How to Wait for a Date This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 21, 2013
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There’s a balloon in my stomach. Every time the door creaks open, the balloon expands then deflates as I see that the person entering is not who I’m waiting for. I am anticipating the arrival of my date, and frankly, I am starting to get a little antsy. It’s 12:15. We planned to meet at noon. My plan to arrive fashionably late has failed, and once again I’m awkwardly waiting.

The door creaks again, and again it’s someone else. Am I relieved? Disappointed? I can’t tell. Part of me wants to abort this whole plan and just get myself a donut so I don’t have to deal with the small talk and clammy hands that inevitably accompany a first date. But the other half wants him to please, please hurry up because I hate waiting by myself. I hate it.

There’s caffeine pulsing through my veins where blood should be, and my limbs are twitching. This happens every time I have a 10-ounce cup of coffee on an empty stomach. When will I learn?

My therapist told me to find my center in moments like this. So I’m playing my calm-down song in my head – “Feelin’ Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel.

Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin’? I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’…

The waiter is looking at me with contempt. He’s thinking, Ha ha, you have no friends, while the attractive couple next to me whispers, “Isn’t it so great that we have each other, unlike that weird girl sitting by herself? Aren’t we just soooo awesome?” And then they kiss just to rub it in. Loser loser loser loser!

My hands are oozing gallons of sweat. Not just slightly clammy, they are absurdly moist, to the point where touching the table leaves a giant ­handprint. If he decides to shake my hand, his will become saturated. Then he will be so repulsed he’ll never ask me on another date.

To calm myself, I try something I read about called paradoxical intention, where you say what you don’t want to happen to hopefully get the opposite effect. Okay, I think. Today I am going to sweat until my hands are dripping and everything I touch is coated with slime.

Do d-doo doo, feelin’ groo-vy!

Theoretically, this is supposed to make my hands stop sweating, but it doesn’t. I’m wiping them on my skirt when I realize I have forgotten to shave my legs. Not just today. For about two weeks. They are far too spiky to ignore. For a man, forgetting to shave gives him a scruffy, rugged handsomeness. But on me it’s just gross. If he happens to brush against my leg, he will be so repulsed he’ll never ask me on another date.

Na na na na na na na, feelin’ groovy.

The girl next to me is leaning over, exposing cleavage and a black lacy brassiere to the boy across from her. With manicured fingers she fondles his knee seductively. He is utterly ­enchanted.

Subtle! I think. But really I’m just bitter because I wish I knew how to do that without looking stupid.

I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep. Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.

I begin replacing the lyrics with ones I ­invented:

I’m hairy and sweaty and ready to leap at this girl who is fondling her lover’s knee!

The door creaks open again. My balloon bursts. Brown curls, green eyes, yellow shirt, maroon-rimmed sunglasses. It’s him and he ­forgot to shave too, so I guess we’re even.

Suddenly the waiter isn’t paying me any mind. He is pouring coffee for an old lady whose nose is buried in a Reader’s Digest.

The waiter is spitting in a bowl of soup, looking around to make sure no one saw, but I did. He delivers the soup to the girl with the cleavage, who doesn’t thank him. She turns to her lover and the two are far too lovestruck and googly-eyed to notice the hairy-legged, clammy-handed girl at the next table.

No one cares that I am here. I am really not that important.

Usually these words are self-deprecating, but today they are exactly what I need. No one is watching me or whispering about me or wondering why I am sitting alone. I am okay.

Once I realized this, waiting by myself wasn’t all that bad.

He takes his place across from me and smiles. I am okay.

Life, I love you,

All is groovy.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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