I had been planning this for a minute (southern for an unspecified and somewhat longer than expected amount of time). We would leave around 6pm, get on the trail by 7pm, and then arrive at the lake around 7:30pm with a wine bottle and some citronella candles. She would be pleasantly surprised by the whole event. It's not common to take a first date for a dog walk, and she might have been skeptical of the idea at first.
It ended up being a wash.
The first date was capsized by a multiple double-booking snafu, and had to be rescheduled and then pushed back. I was being penciled in, but wasn't concerned, and when she finally did arrive, we ended up just eating and talking at my place. It was a solid good time. At the end of the night, I walked her to her car, gave her a hug goodbye, and waved her off.
And then the digital communication devises took over. First a text message or two (sweet), then a string of instant facebook messages a couple days later that started in flirtatious banter and ended up looking like a tame version of the pit of despair. Before I knew what happened, she had convinced herself that I wasn't dating material. She wanted to keep it light, and we connected maybe deeper than she was ready for.
Which stung...but I said I understood, and then promptly went into a brief and private (until now) mental roller coaster about how i just can't relax into 'shallow' enough for the game of dating, and how at this point I would never find a girlfriend, much less get laid. Sigh. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
I let the anxiety go, and I spent the next week or so distracted. Just as soon as the mental noise of a slightly bruised ego had hushed to a barely audible din, we ran into each other at MONDO HOMO's burlesque brunch (shameless plug: http://mondohomo.com)
Lots of nervous but genuine smiling, friendly banter back and forth during the show: no big deal. Afterwards, friends and crush migrated outside to figure out what was next. I had all but ignored my dog, and it was a sunny day. What was next for me was a proper dog walk. Turns out that she needed to walk her dog as well. (It's not what you're thinking, so stop.) I was a little nervous about the prospect of taking our platonism for a test-drive so soon after the last series of discussions, but was willing to throw caution into the wind, as I tend to - for better or worse.
Although this was not a date, it was after noon, and there was a perfectly good bottle of wine at my house. I grabbed it, some glasses, an opener, and my dog, and we went in her car.
We walked. Dogs were off leash, good conversation, comfortable silences. It surprised me how natural it felt given the circumstances. She laughed easily, and seemed to enjoy the walk. We arrived, drank some wine, and then noticed both of our dogs running around in (and drinking) fowl smelling lake water.
Which was the beginning of the end.
I mean disgusting. The lake we went to is more of a swamp, really. And apparently (I'm from the desert so wouldn't have guessed) has a lot of dead-smelling, oily muck - especially around the perimeter. The dogs loved it. We thought it was funny until they wanted attention and started jumping on us and shaking to dry off. Understanding the desperate nature of the situation, we ignored the pups for fear of shit smear, and turned and walked back. When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to wait to let the dogs dry off a little before getting in the car.
And then it happened.
I needed to pee. Like the kind of need where you don't hear a word of conversation, and you think that you're going to cause some sort of internal damage that will manifest as incontinence by the time you're 50. There are no restrooms there, which is not usually an issue for me except that I was with someone new. Although I understood her position on diplomacy in Afghanistan, I had neglected during our conversation to find out her position on peeing outdoors. I pee'd outdoors with my cousin from the Dominican Republic when I was 10, and she ended up crying the whole way back, and telling my mom. These little scars run deep.
But I couldn't hold it. In a signature move, I go for boldness above etiquette, and said 'I have to pee," and started walking towards the woods. Turns out she also had to go, and so she walked in the opposite direction, and copped a squat there. I had been holding it for a while, and so it was one of those marathon peeing sessions. She finished WAY before I did, and when she came back, sat on a brick wall that I had been hoping would cover me from eye or ear shot.
Foiled again. And somehow not awkward. This was not a date, and she was decidedly a friend and not a romantic interest. I reassured myself, as the intrepid stream started to die down, and I bobbed a few times up and down to shake the drips away before pulling my pants back up.
I just want to say, at this point, that you have not read this blog for naught. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and here it is...
As I get back to the wall, she puts her hand out, pulls me in, and kisses me. She did. I swear it happened just like that. She took my poker strategy/ante of 'I have to pee', and raised it. She didn't say, "you know, I've been thinking..." or ask me, or even really pause for me to make a choice. It wasn't chivalrous in the least. Not one bit. It was just bold and simple.
I realized immediately that there is great wisdom in not looking a gift horse in the mouth. It's even wiser, if you have the opportunity, to go ahead and let yourself be kissed by one. Although I'm a somewhat obsessive and nothing if not thorough communicator, I bend more and more to the notion that there is always plenty of time to hash through the details later...