First-date mementos a box of hope
March 24, 2002
My girlfriend called to ask if I had heard back from "Kyle" after our first date. I hadn't, and she was surprised, since he seemed so interested earlier.
I had a 10-day-old wilted rose from Kyle sitting in a vase, and was mentally debating what to do with it. Should I dry it and keep it as a romantic reminder of our first date, or toss it in my garden for compost?
I don't think guys trouble themselves as much as women do with saving things from mutually shared moments. For a hopeful but sometimes cynical romantic like me, they become symbols of what could be.
First dates are an interesting thing: magical, nervous and full of sexual tension. They are the sample taste of what could become a larger meal. If the first date is good, I can't help wondering whether it will lead to something more serious.
Such was the case with Kyle, a tall, blond blue-eyed Adonis who cleans up nicely in a suit. He put in the request through a mutual friend that I join their group at a formal fundraising event. My girlfriend served as "date contact liaison," the adult equivalent of lovenote passer in high school.
Technically it wasn't a date, since I met up with him after I left an earlier business party. But he chivalrously led me around the dazzling affair as if it was.
We hit another event afterward. I got to go to a local live band bar, Herman's, with a country rock band that night, decked out in my favorite "goldfish" dress (a strapless gold lame number, gathered to a tight and curvaceous hourglass formation that makes me swivel like Mae West). We were just a bit over-dressed in comparison to the bar's regulars.
My "date" and I hit it off well. He asked me to dance, and we swirled around the floor for most of the night. The real partner kind of dancing, with spins and actual steps.
My Fred Astaire may have had a few cocktails before I got to him, because it didn't register with him that my matching gold shoes were extremely slick on the hardwood floor. I did remain composed and upright, so no one got hurt. I was even able to do some daring dips - without pulling seams or having body parts fall out of my dress.
Kyle walked me to my car so I could take my leave before all the inebriates hit the streets. On the sidewalk, we ran into the intimidating "Rose Woman" on her way into the bar. She's the one who provides the ultimate date litmus test by offering to sell him a flower for the lady.
She smiles, but behind it is a secret, mocking question: "Is your companion a date or a dud?" The only right answer is to buy the over-priced blossom, which men - even toasted - seldom do.
For once in I-can't-remember-how-long, my date did the right thing. He bought the rose. He let me choose a velvety pink one and even gave her a tip.
Ding, ding, ding! Huge bonus points for: 1) Walking me to my car; 2) Buying the rose, and 3) Tipping the Rose Saleslady. Minus 10 points for the wad of chewing tobacco in his jowl, but add 5 for kissing me like an uncle so I didn't have to experience the Skol firsthand.
I drove home with the smell of the rose wafting through my car. The aroma lingered for about a week on my kitchen table as a reminder of an enjoyable evening. But alas, he didn't call back, and that was the second time I had given him my number. It looks like that rose will fertilize my garden after all.
I heard that Kyle was a nice guy, but extremely shy. Maybe that explains why he never picked up the phone to call me again. More realistically, other factors were involved. But at least, I thought, I had ventured out on the romantic love limb one more time.
I have a box filled with reminders from old relationships. I don't actually go through it. I just add new stuff on top, as little mementos of the life experiences I've had. I suppose I keep it around as an ego backup in case I'm ever feeling so down I can't believe I'll ever find lasting love. Luckily, I haven't had to resort to it yet.
Silly things accumulate, like cards, notes, programs from events, maybe a few pictures and some odd things, too. A couple of bottle caps that remind me of unique beers I've sampled, ribbons from a gift, a lucky penny that fell out of his pocket. More recent additions are printouts of e-mails, with thoughts and feelings expressed without the help of Hallmark.
Why do I save this stuff? Because it's personal, it's mine and I can. It's a nice way to hold on to the good things that came out of relationships that didn't happen to work for the long haul. The odds and ends are reminders of the fun times, the helpful lessons and the caring. For me it's also kind of a hopeful thing. A past to build from for a future mate.
So what if I save the concert wristbands for beer, the occasional shriveled up rose or whatever else might be meaningful to me? They're little relationship time capsules. Being a cautious but still sentimental romantic fool, I hold out hope that one of these items may mark the history of my best relationship yet.