M and I talked every night. He didn't get off work until after midnight and I had to be at work every morning at 9am, but I still waited for his call every night at about 1:00am. I was so infatuated with his conversation that every night I would listen to his cooking, sizzling vegetables for curry or whatever he happened to be cooking. We would talk until 3:00 am and I would sleep like a baby after that until 8:00 when I got up for work.
Our first date was February 1, 2004, the night of the infamous Janet Jackson "boob" incident and three days after my 23rd birthday. We had scheduled to go out for dinner, but 6:00 rolled around and no call. Then 7:00, 8:00, 9:00. . .he finally called around 9:30 pm. He apologized and said he just couldn't get out of work until later. At this point I was livid. We'd had about three cancelled dates (none of which he had called to cancel, just never showed up.) I told him to just forget it, and he sighed heavily. He said, "No. I really want us to go. I really cannot get out right now, but I will come soon. Is that okay?"
I still don't know how in the world I swallowed my pride enough to take so many stalls and starts, but at 11:30pm I found myself sitting straight across a very thin Pakistani man at my local Applebees. Don't diss Applebees. . . at least it was open late enough for him to have his orange juice and me my chocolate fudge cake. And don't diss the chocolate fudge cake either, I mean who waits until 11:30 pm to go to dinner?
I liked the way that M talked to me. He was still shy and embarrassed, and had no idea what to order from an Applebees. Frankly, he only ate halal food and wasn't comfortable trying to figure out which dishes might be safe for him. The orange juice itself seemed like a monumental risk. I finally did talk him into a bite of my cake, but only one. And even through my own ignorance for the meaning of "halal" food I remember it did not contain whipped cream, so we were okay.
I fell in love with M that night, and it was the weirdest thing in the world. He asked me what I had done all day. Keep in mind that I was working a few jobs, I had taken the day off to schedule our date. I told him that I had gotten up late, read a book, took a nap and now was visiting him. What did he say to this?
"You were a lazy ass."
You could see from the shock in his eyes as soon as the words escaped his lips that this was not meant to come out loud. You could see that it was not something he would have normally said to a near stranger. You could see that he was completely mortified and I had to laugh. M had just accidentally shown some of what is his trademark humor. While it sounds simple and silly, and I guess you had to be there, when I started laughing I just said, "Yes, I was definitely a 'lazy ass.'" It reminded me how unlike me that was, and how I really, really liked this guy.