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Dating Ell-A: The Option [Plan P]

“Can I go to the bathroom?”

“No problem. I’ll get us seats.” Steve and I had just begun our date and my enthusiasm was already in single digits. We had met online and the fact that he was a scientist at a local research company intrigued me enough to agree to a date. I could only hope that his laboratory was more organized than his real life – he had arrived nearly twenty minutes late and his first words upon meeting me were not something along the lines of “Hi. Sorry I’m late,” but instead “Hi, I’m Steve.  I’m going to the bathroom, be back in a second.”

I made my way through the gathering of typical characters found in swanky L.A. hotel bars – like wealthy cougars on the prowl and their high-priced escort “prey” lurking at the bar. I found a table with a nice ocean view and Steve re-appeared and ordered us drinks.

The introductory chitchat was a second sign of trouble. Instead of smartly giving me his best opening “pitch,” Steve listed off a litany of boring past jobs and bad dates he had been on that year. Steve eventually dialed down his side of the conversation and I was beginning to talk about my career when he interrupted, “Do you mind if I go to the bathroom? Alcohol goes right through me.”

“Oh. Sure.” I said, hoping that my response came out sounding matter-of-fact and didn’t reveal what I was really thinking– Didn’t you just go to the bathroom five minutes ago?

While hoping that Steve had already eaten dinner so we could have a one-drink-and-go evening, I glanced toward the door and saw, out of the corner of my eye, a man, dressed in a sleek dark suit, looking in my direction. I turned to him and our eyes met. He smiled. I smiled back. Then he mouthed the words “How’s the date?” and gave me a thumbs up / thumbs down gesture.

No sooner had I given a big thumbs down, this mystery man began to walk toward me. Taking small breaks from our laser-locked eye contact, I realized that he was, in almost every external way, Steve’s polar opposite. And trust me, this was a very good thing. While Steve had the excess 10 lbs. of pizza and beer that is mandatory for most men in their early 30’s, this guy’s chiseled body was 24 Hour Fitness approved. Steve’s haircut was a billboard for Supercuts; this guy’s dark, thick hair was an ad for Frederic Fekkai.

“My name is Paul.”

I threw out a quick prayer hoping that the bathroom line was long enough to keep Steve otherwise occupied for like… ever.

“Would you like to join me?” Paul asked.

“Yes, but—let me take care of something first“ I said, rapidly formulating a Steve-Be-Gone plan, “Give me a minute?”

“You got it.”

With a quick “thanks” I dashed to the bathroom just in time to cut Steve off at the pass. “The alcohol goes right through you too, huh?” He asked.

“Actually, I’m not feeling too well. I’m just really, really tired. Think I’m gonna have to cut the date short. Sorry.”

“Oh, okay. No problem.”

“Sorry. We’ll do it again soon. Can you walk me to my car?”

Since I was “sick,” Steve settled for a friendly “goodbye” hug out at my car. I then drove around the block and, after making sure that Steve was long gone, parked in the same spot, and ran back inside.

Pushing my way through the crowded bar, I let out a sigh of relief when my eyes connected with Paul’s.  He smiled and mouthed, “I saved you a seat.”