Megs and I decided early on to do two dates in Texas because darn it, that state is large and in charge. Also, even more than other states with international borders, it seems to be known for having a divisive population (though that might just be my California-brain talking). Regardless, we wanted to explore more of the Texan datingverse, and what better way than with a date in El Paso.
Yesterday I waxed lovingly about the E.P. Today, I’m going to wan slightly loathingly about my E.P. date.
I met Enrique on OkCupid and he jumped at the chance to be my date. I’m fairly certain I selected him because he was a stark contrast to my Dallas date. Whereas Jason in Dallas was a once married 33 year old with a boyish spirit who seemed self-actualized, friendly, and deeply open, Enrique was an always-been-single 27-year old who had been to medical school, enjoyed extreme sports, and was very short-winded in his communication.
We agreed to meet at the trams at Franklin Mountain State Park, a friendly outdoors area that ran little gazebo-like boxes up the mountain on wires (which frankly sounded terrifying but there’s nothing like being so scared I have try not to pee myself to make a first date a little more interesting). Enrique pulled up in a large truck which he asked us not to film, hopped out, and his hands shook a little while he signed the waiver. We learned the trams were closed due to high winds, which were picking up at our elevation only as we talked to the operators, so my date and I settled onto a park bench overlooking Juarez.
Enrique seemed like a smooth operator* and wasn’t afraid of long lulls in the conversation, content to watch me while I looked out over the border. He seemed nice enough. We talked about med school (he’d gone to a school in Puerto Rico), and I asked if he had a specialization, but he didn’t really say. I remembered his written style had flowed online, and I was surprised that in person he didn’t seem to have that same rhythm. No matter, I persevered in my making of conversation, asking about where he’d grown up.
“Over there,” he said, gesturing a flapping hand toward nowhere.
“There?” I asked, pointing toward the El Paso side of the border.
“Not really,” he said.
“Do you see your family a lot?” I asked.
“Sure, my mom does my laundry sometimes.”
“So…are you from Mexico?”
“Kind of,” he replied.
I wanted to shake him and say It’s cool if you don’t have a green card. I’m from California. I’m liberal! but I wasn’t sure if that was kosher for the situation. Before I could change the subject though, Enrique did it for me.
“I really like your dress,” he said. “Girls never try to look nice here.”
“Oh, thanks…” I started to say. Only then he reached out and ran his fingers down my arm, starting at my dress sleeve and to the crook of my elbow. A little weirded out that this stranger was touching me, I decided to ignore it and tried to direct the conversation elsewhere.
Within a minute he was back to complimenting me though. Which admittedly was very flattering. What girl doesn’t want to hear she has lovely eyes or nice hair (which was so not true in that moment – it was windy as heck and I hadn’t brought a hairband)? And he kept putting his hands on me: he found a reason to brush the lower part of my knee (I was wearing the most modest dress in the world), to finger my ears when he complimented by jewelry and piercings. I was half surprised he didn’t go digging for treasure in my nose as he kept on grazing me.
I noted that it looked like a storm was coming in. The once blue sky had been muddled with what looked like haze only haze doesn’t creep in the way this brown had taken hold of the atmosphere. It was almost like a swarm of grasshoppers, or at least the way I imagined a swarm of some Little House on the Prairie insects would be.** Which were the thoughts I was having as we stood up, tossed out our coffee cups, and walked back toward the cars.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?” Enrique asked.
“Actually, we have to get driving,” I told him, an unspoken code phrase from me to Megan that’s subtext was “Get me outta here, stat.”
As I turned to say goodbye, Enrique surprised me by reaching out and touching the back of my neck lightly, right at the base of the spine and then moving toward my clavicle.
“Um, what are you doing?” I asked.
“Just checking this out,” he responded, his eyes on my neck.
“Oh my God, is there a lump? Is something wrong?”
“What?!” he asked, startled.
“You’re a doctor,” I said. “Is there something on my neck to be concerned about. Oh my God.”
“No. I’m just looking.”
In retrospect, I feel kind of bad for Enrique. He was putting the moves on me left and right, and in the moment I was baffled and apparently had hypochondria on the brain. Go figure.
*Med school pun not intended but noticed afterward.
** Has anyone else read that story from LHotP where a bunch of locusts or something show up and rain down on the family for days and days? I used to live in fear this would happen to the rest of us.