Jill, the woman I’d met at that party a few weeks back, and I had only met up once since our initial marathon date. She’d been busy with work and I moving but when we finally touched base she seemed excited to get together again.
“I’d love to see your new place, why don’t you have me over for dinner.” she suggested.
I loved her forwardness but feared the concept. A woman for dinner? I’d never done that before and it doesn’t sound easy, particularly since I own one pot and a pan with no handle. Moreover, I only cook omelets and that doesn’t seem very dinner-like (although I’m not above it). And what if she spends the night, do I make her another omelet in the morning?
As the day arrived and pressure mounted, I wandered Whole Foods looking for inspiration when I discovered God’s gift to men: the prepared food section. I told the woman behind the counter I desperately needed help and she hooked me up— olives and cheese with a fresh baguette to start, then veal piccata, mixed veggies, roasted potatoes and some sort of bean salad (“Trust me, she’ll love it.” I was assured). It looked like a real meal. I was so proud I took a picture and posted it online when I got home, choosing to disregard the fact that all I did was pay for it.
With dinner magically ready, I set the table with my eclectic dish collection, found some music online (since all I listen to is U2 and Tom Petty, I picked an “indie artist” channel to appear more hip) and waited to impress.
The doorbell rang… yikes, my first guest ever! Relax, Michael, that’s when you’re at your best. I opened the door and got nervous again. Jill looked awesome, jeans and a white button down shirt with a few buttons open, tank top underneath and running shoes. (She’d worn running shoes every time we’d hung out so far and I loved that.)
“Happy house warming!” she announced as she handed me the bottle of wine.
“Great!” I bellowed.
Calm down, Michael, you’re shouting.
“It’s Chilean.” she continued.
Not knowing much about wine other than there’s red and white and I like both, I nodded in agreement, afraid to speak again until I resolved my volume issue.
After a quick apartment tour, I sat her in the bed/living room and set off for the kitchen to open the bottle.
That’s when it dawned on me, I don’t own wine glasses— I only have pints “borrowed” from pubs and a coffee cup. Even worse, I didn’t own a corkscrew. Not good. The date was 3 minutes old and I’m already in a jam. Must open wine.
In full stress mode, I took a knife and started stabbing at the cork, hoping to somehow impale it on the knife and pull it out of the bottle. If you’ve tried this, you know it doesn’t work. Instead, pieces of cork shot all over the kitchen so I changed strategies, grabbed a screwdriver and tried to dig the cork out in little pieces. This failed, too, but I did notice the cork sinking further into the bottle— perhaps I could push it in completely and dribble the wine out around it? I took a big stab and missed completely, spearing the counter.
“Everything OK?” she called in. I was making grunting noises.
“Great!” I answered with unwarranted enthusiasm given the circumstances.
I jabbed at the cork a second time and nailed it. Pushing with my palm, it inched down and whoomp, dropped in!
Dribbling wine into a pint glass, I discovered my next problem: the wine now had tiny cork shards floating throughout. Trying to spoon the cork bits out of the glass proved impossible but just then a box of coffee filters caught my eye and inspiration struck. I placed a filter in a pint glass and poured in some wine. As the wine slowly dripped into the glass I set up another wine filtration system and waited.
“Do you need any help?”, she asked.
I had been in the kitchen a while.
“Just checking on dinner!” I squeaked.
I opened and closed the oven a few times to back up my story.
“I like this music!” she called in, “Who is it?”
“Uh, I don’t remember the name.” I replied meekly.
How did I get here? I just wanted to have a nice date in my new place and ten minutes in I’m dripping sweat and sifting wine through coffee filters. But then I glanced down… the glasses were full! I took a sip… no cork!
I entered the room victoriously clutching two pints of wine, announced my wine glasses broke when I moved and, silly me, I hadn’t replaced them. How unrefined! Jill chuckled, we toasted and the night went perfectly from there. At least until she suggested we save the cork as a souvenir.