Thursday, August 04, 2005

When you just know

I was leafing through an old New Yorker on the bus recently when I stumbled on a review for an opera at the Lyric that I almost attended. As I skimmed through the glowing descriptions of artists I’d never heard of and epic story arcs I’d probably never encounter in real life, a name suddenly jumped out at me: A guy I’d actually gone on a date with two years earlier—a guy who was trying to make a career as an opera singer—was actually reviewed in the New Yorker … and the critic liked him!

I’d first met him in a bar soon after I’d moved here. He was handsome and charismatic … and wearing leather jeans on a hot summer night. Sexy leather jeans. He was all smiley and chatty, but I could tell he was a bit of a playa—though we had a lot in common and I enjoyed talking to him.

He was a friend of a friend, and we kept bumping into each other off and on over the next few years. And one day he finally asked me out to dinner. And I said yes.

We chose a popular little Mexican place in the heart of Boystown and had a very nice chat over chips and salsa and various Taco-Bell-on-nicer-dishes foodstuffs.

And it was somewhere between the last bite of enchalidas verdes and the first mouthful of sopapillas that it hit me. The waves of goosebumps … the rapid heartbeat … the back-of-the-neck heat … that undeniable feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you just know … beyond all doubt … that you have food poisoning.

Yes, I was on a nice date with a nice guy and I literally threw money on the table and bolted out the door on him. And after an iffy cab ride home, I spent the next 24 hours never more than 10 steps away from the toilet, alternately lying naked on the cool tile floor and crawling deliriously toward the kitchen to find some Gatorade to keep myself electrolyted (electrolit?).

And then—total moron that I am—I decided it would be a good idea the next day to take a 5-hour road trip with some friends to a little weekend getaway we’d been planning for months. In a car. With close proximity. With what we will euphemistically call a still-jumpy tummy.

And when we got to our little getaway, the only bathroom was mere steps away from the family room area where we all hung out. And I didn’t bring any matches.

But we survived, and my euphemism jumpy tummy didn’t kill anyone—though it didn’t help generate any close friendships either.

And the date? He was pretty understanding about the food poisoning, so there were no hard feelings. But when I found out he already had a boyfriend, he never got a second chance at a start-to-finish dinner.

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