ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷
pjammer

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Adventures in LJ Dating (part one)

Saturday, 11:59pm
“Mmmmm. That … was awesome. I liked the first time – but the second time was even better,” purrs my date for evening. She turns to look at me, one-quarter profile, loose strands of hair covering one eye – and offers me a contented smile.

I stifle a guffaw, as my face breaks into a smile of its own.

“What?” she asks, turning full around – eyes dancing with bemused curiosity.

“Ah … can I quote you on what you just said right there?”

She laughs gaily for a moment, then slips her hand into mine and says “Sure.”

Sausalito, CA. Thirty minutes ago …
The bright yellow sign next to the glowing red traffic light warns drivers: “5-minute light.” The night air is dry and cool; outside temperature gauge on my car tells me it is 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I strum my fingers restlessly, feeling the texture of the leather-wrapped steering wheel, waiting for the light to turn. And waiting …

Two exits north of the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, there is a little-known, half-mile single-lane tunnel on Bunker Road under the Marin Headlands mountain range. Too narrow to accommodate two-way traffic, access through the tunnel is controlled by traffic lights at both entrances, which directs drivers in each direction – alternating every five minutes.

“Ready?” I ask. She smiles, nods, and shifts slightly in her seat.


T-minus 00:29:01
Bunker Road Tunnel
Green light.

I spin the engine to 5,000 RPM before dropping the clutch, and the vehicle’s Quattro traction-control system bites the gravel with a crisp chirp before we hurtle into the tunnel. My shoulders sink into the seat as I eye my tachometer and watch it soar.

At five hundred RPM shy of redline, I upshift.

For a split second, my shoulders lift from the seat back – then almost immediately return as the engine begins the second stanza of its familiar four-to-six thousand RPM aria. The solid rock behind the tunnel’s narrow walls echoes back the thunder of the 3.0’s 220 roaring horses as I push toward my final upshift.

At ninety miles per hour and less than 200 feet of tunnel left to run, I heel-and-toe a brake/downshift and watch the blur of the tunnel’s orange lights slow into individual points of illumination.

“Cool,” she beamed.

“By the way, this tunnel is the only way back – so we’ll see it again shortly.”

“Good!” she smiles as we roll into the rural mountain switchbacks of Marin Headlands.

There are distinct sorts of in-car conversational dynamics in different environments – and the drive through the empty twists of west Sausalito was a welcome break from the distraction-filled city driving from just an hour earlier.

Tell me what you love. Tell me what you fear. Tell me what you are.

T-minus 00:00:59
As we roll up to stop the red signal light in front of the tunnel, I say: “So the five minute-light means we may have to wait as long as – ”

Click. Green light.

“ – uh … half a second?” I finish, as we look at each other and laugh.

Would that all the stoplights of my life be like this one.

With a rolling start in first gear, I drop the hammer and launch the car toward the tunnel at full throttle. As we crest the small rise near the entrance, I feel the vehicle lift briefly, a split-second of weightless, before settling back down on its Pirelli-clad haunches.

Six thousand RPM … upshift. Six thousand RPM … upshift. The two hundred and twenty horse orchestra offers a sonorous encore presentation of its opus, but my attention is directed elsewhere – to the pair of glowing dials on my dashboard.

Ninety – I see ninety … do I hear ninety-five? Yes, you in the back, ninety-five … do I hear a hundred? Ninety-five going once, ninety-five going twice … YES! The dapper gentleman in the front seat for one hundred!

Two swift heel-and-toe downshifts kick the car down to single digit speeds, at which point she turns to me and says:

“Mmmmm. That … was awesome. I liked the first time – but the second time was even better,”

Oh, wait – what were you thinking?

Palo Alto, CA. 7:30pm
So I’m on the campus of Stanford University to pick up Anna, the first date with somebody I met through LJ. “Going on a date with someone I met through LJ” is the kind of statement that can either mean I am a majorly cool studmuffin, or that I am an incredible pathetic dweeb, depending on who you ask. In my defense, everyone I know who’s seen her usericon agrees she’s a major-league babe – but typing that sentence out just now, I realize that saying “I am not a hoser because her LJ usericon is way cute,” is exactly the sort thing that stamps a giant “DWEEB” on my forehead.

Oh, why do I even bother?

So anyway, she emerges from her friend’s dorm, decked in a pale blue top and black skirt - clean, simple and very fetching. Hubba hubba hubba.

“Shall we?” I ask, as I open the passenger-side door. She smiles and steps in. With dinner reservations set at 8:45, we have time to spare to find parking.

San Francisco, CA. 8:30pm
There’s a strange sort of pseudo-intimacy that online introductions provide – in one sense, you can be familiar with details (at times, highly sensitive and private ones) in another person’s life – yet on the other hand, never connect those discarnate thoughts, words and memories to a living, breathing body. That transition process: merging the digital impression of someone with a corporal presence, is a peculiar experience – but one that I seem to be getting a lot of these days.

Anna. We began corresponding a few months back and chatted on AIM and telephone perhaps a half-dozen times. Turns out she’s a high school friend of bradfitz, and mentioned to him of our plans this evening – to which he responded: “Oh yeah – I’ve met him in LA. He’s cool. But don’t put out on the first date.”

Oh, ha-ha. Et tu, Brad? ;)

We place our orders and continue talking.

Tell me what you love. Tell me what you fear. Tell me what you are.

San Francisco, CA. 10:30pm
Dinner was fantastic – and I am pleased that she is an excellent conversationalist. She’s bright, sardonic and commands a delightfully wry presence. Just my luck, of course, that she lives over 500 miles away – like every woman I connect with since I finished college (she was in town to visit some friends for a few days, and agreed to join me for dinner). But much like the way diabetic views his insulin shots, I’m resigned to accept brutal irony as an inevitable part of my romantic life. I’d be a fool if I failed to enjoy the moment for what it is in the process of mourning What Might Have Been.

“So are we going to see the Golden Gate Bridge now?” she asks, snapping me out of my reverie.

Ah, tourists.

“Sure,” I replied, signing the dinner check. “Let’s go!”

Golden Gate Bridge, 10:45pm

[...]


(continued here)
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