Handshake-Me-Down

I envisioned meeting him in person for the first time over coffee. We would discuss the latest headlines and we’d hit it off so well, that he would ask me to join him for a walk in the neighboring park. Birds would be chirping, the sun would warm our backs, and children would giggle as we walked by the swing set holding hands. I would look up into his towering, dark chocolate eyes, and I would smile with no words. He, in turn, would lean down slowly to meet me, and just before his lips would place themselves so tenderly on mine, he would whisper, “I love you.”

“Shit,” I cursed.

It was storming, and raindrops were splotching the blue-green button-up I had just ironed moments before. My pants could have used about another 10 minutes in the dryer, and my hair was being blown completely out of place by the wind, which was steadily picking up.

In short, I was a hot mess.

Trying to unlock my car door, I fumbled with my keys, but they fell to the ground as a result of my hurried frustration. I picked them up out of a puddle, opened my car door, and sat down. Looking at my reflection in the rearview mirror, I saw not myself, but Swamp Thing staring back at me. I wrestled with the idea of turning the car off, going back inside and sending this guy some lame text message like, “Sorry, I was just robbed at gun point and can’t make it,” or something else, you know, totally believable.

But he was hot, and there was no denying that; so it didn’t take me long to decide to journey onward to the Mexican restaurant, where he had already reserved us a table.

I had initially met him online. His profile picture was just an image of him and his shirtless six-pack of abs. Okay, so mostly just his abs. He had skin like an iced caramel macchiato, and a birthmark on his neck that was just begging to be kissed. Not surprisingly, he was Colombian (another huge turn on, if we’re being honest). He had this whole Antonio-Banderas-thing working in his favor, and I totally fell for it, hook line and sinker.

A good twenty minutes later, and with the rain now sheeting down, I finally made it to the restaurant. My flip-flops slipping on the cold tile floor, the hostess directed me through the myriad of tables and booths, finally arriving at his table. Of course, he was seated, perfectly poised, thumbing nonchalantly through the menu. He looked up.

The minute I caught his eyes in mine, I froze. What the hell was I doing here? There he was in a shirt and tie, completely put together as if he had just left a GQ cover shoot. I, on the other hand, was a walking puddle, dripping rain water and shame standing before him.

I slid into the booth and tried to look, you know, like I just hadn’t been caught in a monsoon. He smiled and politely intimated that he understood that I got caught in the weather, and that I couldn’t help it. What I imagine he was really thinking, though, was how quickly he could scarf down a burrito and get out as quickly as he could. In reality though, he had this really natural way of making me feel totally comfortable, despite my dampened clothes, which had finally seeped to my underwear.

By the time we finished dinner, I was in love. Not just, like, some whatever-BS-crush, but full-out, hardcore digging on this guy. Smart, handsome, witty and driven, he was absolutely the type of guy I would want to bring home for Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house. He opened the door for me on the way of the restaurant, another gesture that made me swoon, and we stood outside momentarily in the aftermath of the previous storm.

“Well, thanks, you know, for dinner,” I stammered, still in awe of his exotic charm.

“Yeah, we’ll have to do it again sometime.”

Silence.

This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for. We stood there looking at each other, and the one thought that was racing through both of our minds was, “What next?” This next step could easily determine the rest of our lives. Should I (a) shove my tongue down his throat, (b) go in for the ABC Family half-hug or (c) —

Wait. What is he doing? I’m sorry, is that a hand you’re extending towards me?

And just like that. It was over. He put his hand in mine, and as our hands shook up and down, it was like a hammer beating the last nail into the coffin of our would-be harlequin romance novel. The only kiss I got that day was the handshake kiss of death.

“Oh, okay. Right.”

To be truthful, I can’t be sure what really went wrong. He was nice. I was friendly. He whispered our orders in Spanish to the waiter. I really thought there was a connection, like this unspoken we-met-online-but-it-won’t-be-weird-to-tell-our-friends-this-story kind of thing going on. But I was wrong, and I never heard from him again.

“Shit,” I said, as I walked back to my car.

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