I invited him back to my place. We'd just seen a depressing movie and I knew it might be a hard switch into what a fourth date might involve.
I turned on a good playlist and took out a chilled bottle of white.
"I feel bad that you're opening a whole bottle."
"Don't feel bad. What's a bottle of wine for if you don't open it? Speaking of which, are you any good at opening these?"
"Yeah, I can do it."
"Oh wait. Never mind. It's a screw on."
"Screw on cap?", he laughed. "Only the best...?"
I held my tongue, but I wanted to say, 'Hello!? Are you new?'
That wine comes from a winery I visited in Napa. It was more than I normally spend.
It's one thing not to know much about wine. Frankly I don't either, but it is a whole other thing to not know much about wine but pretend like you do.
Maybe he's just nervous, I thought. He's human, right? I let it go the same way I convinced myself I was mistaken when I thought I saw him stick his gum under the table on our first date.
"I love this song", he told me when November Rain came on. "They played it at my budddy's ex-girlfriend's funeral though, so now it's all my friends and I can think of whenever we hear it."
I took a slow sip of wine, remembering the song they played at Toby's funeral.
He looked up at my. "Now don't start getting all morose and telling funeral stories. I shouldn't have brought it up."
His tone startled me. I'm not sure if I would have said anything about Toby. I doubt it, but there's a chance I might have. Either way I came out of that exhchange feeling cheap somehow.
"Hey", I said, "you're the one who brought up funerals and picked a depressing movie that made me cry."
"Well...yes. A little. It was incredibly sad at the end. You didn't notice?"
"Not a thing", he lied grinning. I got the sense it wasn't to protect my dignity, which might have been endearing.
A few minutes later he moved toward me on the couch. He pulled the elastic out of my ponytail, letting my hair fall across my shoulders. Then he kissed me, leaning me back against the couch.
I expected that I would warm up to it. I tried to let myself go, but soon it was clear to me that I wasn't feeling it. Yet had I not come too far to be considering my options now? I tossed that around, but finally I pulled away from him.
"Are you ok?"
"I'm fine.", I told him, kissing him gently one last time, a hand on either side of his face.
I sat up and reached for my wine.
"I just need a little breather."
He stayed a little while longer.