I stood on the subway platform wearing my dominatrix boots. At 5’11” with those 5-inch heels I was a tall woman that night. All caught up in a challenging game of Tetris on my iPhone, I paid no attention to the people around me. I was heading out for a first date with a handsome man named Antonio. His profile stated that he was 6’2” so I was safe being statuesque. He chose Lelabar—a wine bar in the West Village—as our meeting place.
“How are you this evening?” said someone nearby.
I didn’t think the person was talking to me and continued to play with my phone.
“Excuse me, how are you?”
I looked to the right, then left—no one. Then I looked down. Way down. Standing next to me was a man–a vertically challenged man. Now, I don’t mean he was short in a Tom Cruise or even Danny Devito sort of way. Standing next to me was a little person staring up and smiling. It was a surprise and I jumped.
“Oh! I’m sorry; you’re talking to me? I’m, I’m well, and you?” I said while quickly regaining my composure.
“I missed my stop so I’m backtracking. Hate when that happens.”
“Me too. I’ve done that lots of times.”
I didn’t know what else to say. I was caught up in both his demeanor and clothes. He was wearing a beautiful charcoal grey suit, impeccably tailored, probably Italian, a white dress shirt of such quality cotton that I had the urge to feel it, a lavender silk tie and matching pocket square. His black dress shoes had a glossy sheen, and he carried a small, honey-colored briefcase of a grade of leather that one knows immediately is as good as it gets. Everything was perfectly sized to fit his frame.
This was a sharp dressed man.
The subway car arrived and we boarded. It was packed and I maneuvered myself around the masses and grabbed a pole for stability. There wasn’t room for anyone around me, but he managed to find a way to stand by my side. I was a little uncomfortable as he barely reached my hip.
“So, where’re you going tonight?” He said, as the doors to the train shut.
The conductor announced that we would be holding there briefly and our patience was appreciated.
“Um, a first date.” I said, wondering if I was imagining things. Was he really hitting on me?
“Where are you meeting this lucky guy?”
OK, confirmation. He was flirting. I was alternating between giving him the brush off and my need to prove to him or myself that I wasn’t bothered by his smallness.
I am not a heightist!
The car started to move. I pulled a Post-It from my coat pocket with the name of the wine bar and location on it and showed it to him.
“Is it any good?”
“I have no idea. This is my first time.”
We quickly reached the next stop. “Well, this is where I get off.”
“Have a good night.” I said as he exited.
He was outside the train and turned back just before the doors snapped shut, pointed at me with authority and said, “Oh I will, ’cause I’ll see YOU in an hour.”
That’s one ballsy little dude, was my first thought.
After a short walk from the subway, I arrived at Lelabar. It was a cavernous room filled entirely with an oval-shaped bar and Antonio had two seats for us.
He was very handsome—dark wavy hair, well dressed in a casual and hip sort of way and had lovely manners–he stood as I approached and helped me get situated in my seat. I ordered a glass of wine and we decided on some cheese to enjoy with our libation. I figured that I probably should tell him about what had happened just in case my new friend showed up—highly unlikely as it was. The story did provide a good icebreaker and he laughed as I described my encounter. The mood lightened, we were beginning to feel more comfortable and the subject was quickly forgotten as we were focused on getting to know each other.
Then it happened.
“Are you sure?” said Antonio.
What I wanted to say was, “Pretty sure, unless they’re filming an episode of Pit Boss in the neighborhood,” but instead I nodded as my eyes followed my friend who strolled to the opposite side of the bar and hoisted himself onto a stool. I gave him a quick wave of acknowledgement and turned my attention to Antonio.
“That guy’s unbelievable.”
“Yeah. Sorry about this.”
“It’s nothing you did. No worries.”
It took immense concentration to focus on the conversation with Antonio as he talked about his kids, how he came to the U.S. from Spain for college and decided to stay and what he enjoyed doing in his spare time. It should’ve been interesting. Sadly, it wasn’t because the things going on across the bar had me riveted. There must’ve been a Super Model convention in town because very quickly my friend was surrounded by a bevy of willowy beauties. He was entertaining them with stories, drinks flowed and at one point food was placed in front of them and those skinny bitches were eating. They each vied for his attention, laughed at what he said and frequently touched his arm.
He was charming.
I was fascinated.
I finished my first glass of wine and within seconds the bartender sat another in front of me.
“I didn’t order this.” I told him.
“I know. The gentleman across the bar saw that you’d finished your drink and asked me to get you another.” I raised the glass and mouthed, “thank you.”
He smiled, raised his glass slightly and turned back to the ladies.
After the second drink I knew it was time to go. Antonio paid the bill and I excused myself to the ladies room. I told him that I was going to say goodbye to my friend and asked that he wait for me in his seat or by the front door. He did neither.
I exited the bathroom and walked towards my friend. I felt someone behind me—actually felt his chest against my back. Seriously? Antonio was getting territorial with him?
Come on, buddy, grow an ego.
I thanked him again for the wine, said good night and quickly walked to the door with Antonio on my heels. I glanced back once and my friend was staring. The look on his face was one of unmistakable disappointment.
Antonio escorted me to the subway, gave me a passionate kiss and said he’d call soon. It was sort of kiss that should’ve made me swoon, except it didn’t. My mind was elsewhere.
As I got ready to swipe the Metro card and enter the turnstile I hesitated. My thoughts swirled. Should I go back? What would that imply? Imply? Are you crazy? It would be a statement of fact and there’s no turning back once you cross that line. You’d better be sure. Can you handle it? CAN YOU HANDLE IT?
I couldn’t. The shallow side of me won the debate and for that I’m ashamed.
The subway ride home was filled with thoughts of him–a man with more courage than most I’ve met. He saw what he wanted and went for it with nerve most guys wouldn’t be able to muster. I don’t know what he was thinking as he approached me on the subway platform, or the seconds before he entered that wine bar, but some form of self-doubt had to be there. Isn’t that how it always works in those make or break moments? Do we have the guts to move forward even when it’s scary—when rejection or even worse, ridicule is the likely outcome?
I hope one of those catwalk girls strutted out holding his hand. Judging by their reaction it’s a distinct possibility and they weren’t unique in their opinion. There wasn’t a soul in the bar that night—my date included–who wasn’t absolutely clear as to who was the biggest man in the room.
“Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.” Benjamin Franklin