He was late, and not the socially acceptable couple-of-minutes-because-the-bus-was-late kind of late. He was exactly 26 minutes late. This was a bad start to a date I very reluctantly accepted to go on in the first place.
Sitting by the window at the new Second Cup around the corner from my house, I grew increasingly aggravated. I decided to go ahead and order myself a medium latte. Adding cinnamon powder to my artfully crafted latte with the heart-shaped foam, I felt a quick, unsure tap on my shoulder.
I turned around. My hazy, alcohol-induced first memory of meeting him at some random party returned with a whopping bang. He removed his black aviator Ray-Ban sunglass
es, revealing a set of piercingly blue eyes entirely glazed over like a freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnut.
He stood there a second, vacantly staring at me before he gave me a funny half-smirk. We exchanged the compulsory two-kiss greeting and I asked him if he wanted to order anything.
“Oh,” he paused awkwardly, “yeah I guess so.” His tone was reluctant and slightly annoyed, as if I were forcing him into partaking in some kind of unnatural ritual.
We waited for two minutes back in line. He got to the counter, greeted the barista with a dismissive tone. “Uh, ya, hi,” another pause as he scanned the Second Cup menu, “so like, if I just want a coffee, like, a normal coffee, do you know what I’m talking about?”
Visibly offended, the barista turned to the filter coffee machine and poured him a cup. “That’s $2.50,” he said coldly. He paid entirely in quarters; slightly afraid that the barista at my caffeine haven would hate me by simple association, I offered him an apologetic smile and we walked back to where I had left my coat.
He removed his black leather jacket with a hugely misplaced sense of over-confidence. I could smell the pretension on him; it was even stronger than the smell of weed that emanated from his worn-out blazer and t-shirt combination.
I giggled awkwardly, as I always do in uncomfortable situations. He took a gulp and let out the most satisfied groan I have ever heard anyone release after tasting black coffee.
“Wow, this Colombian dark roast is absolutely,” taking another sip, “ah-mazing.” He added an unnecessary emphasis on the first syllable. I was already resenting his presence in my life.
Trying to make some kind of casual conversation, I asked him teasingly if he was enjoying his coffee.
“It really is good. I had a long, exhausting, weird night, so I need this right now.”
More or less getting an idea of what kind of night he was referring to, I checked my phone to avoid having to ask a follow-up question. Noticing this, he did the same. As if receiving some important news, he jumped up, excused himself, and headed to the bathroom.
When he got back, he whipped out his phone. “So I’m in this modeling show. It’s not a big deal or anything but these are some of my headshots.”
They were like something out of a cheesy ‘90s amateur modeling catalogue. I resisted the urge to laugh in his face, and told him I thought the lighting was really good.
“Honestly, I’ve met so many gorgeous female models, but they’re all so stupid. Literally every pretty girl I’ve ever met was basically an idiot.”
Sitting there across from him, I felt like in his mind I was either a hideous goblin or belonged to MENSA. This guy was not gaining any brownie points.
Like clockwork, he checked his phone five minutes later, sprang up out of his chair, and went to the bathroom again. This guy was really starting to weird me out. Not wanting to spend another minute with him, I faked receiving an important text. I used the most unoriginal excuse used by uninterested women everywhere: “I’m so sorry, but my sister has an emergency and she needs me.” The words were delivered with the conviction of a first-time stage actress, over dramatizing her lines with no convincing emotion.
“Shit, let me walk you home then.”
Not wanting him to know where I lived, I told him that it would not be necessary since she was not back at our place, but instead at her friend’s house in Hampstead. In retrospect, this was probably not the best escape plan seeing as how he was headed in that same direction to get back home.
“Oh, what a lovely coincidence,” I said, crying a little bit on the inside.
We were nearing my metro stop when he said: “So I’m doing this photography project. With your eye colour and face shape, I think you would be perfect for it. It wouldn’t be published anywhere, just a personal project I’m working on.”
And that’s when I had reached my quota of creepy for this lifetime.
“Oh, uhm, wow. Here’s my stop. Sorry, I have to run, get home safely. BYE!” Before he could say anything, I sprinted onto the platform with the metro doors shutting behind me. The train pulled away, and I breathed in a deep, well-deserved sigh of relief.