We met at a charity event. I thought he was tall, he thought I was blond. We exchanged numbers. That’s the way it’s supposed to work – no setup, no Internet, no middleman. We saw each other in person and agreed we were attractive enough to see twice.
Our date was at a tapas bar, and we had just ordered a pitcher of sangria when his phone rang.
He answered it.
He spoke fast and frantically, but not in English. In tongues. It was five minutes before he muffled the mouthpiece and apologized.
Flying Dutchman: I’m so sorry, this is my best friend from Amsterdam from my junior year abroad, and I haven’t heard from him in, like, three years. He’s just like a brother to me.
The run-on ran onward in Dutch. Another seven minutes passed. I was intruding on his reunion with his long-lost Flemish family. I waved my hands a little as if to say, What am I? or Should I go?
Flying Dutchman: Five minutes. I’m sorry. It’s really important.
I’m pretty sure I heard the Dutch words for “funeral” and “mother” and “bus plunge.” Then he let out a giant belly laugh and hung up.
Flying Dutchman: That was awesome. He’s flying in to my party in the Hamptons next week. I’ve got a place in Quogue, you know it?
I admitted that I didn’t, that I didn’t much run in those circles. I am a freelance writer. My people are broke. I imagine the Hamptons are the place where pretty people go to reproduce and have al fresco dinner parties served with fine wines and entitlement. It’s a lot like Brooklyn, but with a beach.
Flying Dutchman: It was a really big deal for me to buy my own place. I used to go with my ex to her family’s place, and after we broke up I thought I’d never see the beach again.
Me: That is an accomplishment.
Flying Dutchman: I had to show those people that I was the kind of man who didn’t stand down.
Me: I don’t know what that means.
Flying Dutchman: I found out she was cheating on me.
Me: That’s horrible.
When you start talking about your exes on a first date, the date is haunted. It’s all about the ghosts in the room.
Flying Dutchman: It was going on for a really long time. I found out everything from her emails.
Me: Wait, you read her emails?
Flying Dutchman: She was cheating on me, so I hacked into her computer and found everything.
Me: You hacked her computer?
Flying Dutchman: Because she was cheating on me.
Me: But then you read her email.
Flying Dutchman: She was cheating.
Me: You read her email.
He looked at me with disgust. It was as if we didn’t speak the same language at all.