Underneath the Surface
We do it every single day of our lives and sometimes we are unaware that we are even doing it. It’s called judgment. Most of us associate the word “judgment” with a negative tone. This is because when we hear or even act on judgment, it’s associated with the color of someone’s skin, the kind of car they drive, what area they live in and whose hand they might be holding. As our world becomes more and more tolerant of how we view things, we still live in a world where judgment can over shadow us from actually ever getting to know another human being. Which got me thinking…are we even capable of ever getting to someone for who they truly are?
Last Wednesday, I found myself going on a first date with someone that I had met through OKCupid. I was already in the mindset that I wasn’t going to have a good time because of my great first date I had the night before with someone else but I told myself that I needed to take some pressure off myself. I was already judging this date before I even met him; I was judging someone solely based on photos and few paragraphs that he wrote about himself. I did my best to tell myself that I was certainly in no position to be judging another person and so I did my best to let my inner thoughts go and just try to get to know someone.
He wanted to meet in Central Park and take a walk for our first date. It was very hot and humid that day in the city and I didn’t want to show up on my date a sweaty mess but I agreed to it anyhow. Meeting in the park is always a bit of a pain in the ass because it is so huge and you never know where someone will be and of course, it took me ten minutes to find him. When I finally did, I was instantly not attracted to him and he probably wasn’t with me either because we both were struggling to make this entertaining. I knew right away that this date was going to last no more than an hour and so we walked. He took control of which direction we were going to walk in and I went along for the ride. We made the usual small talk of, “Where are you from?” “How long have you lived in the city?” “What do you do for a living?” However, by the time we finished with the small talk, he wanted to sit on a bench and continue. I thought for sure after we finished with the small talk that we would shake hands and part ways. As we sat on the bench, I began working overtime on trying to find topics to talk about. I even started talking about cooking spices which I know nothing about. Finally, after our third moment of awkward silence, I couldn’t take it anymore and got up. I stood over him and stuck out my hand and said, “It was really nice meeting you. I wish you all the luck with everything. Get home safely.” I turned and walked in the opposite direction back to my apartment. Someone had to be the bigger person to end this disaster and I was more than capable of doing so. Most of the time whether the date was good or bad, I take the time to reflect but as I predicted, the date lasted exactly one hour and there was nothing to analyze. There simply was no chemistry.
Once Friday presented itself, I was more than ready to enjoy the weekend. That evening I was going to the East Village to attend a dance performance by the company, OUI Danse. I wasn’t sure what to expect and one of the reasons I was attending was because of friend of mine’s friend was doing the lighting for the performance, plus when you live in a city like Manhattan, you need to take advantage of the arts. We all show up and immediately head to the bar to get our wine. None of us really know what to expect, we were told that it gets warm inside the theatre. That was all that was told to us and so we waited it out until the show began. It was a very sensual and erotically charged performance accompanied by some amazing music. All of us had a wonderful time and by the time the show was over with we all were feeling the heat. A quick dinner afterwards and we went to Nowhere Bar for a few beers. Finally a few more friends joined us at the bar with us deciding to change locations and ending the evening at the Phoenix. It was one of those nights in the city where you are lucky enough to mix art, friends and booze.
After last weekend’s endless hangover, I was much more conscious of how much I was drinking. So, when I woke up on Saturday, I wasn’t feeling too exhausted. In fact, I got so much accomplished that I was even impressed with myself. Laundry, gym and of course some shopping. There was even communication, which there had been since our great first date with the guy from last Tuesday. We finally agreed to meet on Sunday, once again finding myself in Central Park to meet him. However, this time, I was looking forward to meeting someone in the park.
I had to pay attention to the time because I needed to go to Brooklyn to attend a friend of a friends’ birthday party at the Crown Victoria Bar and Beer Garden. After finally finding my way there (I got lost) my friends were already there waiting for me. The weather in the city had finally shifted from summer to fall and so as we all drank beer and met new people; it was hard to enjoy ourselves since we were outside and it was cold. After a couple of beers, we grabbed a cab and went back to the city to my friend’s apartment to change clothes and figure out where we should go next since it was still so early.
After a few bottles of bubbles, we decided to first stop off and have a drink at Salvation Taco and enjoy the rooftop view of the city. It was still so early in the evening that instead of calling it a night, we decided to hit up a bar that we had only experienced once before called Adonis. We arrive, paid the admission and once we pushed back the black velvet curtains we were greeted by at least 10 men or so with only their underwear on and as they talked to you, they will stop and go up on a stage and do a dance number. It is not a scene we often find ourselves in but regardless of the situation, we were there, having a good time and of course judging the dancers. Sometimes they were positive judgments and other times; we weren’t too kind with our remarks. I was still doing my best to not let myself get too out of control because I knew I had a date the next day. Yet, after the male dance review, I found myself in a cab going to the west side to go to the bar, Industry, because we wanted to dance. We danced for about an hour before forcing myself to leave and get home by 3 a.m. which in my mind would still give me plenty of time to sleep in and not look like a train wreck.
Sleeping in is something that I am just not good at, so when I looked at my clock and it read: 8:30 a.m. I pulled the covers over my head and wished for at least another hour or so of rest, which luckily, I got. Got the coffee, the coconut water and eased into the Sunday morning. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, I get the text message from my date telling me that he finally got to the park with his dog and his best girlfriend. He did tell me the day before that there was a possibility that his friend might be joining us. I was a little taken aback by him inviting his friend at first but at the same time enjoyed the fact that he liked me enough to introduce me to his friend.
I enter the park at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue, on my walk there I found myself getting more and more excited as I crossed avenue after avenue. I called my date the minute I entered the park because to find someone is damn near impossible, he showed up with his dog and gave me a hug. It was nice to see him and I could tell that he was excited to see me as well. I kneeled down to meet the dog and was greeted with a nice sloppy dog kiss. He told me that the friend I was meeting was the friend he met in kindergarten and that they both moved to New York from Oklahoma around the same time. I have never had a problem with meeting new people and quickly introduced myself to his friend and sat on a rock right beside her. I was doing my best to not think of this as a second date rather just some people hanging out in the park. You can tell the way the park was so full that day that everyone was holding onto this weather for dear life because we all know that at any minute it will go from comfortable to frigid.
We sat on the rocks and all got to know each other. I learned that my date still has a lot of country inside him even though he lives in the Brooklyn. From the camping, to motorcycles (which I kept accidentally kept calling them bicycles) to even showing me photos of him having a raccoon as a pet. It was amazing at how opposite we were that it became kind of a running joke all afternoon. As they began talking about pickles, it was there that I decided to share my phobia of pickles to which he said, “You shouldn’t have told me that. Now I will torture you endlessly.” It was there that the flirting was turned up a notch with the occasional holding of my hand or him nudging me as he was teasing me. His friend at one point said, “I think you are so cute and funny.” I was in with the friend at least, I was still waiting to see how my date was going to judge how I did but I just continued to be myself. Another friend of theirs’ ended up joining us and once the sun was starting to go down, a few of us wanted to watch the tail end of the Giants game.
Their friend lives on the Upper East Side and said we could drop my date’s dog off there and go to a bar around the corner from her apartment. As the two ladies walked ahead of us to the apartment, that gave my date and I some along time and it was nice, romantic even. I learned more about him and he certainly learned about my quirky ways, which I am always concerned that will make the person want to turn and run the other way. Instead, he found them endearing and funny. After dropping the dog off at the apartment, we all went to her local sports bar and watched the game.
I bought him his favorite beer, Guinness, and he immediately just put his arm around me. I found myself feeling self-conscious mainly because I was worried how others were going to judge us. We were on the Upper East Side where the only people that live there are those in khaki pants and blue button down shirts. Then I thought if he doesn’t care who sees us than why the hell should I care? I was letting my fear of judgment from others interfere with a perfect time with someone. I shut the noise off in my head and focused on my date and his friends.
At one point he just looked at me and said, “I am really glad you came out today. I am having such a great time.” It was amazing at what fun we all were having. Even his friends were asking me for my phone number so they can text me about dating advice. There wasn’t one moment in the entire afternoon/evening where I wanted the date to end. However, I wanted some more alone time with him and wasn’t sure how that was going to happen. We all decided that it was a school night and to wrap the evening up. We picked up the dog and then it happened…we were alone, just the two of us.
As we walked through the Upper East Side, he held my hand and once again told me how nice it was to see me and what a fantastic time he had. I asked him what his friends thought about me and he said, “If they didn’t like you; you certainly would have known it. They really like you.” We were getting closer and closer to the subway which was where I was going to be dropping him off and right in the middle of the sidewalk on Lexington Avenue and 75th Street; he just stopped and said, “Can I kiss you?” I said “Yes. Thank you for asking.” He kissed me and it was perfect. The air smelled like fall, the cars moving past us up the avenue and the city all lit up. After a minute of kissing, it occurred to me that we were kissing in an area that is not known for having a lot of gay people and I pulled away and continued to walk. He held my hand the entire way and we finally reached 77th Street where he would be catching the subway back to Brooklyn. We kissed a bit more and agreed to try and meet at some point this week for dinner and drinks.
As I saw him walk down into the subway, I was grinning from ear to ear. I caught a cab and headed toward my apartment. I told myself that I wasn’t going to contact him for the rest of the evening and to just enjoy the wonderful time that I just had. About an hour or so after I got home, I received a message from him telling me once again, that he had a great time and thanked me for coming out. I told him that it was my pleasure, that I also enjoyed meeting his friends and for him kissing me. His response to the kiss was, “How could I not?” I could only respond with, “I look forward to seeing you next time.” I got the simple and sweet message of, “Me too.” A minute later, I got a message from his girlfriend asking me some dating advice and I gave it to her and she was most appreciative. Just goes to show you that even when we judge ourselves, whether that is meeting friends or family for the first time or even during a job interview, you just might get lucky and get a rave review.
In a city like New York where you can pass by hundreds of people in just one city block, you will be surprised by how much we judge and are judged by others. The judgment we put out into the universe can be negative and other times it can be positive but it’s still judgment no matter how you design it. We might not ever live in a world where we are judgment free but that doesn’t mean we can’t consciously do a little bit of self-control on how we perceive others. After all, how amazing would it be to actually be able to say you know someone inside and out rather than just what we see on the surface?
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