The online profile was adorable, and he was a little bit famous if you follow juggling, which for a brief, nerdy time, I did.
We went to the world’s worst sports bar with flat screens lining every wall and waitresses who were part-time cheerleaders. The Indians and the Braves were playing. The Blackhawks were in the finals. There was a special on the Redskins and the Chiefs. Also on the Bengals, not Indians, tigers.
The Juggler brought origami paper. In case we needed props.
He talked about math. He spoke about the intersection of math and juggling, how the patterns a juggler makes with three or five or seven balls, tied to strings, will make complicated braids.
With the origami paper, he did not make a swan or a frog, but a deltoid object: a quadrilateral whose four sides can be grouped into two pairs of equal-length adjacent sides. That is, a kite.
He told me the plot of a novel he was writing about aliens who communicate electronically, like fireflies or phytoplankton, and had to hide their sympathies for humans, keeping their thoughts dark.
He was a dork of the highest order, and I swooned. Did he know how attractive he was? By the looks of his Aloha shirt, I suspected he did not. Telegraphing my interest was not enough. I was broadcasting it, unlike the aliens in the closet. I have never felt like such a predator in my life.
He had just participated in World Juggling Day. At the Amundsen-Scott research station someone had juggled in celebration, giving him the distinction of being the furthest southerly juggler on record and the only one to juggle in all longitudes at once.
Me: And he saw a bear and the bear was white.
Juggler: How on earth did you know that?
There are no bears at the South Pole, only penguins. I was drunk. But it dawned on him that I could keep up. He finally seemed attracted to me. And he asked the very first question of me all night.
Juggler: So, wait, there must be more jokes about other quirks of non-Euclidian geometry?
Me: On the equator, he flushed a toilet and …
Juggler: And it had an equal chance of circling the drain clockwise or counterclockwise! And he saw what? What animal? A bird? What color was the bird? Does that work?
Me: There are no toilets on the equator.
At my age, we are all wondering the same thing about our dates: Why is this one still single? For the Juggler, it was plain as the sun. He was clueless, achingly so. Would he even know to kiss me at the end of a date?
He did. And well. He was dexterous, after all. As we stood on a street corner, all the cabs you can never find in Manhattan when you need one descended upon us like buzzards, eight or nine, all at once, hungry for business.
The Juggler would be my first second date in two years.