That po' boy

Happy 20th anniversary, Just For You

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS There is something pretty exquisite about being stood up by a date. When I find out what it is, I'll be sure to let you know. Meanwhile, you'll just have to take my word for it. Words.

The stander-upper was someone I'd bonked back before I accidentally fell in love with whatsername. We'd had a long coffee date that turned into a long walk in the park that turned into making out for a long time on a park bench, which of course turned into going to the grocery store to buy pork.

And a bottle of wine.

Now, I had a very strict policy back then of never having sex with someone on a first date. I have since added an amendment forbidding me to have more than one date with a person in a single day. Because somewhere between the pork and the wine we determined that since we'd driven separate cars from the grocery store to my house, this dinnery business was technically our second date.

So, yes, sex happened. Then, like a lot of guys who sleep with me once, he became obsessed with two seemingly contradictory thoughts: how to sleep with me again, and how to never ever, under any circumstances, sleep with me again. Thus he would e-mail me every other night: He had to see me immediately or else, as I read it, his hair would catch on fire and his penis would rocket away from his body, through the roof of his house, into outer space, and then back down into the atmosphere where of course it too would be consumed in flames and therefore ruined.

Not wanting that, I would cancel whatever plans were cluttering my calendar and we'd make a date — which he would cancel at the last minute because his mom had a tumor, or his car blew up, or his son or sister (or in many cases both) had been taken aboard an alien spacecraft and needed everyone's prayers for a while.

I'm a trusting sort, and pretty patient, I think, but after 60 times I told this cat to get lost. Instead, he went into therapy. So I got lost. In Germans and Germany and so forth. Well, around the time things were busting apart for me there, I got another e-mail from him here saying he can't stop thinking about me, he can't believe he blew it with me, he's gotten his shit together finally and wondered if I would give him another chance.

The man is tall. Very tall. So tall that I can wear four-inch heels and still only come up to his chin. For the first time in nine months, I wrote back. I said I was a broken woman, that I was coming home, and that eventually I would have coffee with him. That that was all we would have this time. No pork.

So we did, eventually, have our second first date — just coffee — and then, even more eventually, a very nice and only slightly less platonic dinner date, which ended with a soft, sweet kiss in his car.

It was our third (or in other words, fifth) date when he stood me up. And as I sat there waiting at my for-real favorite restaurant, Just For You, listening to live violin music, I decided that being stood up was pretty exquisite, maybe because it implies just dating, which implies uncertainty — and then when you finally give up and place your order, and the waitressperson as-discreetly-as-possible clears away that other place setting ... then you do know. It's decided, done, or over before it started, and sad, yes — but it's a delicious sadness, because you still get to eat.

As I drenched my fried oyster po'boy in Crystal hot sauce, which somehow seemed even more romantic than violins, I decided that even if he was in the hospital having heart attacks, I would not give this tall man another "another chance."

Three days later I finally heard from him. By e-mail. He'd been in the hospital, having heart attacks. Hopes I'll still see him.

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