The etiquette of forks, first dates

What if my date cake comes over for a “nightcap?” Men don’t see dust, right?
Dusting was on the “to do” list on the afternoon of the evening of my date cake adventure, but I just didn’t get to that chore—mostly because I was too busy re-applying my makeup after my mishap with the eyelash curler.
Besides, I was too much of a basket case to be worried about rebellious household lint.
Looking back on that night, I have trouble believing all the butterflies in my neck of the woods migrated to Florida for the winter. I’ve come to this conclusion because I think most of them were flying around in my stomach as I waited at the restaurant for a certain someone to arrive for our dinner date.
Because I have control issues, I had arrived there extra early. That left me with more than enough time to check my eyelashes and lipstick on three different trips to the mirror in the bathroom, where I’d also fussed with my hair so much that the static on my comb could have wiped out the radio station frequency.
On my last exit from the bathroom, I considered taking a seat on a barstool at the bar—my back to the room like a scene from “Pretty Woman”—where I would perch with my legs crossed and then turn around and catch a certain someone’s glance as he walked across the floor.
That scenario would have made for a surefire impression, except that all 5’2” of me was no match for the tall seat. It was all I could do to climb up the thing, struggling like a small child.
Once atop the pedestal, my feet were so far from the floor, I felt like Lily Tomlin’s character “Edith Ann”—and that’s the truth!
Thankfully, the place was still empty and nobody saw me slither off the barstool, my high heels grappling for the floor like a newborn calf on its first touchdown.
I remain my own worst enemy. All that bother set me to sweating and as I gathered myself at the cozy booth for two in the dining room, I switched roles from “Edith Ann” to Molly Shannon’s “Superstar,” and with lightning speed cross-checked both armpits and smelled my fingers for any lingering scent of perspiration.
It was all good until I looked at the elegant tableware that included at least two sets of cutlery at each of our place settings, and enough small plates and glassware to suit an army.
At my house when I eat, I stand over the kitchen sink with a paper plate and fork. Period.
I swallowed the goose egg in my throat. I was doomed.
However, I am pleased to report that at the moment my date walked through the door of the restaurant, all my trepidations vanished and were replaced with a shot of adrenaline that sent me right out of my high heels as I stood up to greet him.
As I queried in an earlier column, this date cake was an interview process, right? The kind of interview where I hand him a card at the beginning of the evening that states, “Please apply for this job only in the manner specified by the employer. Failure to do so may result in your application not being properly considered for the position.”
Another card would be presented that listed all the Essential Skills necessary to do the job, including critical thinking, problem-solving, significant use of memory, and continuous learning.
My fleeting delusions of interviews and essentials skills screening went out the window in about five seconds. He was handsome, polite, well-dressed, smelled good, employed, loved animals, talked about interesting things, asked questions, and had a great relationship with his children.
Best of all, he didn’t know which fork to use!
“Outside fork—salad, inside fork—entrée,” I said matter-of-factly with a smile (little did he know that I had “Googled” the “fork facts” on my cellphone while he was in the restaurant bathroom at the start of the evening).
I don’t remember what we talked about that evening, but I know for sure it wasn’t about the weather. I don’t remember who else was in the restaurant or what time it was when we ordered coffee and cheesecake.
And I don’t remember the last time I had such a great evening in the company of a man as I did that night.
My appetite was so big. It was all I could do not to eat his half of the cheesecake we shared for dessert.

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