This was not a date. They could not take any more dates. They had had enough of those.
So they set rules:
“No asking about where you’re from.”
“Or how many brothers or sisters you have.”
“And, God, please don’t ask me about work. Anything but work.”
“No favorites either. No favorite bands, no favorite movies, no favorite books…”
“So, basically, if it sounds like a checklist question, don’t ask it.”
They met at a tequila bar on the west side. Their initial reintroduction was justifiably awkward as they stumbled on their own rules. Every question seemed forbidden.
But they did find their first margarita helped a little bit. The arrival of another very obvious first date helped a lot bit.
“They’re going through the questions!” She whisper-yelled in his ear.
“He’s terrified right now. Check out his leg. Above the table, cool. Below the table, seismic shaking.”
And so they fell into a rhythm. Finally, a conversation that was not a checklist and not a reach into the psychological files of their pasts. It was entirely present—comfortably woven within the tequila bar, its patrons and concoctions, and the two beautiful faces they each saw across an unsteady wooden table.
Nights pass like this. Not by what is said, but how it’s said. With joy, with humor, and with gladness that another soul would partake in the same.
It was the sort of conversation friends might have.
Until the night ended and the parameters of the evening crashed all at once.
“I have a question,” he spoke beside the A/C/E entrance. “If this was not a date, then am I not allowed to kiss you right now?”
“You’re allowed,” she said. “I’ll just pretend to not walk away.”