Let me tell you about my first online dating experience. Well, not mine exactly.
A few Saturdays ago, I decided to go to Cream Pan, one of my favorite Japanese bakeries in Tustin. There’s nothing like a strawberry croissant or a custard bun to get you out of bed in the morning. I figured that if I got there early enough, I would have plenty of time to enjoy some time alone, seated outside underneath the shade of umbrellas. I made sure to bring my Bible and journal along as well.
As it turns out, I had all but five minutes to myself before an Asian gentleman — he looked like he was in his thirties — drove into the parking lot, got out of his car, and walked up to the bakery. But instead of going inside, he scanned the tables and selected one to my right against the bakery wall. I didn’t pay much attention; I was too busy stuffing my face with a cream pan.
About ten to fifteen minutes after that, a brunette Caucasian woman — she also looked like a thirtysomething — walked up hesitantly. Immediately, the Asian man got up to greet her.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” they said hugging.
That’s a bit odd, I thought to myself.
“Have you been here before?” the Asian man asked, leading the brunette woman into the bakery.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Okay, well, their strawberry croissants are world famous.”
I like this bakery too, but I’m not so sure that about it being “world famous,” I mumbled to the birds hopping from table to table in search of crumbs.
After buying way too many pastries for two people, taking a bathroom break and going back in to order coffee, the pair finally settled down at a cold metal table, a yard or so away from me. I continued to write slowly in my journal, surreptitiously eavesdropping on their conversation (in my defense, they were annoyingly loud).
“Where were you born?”
“How many siblings do you have?”
“What brought you out to California?”
“What do you do for work?”
“Did you ever find a new place to live?”
As they exchanged stories and details, it began to dawn on me that perhaps I had stumbled across an eHarmony or Match.com first date. They were practically strangers, but they conversed with a sometimes uncomfortable level of personal disclosure. Maybe it wasn’t as awkward for them as it was for me.
He asked if she had ever been to Hong Kong, and upon learning that she hadn’t, he proceeded to whip out his phone.
Ooh, way to be prepared, dude. Wait…what are you doing?
Just as I was about to give him some mental points, he searched Google Images for “Hong Kong” on his phone and handed it to her. And then they were interrupted twice by the sudden appearance of the man’s boss (with wife and kids in tow) and his co-worker, both of which he introduced to his very patient date. But the highlight of their date (at least for me) came when the brunette asked the Asian gentleman about his recent business trip to Texas.
“It went well,” he said, “I noticed that everything is bigger in Texas.”
I silently rolled my eyes.
“It was hard to find anything small. But I bought you this.”
He pulled out a 3-inch leather cowboy boot and handed it to her.
“Oh…I’ve always wanted one,” she replied with all the enthusiasm she could muster (which wasn’t much).
It took all of my composure to not burst into laughter or snort through my nose as I watched the brunette take the souvenir.
I wonder if he’ll get a second date…
Far be it from me to discount the value of online dating services; I know many a happy, flourishing couple brought together by eHarmony. Sometimes I think, “It would be really nice to go out on a date,” or “Do I have any chance of ever meeting someone?”
It’s easy to feel that there’s something wrong with me because so many of my friends are married, engaged or dating — and I’m not. But listening in on such a strange first date reminded me to be thankful that I’m in a stage of life where I can enjoy my singleness and the freedom it affords.
And as my dad always says, “It’s better to be single than to wish you were single.”