It’s the evening of December 7, 1991. I am sitting on a bench outside the movie theater in Copley Plaza, waiting for my date to arrive. I am terrified.
This is more than the typical first date jitters.
The woman I’m waiting for is a fellow member of the UMass Boston’s Sci-Fi Club. I’ve known her for almost a year. On the last day of classes before summer break, she handed me a note with her phone number and directions to her home. The word among other club members was that it was inevitable that the two of us would become a couple.
It’s probably why they were so thrown off when I passed her over for another woman instead. That relationship ended with my getting dumped two weeks ago. I more than deserved it, but the hit to the ego sent me into a melancholic tailspin.
What if everyone was right? What if the woman I’d passed over truly was The One? How could I even approach her after what I did?
In the end, I opted for the most cowardly approach. I pinned a folded note to club bulletin board. “Maura, would you like to see Beauty and the Beast with me this Saturday?”
The note went up on Monday and was gone by Tuesday morning. I crossed paths with Maura in couple of times since then, but she made no mention of it. I was sure I’d fucked things up beyond fixing.
And then on Friday afternoon, just as I was leaving the club’s office for the weekend — “Otto! So you still want to see that movie tomorrow?”
We picked a time and place, and now I am here. Waiting and fretting.
Before heading to the theater, I stopped and the Barnes & Noble in Downtown Crossing where I picked up a cheap paperback copy of King Solomon’s Mines to read. I have attempted and failed to get through the first paragraph a dozen times before Maura finally arrives. She’s wearing a biker jacket, plaid skirt, pointy boots and a red sweater. Her dark hair is pulled back in a ponytail and her bangs are streaked with gold.
She apologizes for making me wait. I lie and tell her I hadn’t been waiting long.
I consider paying for both our tickets, but my limited experience has taught me that some women get weirded out by what they assume that implied. We go dutch instead.
The movie is fine, though it cuts against the punk rock rude boy rep I’ve tried to cultivate. I spend most of my time sneaking glances at Maura, trying to read her reaction to it.
The end credits roll and we file out of the theater. On the walk back to the subway station I ask her what she thought of it.
“I liked it. It was cute.”
“Yeah, the use of computer animation was interesting,” I say while trying and failing to sound cool.
We decide to get some pizza at the Quincy Market food court. Maura shoots dagger glares and throws an insult at a fur-wearing Beacon Hill matron at the next table over.
Our chatter is nervous and guarded, small talk about the Go-Go’s, anime, and our one-community-removed Metro North hometowns.
She walks with me back to North Station. She sees me off with a kiss on the cheek before hopping back on the subway back to Medford.
I take the last commuter train back to Woburn and crawl into bed. Contemplating the evening’s events as I drift off to sleep, I am unable to determine if whether the date went well or not.