He shows up in khaki pants and a button up shirt that men would most definitely describe as flannel, but is actually a plaid shirt that is a mainstay in every Lands End catalog. Mr. Kennedy is adorably himself. Not charming- but he is sincere. Not confident-but he is authentic. Not extremely pulled together- but has a boyish, hopeful air about him.
I make a drink for us. Pulling together vodka, lemon juice, and soda while I try to appear smooth and lighthearted. Mr. Kennedy is quick to listen and ask questions, but quite slow to entertain me with his own life and stories. I fill the silence while I brush the tops of the glasses with lemon and press it into the course salt. He stays standing, a bit awkward in how to be in the same room as me. I can almost hear his body asking Should stand or sit? In the chair or on the couch? Can she hear me if I’m all the way over here? I want to press him down into the seat and make him tell me a story. He makes me nervous with how intensely he focuses on me.
We walk to the restaurant- a jazz club with famous drinks and a sprawling building with intimate little tables. Plying me with alcohol, I stop thinking as much and recognize how comfortable he makes me. I admire that he likes to write- truly write. Like, he edited his high school and college literary magazines. I like how tall he is and his dark hair and his big lips. I tell so many stories about myself that I begin to feel a bit like a circus monkey, entertaining my crowd. I can’t tell if Mr. Kennedy is just the kindest man who prefers to focus on everyone else, or if there possibly isn’t much happening-if he is too vanilla.
Isn’t it weird how we say we want one thing in life and then always go for the opposite? Me? I always say at the heart of things, I want someone who is kind and genuine and adores me for me. In reality, I date firecrackers. Odd birds. The ones that make for good stories on blogs and who press me to be the person they want instead of the person that I am. I say I want a calm, straightforward man who will balance my roller-coaster self. This guy? He’s that. And here I am calling him vanilla. Asking myself if he’s too boring for me. If he could keep up with me and my friends and my life.
Then he gladly, and quietly pays the hefty bill. I notice that he tips 30% to the waiter. My doubts dissipate for a minute while I admire his generous heart, and gobble up the free dessert our waiter gave us because of said tip and because “It’s Valentine’s Day and isn’t it good to be together with someone?” Yes, Mr. Waiter. It is nice to be with someone
We shiver on our walk back to my brownstone. I brush his arm and try to give him some subtle hints. He goes to touch my back and does the hand hover thing that men do when they’re nervous. We watch an episode of Criminal Minds that is terrible, and Mr. Kennedy does what he does best, compliments me and my taste in all things the whole time. I truly have a great time and wanted to update my friends right away.
“So he’s a totally nice, normal, nerdy guy. I haven’t not kissed a guy on a second date in about 6 years…and he was too nervous to kiss me. So cute. Precious.”- I quickly copy and paste this to all of my girls at the top of my text messaging list not two minutes after he walks out my door. Then my stomach drops. In my haste, I send the text to Mr. Kennedy himself. Nightmare.
“Hahaha yes!! I am so happy I got this”- Kennedy
“Nooooooooo I’m mortified”- Me” Lol you shouldn’t be at all. I’m so please right now. Glad u had a good time :)”- Kennedy
He proceeds to compliment me, telling me what a good personality reader I am. I stick my foot in my mouth, and he is incredibly gracious to a point that makes me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, but happy. Uncomfortable, but a little giddy. A kind man is a good man. And maybe it’s time I met a good man.