"What are you doing tonight?" he asked as I set down the chips and slid his Sprite towards him.
"Um, I'm working." You would think the salsa would have been a clue.
"What about later tonight?"
"Later tonight is late. I won't be done here until at least 3 am." (This is a major occupational hazard, by the way. Most men are willing to go grab a bite to eat at 3 am-- until they realize that you actually meant that you wanted to grab a bite to eat.)
Dave didn't care about the time. The plan was for me to call him when I finished work, and we would go to an all-night diner for our date. It seemed sort of romantic, getting to know each other over pancakes and bad coffee in the glow of the "Open 24 hours" neon sign. It had to be better than trying to talk to him and he and his friends played dominos. As luck would have it, I finished work early and was able to rush home and change out of my beer-soaked shirt. It was only 2:30-- I was early.
"Hey, it's Harper. I finished up early. Do you want to meet at the diner or do you want to pick me up?"
"Oh, hi.... Where do you live?"
"Right by the diner."
"Uh... (murmur murmur in the background) Umm... hang on."
I look at the phone. Had I somehow misunderstood? An hour ago, when Dave said we should go out tonight, had I failed to clarify his definition of "tonight"? Did I miss something when he said "go out"? Was his definition of pancakes different from mine?
"Listen," I say, clearly annoyed, "We can reschedule if this is a bad time."
"No, it's fine," he says. "It's just that I'm all the way at my buddy's house now. It's kind of far from you. You can come over if you want."
Silence on my end.
"But I don't want it to be awkward," he adds.
Good! He's not an idiot. He gets that this is weird, and I don't want to drive 45 minutes to watch him and his friends play dominos until the sun comes up. Not to mention, this was a first date. And I wanted pancakes.
"So," he says, "Can you bring a friend for my buddy? So he doesn't feel weird about it."
Yeah. Let's make sure he doesn't feel awkward.
I patiently explained that none of my friends were awake at this hour (now after 3 am) and I don't think they would appreciate me waking them up to drive to his friend's house. "Maybe another time," I offered before getting off the phone.
Worst part? No pancakes.