Might as well have been two-buck Chuck

Faux fungi at Moto and more.

After five years of no contact, Chuck decided to send me a solicitation over Facebook.

“Hi Irene,” the message began, innocently enough. “Remember me? That was one crazy night in SF huh? Ages ago, I know!”

I thought back to the one and only night I’d ever met Chuck in person. I was 21, just graduated, and starting to explore how to flex my flirting muscle in the “real world” of clubs and legal booze. Chuck had seemed decently attractive until he told me he was 29 years old. Goodbye, and no number for you.

Wondering whether I needed to seriously boost my Facebook privacy, I read on.

“Glad to see you made it to J-school. You like Chicago? I might be going to Chicago in May for a medical conference and wanted to see if you wanna hang out—Chuck.”

I considered deleting the message and not even gracing it with a reply. Then I reconsidered—I hadn’t had much of a social life in a while, and a casual dinner couldn’t really hurt. Right?

I responded cautiously.

“Long time! How’s it going over in New York?” I stopped, again considering accepting his invite. Casual, I told myself. I decided to be nice. “Good to hear you might come by this way. We should meet up. Keep me posted—Irene.”

I clicked the send button and let the message fly off without much thought. We exchanged a few messages where he asked me to suggest some eateries, which I did perfunctorily, looking up lists of Chicago’s bests and throwing in a name I’d heard while at the Museum of Science and Industry. A month later, we were all set to head over to Moto to dine.

We met up on Thursday night at a lounge to catch some pre-dinner drinks. He showed up looking dapper in a dark grey suit. I wondered if I had kept it too caz, but figured the form-fittedness of my top more than made up for the less-than-formal attire. Then I wondered if I looked too sexy and would give off the wrong idea. I wrapped my cardigan around me.

Fortunately, our conversation was surprisingly easy to sustain, especially after a few drinks and some good laughs. After an hour, headed over to Moto, where we indulged in 10-course tasters and a bottle of wine. True to its reputation as trendy molecular gastronomy joint, the food at Moto was nothing if not intriguing. Edible menus, pureed corn bread, faux mushrooms, foamy snowmen with peppercorn buttons sitting atop tuna tartare… I flashed back to my childhood when Mom said playing with my food was an offense punishable by severe karma-induced starvation later in life. I waved the thought away.

As we dined, I looked over at Chuck, feeling an incredible lack of a connection. I pondered whether I should think that strange. Tall, decently handsome, assistant professor of radiology at Cornell… I started to wonder why I wasn’t more attracted to him.

It is what it is. I should head home, I began to think as Chuck hailed down a cab outside the restaurant and told the driver to take us to the Hancock Tower.

We grabbed a cocktail each at the Signature Room and chatted a bit more, but it was clear to me the night needed to come to an end.

“What do you want to do now?” I asked. I had hoped he would pause to think, at which point I would innocently add, “We could just call it a night?”

Instead, Chuck looked at me with what I can only imagine he called his seductive eyes. He slid a creepy hand across my lower back, but I didn’t shudder until after he spoke.

Can I do you?

And this is why you’re not into him, I told myself as I picked my stuff up and left.

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