I don’t know what you’re expecting. I mean, a couple of alter kockers arrange a meeting like this. It sounds very old world, but it doesn’t feel like it. I mean, you’re a sexy girl, and you smell great. You don’t need to be set up. And I sure as hell didn’t arrange this. I mean, I’m sure my father told you what a Lothario I am but I’m not. I’m very anxious about it. I’ve never had sex, not even once.
Let me just first say that the whole premise of fix-ups and this manner of dating just melts me. And it is probably its own version of nightmare, but I don’t care–in the entirety of my 48 years, all of them unmarried, I’ve never encountered it. I’ve never been invited to a dinner party at the home of my married friends* only to be seated next to a dashing, or desperate, age-appropriate single male co-worker of one the hosts. I have never so much as heard of a real-life (as opposed to “Happy Days”) situation where a guy has asked his girlfriend to bring along a friend for his friend–this universe, awkward as it may have been, is science fiction to me.
Beverly knew she was a heading into set-up; Michael did not. In fairness, his father probably made the right, albeit manipulative call–Michael would have never agreed to it, certainly not coming from his father. Beverly, as it turns out, had seen a photo of Michael, which piqued her interest.
Poor guy was not prepared–he would have showered, etc. AND HE SAID AS MUCH. I love that. And yet? HE TOOK HER TO A DINER. Why you gotta do that? Now, I don’t know if a diner was precisely the same squished head on the restaurant totem pole then as it is now, but it was definitely down there; distinct from fine dining. So, was it that he didn’t have reservations? Felt under-dressed for something better? Even taking into consideration that he is likely paying the bulk of he and his father’s living expenses–he can afford it. He should have a halfway decent income–maybe not as much as if he were a family man, but still. Ginsberg is an important team member. And also, as such, he has been around the world of clients; he’s been out of the lower-income all-Jewish neighborhood, and he knows how to impress a girl. Is he just cheap? I’m going with the theory that he already assumes this thing is destined to be a disaster, so why put in effort; why look like he’s putting in the effort. He’s fulfilling on his own insecurities. Later on, when he calls himself out; “I ordered soup?” it is probably the same thing–I think right there he could have said, “I brought you to a diner?”
Let’s walk through it, shall we?
He asks her if she likes kids, then realizes how intense that sounds, then says as much.
She is a student teacher, getting her Master’s at Hunter. Yes, she likes kids. Some kids = a glimmer of her feist.
(My mom went to Hunter, though did not graduate at that time–too busy with the marrying and the having kids. Hunter, in Manhattan, had been an all-women’s school until the 50s, and was an elite public college.)
He: I just really can’t believe he brought you to the apartment.
She: Stop saying that. You don’t know where I live.
He: Well it’s kind of early to find out. Isn’t it?
She: Yes I suppose it is.
He was amazing– it was a great flirt, just one side or the other of too much, and he made terrific eye contact. And her response was just as great. These are two adults, being playful.
Then his panicked stream of vom-consiousness. I usually do a first viewing uninterrupted, but I had to rewind my DVR–did he really just say that he’d never had sex? OUT LOUD? And how can that possibly be? Again, returning to the moment just before; I saw confidence. He knows how to be with women. He may be guileless, but he seems like he’s in the game. He is handsome, he is a character, and he has a sexy job–anyone remember the boys in the pilot at the burlesque show? He smokes pot**, which certainly lowers that particular guard. Whatever the anxiety is about; whatever code he is adhering too, it must be fierce.
And she is delicious. Smart and comfortable and beautiful. She manages to set a boundary and still let him know she’s interested and probably a yes down the road.
But I just fell all the way in love with Michael. Direct, clumsy and elegant–all in one mess of a perfect date.
Of note–they’re drinking coffee with dinner. That’s how they used to do it, coffee with your meal in a diner.
*I know, Anne B.; you’re going to read this and tell me if you lived on my coast you’d already be on the phone arranging such a dinner. And I’d come.
**Well I thought he smoked pot when I wrote this, but in A Tale of Two Cities, he says he doesn’t touch the stuff. So um, never mind.