This coming Sunday marks one year from what B_ and I now consider to be our first date. We thought we’d just be friends at the time. We didn’t know it was a date.

Little did we know…

We met on a Friday, when Jesus sat me next to him at the bar at Cesar, and  reunited the following Wednesday when I spotted him through the window at Adesso, and decided to get my protein fix with some oysters. B_ knew the bartender at Adesso, and I quickly learned that B_ knew people pretty much everywhere, especially bartenders. He told me about how the first time he met the bartender (who also happens to live with his son), they realized they shared the same favorite pizza place in San Francisco during a kismet bro moment, and a plan for the following Saturday was born: B_ and I would take the ferry into the city,  wander around, and wind up at Gaspare’s for, what B_ and the bartender who shall remain nameless, think is the best pizza in the Bay. We met up the following night for drinks, and the following night, and we set a time  to get to Jack London Square and catch the ferry.

While talking on the phone with my sister as I got ready, I found myself at a loss when explaining what I was embarking upon. It wasn’t a date, I assured her, it was hanging out with a new friend — never mind that I didn’t believe in platonic relationships between straight men and women. This was me opening my mind to experience the current moment regardless of preconceptions, and possibly a new kind of friendship. It was something…I was pretty sure he couldn’t misconstrue it as a date, and if he did, I could field it.

That morning, we texted about times to meet up, and at one point, he texted, “Just trying to pick out which fanny pack matches my sandals.” Had we decided to dress up as cheesy tourists? We had drinks every time we’d hung out, so maybe I forgot? Surely, he was joking?

We finally met across the street from my place. He chatted with a neighbor, because he knows people everywhere.

I remember feeling unsure and awkward about his shirt. It was a short-sleeved button-down style shirt, somewhere between a bowling jersey an Aloha shirt, featuring nude woman riding a Koi fish. What could this mean? Even though my ex-boyfriend had two Koi fish tattooed on his forearm, I couldn’t remember their significance. Was B_  a pervy dude who thought he was going on a date even though we’d clearly established we were just friends? Or was he merely an appreciator of women in all their glory, wrangling a Chinese Koi like only a blond caucasian woman with a mud-flap-worthy body can? I decided on the later — he had an empowered twenty-year-old daughter with whom he was very close. And we’d had conversations over drinks in the last week and a half, including one about the tattoo on his left forearm of a half mermaid/half devil woman, and I’d been convinced that the tattoo came from a place of admiration. So, yes, the bowling jersey meets aloha shirt koi-mounted diva was empowered. I needed to put my thoughts on personal and societally enforced body-image issues aside, stop overthinking, and get on with my non-date. “I like your shirt,” I said.

“Thanks. It was the only one that was clean.” Perfectly acceptable. He was only gonna be a friend. He didn’t need to laundry on the regular. He could wear potentially-offensive-to-feminist-but-not-because-he-loves-women types of aloha bowling jerseys and it was just fine. We were just going to be friends. And he loves his daughter. And I can be friends with people who have at some point worn a questionable shirt nearing laundry day. Surely, B_ and I were off to a fine start to our non-date.

The cab was taking too long, so I drove, but at the ferry dock, we discovered the weekend schedule was different than weekdays, and we’d have to wait for close to an hour. What were we to do other than grab a drink?

We ate and drank a little, and headed back over to the ferry line. A guy walked by smoking a joint, and B_ reminded me that it was 4/20, and that someone was bound to be smoking a joint on the ferry. I told him that I go through phases but was in a non-pot-smoking phase, but that if I was struck with the desire and it was goin’ around, I might imbibe. I didn’t need to worry about what he thought, even though he doesn’t smoke pot, because I didn’t need to impress him. It wasn’t a date…

To learn what happens in Parte Dos of my first date with B_ that I didn’t know was a date, tune in next week. And, for God’s sake, in the meantime, Wear Your Voice!