Honey, I’m going out!
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
It was a warm Friday evening, nearly summer, and I wore slim jeans, a black T-shirt and a black leather jacket. I texted Lucas I was going out - hoping that he will stop me, hoping that he would drop everything and everyone and come to meet me. But I knew he had friends in town and I knew he will have a busy weekend ahead. I also knew how polite and considerate he is when it comes to people, but I sent the text anyway. I guess I wanted a reminder that he only thinks of me as a cool friend to hang out with.
Half way through my date Lucas texted me, asking how it was going. I wanted to tell him everything, but I only sent the short version. “We don’t click, and I will be home soon enough.” He expressed his disappointment and ended the last text of the day with “Good night. Kisses.” Wanted to write “Love you, good night” - for I was in love with Lucas - but would have been inappropriate. Discussing feelings via texts is always a bad idea. Especially late at night. Especially when there’s only one madly in love. “I’ll talk to you soon, sleep well. Hugs.”
I went home that night replaying every minute of the date. How the guy said hello while drinking a beer in a middle of the street - but hey, this is Berlin. People do this. But on first dates?
I looked in the mirror and noticed big dark circles under my eyes. I need to sleep more. This is Berlin - the common excuse people use to justify any kind of behavior, I frowned, now checking signs of getting older. Ughhh. I need to clean my apartment tomorrow and pay the bills. I reached the kitchen table and quickly added other things on the to do list. Re-reading the list, I realized I was angry. Was my outrage a little result of my chores for the next day or something else? Was the reason of me being upset the working week that just ended?
By the time we reached Hackescher Markt, he asked me if I want to share a smoke - “Ich rauche nicht. No, I’ve never tried it. Well, actually, I never had a boyfriend that smokes. I think it’s a disgusting habit, etc. No, I’m not saying you should quit, I’m just telling you how I am.”
“If I quit, I’m gonna do it for me”, he said, now glaring at me.
“Good, you should do what’s best for you. Or what you consider to be best for you.” I changed the subject and told him what I like about Berlin. He played with his half empty bottle of beer, scratching off the label and looking at me with a sombre silence and a searching earnestness.
It made me uncomfortable so I repeated my question “This graffiti is very cool, don’t you think?” I pointed at the wall in front of us to shift his attention from me to shapes and letter and colors. “...I mean group of artists, as they have drawings all over the town. Maybe you’ve seen it at...and in...also...”
The conversation was now in German and I liked the way he explained some things - and he laughed when I confessed I will never be able to pronounce the German word for “squirrels”. I shrugged my shoulders: “It’s just that my brain refuses to take that word into consideration.”
“Eichhörnchen verbringen den Großteil ihrer Zeit in Bäumen. Now repeat after me.”
“Blabla verbringen den...was? Wie bitte?...den Großteil ihrer Zeit in Bäumen.”
“Eich- hörn-chen. Say it like this.” Then he added: “I can teach you German. You’ll learn how to pronounce every word, I promise.”
[I didn’t want to roll my eyes and tell him not to make any promises he can’t keep. It’s something that happens on a regular basis - and still don’t know if that’s a line guys say because they think it will help them get laid, or because - in the heat of the moment - they’re excited about teaching. Though being a native speaker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good teacher.]
“You need patience and willingness to accept errors, and learning doesn’t happen over night.” I said in what I thought it was a convincing voice.
“I am a persistent Man” and he continued talking, trying to persuade me. I couldn’t stand having a fight on a first date, nor wanted to tell him about my past.
But I already tried it - I dated an English native speaker. And he never had patience explaining words “You’re English is good enough, I understand what you’re trying to say.” And yet, for me just “trying” was hard. I guess he didn’t realize how much I was struggling expressing how I felt - because talking about music and quoting jokes from tv shows is not equal to having a deep conversation under the moonlight. It was “perfect” because I knew how to order dinner and could watch tv without subtitles. But back then I wasn’t used to talking in English everyday and I forgot most of the German I learnt. “If you’re not telling me what I say wrong, I can not evolve. And I don’t even know how to say this correctly” I used to emphasize the last part in an angry voice...but the conversation ended in the same manner all the time - him kissing me and telling me not to worry. And so I felt disconnected because I was making a double effort - translating everything from Romanian into English and then correcting my mistakes along the way. It took me two weeks to replace “wash my teeth” with “brush my teeth”, but it wasn’t important for him. It was for me though. And all this came back in my mind, as my date was vigorously explaining how us being together meant I will learn German in three months.
“Have you ever had this experience before? I’m not saying you’re not capable, you’re English is very good and you have a soothing voice, but I’m curious if you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak your language.”
He looked at me surprised, in a way that made me smile “We’re doing a pretty good job at the moment, aren’t we?”
I nodded in agreement, imagining for a split second his face when I will ask during lunch “but why is this Dativ? Can you give me an example in another sentence?” (any many other questions I believed he never expected to be asked.)
It was getting colder and so our date was about to come to an end: “Walk me at the metro? It’s late and I have a busy day tomorrow.”
He stopped in front of a Spätti and his eyes narrowed. “Yes, just let me grab another beer. Are you sure you don’t want anything?”
“No, thank you. I’m good,” I said and glanced at my phone. And then it clicked - he was on his third beer and we haven’t been walking for that long. Was he that thirsty? Is this a normal behavior when you’re dating in your late 30s? Just get drunk with every occasion that arises?
“I really like beer,” he said taking another slurp.
I couldn’t react so fast, as the questions were still hovering over my head. So I said nothing.
“You know, I was very nervous meeting you and drinking helps calming me down. And I think you’re really pretty. I’m not drunk or anything, it just that...” I caught his eyes looking at me, trying to understand if he scored with his line.
“You don’t need to explain, really. It’s not my place to tell you how to behave.” I was beginning to feel weird - not because I thought I was in danger, but it was just...not right. I was meeting someone I didn’t really want to meet - it was just an excuse to be out and think about something else. I wasn’t by any means trying to make him to like me and he was desperately trying to impress me, while slowly but surely getting wasted. Langsam, aber sicher. Oder!?
But I didn’t care about anything anymore. I didn’t care how beautiful he thought I was. I didn’t reply when he told me he thinks I’m smart and learning German will be super easy for me. I guess he understood that he only had one chance at me, at us - although I never mentioned any ex boyfriends nor the new big crush I was trying to ignore. As we were approaching the subway, he wanted to pay me all the compliments one could get and I noticed him being uncertain of how I will answer.
It was an amazing night, he had fun, I’m spectacular, he’s a great father, he’s responsible, he doesn’t have a drinking problem, etc.
It wasn’t a bad evening, but it wasn’t spectacular for me. Decent conversation and a few good jokes, but I was ready to say good bye.
I woke up the next day to a text from him “I know I’m not your type of boyfriend and you’re looking for something serious, but maybe we can be friends with benefits until you find a suitable partner?”
“Aaaaarggggghhh. Whaaaat!!?” I didn’t reply, being sure that any explanation would be in vain. Men and their self confidence. How dares he?!? So all this “I’m gonna teach you German” was for increasing his chances in having sex. Great. What a waste of time. For both of us.
I was angry and went out for a run, to return home and see that Lucas texted me. “Hey, so come out and hang out with us. Joe already likes you - and you know he doesn’t like many people.”
“I’m not in a good mood and you don’t know me that well. I don’t want to cry in front of your friends.” <and I don’t want to tell you I’m in love with you, when clearly you’re not in love with me.>
“You’ll have fun with us, we won’t let you cry. I promise.”
I knew it was true, I knew he would bark and run around like a puppy, just to see me smile.
“You’re sweet, but I’m not a fun person to hang out with at this moment. Please trust me on this. I will clean my apartment and cry. I will be fine at some point.” <and I needed you not to know this side of me - not that early in our friendship, anyway. And I need to get over you and can’t do that when you’re being charming and caring.>
Three hours later Lucas wanted to see how I feel. “I’m better,” I lied. “Let’s talk tomorrow.”
“I’m gonna text you later today and tell you about our whereabouts, maybe you’ll feel like joining. Joe thinks you should come. And I don’t care if you’re no fun today, I like you even on your bad days. Smiley faces.”
“Lucas, thank you. I promise to text you if I’m in the mood to go out. If not, means I went to bed very early. Hugs.”
I cleaned my apartment and called a friend, explaining my dilemma. She laughed: “You can’t possibly be in love with him. Now. Does that answer your question?”
I put on a short black dress and a bright red lipstick and went out dancing. I texted Lucas that if he wants to join me, he’s more than welcome. “I’m going alone, darling. You don’t need to go with a partner if you want to dance salsa in Berlin.”
But the night was about to change me. And what a plot twist it was.