That irritating detail stuck in my craw as the bus, which finally showed up seven minutes after its scheduled arrival time - rolled down Columbus Avenue.
It probably would have been faster to walk the ten blocks, but I just didn't feel like getting there sweaty, frizzy haired, and out of breath. I may have been a mere week away from law school finals, jittery from too much caffeine and not enough food, but I had standards after all.
I got off the bus and as I walked the two avenues to the cafe I forced myself into date mode.
He was leaning against the ubiquitous Manhattan scaffolding in front of the restaurant. It was a busy evening, and he was not the only one standing there. I asked myself later how I knew who he was. I had never seen a picture of him - I was too wrapped up in my finals haze to do the requisite Facebook/Google stalking. But somehow I knew.
He looked up as I approached. His eyes met mine for the first time, and there was this thing in my stomach. This feeling. I swear to god that my heart beat an extra time or two, and I thought that blond hair and blue eyes had never looked so good.
Thoughts of retribution for my little sister for forcing this blind date on me slipped from my mind. This guy was hot.
He introduced himself, and I was suddenly shy. And I have never been shy. Introverted, yes. But shy, never.
We sat at a table outside, right under a heat lamp the cafe helpfully provided for the unpredictable April weather. Wrapped in a cozy cocoon of warmth, we ordered cake and coffee.
I panicked for a minute when the waitress took the menus away. It was at this point in most of these dates that the evening started to go downhill. Without the obligatory "what looks good on the menu" conversation, there was often nothing else to talk about.
There was a beat of silence while we sized each other up. I waited for the first date questions to start, and prepared my first date answers.
"I saw the craziest thing today," he said.
Momentarily caught off guard that there was no question mark at the end of his sentence, all I could do was nod.
"I was walking down Broadway, and I saw a man get hit by a bus. Not a fast moving bus or anything, and the man was OK. But I actually saw a man get hit by a bus. We use the phrase 'get hit by a bus' all the time, but you wonder how many people really do get hit by buses. But it happened today, and I saw it."
Something about this story struck me as so hilarious that I started laughing and couldn't stop. Not polite first date laughter. Stomach hurting, tears streaming kind of laughter. I had to wave down the waitress to ask for an extra napkin to wipe my eyes, and from there, the conversation flowed.
I wish I could remember everything we talked about. I don't. I wish I could look back and replay the entire date in my mind like a movie. I can't. I don't remember all the specifics, but I remember the feelings. And I remember feeling like this was someone worth getting to know.
The cafe was exactly halfway between our respective apartments, so when we got up to leave I prepared myself for the slightly awkward good-bye on a busy Manhattan street. But instead, he walked me home.
For ten blocks we walked and talked and laughed some more. And I wished that we could walk forever. In front of my building we said a goodbye befitting a really good first date, and I watched as he walked away. Before he crossed the street, he turned around to flash a last smile and wave. And I felt that thing in my stomach once more.
The piles of study materials stacked on every available surface surprised me when I let myself into my apartment. I had forgotten that they were there.
Figuring I could put in another hour before it was time for bed, I changed my clothes and prepared to buckle down.
But I didn't read a word of my notes the rest of the night.
Instead I just lay on my bed, dreaming.
This is a follow up to last week's post.
Epilogue: Three years after this date, a little more than two years ago, I married that gorgeous blond-hair, blue-eyed man