When I came to the Bay Area on this trip I was torn. Should I take a break from all that effort of trying to date, or should I use this opportunity to date a different kind of guy, one I couldn’t date in Delhi? I kept floating around OKC and Tinder just to see what happened, and the results were dismal. Despite having more than twenty over-95% matches on OKC, no one wrote to me or replied. Plus the Bay Area seems to be full of white hipster boys in poly relationships, drinking craft beer and keeping their bushy beards out of it. Not exactly my type ahem. And I assume I’m not their type, especially with my short stay.
But then there was this one guy on Tinder–he had no picture–but he had a clearly Spanish name, and that famous gut of mine was like READ MORE. His description was charmingly straightforward, so I wrote to him, and he responded with interest and engagement and we decided we’d go out. After much haggling about dates, we decided on a Tuesday night movie at the New Parkway Theater–a theatre with couches and wine!
The day comes around and I’m supposed to meet him at Paramount Theater in Oakland, since the bus from where I am goes there. But in a case of brilliant Google fuckup, I end up expecting the trip to take twice as long as it does and then of course overshoot and miss the spot. I ask the lady behind me when the stop is coming up and she says oh you missed it! I’m not too far though so she tells me to hop out at the next stop and get a bus back. I’m totally lost and I think I could probably walk back to it but I don’t know how. I hate not having data. I text him to tell him about the fuckup and he very sweetly asks where I am so he can come and pick me up. Five minutes later there he is in a car across the street.
I hop in; we hug hello and set off of the theatre. Once there we discover we’re going to be watching a documentary called 20,000 Days on Earth, which neither of us knows anything about, but hey, wine and couches. The movie turns out to be a very er masturbatory exercise by Nick Cave, and sadly seems to be one of those movies that’s only fun if you’re a fan instead of one that pulls you into being a fan. But we don’t mind, since then we can whisper to each other and not care about missing bits of the movie. Some time into the movie he puts his arm around me and I snuggle up on his shoulder, and we hold hands. It’s all very cute. And cosy. And comfy.
When the movie is done we shuffle out and decide to grab a drink. He wants to go to Plank in Jack London Square, and as we’re driving there we see helicopters circling and pass four police cars sirens blaring. ‘They’re headed to the protest in Berkeley I guess,’ he says. I’m very thrilled though because hello it’s like in the movies! The chopper has it’s searchlight on and is circling a particular spot. ‘You know, in Oakland they called helicopters ghetto birds,’ he tells me, which makes me chortle in glee. I love that term.
We get to Jack London Square and park and walk over to the bar. This takes us past a gorgeous Christmas tree, and I also realise we’re on the waterfront! So exciting. Yes I know, very lame desi girl in phoren happening, but hey I am desi girl in phoren. We get our stamps and go on into the bar, with me gloating about them accepting my driver’s license as ID, which I’d been warned they wouldn’t. It’s a crazy, loud gaming bar. There are videogames, a bowling alley, giant screens showing all sorts of sports channels, other throwing games outside (that I neither recognize nor remember), and an outside bar. I request sitting outside because there’s no way we’ll hear each other inside.
We hop onto bar stool and get a drink and launch into chat. He asks about my family and tells me about his. We discuss how my sister worries about me when I meet internet people, and she’s only three years older. He tells me he stopped hovering over his sister–seven years younger–a long time ago. I ask him about work and tell him about mine. I ask him if he’s seen the blog. ‘What blog?’ ‘Wait, I didn’t tell you about the project?!’ And then I do. He is very amused and then of course asks about my being single at my age in India. ‘Don’t your parents stress?’ ‘Well they do because I’m unhappy I don’t have something I want, but otherwise no. They just want they kiddies to have what they want and be happy. I have very unusual parents!’ He is very entertained when I explain the numbers logic I have and points out that I’m an analytical person.
He asks why I have the no sex on first date rule and I explain how many guys online in India just want to get laid, and while that’s fine by me, it doesn’t work for me until I connect with a person. And that connecting, while boosted nicely by having a common background, doesn’t need one. ‘Look at us. We grew up very differently, but we’re still able to talk and understand the other person’s differing opinion or perspective! That’s what I call having brain and knowing how to use it.’ He laughs. ‘But sometimes you’re just hooking up with someone and having fun and it becomes something bigger,’ he says. ‘Aren’t you cutting yourself off from that?’ I clarify that I’m not closed to that happening, but in all the time I’ve been dating it has never happened to me, and the one time it came close I was really messed up and I’d like to avoid that if possible!
We’ve finished our drinks and he says come on let’s go for a walk. We wander out to the waterfront which is full of lights and boats and reflections. He tells me that the AT-AT Walkers in Star Wars are inspired by those very cranes we can see, and I tell him how I thought Star Wars was OK. He refrains from hissing in horror though and we go and stand by the rail so I can take pictures. We stand there talking, holding hands and being very cute. I notice the ghetto birds are out again, circling one particular spot. It’s now time to leave so we go back to the car and head out.
And then I get my movie moment. Not only are there several helicopters overhead, we constantly pass Highway Patrol and police cars, and at one point have to take a quick right turn away from an actual protest march. When we get to the freeway we’re stopped by about twenty cops in riot gear (!!!!)*. One of them starts screaming NO! NO! NO! NO! and I panic a little bit, but then I realise it’s for a guy who’s trying to drive around the police cars–that had their lights flashing–and get on the freeway anyway. (Desi? Hee.) It then takes us a really long time to actually find a way onto the freeway and then soon enough I’m home. I give him a quick goodbye hug and run into the house. I really hope I’ll see him again.
*I later discovered it was this.