As if on cue, the universe delivered me a couple OKCupid messages in my inbox that night. They were from an Indian girl who lived in Oakland and was watching Veronica Mars, liked my use of the word "splendiferous," and hated bad grammar. So Hamster Girl and I were off to a good start.
This morning, we exchanged messages for about an hour and a half, making judgments and accusations of pretension, generally being snarky, and discussing theatre, including my latest theatre project. And then she said I seemed like I'd be fun to meet up with. And I said that it would be appropriate to go see an Olympian show on Saturday, but I boldly added, in the name of efficiency, that I had no dinner plans tonight, so there was that. And by a "happy coincidence," she had no dinner plans either, and dinner plans were made.
We met at Enssaro, an Ethiopian restaurant. And we were there for, well, two hours, talking long after we'd finished eating. She accused me of being a picky eater, and I said I hated cilantro, and she did too, so we high-fived, but then she called my hate of cilantro into question since I could sometimes look past it if the rest was good and it wasn't so much the taste but the texture. Yes, she thought I secretly liked it. We also hated raisins. We talked about television and books and comics, and apparently I reminded her a lot of her brother, who shared my tastes.
An interesting note about the universe: she had only joined OKCupid recently and had just started poking around on Friday. And on Saturday night she found me. And on Sunday night we had dinner.
What struck me most is that I was just being me and she liked it. She went along with it. When I declared that injera bread was made of magic because it expanded in your stomach and then decided it was literally made of magic and began describing the process of sprinkling some sort of powder over it and speaking an incantation, she suggested fairy dust rather than look at me funny. When I wanted to know the color of the magic—white, black, purple—she suggested I ask the waiter, and when I brought it up again, she continued to humor me. When she claimed that people had mini-goats as pets and I said that I was pretty sure she was wrong, she did not take me incredibly seriously and get offended. When she claimed that green peppers and red peppers tasted the same raw and I said that I was pretty sure she was wrong, she did not take me incredibly seriously and get offended, and she thought the grocery store would be totally cool with my idea for her to weigh some peppers, take a bite of each, weigh them again, and then pay for the parts she ate. When I noticed that there had been an empty chair at our table the whole time and decided it was occupied by a ghost named Gerald, she said it was creepy but would have named him Larry. When I saw a baby in the restaurant and thought that Gerald might be a baby, she wondered what sort of parents would leave a baby in a restaurant. When I pet the baby and told him it would be all right, she said that you don't pet babies and I had no idea what I was doing, at which point Gerald became a dog.
I would like to reiterate that we spent ten minutes discussing the invisible occupant of an empty chair.
I paid for dinner even though she was going to offer to split it. I brought up the earlier plan for Saturday, and she said, without hesitation, "I'm in!" We exchanged numbers. As we parted ways outside the restaurant, she extended her arms for a hug. I walked across the street to my car, and she walked away in a perpendicular direction.
I drove in her direction and made a U-turn as I was leaving. I don't think she saw me, but I saw her walking. I may have been imagining things, but I think she was smiling to herself.