It was one of those blind (family) date situations where an older cousin of mine set me up a restaurant event so I would meet this guy he had come to know.
Well, my cousin didn't really even know him, he knew his older brother, and only briefly. And that's why I had asked for others to be there, so it wouldn't actually be a complete blind date!
It was supposed to be just a social get together, with me, my parents, my cousin, the guy and his brother. Their parents had passed away, so the older brother was kind of supporting his little brother and helping him find a life partner or something!? Although, he himself was still single.
Now, I kind of had been informed that the guy was a little bit older than me (12 or so years!!) but that he didn't look his age! So I was thinking, this is not a date! It's a social gathering. I mean, both my parents were going to be there. So, worst case scenario, I'd stay quiet and let the grown ups chat til the thing was over! I was only in my early 20s and mostly involved in my studies rather than thinking of starting a relationship. I was looking at it as an experience more than a date!
Oh! And for some reason, "they" had invited us, as in they were going to pay for it, and it was at a nice restaurant. Just as a note, this place had several separate rooms, each with around 6-10 tables.
My mom had made me dress much nicer than my regular "just put something on" style and apply makeup (which I rarely do)!
Got to admit, sitting in the backseat of my dad's car, I was kind of nervous despite all the nonchalant thoughts I was playing in my head. We finally arrived at the restaurant, and the receptionist guided us to the hosts' table. My cousin, the dude, and his brother were already there.
First impression thoughts going through my head while my brain's default mode was passing polite greetings around: "Ok! Relax! He is not your type at all! Phew! So just chill and enjoy the food and converse casually... Hey! Why are they pointing at the other direction? WAIT! *sudden rush of terror* Why is the table set for 4! There is 6 of us! Were they not expecting my parents?! Are we to sit really closely to each other so we would all fit?! Was the restaurant not informed of the number of our party? What's going on? Why is the brother pointing in the other direction?"
I started listening again... WHAT?!? Turned out, the two brothers had reserved two separate tables! And not even in the same room! All my plans of not making this a blind date had gone down the drain. They had supposedly agreed to our proposal for a casual gathering, but had sneakily set up the situation so I end up with the guy at a different table, in a different room, alone! A date! Ugh!
So I managed to remain indifferent, slightly pretended to seek my parents' approval, and followed the waiter to the other room, with the guy behind me, thinking to myself: "Welp! You're gonna have to talk to him for a couple hours. Don't judge by the first impression. Maybe he will turn out to be an interesting person. Just relax, and try to act normal! If it doesn't work out, it will become an experience."
So I sat down smiling. Some polite general greetings were passed back and forth and I escaped to the ordering part. Burying my face in the menu for as long as I could, I tried to come across as a lady like girl who eats very little and very healthy! An absolute lie, cause I eat a lot! But I ended up ordering just soup and salad. "Are you sure?" the guy asked, insisting that I should order something more filling?
"Yes!" I said, "The Greek salad sounds especially good and barley soup is my favorite." Both statements were completely true. I do love barley soup and their salad as described in the menu sounded amazing. He ordered chicken kabob or something similar.
As we were waiting for the food, we started chatting about our achievements so far and our beliefs. The guy was a believer, which was a plus in my book, and had gotten his Bachelors in engineering, same field as myself. It was just him and his brother, and he worked for a smaller company. So far so good.
Then the food came! My salad looked better than I had imagined. It was served in a large, deep wooden bowl, filled with black olives and covered in lots of feta cheese crumbles. Mmmmm... I could not wait to eat it all!
Out of politeness, however, I offered the guy to help himself with the salad if he'd like to, which he thanked and said he would "a little later." Then he offered me some of his food, but I refused, cause not only my soup was delicious and adequate (again, a lie! I eat a lot!). So I asked for an additional plate and put a little bit of the salad in the plate, allowing the guy to help himself, when he wished to.
At this point we started talking about our goals and visions for the future. At almost 38, this guy had come to realize he didn't like working as an engineer. He did not see a future in it, and now, he was thinking (still thinking! at 38!) to take some college level medicinal courses and change his field to become a physician! He was going to maybe quit his job in the next few months, then see how he could go about his way with life. Little bits of my brain were exploding! I was in my very early 20s, had goals for the next 5 AND 10 years of my life and the plans to achieve them. I had plan B, C, and D in case things didn't go right. I was working when I was not studying. I was saving money. I knew where I wanted to live probably for the rest of my life. Some of my plans may have sounded unrealistic at the time, but at least I had them! I mean, did this guy even know life had expenses? That he needed money to live? That he couldn't simply quit his job and decide later?
At this point, I lost complete interest in the rest of our conversation and set my outside brain on default nodding mode and focused my inside brain on my food. Now, in my head, I wanted to eat out of the beautiful wooden bowl, and I wanted to eat all the salad! I bet from the guy's point of view, one of my eyes must have been looking downwards at the bowl of salad for the rest of our conversation. But he had said that he would take some of it LATER!
Later never came...
He finished his food, I finished my soup and the portion of the salad in my plate. But I could not bring myself to touch the rest of it. What if he suddenly wanted to try it? The salad sat there until the waiter came and took the rest of it... My eyes following it to the kitchen... I couldn't even order dessert after that traumatic incident... I was hungry, disappointed and ready to call it a day! Thankfully there were some crackers in my dad's car.
If I had the wisdom I have today, I would've taken the bowl, put it in front of me and said: "Dude! Let'd be honest! Doesn't seem like you're gonna have this, soooo... yeah!"...
But I was young and naïve and trying to play it lady-like! What a mistake.
So now, more than 10 years later, married, with kids, been to hundreds of restaurants around the world and tried hundreds of delicious dishes, I still think of that salad bowl. Those olives sitting elegantly next to the tomatoes, covered in the beautiful white of that cheese... All to be emptied in the restaurant trashcan...
So here is my advice to all you young people out there! EAT IT WHILE IT'S HOT AND FORGET ABOUT WHAT OTHERS SAY!