I’ve decided to document some of my most memorable moments in dating, per a friend’s request. I’ve changed the names and am reusing the same five or six names, partly to hide people’s identities but also partly because I can’t remember half of their names anymore anyway. I hope you’ll find them as entertaining or interesting as I do… now that I’m past them.
John and I were talking exclusively on a dating app – we hadn’t exchanged phone numbers yet. But our chatting was going well and he threw me the hottest line a man can ever send me, on a dating app or otherwise:
“I have tickets to a show on Saturday night at 7pm. Wanna join?”
Really, he led with, “Do you like musicals?”
My response to that was, “If anyone asks, no, but in truth, I know every word to The Sound of Music.”
He had tickets to Cabaret. I said I’d see that.
He then sent me the second hottest message a guy can send on a dating app:
“Great, I made dinner reservations at The Cafe at 6:15pm. See you there.”
Panty dropping lines, this one was throwing out.
The Cafe was a half-hour drive from my house, all the way to a city we sometimes call “South Dallas”, so I dolled myself up and headed out the door, jamming to a singalong playlist on my long drive north. I got to The Cafe early and parked, opening the app to message him that I was there. I was met with a message from him that he’d just arrived and was walking up, so I replied that I was, too.
Great, I thought. Perfect timing.
I didn’t see anyone matching his description outside. Granted, one of his photos was him playing the drums in a blow up T-rex suit. But still. No single dudes were milling about anywhere in the parking lot that I could see. So I went into the restaurant, where there was already a line of people at the host station asking for tables. They were told there was a half-hour wait, because they had so many reservations that night.
Geez, I thought, glad my date made a reservation.
After three or four groups asked for tables before me, I tried to message him that I was inside. There wasn’t any cell phone reception, though, so I couldn’t get the message through. Finally I just decided to get the table so I wouldn’t have anymore daggers stared at me by families of four who were going to have to wait half an hour to feed their kids.
“Reservation for John,” I told the hostess. (His name was far more uncommon than John, but don’t worry about it.) She checked the list and said, “Right this way,” and led me to a table in the middle of the room. I could see the door from there. And all the other couples and families begging to be seated and being turned away.
A young red headed server came by and, noting the two sets of menus on the table, asked if I was waiting for anyone.
“I think so,” I told her. “He said he was just walking up.”
She gave me a knowing look. “Ok, we can wait a bit more.”
She explained that the restaurant – which was teeming with families and felt kind of like an Applebee’s – was all farm to table and specialized in local food. A pretty impressive for suburban Texas, honestly, in spite of the Applebee’s vibe from the children.
“Can I get you a drink?”
I ordered soda water with lime. I’d just had my fourth Covid shot the afternoon before and was a little loopy – I didn’t want to get more loopy with some booze.
“Do you just want, like, club soda? Or we have this other brand that’s like Topo Chico but not.”
I told her the other brand sounded fine. She brought the drink back and discovered John still hadn’t arrived. I couldn’t even open the dating app on my phone to see what was up.
I asked if The Cafe had wifi and was met with a grim look. “It’s just for the point of sale system,” she explained.
Ah, the joys of suburban farm to table restaurants.
She continued that they had terrible cell service in this area because of all the growth, and the big freeway just behind us, and not enough cell towers to handle the influx. A known problem in the whole area, I agreed, even in my own neighborhood in “the city”.
I told her I was going to look for him outside, and popped up to do so. There wasn’t any cell service out there, either. He wasn’t sitting on any of the benches. He wasn’t waiting on the patio, either in a T-rex outfit or otherwise.
This was when my imagination started to kick in. Had he been hit by a car on his walk in? Had one of his children called in an emergency? Was this some kind of cruel prank? Who makes a reservation at a hip and happening suburban restaurant to stand their date up? Was someone taking a video for a joke on TikTok?
At this point I went back inside and sat down. The server gave me another knowing look and took away the second menu. “Men are trash,” she assured me. I didn’t think so – I was sure it was just a misunderstanding. But if it made her feel better, sure.
I was starving so I decided to just order food. “I’ll take the green chile chicken enchiladas,” I said.
“If I may,” she said, leaning over the menu, “we actually had a TV crew come out and record our chef making our pork enchiladas. It’s our specialty.”
“Pork enchiladas it is,” I said.
She put my order in and the folks who had reservations for the evening started to appear, filling up the tables around me. By the time the server brought my enchiladas, I was surrounded by high school students dressed up to go to their homecoming dance. It was just me, a middle aged lady in a green dress, eating pork enchiladas alone surrounded by ball gowns and suits and just the worst hairdos that 16-year-olds can muster.
I wrapped up my dinner pretty quickly and asked for the check, saying I guessed I’d head home. The server brought me dessert, on the house.
“No man is better than a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream,” she assured me, knowingly. I couldn’t disagree. I took a picture of my delightful dessert and put it up on my Instagram story with her quote.
“No man is better than a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream,” she assured me, knowingly.
By the time I paid and got out the door, it was 6:55. I wasn’t sure if I should head to the community theater where we were supposed to be seeing Cabaret or what. I still didn’t have cell phone service, so I just got in my car and started the long drive home.
A few miles down the highway I got service and opened the app to tell him what was up. (Don’t do this while driving, kids, I’m a very bad example.) I gave him my phone number and asked him to call me.
My phone rang quickly and there was John on the other end, both of us asking what had happened.
“Did you go to The Cafe in Cedar Park?” he asked.
I assured him I had.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, “there’s another one right by the theater here in Georgetown.”
But why had he had reservations at BOTH restaurants? Apparently he’d realized he made the reservation at the Cedar Park location and when he backed out of the online reservation, it went through anyway.
“Seeing as it’s 6:58, I don’t think I’ll make the show,” I told him.
He informed me that curtain was at 7:30, and as I (illegally and very ill advisedly) typed in the coordinates to Google Maps, we ascertained I could make it to the theater in 20 minutes if I hustled. I made him promise me he was real. He sent me a photo of what he was wearing standing outside the theater – the least erotic photo I’ve ever received on a dating app, probably.
The Show Must Go On
I did make it to the theater and parked, and he was standing out front (notably not in a T-rex outfit) and came to my parking spot to walk me in. He asked if I wanted a drink. There was a line of about 30 blue hairs in front of the concession stand waiting for their sippy cups of red wine and gin and tonics, so I declined. We made simple chit chat and went to our seats in the second row.
The “playbill” was a postcard with white writing on a black background that was so miniscule even I couldn’t make it out. I’m sure the 75 year olds who were also in attendance had even more trouble with it. The woman sitting in front of us had the text size up so huge on her cell phone I could read the email from Donald Trump she was studying before the show (he was asking for money for his next campaign, of course).
The front row was set up to be part of the KitKat Club, the Berlin nightclub where Cabaret takes place, and some of the actors were waiting on these tables, bringing splits of prosecco and prepackaged “charcuterie” in plastic containers to the lucky waiting patrons. Two minutes before curtain, two very inebriated 30- or 40-something women walked to the front row, where they had apparently scored the center seats. They turned around to face us all.
“Our friend Missy is in this!” one yelled to the audience. “You better clap for her! Woo!”
The second woman chimed in, “I just dyed her hair purple yesterday! But she’s wearing a wig so you can’t tell!”
A cast member came out and told them the play was already cast, thankyouverymuch, and they laughed and settled into their seats as the lights dimmed and we were all asked to turn off our cell phones and not take photos during the show.
Of course the women in the front row ignored this. They snapped photos the entire time.
The show started and, for community theater, it was relatively impressive. The Master of Ceremonies especially was excellent, able to sing, dance, and emote in a very professional way.
About three scenes in, when Cliff and Ernst were standing in Cliff’s apartment on New Year’s Day, after Cliff’s first night meeting Sally Bowles at the KitKat Club, something went awry. Fraulein Schneider announced that Sally had appeared, and Cliff acted nervous to see her again, and Ernst smoothed the wrinkles in his shirt. And kept smoothing them. And they chatted about nonsense. And kept chatting.
It was clear they were ad libbing, and not doing a terrible job at it. But a walkie talkie squawked from backstage. The young woman sitting next to me in the audience put down her sippy cup of wine and jumped up, running through the stage door in front of us.
More ad libbing, more walkie talkies, and then, voila, the woman who had just been playing Fraulein Kost appeared wearing Sally Bowles’s famous fur coat, armed with a suitcase and a script. And the show went on, with a new Sally Bowles and absolutely no acknowledgment to the audience of the sudden change in casting.
The role of Fraulein Kost was played by the woman who had been playing Fritzie. She also had a script in hand now. And the woman who had been sitting next to me in the audience took on the role of Fritzie.
And the front row kept heckling the actors and taking photos throughout the play. Still no one addressed the fact that Sally Bowles had mysteriously disappeared. It felt like gaslighting. But on they went.
The Absurdity Increases
As is the case when watching Cabaret, you feel more and more unease as the night wears on, and when the Nazis are revealed at the end of Act I, singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”, you shudder. This was one of two scenes where anyone in the front row shut their traps long enough to be impressed, but it was short-lived.
I wanted to shout at the republican-voting citizen in front of me, “Don’t you get it? This is about YOU! This is about people like YOU being complicit in Nazism and letting the fascists get in because it doesn’t seem like it affects you!”
But they were busy heckling the changeling cast and taking photos for their Instagram feeds and, I think, donating money to Trump (who isn’t officially running for anything? So why does he need money?) during the intermission.
We got two bottles of water and made more small talk, agreeing that the cast was good. I laughed about how absurd it was that they just changed cast members in the middle of the first act and didn’t say anything. John nodded but I don’t think he felt the gravity of the situation the same way I did.
The second act was drunker and sillier for the audience, especially when Sally got her abortion (spoiler) and the actress stumbled around the stage pretending to drink imaginary gin and be really dumb about the politics unraveling around her. I felt drunk myself, even though it had been a week since I’d had a drop of alcohol. I was drunk on absurdity.
Finally the show ended and the MC and Herr Schulz stood in their striped pajamas, insinuating that we were all complicit in their persecution. The whooping in the front row ceased for two minutes, but they never stopped taking pictures.
We all gave a standing ovation to the MC when he took his bow (he really did deserve it) and when the lights came back up fully and the crowd started to disperse, you could hear the familiar relief of the cast congratulating each other on overcoming the absolute worst possible nightmare of a scenario. Good job, Georgetown community theater – you did it, really.
John and I agreed it was a good show, all things considered. He was probably a bit more impressed and less disoriented than I was, which was generous of him. We decided we’d try to get a drink – even if just a club soda – at a nearby bar, but on the short walk to the bar, I realized it was full of people in cowboy hats, which I just didn’t feel ready to handle in my current state. The absurdity had to end somewhere.
We bid each other goodnight and agreed to try another date the next week, somewhere less absurd and in my neck of the woods.
VERDICT: John is a nice guy and we had a second date. Still no idea what happened to Sally Bowles.