One quick email exchange, a phone call and I had a date with Yoni for dinner at Pomodoro Rossa, an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side near my apartment. He chose the place as he too lived in the neighborhood. Having been there many times I was happy with his selection. The staff is friendly and accommodating and the fresh pasta is delicious.
I was five minutes late as I’d stopped to get a manicure before dinner and it took longer than expected. I hate to be delayed and had sent Yoni a text prior to polishing to let him know. I’ve been told that 20 minutes in NYC is still considered acceptable with traffic delays or subway issues but even five minutes makes me feel awful.
Yoni was already seated at a table and as I approached he stood, grabbed my hands and went in for a cheek kiss.
“My nails are wet,” I said as I pulled my hands back. Too late. It was as if he didn’t hear me and the polish was smudged a few minutes after leaving the nail salon.
Didn’t I just text him to say I was running late with a manicure? Did he not think that included polish? I was a little miffed, but it really wasn’t his fault.
Yoni shrugged it off with a “no big deal” gesture and facial expression.
His indifference was bothersome, but the culpability was my own. I’d come to a date with wet nails, after all. He was also shorter than his profile stated (5’10”). I like to wear heels—impractical when walking in the city—but I’ve still got a little Vegas in me. I was at least an inch taller than he. With my 3-inch wedges I was 5’9”. On his most upright day, Yoni was 5’7”.
We got comfortable, I ordered a glass of wine and we made small talk. I asked about how long he’d lived in the neighborhood and about his children. His youngest boy was 13–younger than I had hoped for. He mentioned that his son was about to have his bar mitzvah celebration. I asked about the party. That seemed to be a sore spot with Yoni and he spent a fair amount of time lamenting how much it was costing him. He mentioned that his ex-wife had extravagant taste and was spending his money like crazy. During his mini-rant he said that his half was more than most people spent on the entire event.
“So you’re spitting the cost with your ex-wife, not paying for it all?”
He had implied that he was footing the bill.
“Well, yes, that’s what she says, but who knows, she could be inflating my part.”
Kind of like your inflated stature? I thought but kept to myself.
Eventually the server took our order and the conversation became more interesting. Yoni was well traveled and had many interesting stories to share about obscure places he’d visited. I enjoyed his vivid descriptions of the exotic locales and after a second glass of wine he had become quite charming. Wine does that to me. He wasn’t handsome, but he had a pleasant face, trim physique and told a great story.
Twice during the conversation he mentioned driving to pick up his children for their weekly time with him. He’d told me his children lived on the UWS just as he did so it didn’t make sense. When questioned he gave the reasonable explanation that he’d been working outside the city on a project and picked them up on his way home.
I’ve eaten at Pomodoro many times and always order the Fettuccine Pomodoro E Basilico. It is delicious and the portion is huge. The place is a checkered-tablecloth neighborhood restaurant and the servers seem to expect that leftovers will be taken home. Generally they don’t ask, just box up what’s left and bring it to the table. Yoni had finished all of his entrée, but they brought mine in a takeout container.
“We don’t want that,” Yoni said with disdain.
“I want it,” I replied quickly and the waiter set it down.
“You want to take leftovers home?” Yoni asked. His tone left no doubt it was déclassé.
“This isn’t exactly Per Se. I don’t like to waste food.”
“As you wish,” his mouth said, but his face was profoundly disappointed.
Yoni paid the bill, we exited and I was prepared to say goodbye. He suggested we go for an after dinner drink. I declined. He persisted and told me he’d take me to a secret place on the Upper West Side that few people knew of. That was intriguing and I agreed to one quick drink.
Yoni suggested we put my leftovers in his car. It was parked just outside the restaurant.
Strange that the car is parked here since he lives in the 80s.
Then I noticed the New Jersey license plate and pressed.
Yep, Yoni was living in The Dirty.
He claimed it was only temporary—the divorce wiped him out and he planned to move back to the city within a couple of months.
Was every motherfucker on the site a goddamn liar?
I was seething, but also opportunistic. I wanted to know the Secret Place location.
Yoni tried to hold my hand as we walked one block to 70th Street and Columbus. I pulled away and told him it was far too soon to hold hands as if we were a couple.
“Why? You don’t want your other boyfriends to see you with me?” He said, smirking.
I wanted to give it to him. I was itching to, but learning the location kept me quiet.
I’d walked down that street many times and never noticed Shalel, a Moroccan themed lounge. You had to know what you were looking for. The obscure sign and dimly lit stairs that led down to the basement were not eye catching.
The steps were peppered with votive candles and rose petals. Yoni leered as he told me that everyone calls it: The Sexy Bar.
Take it down a notch, Napoleon.
Once inside it was even sexier. Lots of hidden nooks, candles, rose petals on the floor, and pillows piled on every seat—it was sultry. The sort of place that makes you want to be naughty.
EXCEPT, I was on a date with Pinocchio.
We sat down and ordered a drink and before it arrived, Yoni made a move. He reached out and put his hand on my side and pulled me towards him.
“Hey, what are you doing? I grabbed his hand and pushed it away. “Knock it off.”
“We should leave. I shouldn’t have brought you here.”
It wasn’t exactly a den of iniquity but Yoni obviously thought we’d be getting freaky.
“Fine by me,” I said rapidly.
We exited, I said a quick goodbye and headed towards my apartment. My cell rang and I saw it was George Washington. I let it go to voicemail.
His message said, “You left the food in my car. I knew you weren’t interested in a second date when you took the leftovers. No woman who wants to impress a man would do that.”
That might’ve been the truest statement Yoni made that night.
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” Napoleon Bonaparte