I went on a date tonight with a friend of Seth’s girlfriend Martha. Her name is Allison. It was this first date I’ve been on since Caroline died. I think I tried on at least four different shirts before I left the house.
Allison just moved to the Bay Area from Wyoming. She’s a high school English teacher. Her favorite authors are Cormac McCarthy and George Saunders. That’s pretty cool.
“I think the only person I know of who’s from Wyoming is Dick Cheney,” I said. “You’re a lot cooler than him.”
Allison smiled. “Jackson Pollack was from Wyoming. Cody, Wyoming,” she said.
I was surprised. Not just by the seemingly random retort, but also because I didn’t know that Jackson Pollack was born in Wyoming. I thought to myself that she had to have known. Was probably one of those things where she asked Martha about me, and Martha said something to the effect of, ‘He’s a painter. He’s into Pollack.’ I’m sure there was more, but you get the point.
“And I forgot about Matthew Shepard,” I said. “Though maybe he doesn’t count since he’s not hanging around anymore.”
Allison didn’t care for my joke. Not the part about the “hanging around”. I don’t know if she got that. She just didn’t like that I’d invoke the name of a dead gay kid in jest. Mostly because her younger brother is gay. He’s been beaten up more than once for it, both in and out of the home. Ended up in the hospital one time.
“It’s kind of a sensitive subject,” she said.
I apologized. Left it at that. Didn’t want to make a bigger deal of the situation by trying to explain myself. I think she understood.
When it came time to discuss the menu and any possible appetizer candidates, Allison suggested the veal and pork meatballs. I told her I was a vegetarian and that I was offended she would eat babies. Said it wasn’t a sensitive subject though. She smiled, but also looked like she wanted to punch me.
When the waiter came we ordered the ricotta corn cakes. They were delicious. For the main I had a chanterelle and arugula salad topped with brie croutons. Allison got the salmon, roasted brussels sprouts with shaved parmesan and truffle oil on the side. I didn’t have any fish, but everything else was just as good as the corn cakes. For dessert we had chocolate bread pudding. We teased each other about how our bites got progressively bigger. When the bill came, Allison insisted that we split it. I had offered to pay for the whole thing. My dad always told me that’s what a gentleman does. Allison said that I could get it next time.
After dinner we went to the bar and had a few drinks. I was pleased to discover that Allison is a whiskey girl. She even called out the bartender for his poor Old Fashioned technique. I completely agreed with her assessment. We ordered a couple glasses of Jameson and ginger instead and took a seat at one of the candlelit cocktail tables.
I found out that Allison was married once too. It only lasted two years, though they’d been together for four altogether. She caught her husband cheating with a woman from his gym. He’s a personal trainer. I found myself feeling intimidated.
“A personal trainer? Really?”
“Yeah,” she said. “He’s really into sports and fitness, which is okay, it’s just that he was always telling me I needed to do more cardio. I fucking hate cardio.”
“Well, the only sport I ever got into was skateboarding,” I said.
“A skateboarder, huh? Then I assume you have some tattoos.”
I showed her the raven on my arm, the pocket watch on my chest. “You?”
“Just one,” she said, pulling her shirt up a couple of inches above her waist to show the upper half of a Japanese dragon wrapped around her right hip.
“Wow,” I said. “That’s some nice line work and shading. What’s the bottom part look like?”
She smiled. “Maybe I’ll show you the rest some other time.”
A little later in the night, when I brought up Morrison, Allison seemed interested. I had to catch myself a couple of times telling too many stories. She said it was cute. I hope she was being serious.
Allison said she wants to have kids. She was ready to have them with her ex and glad she didn’t. I don’t know about having more children. Mo is a handful. A lot of responsibilities, both cherished and loathed. I love him though. So much. My Dad always said that he wouldn’t trade any of his kids for the world. I know what he means now.
At the end of the night, when it came time to say goodbye, I didn’t kiss her. I could’ve – I should’ve – but I didn’t. I was scared. More nervous than with all the women I’ve ever been with before, including Caroline. I’m such a wimp. Hopefully Allison doesn’t think that. She said she’d like to go out again sometime. It sounded genuine. I’ll have to see what Seth and Martha have to say.