18 May 2007

We hit it. Hit it off, that is.

With its antique wooden window frames cranked open for the season and its mix of young professionals sipping martinis, journalists and sources talking more than imbibing, lawyers not-so-subtley looking for wife number two and super-tanned, in-for-just-the-day Miami businessmen, Spezie on a mid-May day is about as lovely a happy hour setting as you'll find in Northwest DC.

And the perfect backdrop for a promising first date.

From the second I walked in the wine bar's familiar set of double-doors and was greeted on my left side - my good side - by the large bevelled mirror that not once in all the times I've had lunch, drinks and dinner there has been spoiled by a single fingerprint or failed to elicit from me a tilt-of-the-head and a wistfully sighed, "I so wish I had that in my bedroom," I knew my decision to spend the evening out on the town instead of in on the couch would be well worth the wrath I'd incur from my used-to-having-Mommy-home-all-night-every-night 13lb dollop of wonderful.

Before I'd even finished my quick eyeliner touch up in another large mirror - this one through a second set of doors by the hostess' podium - I was approached rather aggressively by a very nervous, very sweaty man in his mid-30s.

"Are you Christine? Excuse me, miss, are you Christine?"

"Wha...what? Am I Christine?" I asked the man, startled at the urgency in his voice.

"You're Christine? Oh god, good. Hi, I'm..."

"No, I'm not Christine," I said, finally grasping the situation, "I'm Johanna, but it's nice to..."


After he plodded off, I stood stunned for a minute until the devilishly handsome, looks-like-he-should-be-a-bit-character-on-The-Sopranos owner approached me, nodded as hosts do when they recognize a regular customer, and said, "Your companion, he is on his way, no?" in a way that implied he knew the answer before he'd even asked the question.

"No, actually he's not...we're not...I have different company tonight."

"Oh. Well, you such a pretty girl, no wonder you have different company. Keep it spicy, yes?"

Not wanting to enter into a conversation that would require more than the length of the walk from where I was to where I needed to be, I offered him my best it-was-his-decision-not-mine smile, a dull attempt at coyness with, "Well, spicy is better than bland, isn't it?" and began to navigate my way through the dining room to where I now saw E sitting perched on a stool at the bar.

E: hair down, Riesling, black shirtdress, black stiletto slingbacks, fabulous pearl cocktail ring.

J: hair pulled tightly back, Bellini, red and black wrapdress, black stiletto peeptoes, fabulous Indonesian spinel cocktail ring.

Before we even started in on the get-to-know-yous, it was clear our subtle differences aroused curiosity while our similarities put us both at ease. In short, we were a perfect girl-girl complement.

"Did that guy ask you if you were Christine?" E asked as I looped my daybag's double-shoulder-straps around the jut of the barstool.

"He did, why, did he ask you, too?"

"Mmmhmm, I think it's an Internet date. An Internet date that's not starting off so well."

"That's so sad."

"I know."

And in perfect Olsen-twin unison, the two of us turned and tilted our heads toward the gentleman's table and conjured up our most sympathetic "it happens to all of us" look, not thinking ahead of time how the extra attention might exacerbate his already apparent hyper-anxiety.

"So..." I started off, "tell me what it is you do over there at that consulting firm of yours."

And thus the girl-date began, just like a regular date, with back-and-forth questions about that day's happenings, recent bad dates (she'd had a dinner date with a guy who decided to eat before he picked her up; I'd had a date with a guy who ordered apple martinis with Diet Coke chasers), siblings, parents, did-she-know-this-person-at-her-college?, did-I-know-that-person-at-my-university? and so on and so on.

About three sips into our second round, we had our first pause, and it was clear that subject was no longer avoidable.

So we dove in, head-first, each reciprocating after the other had her turn, not in an obligatory you-went-now-it's-my-turn kind of way but in a completely genuine, completely equal, give-and-take fashion.

Not one to bring specific personal woes into the public fold, I shant divulge much of what was discussed during our intense, nearly two-hour, why-does-that-Rachael-Yamagata-lyric-resonate-so-strongly-with-you? conversation, but I will say that like our jobs, our shoe preferences and our seats in our colleges' Varsity eights, E and I are that rare match where we're vastly different in some ways but extraordinarily similar in the more important ones, a fact I knew right away when I discovered we both, at 27, still send our parents Valentines.

A second date? For sure. And this one might even involve that riding crop I didn't get to use tonight.


M said...

what a fab write-up. I remember a girl date I had a couple months of go. There was lots of planning involved and exactly the same kind of interaction!

etcetera said...

'twas lovely. i can only hope tonight's date with the opposite/inferior sex can compare.

so glad you noticed/admired my ring! it is my most prized posession. it belonged to my grandmother and namesake, a gorgeous woman who rocked 1920s flapper style like no one else, who had more sass in her pinky finger than i could ever hope to have, who was excommunicated from the catholic church for marrying my jewish grandfather, and who yelled at a publicly amorous couple on M street in georgetown, "GET A ROOM!" sigh.... what a woman.

boys, we know what a good date is like. so you better step up the game, or else it'll just be me and johanna staring in to eachother's cocktail rings for years to come....

bff in chicago said...

I'm trying to decide which is worse, the guy who ate before the date or the apple martini/diet coke guy...

the first guy is inconsiderate, which isn't good, but the second guy doesn't have a respectable man-drink, which is a dealbreaker.

You win.

etcetera said...

wait just a second, bff. if we're going to have a bad date-off, let me divulge just a little more info, which johanna tastefully left out.

after i ate MY meal, and he watched me eat my meal, and I paid for it b/c i couldnt stand the idea of him paying for a meal only i ate, he then told me one of his "funny and crazy" stories, of which he claims to have many. and in this story, he was at the gym where he had an accident on the incline bench press that caused the weight to land on his junk, which was then bloody, and before he could go to the hospital, the gym receptionist *required* him to show her the injury so that she could record it for insurance purposes.

the date ended 10 minutes later.

The End.

Kathryn Is So Over said...

I'm having a three-way girl date tonight while the bf is out of town. I expect to need a nice lie-in tomorrow.

m said...

etcetera -
that is a pretty horrible date story. I once had a date where they guy ordered dinner and then a second meal to "take home" with him and then left me to pay the bill. yeah - I never saw him again.

Johanna said...


Don't forget to mention that this classy guy you went out with didn't even bother to use a cute euphemism like "junk" in his story but came straight out, mid-milkshake with the P-word.

Also don't forget that the other part of *my* choice date who, in addition to his leaving the table 3 times in 30 minuutes, whispered in my ear at one point, "Have you ever fantasized about _____ with a ____ year old?" to which I responsed "No, I haven't, but do you watch 'To Catch a Predator' much?"

Perhaps it's a tie.

have fun on your 3-way! I'm spending my post-date evening watching my own well-worn copy of "The Lakehouse" (whatever, I love it) and eating froyo with the pup. intense girl talk can be exhausting!

This is why I only date older guys -- they don't need as many calories. And I can't believe you paid the bill! WTF??

tom h said...

Jo so glad you had a great time on your girl date and thanks for the details......I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall...enjoy dear..

knew you as hannie said...

what is it with you and old neo-cons? the freaky thing is, I know it's not just a front to seem odd. I recall the time you skipped world history class with Thea G. to "get some" from Pat Buchanan. I assumed you were talking about an autograph or a handshake, but now that I've grown up, I know what you *really* meant.

Wolfowitz, though? Yuck. I'd pick Cheney waaay before him.

Johanna said...


I can't believe you remember that! I got his autograph that day, and by autograph I really mean...okay fine, just his signature on a piece of paper.

The Wolfie bit was a complete joke. Not into him a whit. Seriously. I just find this saga completely and ridiculously entertaining. Go over to wonkette.com and read their pieces on the "Wolfucker" story. It's beyond funny.

dc girl said...

What Rachel lyric is this?? I went to that post, but didn't see anything. Tell me! It's driving me crazy!

bff in chicago said...

dc girl:

"you only wanted me the way you wanted me..."

(it's in the comments section)

dc girl said...


what a terrible thing to experience. hope you both are coping well :)

Johanna said...

DC girl-

Thank you.

The more I think about it, the less apropos that lyric is for my situation. it fits etcetera's perfectly, but I'm in a much more
"I wish you well and hope you find
Whatever you're looking for/
The way I might've changed my mind/
But you only showed me the door" kind of situation.

And on that note...HAPPY FRIDAY!

nyc admirer said...

any man who shows you the door is a fucking moron. and blind. and probably gay. no, *definitely* gay.

glad you had a good time last night, doll. you needed it.

etcetera said...

as bff in chicago said, "but you only wanted me, the way you wanted me" is the line that kills me. google the lyrics to the song. the whole thing is amazing.

and if you're looking for more heartbreak, the song that embodies the breakup before that one (for me) is "in spite of all the damage" by The Be Good Tanyas.

just try not to cry. i dare you.

is it 5pm yet?

west coast devotee said...

I second 'NYC admirer's' assertion. Gay. 100%. through and through.

blind doesn't quite do it, because you've still got that fantastic figure (at least you did last time I saw you in that satin blue mini -- have you been hitting up the Krispy Kreme, JC?), so even if he couldn't see your sweet little face he could still enjoy a slice of your other kind of heaven.

I really hope my girlfriend doesn't catch me writing this. I mean, my wife. Shit, I gotta stop making that mistake.

Johanna said...

stop it, boys. that's not nice. and not true.

and NO, I haven't been on the Krispy Kreme wagon as of late. I do, however, allow myself one blueberry cake Dunkin' donut every Wednesday. With freshly ground Godiva coffee, it's almost better than shopping.

nyc admirer said...

fine, he may not be gay but he's definitely missing out on the greatest girl who ever was EVER. stop pining. it doesn't suit you. go out and make it happen if you believe in it.

if not, wait around for the Hot Enough results and find Mr. Right in there!

freckledk said...

After The Bird stopped blogging, I'd wondered what would become of Etcetera. I'm glad she's found a happy new home in which to comment. I'm sure that you two will make a very lovely couple.