I’ve often wondered what would ever happen if I encountered myself on the dating scene. I mean not me exactly, but a female version of me, without the mustache, preferably. Because I am a self-loathing narcissist, just as likely to curl my nose in contempt at the sight and sound of me, as pat myself on the back for being absolutely amazing’ in every possible way.
Our first date was not going well. She had this lack-luster lackadaisical expression on her face as our conversation lulled and lagged un-customarily. I found myself struggling for material as each avenue of exposition in my dating expedition was summarily cut short. She was efficient, rounding her words into concise blocks rather than that sprawling-drawling mass of conversation I’d become so used to on first dates. Most girls love talking about themselves– she didn’t. And all my best bouncing questions and spinning anecdotes fell skittering, scattering, clattering to the floor. Like the prelude to a good boss fight with no save point in sight.
So I poured more shochu into her glass to cover the vast expanse of silence, and I began to think, maybe she thought trying to get her drunk (which I was), so I just kept pouring for myself. And when I ran out of things to say I would drink, and then pour and pour again to negate the empty space between her ice cubes. And soon I was unexpectedly and unequivocally– drunk on a first date.
There are two things I never talk about on a first date: Politics and the second amendment. Women go into a first date with a sense of fear and trepidation; meeting up with a stranger is everything Mom n’ Dad warned us not to do as kids. Tell that same frightened girl who is forming her very first impressions of me, I own firearms and shoot as a hobby, and I might as well tell her I have a pit in my basement where I keep my victims before skinning them and wearing their flesh.
I avoid that conversation for as long as possible, so she has as much time to see how even-keeled and non-murdering I am. Shooting guns is usually fun fourth or fifth date, just the right amount of excitement and “oh he’s teaching me new things” I put my arms around her and fix her form, like we’re Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, but instead of molding clay we’re slinging molten lead at three thousand feet per second. It’s a rush. And four dates gives me enough time to weed out the crazies so I know she’s not going to go all Eddie Ray Routh on me. But I digress.
– – – –
So this date is sinking as I’m already clinging to the last big piece of door in the middle of the freezing Atlantic. I know at any moment this chick’ is going to kick’ me off and find some reason to go home. We’re talking about her hobbies and then it happens, almost as an afterthought squeezed between a bunch of gray-colored platitudes:
“I like hiking, and hanging out with friends, going to the shooting range every once in a while…”
My ears instantly perk up, like a dog hearing that magic four letter word: W-A-L-K.
“Wait, you shoot?”
The best way I can describe this moment is this: Imagine it’s Halloween, and you decide to dress up as your favorite character. Now this is not some off-the-rack store bought piece of crap you can just go out and buy; no, this is something you actually put some time and effort into making. Now imagine you’re out and about at whatever party or public gathering you decide to go to, and you see somebody dressed as one of the characters in that same obscure show. Barnacle Boy meets his Mermaid Man, Jay finds his Silent Bob. You don’t know them; they don’t know you. But in that moment you are kindred spirits joined across the vast sea of humanity in your mutual affinity and love for the canon of your show. Entire squads of storm troopers are assembled at Comicon based on this phenomenon.
Our date revitalizes with new energy and vigor. Her voice raises and her eyes sparkle as we talk:
“What do you shoot?”
“I’ve got an AR-22; I can get quarter sized groupings at 50 yards.”
“That’s awesome. I’ve got a Ruger 10/22 with a couple BX 25 rounder mags. Not quite zeroed in but I’m working on it”
As far as the world around us is concerned we could’ve been speaking Dothraki. We’re in our own little bubble,with our own language. The bar around us fades into nothingness. This one common cord has lowered countless other walls, like all the fences in Jurassic Park suddenly lost power, allowing our primal emotions to spill out and devour Newman and that shitty lawyer guy. Our conversation becomes unfettered and free, countless-confessions followed by her shrill and excited:
“Oh my God, me too!”
Or my equally excited, but slightly lower timbre’d:
“Oh damn, I totally do that too!”
The shochu disappears, no longer down awkwardly closed gullets, but because we’re talking so fast and laughing so hard and the moisture from our lips needs to be constantly replenished. I have found my Fish, my complimentary piece. At thirty, I have found my peace.
…or so I thought.
Mirror Match Part II: A Crack in the Mirror
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