[I am a story repeater. Mainly because I have terrible, terrible memory for what I've said, when, and to whom. But also because some stories are too good to give up.
So, though I briefly blogged it in the past, though I recounted it on the first episode of my and Sarah Brown's podcast, when Chicken Soup for the Twenty-Something Soul contacted me for a submission, I had no choice but to retell my infamous beans-throwing date.]
Shortly after I moved to New York City, I met a girl at an art gallery. She worked for the gallery, I was there for the opening of a friend’s show, and we hit it off making jokes about the snottier-looking patrons.
I asked her out on a first date. To play things safe, I pushed for early evening drinks. That way, if the date went badly, I could keep it short; if it went well, I could still keep it short, end on a high note, and leave her wanting more.
Fortunately, the first date – at a Gatbsy-esque bar in Midtown – went off without a hitch. So it was with high hopes that I headed to our second date, dinner at a trendy Mexican restaurant on the Upper East Side.
That date, too, started strong. Until the waiter didn’t bring us our basket of chips quickly enough.
“This is ridiculous,” the girl exclaimed. Ridiculous? We were talking about chips. No big deal.
But to her, apparently, it was a big deal. So, after two or three more chip-less minutes, she got up, found the waiter, and yelled. Then, for good measure, and at ever-escalating volume, she found the manager and yelled at him, too.
By this point, it was immensely clear that my date had absolutely zero relationship potential. I had somehow found the highest maintenance girl in all of New York City. But I vividly remember thinking, “I’m out of college, I’m an adult now; I should at least be civil, and make it through the rest of the evening.”
I thought, perhaps, that a round of margaritas might help calm things down.
I was wrong.
By now, of course, the waiter hated us. My date had yelled in his face, had gotten him in trouble with the manager. So, not surprisingly, he was a bit rude. To which, in response, my date was even ruder. Over the course of appetizers and a few more drinks, the situation continued to devolve.
The waiter delivered our main courses with a snide comment. My date said something in reply. Back and forth they went, until something he said crossed her final line.
My date picked up her plate of beans. And threw them at the waiter.
She was seated on my left, the waiter stood to my right. So the beans flew, as if in slow motion, right in front of my face.
I remember wondering, beans mid-air, what might happen on impact. Would the waiter punch her? Punch me? Throw something back, leaving me smack in the middle of a giant food fight?
With a splat, the beans hit, and the world caught up to speed. The waiter, however, didn’t. He stood there in shock, a mass of pintos slowly dripping down the front of his shirt.
My date stood up.
“Well, I never!” she declared. And she walked out.
This was a small restaurant – maybe twenty tables. By this point, every single patron was staring at me.
“Get out!” the manager bellowed. “And never come back.”
Mortified, I backed my way slowly across the floor, apologizing profusely – to the waiter, to the manager, to anyone still willing to make eye contact.
I opened the front door, stepped outside, and found the girl standing there, fuming.
“Well,” she said, “where are we going next?”
At which point, I turned, and started running down Lexington Avenue as fast as I could. And I still remember thinking, finally looking back over my shoulder a few blocks later, “well, at least she doesn’t have my phone number.”