The night before my 31st birthday, I took myself out for a prix fixe dinner at a nearby restaurant. [My reservation was at 6:30pm, but some of my friends were going later at 9pm. They encouraged me to change my rez and join them, but I told them I didn’t want to eat that late and I’d be long gone by the time they arrived.]
My “table” for one was part of the bar area, in the corner, facing out the front window. It was actually really nice to gaze upon the outside world while I ate, avoiding any accidental eye contact with the rest of the diners who were surely looking on in pity. During my second course, another lonely soul was seated at the window bar one chair away from me. I continued gazing and grazing while lightly eavesdropping as the waitress told him all the seats at the actual bar were full. What a couple of losers we were.
After a few minutes of parallel solitude, he turns to me and says, “So I can’t decide if these are the best or the worst seats in the place.” I tell him I think they’re the best, and the ice is broken. Gradually, our paced-out banter reveals that we’re actually enjoying ourselves. At one point, the waitress (I later learn they’re friends) tells him a seat at the bar is open but he chooses to remain in our timeout-corner-with-a-view. We eventually introduce ourselves and, while we’re each on different courses of the meal, basically end up having dinner together (but, like, still separately).
In fact, I ate so slowly that by the time I finished dessert and checked my phone, it was already 8:40pm. My friends would be arriving soon, so I figured I might as well hang a little while longer to say hi. In between greeting my friends, he asks if I’d like his number. I say sure and the rest is history.
Dinner conversation highlights:
- When I tell him my birthday is the next day, he guesses I’m turning 27. Bless him and bless my daily commitment to sunscreen since middle school. Turns out I’m 7 months older than him.
- He was living in Buenos Aires (where I studied abroad) before the pandemic brought him back, and he’s planning to apply to grad school there.
- He’s interested in immigration as it relates to climate change. Verrrrry cool.
- We laughed a lot! I was sober, he was drinking, and it was refreshing to get to know a stranger in a no-stakes, non-date context. I wasn’t trying to impress him or decide if he was husband material; I was simply glad to have someone to chat with. It was an unexpected delight.
We’ve texted a bit and have plans to hang out tomorrow. Even if this goes absolutely nowhere, I will remember that night fondly forever. Because of the countless times I’ve gone places alone and rom-com-dreamed a cute-enough stranger would be so bold as to approach the magnificent me, I’ve always been crestfallen—reminded that meet-cutes only happen in the movies. Or do they?