I have just come in from Drip, which is the best coffee bar in my neighborhood. It also runs a dating service for its patrons. Several bookcases are lined with binders stuffed with profiles for prospective dates, and coffee drinkers may spend a leisurely afternoon flipping through these in search of Mr. or Ms. Looks-Good-on-Paper. Having just moved here, I was not aware of this, but on weekday evenings, the place seems to be given over almost entirely to couples on first dates, which the café staff arranges and apparently monitors with the zeal of cruise directors.
Clutching my Saki, I strolled in for a chocolate-chip cookie and a cup of green tea only to feel like a stowaway on an awkward Noah’s Ark.
And then he entered, a younger Barry Manilow type, wearing tight pants and shaking everyone’s hand. Whenever someone shakes everyone’s hand, I immediately hate him (and I say him because the only people who do it are men, and women who want to come across as “one of the guys”), and not because I have a weak handshake, but because it spreads unnecessary germs and false jocularity. So I came to hate the younger Barry Manilow with the passion of Nagasaki, a passion that soared to include Hiroshima when he bellowed that he had arrived for his eight o’clock date. Naturally, he sat beside me, and in the process I noted that he had a rather nice butt, which I often find to be a saving grace, but would it be so in this case?
We shall have to ask Lucy.
Lucy was his arranged date: a lovely Asian woman with bobbed hair and an expression that ranged, during their introduction, from impassive to alarmed. Run, Lucy, run, I projected, but it was too late. The date began.
“I just came from work,” announced the younger Barry Manilow, whipping out her profile sheet from his briefcase. Lucy was not inclined to talk about his career (or, apparently, anything), but the younger Barry Manilow had something to establish: “I work in TV. At CNN. With Connie Chung. I know you know who Connie Chung is!” Lucy shrugged.
The younger Barry Manilow moved along to her profile, which had apparently been composed by a friend of Lucy, for he found it necessary to confirm every detail. “Look here, your friend says, ‘She is focused, entrepreneurial, stylish, and interesting.’ Are you really focused and entrepreneurial?” Lucy was silent, possibly focused on something else.
“Hmm, ‘stylish.’ You seem stylish. Are you stylish?” Reticence must be in style, for she said nothing.
“Well, here it says ‘interesting.’ I guess I’ll find that out soon enough. Ha ha!” He must have been as dumb as he looked; I had long since discerned that Lucy was about as interesting as water vapor.
At this point, the younger Barry Manilow snapped his finger in the air to summon the waiter, using his first name (I hate people who use elaborate gestures and the waiter’s first name). He ordered a drink whose title I could not hear over the music (even though by this point I was openly eavesdropping and transcribing their conversation), finishing with, “Tell the boys to make it a good pour. I’ll make it worth their while.” Then the dreary interrogation continued.
“So, I’m curious,” said the younger Barry Manilow. “What made you pick my profile out of all these people?” Lucy kept her own counsel, but my heart nearly exploded out of my ears. She had chosen him?!?! This was astounding on so many levels. Not only had the diffident Lucy actually expressed some sort of preference, it had been the unlikely preference for the younger Barry Manilow. Further, the match was not the kinky attempt of an O fetishist to generate a more accessible Connie Chung, which had been the obvious (if somewhat racist) assumption.
Eager to turn the conversation back toward himself, the younger Barry Manilow prompted, “Did you like something in my profile? Do you like art? Music? Television? I work in television, you know.”
When the younger Barry Manilow snapped his fingers for the waiter once more, this time to ask for a copy of his own profile so he and Lucy could review it together, I knew it was time to leave these fledgling lovebirds in peace.
Besides, my tea had gone cold.
It is obvious that not only is Lucy not the reincarnation of the journalistic Connie Chung, but neither am I, for unanswered questions linger. Not the least of which is: Did that butt turn out to be his saving grace?
Lucy is not telling.