There are moments when you feel exceptionally obliged to Whoever is in charge of the world around you. This is a story of one of those times.
Several months ago I went on a date with a woman. We had met one night at a show, hit it off and exchanged numbers. Because our work schedules were opposite (I work nights, she works early mornings) it took a little while before we were able to meet up. During that anticipatory time we exchanged texts and chatted, and she seemed really great.
She wanted to meet one night after I finished work. I told her I’d be happy to get together but wouldn’t be finished before midnight. She assured me that she was already going to be out with some friends, and so we agreed to meet. That evening after work I showed up at a local bar and a moment later she came in. We said hello and sat down, and it took me about forty-six seconds to realize that she was drunk. I don’t mean to say that she had been drinking earlier in the night; rather, she was totally hammered: her speech was slurring toward incomprehensible and she was rocking precariously on her stool.
I asked her if she was alright, and she said Yes, she’d had a couple drinks. I asked how she had arrived at the bar for our date, and she said she’d driven there. In my head I did some quick math and calculated that she’d now shown up to a first date totally blitzed and had also admitted to drunkenly-driving across a major metropolitan area.
The bartender came over and asked if we wanted a drink. She took a water while I ordered a drink and listened as she prattled on about god-knows-what. Turned out she was one of those nouveau-hippie types one finds scattered like wildflowers along the west coast—educated, intelligent people who seem curiously intent on undercutting centuries of humankind’s rational progress through appeals to celestial bodies, moon cycles, and the retrograde status of the planet Mercury.
I drank quickly. After I walked her to her car I never spoke to her again.
Until she came in for dinner at the restaurant I work at on Friday night. It took me a minute to place her, but once I did I said Hello and asked how she was. She told me she was having a celebratory dinner with her family because she was moving. Oh, that’s great, I said, and nodded to her parents and uncles gathered about the table. And where are you moving to?
I don’t know, she said, and smiled blissfully.
I paused. I leaned forward as if I hadn’t heard her correctly. I tilted my ear toward her to indicate that something needed clarifying. I raised my eyebrows suggesting perhaps a failure of comprehension. But she did not amend or append or upend anything she’d said, and I knew by her continued smile that I’d heard her correctly.
She was moving to destination I don’t know. Her family looked on approvingly. Seemingly, I was the only one who found this to be an atypical undertaking.
I looked at her and smiled. Well then, good luck to you, I said. As I walked away I said a huge and heartfelt Thank You! to Whoever It Is who resides upstairs and had pulled the strings that had guided the two of us apart.