I was on a first date the other night; she was a woman, I was a man...all the right ingredients for a soul-mate union. We were in a loud martini bar that I had dutifully chosen for it's central location to both of us, and for it's hipness quotient, from what I'd remembered of a multiple-serving visit 5 years ago. I would soon learn that said quotient was infinitessimally approaching zero. Nonetheless, all was proceeding well. I'm not about to review the bloody place--just building my house-on-the-sand of a story here.
Unfolding before me, was my carefully laid plan: eat, drink, talk. It may come as a surprise to probably no one that most women love a man with a plan--Financial Plan, Health Plan, Wedding Plan, Retirement Plan. My personal experience stems largely from Escape Plan, with accordingly diminished results.
Anyway, we got the eating accomplished, I--the Stir-Fry with Chicken, she--the Encrusted Salmon (quickly Encroaching on my financial plan).
Now, as far as the drink part goes, I ordered an Ocean's Eleven Martini first. I remember thinking--hell, even saying aloud, "A man's movie, a man's drink...right?" What I got was edible flowers floating in Obsession-for Women. I drank faster. Next drink, and a world wiser, I summoned a Rock'n'Roll Roy's Martini. I figured, "My Dad's name is Roy, and boy, does he like Bluegrass--close enough." As for my lady friend, she selected the famed Apple Martini, deftly followed by the just-released Mango Martini--whatever.
These drinks were working, working so hard I thought they'd get unionized, you understand?
Over to the bar proper. Having achieved all of the eating part, 2/3rds of the drinking part, and never enough of the talking part, two vodka-tonics were acquisitioned, taking us into the third period, tied. We scored a high table with stools for two, adjacent to the Antique Billiards Table. Regrettably, it was under the occupation of a division of Hoo-Hoo! High-Five! YES! guys...I mean they were wankers. Loud wankers. I know, I know, why blame them for hitting the town just because American Idol wasn't airing that night. My point, more importantly, is that it was goddamn loud in there.
Of parallel and continuing interest to my lady friend, was the fact, as yet unnoticed by me, that many of the girls here had evidently not been shy in this life about second helpings of Tiramisu. She quickly distilled this to it's essence...repeatedly: "This is a BIIIIGG-WOMAN-bar!"
Around this time, feeling a blend of defensive, jovial and forthright (drunk) with my date, I let her in on a little of the caring thought I'd put into this evening. Partly, I wanted to highlight my desirable planning skills. Partly, I wanted her to know that this Jenny-Craig's-with-a-liquor-license wasn't my thing, that I'd almost chosen a better place. Partly, I didn't give a shit what I said.
This brings us to tapas (pronounced top-us, at least by me). Tapas are snacks or appetizers commonly served in Spain, usually with drinks, and often the whole experience can preclude a full meal, unless you're one of the above women. You get variety, food with your drink, and sharing, which makes for good dating, if you're into that. For whatever reason, tapas bars have become trendy here, springing up faster than you can trill, "Morre fish-fingerrs, pendejo!"
And so, with loosed tongue in loud room, I confided in this girl, "You know, I was looking into some other places before I picked this one, and I almost chose a tapas bar instead."
She yells back, "Really, are you serious? A topless bar?"
Fearing the trend was already over, or that I was a sucker to even entertain such Euro posturing, I rose to my defense, "Yeah! There's quite a few of them around, you know. Tapas bars are really popular--pretty trendy actually."
"Well, it just seems kind of weird for a first date," she said.
Now, all of a sudden, I was dragged in to promoting a whole fucking franchise of tapas bars. I countered, "What?! What's so weird about it? Going to tapas bars is recommended for first dates, because it's fun and different, it's light and you share together!"
The light dawned upon her--the change visible. Pivoting under my sales pitch, she smiled oddly, "Well, I could see going to a topless bar for a second date..."