If every man I date were just his resume, they would all be dreamboats. New York is brimming with intellectual titans, financial leviathans, and brains paid generously to be curious. The Piano Man was among them. Far more importantly, he played piano in a pub for fun and tips.
We met in a storied hotel bar, full of gilt, charm, and old New York glamour. He ordered coffee.
Me: Aren’t drinking? Or can’t drink?
Piano Man: Oh, I drink. But it’s three in the afternoon.
He heaped generous praise on For All the Tea in China.
I can dislike anyone in an instant, and, apparently, it takes very little time more to decide that I want a second date.
Me: I’m so looking forward to seeing your show.
The Piano Man had not only read my book, but had diligently followed a reality show I starred in when the Composer and I thought television might sell books. Nobody who watches reality TV reads. He inquired after the Composer.
Me: He’s married now. They just renovated the kitchen. In a brownstone. He’s a cliché and I love him.
Piano Man: Are we off the record?
Piano Man: I want to go off the record.
Me: You can’t. Feel free to not tell me whatever comes next. I’ll forgive you.
Piano Man: Five minutes before this date, I found out about your column.
Me: I’m not here to make copy, I promise. I am honestly interested.
Piano Man: It makes me uncomfortable.
Me: Your identity will be hidden.
Piano Man: I don’t want you to write about me.
We were having our first fight.
Me: You watched my crappy reality show and didn’t have a problem with that. So what’s the problem here?
Piano Man: Those guys could at least see a camera in front of them.
Me: Now you know I own a pen.
Piano Man: I have spent my entire life avoiding critics.
I like this column. It takes the sting out of an otherwise miserable and evidently endless string of worthless first dates. I’m not calling it off for a stranger, no matter how cute, smart, apparently compatible, or otherwise potentially dreamy.
Me: You don’t know me well enough to make demands, not on a first date.
Piano Man: I think I have a right not to be written about.
Me: Look, if you get that far — say date three or date 17 — then you might have purchase to ask this of me. I could let you see what I write. I could give you right of first refusal. Or first edit. You could even write a rebuttal.
How awesome would that be, to hear from the guy on the other side of the table?
Me: But not on a first date.
I don’t want to fight with my dates. I don’t even want to go on dates. I want to stop dating forever, till death do us part.
The Piano Man was attractive. I asked him about his work. He told me about his family. I told him about mine. The sun set. I left for the opera. He met a colleague.
It was an extremely good first date, and it’s mostly off the record — for now — entirely because he asked.