Updated: Jul 17, 2019
“I’ll have the one with the chicken.”
Not exactly the best way to come off as intelligent on a first date. Everyone always says first impressions make all the difference. All things considered, technically speaking, this wasn’t actually his first impression of me. We had met about 3 months earlier at Latin convention. He was a senior at a school in my district, and all three schools in my district took the same bus home from the convention because, let’s be real, only a few of the few actually went to the convention. To this day, that was still probably the best convention I went to in my four years. Anyway, his actual first impression of me was on the bus, late at night, on the way home from Latin convention, where we exchanged numbers. Not really much to go off of. The bus was really dark, and I had no recollection of what he looked like until later. He actually admitted later that he asked for everyone’s number in an attempt to get another girls number. In the months that followed, we spoke daily. We got to know each other and we hung out a few times, and eventually, he asked me out. Our first date was set for Saturday, May 12th.
There are a few reasons why this date was significant. First, it was Andrew Fest, which is a week-long celebration of the end of the school year leading up to our St. Baldrick’s assembly on Friday with Relay for Life later that night. St. Baldrick’s is a fundraiser to raise money for kids’ cancer research, and at the end, you shave your head. Most expensive haircut ever, but definitely worth it. Relay for Life is a fundraiser in which you work as a team to raise money for cancer research, and then you participate in a relay, making sure there is always one person from your team walking the track. This event lasts from 6 pm to 6 am the next day. That year, I participated in St. Baldrick’s. I got my head shaved in front of the entire school. It was an amazing and humbling experience. At the same time, I got my head shaved. The day before my first date ever. Not just my first date with this guy, my first date EVER.
The plan was simple. Because of Relay, we didn’t really set a time. I got home from Relay for Life, slept as much as needed and sent him a message when I was ready. Me and my lack of hair didn’t need a ton of time getting ready. I did definitely borrow a headband from a good friend of mine because I was completely unaware on how I should style fuzz. I was not embarrassed to shave my head, but I was worried about the reaction that would be present when he picked me up without 12 inches of crazy curls attached to my head. And I know now that it doesn’t really matter, but when you are trying to make a good first impression, not having any hair isn’t exactly the perfect confidence booster. I pushed forward and made Brandon aware that I was ready. Whether I liked it or not, me and my fuzzy head needed to be ready for this.
Olive Garden was the place for dinner that night. It had come up in conversation that I liked Italian food and pasta, and also that I had never been here but always wanted to go. It looked like a family place where happy memories were made. There was just always something attractive about it. So we get to the restaurant, and my nerves are working up a storm. Stomach is in knots, I can’t tell if I’m hot or cold, I have no idea if I wore the right thing, and I’m wondering if he is as nervous as I am.
We are already pretty good friends, so I was under the assumption that making small talk when the waiter isn’t around should be easy. We had literally pulled an all-nighter at my best friend’s house just talking once so dinner should be fine. If anyone ever tells you dating is easier when you date someone you were already friends with, they are lying. It does not make it any easier to create meaningless small talk that isn’t awkward. But hey, that could also just be me. Anyway, when the waitress came over and asked what we wanted to eat. I told her my entrée and she asked if I wanted soup or salad. So I asked what soups they had. In that moment, every single word she said sounded like gibberish. All of them. So I asked if she could list them one more time. She did and nothing changed except this time I could make out the word chicken. I could feel my face getting warm as my cheeks turned a colored that matched the photo of the tomato on the wall. “I’ll have the one with the chicken.” Turns out it was chicken gnocchi, which is now my favorite soup from there. As soon as I spoke, he smiled and I felt my cheeks get redder then they already were. I could not believe how out of it I felt. This was my first date ever and it was nerve wracking. I survived dinner, thankfully, and to my surprise. I can’t imagine how he could have wanted to continue the date with my awkwardness, but he did. I found out later that he found he funny in a cute sort of way. He even took the time to memorialize that line in the blog he wrote about our first date.
After dinner, we went to a movie, because that’s what you do on a first date. We saw the movie Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp. It was decent enough, but the movie isn’t what I was focused on. I wanted to hold his hand. So, I presented my hand pretty openly at the beginning of the movie. I was either holding my hand awkwardly half open, tilted uncomfortably in a way to allow him to grab it, or playing with the cup holder attached to the arm of my chair. I didn’t know how any of this worked so I just assumed he would be able to read my body language in the dark of the theatre and just know that I wanted to hold his hand. Turns out that is definitely not how that works. But, in a theatre, during a movie, I wasn’t going to ask. So I looked at him. He was sitting there with his hands in his lap, in a way that I found inviting I suppose. Heart racing, I spent a few seconds thinking about my next moves. With the butterflies going a hundred miles an hour in my stomach, I went for it. I shoved my hand into his and we held hands the whole rest of the movie, on the way to his car, and on the drive back to my house. I can honestly say that holding hands with a loved one is one of my favorite things.
We arrived at my house after the date, and sat in his car, in my driveway just talking. It took most of dinner to push past the awkward conversation, but once I got over my nerves, it was natural to just talk forever. While we were talking, we somehow got on the subject of school dances. That led to a discussion about dancing. I am a horrible dancer, and at the time of our date, I had never slow danced before in my life. Unless you count fake slow dancing to a fast song with my best friend because we both went to homecoming dateless. But I didn’t count that. After I mentioned that I had never slow danced before, he told me that was unacceptable. It was not allowed, and he was going to fix it. So he pulled out his Elvis CD, and put on one of the romantic songs from the track. We got out of his car, and he asked me to dance, right there in my driveway. I, of course, said yes, because what else is there to say? We slow danced for about 20 minutes with cars cruising past my house often. To be honest, I didn’t really notice them as much as I might have on a regular day.
We probably could’ve continued where we were but everyone has to use the bathroom sometime, and his body choose that moment. Even after I led him inside and he went to the bathroom, we sat in my kitchen and just talked for somewhere around three hours. It wasn’t until his mom texted him, a little angry at the hour, that he finally said goodnight and went home. I did not, however, kiss him goodnight. I was very afraid that he was going to kiss me and change all of the emotions he had about me. So I didn’t kiss him. I saved that for another night, at another time. Even without that, I can still look back, remembering my fuzzy head and that silly chicken soup, and feel good about that day, and about how good my first date ever really went.