I planned the date for the end of the week. I didn’t choose a particular spot, but I had a well reviewed Mexican Restaurant in mind. Matt had recommended it after having gone on dates there.
“A Mexican place? Really?” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes and sighed. “Trust me bro. It’s definitely a classy place. Just go and see.” I decided to trust him. Matt was always reliable.
I drank a glass of Hendricks Gin as I got ready to leave. I put the bottle back onto the window ledge of the apartment. It was the last one in a line of assorted vodkas and gins. In college, I liked to try a new bottle of something and finish it before moving onto the next. I would also keep the empty bottle on that same ledge. The Hendricks was my latest and the only one with any liquor left inside.
My plan for the date was to drive into Hoboken. Nora had agreed to meet me there. She had never been, but meeting half way meant it was easier for the both of us. I left an hour early just to make sure I didn’t keep her waiting.
I drove up to the train station and saw Nora standing outside. She was looking at her cell phone. I called her and she looked up to see me wave. Nora smiled and walked towards my red Mustang. I opened the door for her and she got in.
“Hey, I hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” I said.
“Oh, no. It’s fine. I was only here for moment,” she responded politely.
I parked on the main street near the restaurant. We smiled at each other and I led her into the Mexican spot. I grew anxious as I realized just how small the place was. People were almost shoulder to shoulder in there. It was packed. I asked how long the wait would be for a table for two. I didn’t like the answer.
I had previously spotted a fancy restaurant on the corner of the street. It appeared to have an older crowd, but it was also spacious. I decided to take Nora there. It seemed like a more sensible idea, especially since she was Norwegian. I wondered if they even had Mexican food up there.
The new place was a bring your own beer establishment. So before going in, I went into a winery beside the restaurant. I asked for a recommendation and ended up buying two pricey bottles of wine. I carried them into the restaurant and held the door open for Nora to walk in. We were seated immediately.
Nora waited for me to order for us. I joked with her and essentially ordered anything that seemed funny or curious. I ended up ordering oysters, clams, and calamari. I had trouble looking at some of the oysters, but Nora urged me on.
“You have to eat it like this,” she explained. She took the tiny fork they gave us and put tiny chopped peppers and some type of red sauce onto her oyster. She stirred it quickly and then ate it, enjoying it in her mouth for a second.
“Doesn’t seem too hard.” I stared at the raw oyster and made a weird face like I was unsure about it. Nora giggled. “Okay.” I poured hot sauce into the oyster and then put the same peppers she had just used. I then picked up the oyster with my hand and tried to slurp it but it didn’t slide out. I choked on the hot sauce.
Nora laughed as I started to cough. I smiled but kept on coughing. I almost inhaled the hot sauce and it burned my throat. I grabbed a glass of water and started drinking it. Nora couldn’t stop laughing. She tried covering her mouth with her napkin but we still drew the attention of a waiter.
I coughed a handful of more times. I sipped my water before answering. “Yes,” I cleared my throat. “I’m probably just allergic or something.”
“Are you serious?” The waiter’s eyes widened.
“No, no.” I smiled and Nora laughed again. “I’m just kidding. I just don’t know how to eat fancy foods. I’m still stuck on chicken fingers.”
I eventually gave up on the oysters. The larger ones were too much for me to handle. The calamari seemed ideal and I stuck with them. They were different from what I was accustomed to though. They looked like little octopuses and I had never seen the type before. I made a weird face before eating each one, but they tasted the same. Nora found all my eating habits rather interesting.
I handled the bill and realized the night was still early. “Are you up for trying this second bottle of wine?”
Nora nodded. “Yes, sure. But where will we go?”
“We can go back to my apartment,” I offered. “It’s a bit of a drive but it’s not too far.”
I regretted the decision as I drove us back to my apartment. Ten minutes in and I realized we weren’t even half way there. I wondered what she was thinking. This had to be at least a little scary for her. This was our first date and she was essentially a New Yorker. Driving through North Jersey for the first time with someone she barely knew couldn’t be the greatest of ideas. She didn’t say much. She remained polite and courteous as I assured her we were almost there. It took me almost a half hour. Hopefully the wine would make up for it.