“Girl, I’m Gonna Take You to Lobsterfest”
In the process of updating my bio for PVL, I re-read this story I wrote a while back and remembered that HOLY SHIT, I really have some crazy dating stories. It’s all an adventure, but this one is definitely one of my favorites. I wish I could find this guy again because I could really use a cheese biscuit with a side of personality right about now. Enjoy.
“Hey, do you mind if we go smoke, Rebecca?”
I knew that the question wasn’t so much whether I truly minded if they smoked, but more if I minded being the lone person keeping watch over our table in this sad little bar.
I was out with some friends from grad school—excuse me, ad school, the rough equivalent of a top ten grad school in cost, but minus the actual degree. We were studying to become creatives—copywriters, art directors, and designers—in advertising. In addition to learning the craft of creating memorable advertising, we were also quickly learning that to survive and stay sane in the crazy business we were about to enter, you had to drink. A lot. And we took our education very seriously.
Needless to say, we were broke, and that’s how we decided to hit the klassy establishment in North Beach that served dollar beers. We shot pool for a while, then we sat down and shot the shit over a few Fosters. As is usually the case after four or five beers, everyone decided they needed to smoke—everyone except me, the only non-smoker. I guarded the table, presumably from the six other patrons, who all looked like they’d spent a good $17 at dollar beer night by that time and thus, were probably not a big threat to steal our table since they were having a considerable amount of trouble just standing.
I sipped my beer and took in the scene. Before going back to school, I’d worked in the professional world for eleven years, and in my new grad school life, I was always amazed to see people out getting completely shit-faced at 1 am on a random Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. But who was I to judge? There I was, getting tanked with the rest of the randoms in this bar. The thought unnerved me, so I downed my beer. And that’s when I saw him staring at me.
I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed him before. He was a large African-American man with a commanding presence. I think he was good looking, but I couldn’t tell because his face was hidden under a Bolero hat and sunglasses. When he saw me notice him, he took that as his invitation to walk over and sit down with me. He brought both his shot and his beer with him. Clearly, he thought he’d be hanging around for a while.
“You and I are gonna go on a date this weekend,” he informed me. He had a bellowing voice, a cross between James Earl Jones and Leon Redbone, the voice of the jazzy snowman in Elf.
You had to give the guy credit. No one had tried the old assumptive close tactic on me in a while. “Oh, we are, are we?” I asked him.
“Yeah, my ex-wife has a hot tub at her condo in Oakland. We can go over there and soak ourselves for a while, then go have us a nice dinner.”
His ex-wife’s hot tub? What the hell? Way to lead with your ace, man. “Thank you for the very sweet offer,” I said. “But I’m in grad school and I have to work on projects all weekend.”
“Well, I’ll come pick you up, you’ll need a break,” he insisted.
“No, no, thank you, but, really, I can’t. Besides, I don’t even know you.”
“Well, we’ll get to know each other while we’re in the hot tub, now won’t we?” He had a point.
The conversation went back and forth like this for at least five minutes. Me saying no, and him coming up with new incentives for me to say yes. He was a musician; he would sing me a song. No. He would send a car for me, so I wouldn’t feel forced to make small talk with him on the way to Oakland. No thanks. He would give me a back rub, to ease my tension. No!
After a few more of these polite offers, he went a different route.
He took a long, thoughtful sip of his beer and then said, “Do you like it in the ass? You can tell me! There’s nothin’ to be embarrassed about! Cause if that’s what you’re into, we could do that.”
What the fuck? Who was this guy? As shocked as I was, I understood that he wasn’t trying to be crude; he just wanted to figure out what it was that would make me say yes. If I was an ass girl, he’d be willing. He was a real humanitarian, this guy.
“I … I … don’t even know what to say to that. It’s really none of your business, but no, no I’m not interested in … in taking it in the ass.”
He looked pensive. I knew he was mulling over what he could say to persuade me. He’d played all his cards and now he needed his grand finale, his last hope, his piece de resistance. Suddenly his face lit up with a smile as wide as his ex-wife’s hot tub. He’d figured it out.
“You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna take you to Lobsterfest.”
“I’m sorry … what?” I was incredulous. Or maybe I was just hard of hearing. “Wait, like Red Lobster’s Lobsterfest?” I was confused. No, I was on acid. That must be it. I was on acid and I’d tripped down a garlic-shrimp-scampi and cheese-biscuit black hole.
“Hell yeah, that’s the one, girl! Lobsterfest! Me and you. This weekend.” He chuckled to himself and walked away, not even caring if I was in or if I was out. He sat back down at the table across the room and kept shaking his head and laughing to himself as if Lobsterfest was the funniest goddamn idea he’d ever had.
As I sat there alone, dissed by this Leon Redbone sound alike and waiting for my friends to come back, I started to laugh too. Because, really, what’s more ridiculous than a first date at Lobsterfest? I raised my glass in an across-the-room toast to show my appreciation of his idea as I laughed.
“What’s so funny?” One of my friends asked.
“That man over there—he’s gonna take me to Lobsterfest this weekend,” I motioned to my suitor. He smiled and tipped his hat at the group.
“What the fuck are you talking about, Brown?”
To this day, I still I have no idea. Not one clue. But even now, as I conjure up his face, I can almost hear the hot tub jets powering on and the delicate shells cracking in the background as I taste the succulent, drawn butter of our first date.