tonight, and I’m not sure why that’s the case, although maybe my awful personality has made it so that he’s not trying to get down right now. Or, I don’t know, maybe there’s a rare chance that it’s not my awful personality, and, in fact, he’s actually just shy? Maybe he’s just that kind of guy? The kind that doesn’t fuck on the first date. Man, I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. My blanket assumption that all guys want to fuck is failing me at this moment, which sucks because I definitely want to fuck. Just once. Not twice.
I smile and watch him text away. This date is so over.
“I’m going to call a cab,” I say.
“Okay,” he replies flatly. Jesus Christ. Not even a hint of, “No, don’t go!” in his voice. I purse my lips and nod my head. Fuck. Thanks for nothing, asshole. All I get is a sideways hug and a very disingenuous, “I’ll call you.” Yeah right.
I go home and sit cross legged on my bed with a couple cups of yogurt and some tea while angrily browsing Netflix, looking for something aptly vapid and sappy to quell my stomach ache and my bruised ego.