Afterthoughts of the Unexpected Dinner Date

Last week, I went for the unexpected dinner date arranged by a former client; current friend K. I arrived early as usual because I don’t like to be late. If you spoke with my friends from a long time ago, they would tell you I’m usually at least 15 minutes early for any meeting. Although one of my cousins, Z, might disagree because I was horribly late twice when we arranged to meet a few years ago when she was still living in Japan. I’m sorry, Z.

I arrived early at the station and thought I was very early so I dropped the girl, M, a message as to where I would be waiting (hmm… there seem to be a lot of M’s around me). As I wandered around, I saw the Yokohama municipal subway line just next to the JR station and I was like, “Oh crap! Should’ve taken that instead.” because I cycled 30 minutes to the JR station I usually use when I could’ve used the subway to get there which is a little closer to where I live.

Anyhow, to my surprise, M also already arrived and said she would come to the gate where I said I was waiting at. As I walked back to the station, I saw this girl holding her phone appearing to be looking for someone and so I wondered if that was her. Remember: I don’t really know how she looks. Our eyes met and paused for a while before we looked away and walked past each other pretending we don’t know each other. As a matter of fact, we don’t.

The next moment, my phone rang. It was M. As I answered the call, I was thinking, “Ah, it should be that girl I just saw then.” Over the phone, I asked, “Where are you,” while walking back toward the direction where the girl I saw earlier headed thinking that if I see her on the phone, that must be her. To my surprise, the girl was not anywhere within my view. Then, I heard a voice behind me and turned around. That was M.

Phew I didn’t go approach the other girl

Now, M put up a great smile as soon as we met so that made her seem very approachable. And immediately, I felt relaxed knowing it wouldn’t be awkward silence for the next 2 or 3 hours. We chatted as we headed to the restaurant I had reserved a couple of days earlier and learned that she actually got off work some 2 hours before we were supposed to meet so that explains why she arrived even earlier than I did. *feel bad*

We got to the restaurant and sat by the window, which had a view that was quite a disappointment from the pictures they had on the web. The disparate ambiance with the some 8-course meal felt greatly mismatched. The reason I decided on the course was because since we were meeting for the first time, I wanted to reduce the unnecessary discomfort and overbearing courtesy in having her being overly careful on what to order. Besides, having a course meant we could spend more time talking instead of thinking what to eat. But come to think of it, I could also probably learn a lot about her seeing how she handles such situations.

Food was great and we had a nice talk like we were friends from before. But gradually, I find the need to fill some silence in between when some of the conversation didn’t transcend to deeper discussion. She seems quite boyish and gives hearty laughs. Her baritone range also gave her a stronger image than she might have. As she downed the first and only glass of alcohol that night, I could tell she was somewhat fluffy, bordering on being drunk. Her eyes were those of someone who would be wasted if you gave her a couple more glasses. But she remained sober in her words.

She told me about her previous boyfriend, a flow from the conversation of how K came about to setting up this meeting for us. As time passed, her tone calmed; she seemed relaxed and at ease. Her voice turned gentle and very feminine. I looked at her while she talked, and for some reason, got drawn by her voice and demeanor. It was a little bit of an uncommon experience but beyond that regular-looking person hides a somewhat unidentifiable charm.

Dinner was over in some 3 hours. That may sound long but it was alright since the course itself lasted around 2 hours or so and we chatted before and after that. After dinner, when we got to the station, we learned that we were going to the same platform albeit heading opposite directions. As we looked at the ever-so-accurate digital panel for the time of next train departure, we realized her train was already here but we were still on the stairs heading up, so she gave up chasing.

When we got to the platform, her train was still there and I said to her, “your train hasn’t departed, you can still make it!” But she didn’t seem keen on getting on. She looked at the panel and it appears that two of my trains would come before her next one. She turned to me and said she’ll see me off.

A typical Japanese guy might’ve said ok to that, but my Singapore upbringing said “no, I’ll wait for your next train with you.” However, she insisted and pulled me to my side of the track, and so I obliged.

One of the things I’ve come to feel since moving here is that, I am glad I was raised in Singapore. Granted, we may not necessarily be the best a man can be, but when I see how Japanese men treat women, I am glad I’ve been raised to be more gentlemanly than that.

As I arrived home after a 30-minute train ride and another 30-minute bicycle ride, I saw that M had dropped me a text. I didn’t respond immediately (what a slap to that “I am more gentlemanly” comment!) as I needed to think carefully about what to reply. In between her message was a line that says, “Let’s meet again!” And she ended with “Have fun on your business trip!” because she knows I’m going to Korea again next week.

I replied to thank her, skipped the part on “let’s meet again” and ended with “楽しんできます!”

Despite the charm I felt toward the end of the dinner, I didn’t think it would work out. I don’t feel very attracted to her or that we had any form of chemistry in particular but it was easy talking with her so we could probably be friends.

The next day, K texted me asking how things went, like she was the mother who can’t wait to marry away her daughter. I said it went ok and she asked, “So when’s your next date?” And I was like, “Not decided yet.” From what I heard from M, she and K and two other girls are very good friends. And among the 4 of them, 3 are already married so K is particularly looking out for M. Which is making things a little awkward now.

And after this, I’m getting wary of people wanting to introduce their friends to me. Reason being, if I hung out with friends and got to meet new people as friends, and then gradually fall for someone, that is great. But when introduced for the purpose of dating, it makes it hard to continue hanging out with the person; to “gradually fall for the person” if I don’t think it’s going to work out early in the meet up, because that would just make me a jerk leading her on if eventually I just see her as a friend.

Some time ago, a friend M… ok, too many M’s; let’s change and call him er… L. L said he wanted to introduce to me his friend, who saw my picture and said I was her type. At that time, I said ok but the meetup hasn’t happened and I’m not so sure if that’s a good idea anymore. But again, L was very enthusiastic about the meetup because his friend said she would introduce a girl to him as well, so if I don’t go, that could affect his happiness. Oh I am so 偉大! LOL…

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