On the road, I got used to having a Jiminy Cricket of sorts on my shoulder – er, behind the camera – when it came to dating. No longer did I have to come home and pontificate in an email to my friends about the ins and outs of a date, detailing the indecision of what I might wear to if a third drink is appropriate if there is not at least appetizers involved. Megan had been there and done that with me. I think most any person secretly hopes for an impartial-observer-slash-friend to give their input at the end of an experience and on the road, I had one. And while sometimes Megs delivered news I didn’t agree with or want to hear, more often than not she pointed out the most insightful thing imaginable: the truth.
Which may be why it had been disorienting to not have her around when I was back home. I was back to the whole go home and type it out, or call my dad as I looked for parking and the ability to only relate my side of the story. So when Megs wanted to film at a food truck event the same night Brian and I had planned our third date, I was a mixture of nervous and frankly, relieved. Outside input, hut!
Except, it wasn’t just going to be Megan and the camera. I’d invited three friends to join us as well – partly so Megan would get to hang out with people (a treat rare on the road, which I never stopped feeling guilty about), and partly because my friends were getting curious about this guy was who was calling me on ye-olde-fashioned-telephone.
Sure, I was trepidatious about Brian meeting people near and dear to me. But I was also excited to share with him something that had been hard to explain but clearly a huge part of my recent history: dating on film. Of course, Brian knew about 50/50, but he was about to, in some sense, be part of it. I can tell someone about how setting up a sense of place later requires getting footage of walking in and out of a place a few times, but they rarely understand until they experience it. And much as maybe I didn’t need to date someone who got this part of me, I admit that I wanted it.
Honestly, this felt like a make-or-break moment of the Alicia and Brian datingverse. He was either going to get the 50/50 experience and think, not in a million years, lady or he was going to think okay. Cool. Let’s talk about it!
To make matters a tiny more complex, I’d had a renal scan earlier in the day. Which means I felt a tiny bit off kilter, and of course, my friends all knew I’d done this and would assuredly ask about it. And I hadn’t mentioned to Brian the whole oh hey, I’m not totally healthy! thing because, well…for a lot of reasons (but that’s another story). So I knew I had to tell him this before we got to far in the adventure.
My opportunity to mention UPJ came when we were scouring the city for a bus or heck, even a cab that could fit all of us. We’d divided and conquered, a few friends on each corner trying to figure out why the bus was half an hour late, trying to hail a cab and wondering what our other options were (walking was out as one person had a torn ligament and was on crutches). Brian and I were alone and there was the tiniest of lulls in our conversation so I just blurted it out. Keeping Dan Savage’s advice in mind, I tried not to make it sound like a big deal. It was fixable. It was just a thing. Sure, there was probably surgery in my future. But also seriously, no big deal. N. B. D.
Brian looked shocked. Then, he hugged me. Then he looked shocked some more. Before he could ask much beyond “Wait, are you okay?” a bus showed up on a different corner and we sprinted across the street to join my friends.
The first thing that happened upon getting off the bus was we had be filmed walking in and out of the event. Except…My friends were hangry. That’s the anger that comes from being angry because one is hungry. Hanger is a tricky beast. It clouds your head, bubbling your brain like a child blowing their milk out of proportion. My friends grumbled as Megan asked us to walk by the camera, then walk back, then do it again. “How did you do this every day?” they asked. To be fair, Megan always made sure I wasn’t hangry (was that why she was constantly making sure I ate enough?). But also, it dawned on me right then I possess a lot of patience and don’t particularly mind being directed so long as I have nowhere else to be or nothing to do. Torn between wanting to get food into my friends and wanting to make sure Megs got what she needed, I smiled and shrugged.
The food truck event was a blitz of sensory overload. Bright lights zig-zagged above us, a DJ’s beats pulsed through the air, the aroma of pan-Asian-burgers-with-garlic-and-calamari-sugar-cookie-cupcake-grilled-brie-and-is-that-yogurt-tacos?-yum! everywhere, skeeball tempting me to forgo food all together, and of course the usual social intrigue that is humanity in San Francisco (are those furry platform neon-pink boots?!?). We ate family style, each person bringing a find to the table and sharing. The moment food was an option, laughter began to rise between us all, conversation about dating, roommates, jobs, and possibilities of the future.
I confess that I spent much of the evening fretting. Were my friends having a good time? Did Brian like them? Did they like him? What did Megan think? Was she getting the footage she needed? I finally succumbed to drinking a beer and relaxing enough to challenge Megan to a game of skeeball. After Megs and I battled it out, Brian stepped up to the ramp next to mine. His ball rolling beat the heck out of mine, and we laughed our way through the set. To congratulate him on his win, I pulled Brian to the dance floor. May as well get over the “does he dance?” hurdle.
I wasn’t sure what Brian thought of the whole filming process, the idea of allowing another person to be intimately involved in my intimate details. So when we left, I asked. What began as a conversation on the train ride home spurred into a literally all-night talk about who we used to be, who we are, who we wanted to become. And the best part? Even as the sun came up and the thought of needing to get home and try to grab a few hours of sleep before morning, there was an abundance of laughter.
What did Megan think of everything? You’ll just have to wait to find out.