op-ed

My First Date In The #MeToo Era

YouTube screenshot/Vintorious, Shutterstock/komlev

Richard Torregrossa Journalist and novelist

She opened the door and struck a slinky pose under the transom. Tall, tussled-haired, Chanel red lips that glistened as if she’d just licked them, she wore an off the shoulder number with a cinctured waist that accentuated her curvy figure. A modest but enticing amount of cleavage was visible. I looked away.

This was our first date and I wanted to compliment her on how beautiful she looked. My attorney, who was standing next to me (I take him on all my dates now), seemed to read my mind because he firmly grasped my arm, a silencing gesture.

She was all smiles but of course I didn’t know how to interpret them. I mean, normally I would. I wouldn’t give it a second thought. To my mind her toothsome grin was warm, friendly, and slightly salacious, a cue that it would be all right to lean in and give her a hug and a gentlemanly kiss on the cheek.

As I started to make my move, my attorney shot me a censorious look as if I’d lost my mind. Things are different now of course. In the age of prolific sexual harassment allegations I didn’t want to offend her or give her the wrong idea that I was a masher or sexual predator. Ten years from now if things didn’t work out between us I might be rich and famous and she might return with an accusation of sexual misconduct.

We approached the restaurant, an Italian bistro lit with sconces that gave the place a pleasant glow, nothing fancy, but it had charm and I knew the wait staff and the food was never disappointing. We walked up a short flight of stairs and I moved ahead to open the door for her, but first I glanced at my attorney. Was this okay? I didn’t want to imply that she couldn’t handle the task herself, thereby committing a sexist insult, but it’s a habit I have. Confused, I hoped for guidance from my attorney but his expression was ambiguous. Even he was at a loss. I was on my own. So I riskily went into the breach and she smiled.  “Thank you,” she said

I took her coat and pulled out her chair for her. She sat down and we were handed menus. My favorite dish is the sausage and peppers and I was just about to recommend it, but then I thought this could be construed—the sausages, I mean—as a phallic subtext, so I suggested the chicken parm. It wasn’t quite as good, but it was a safer bet.

“Too heavy,” she said. “If I don’t watch my figure, who will?” We laughed.

I started to say, “as if you have to—” but my attorney stiffened and looked at me as if I’d gone crazy. I thought he’d stuff his napkin in my mouth.

“The calamari salad,” I said, “is very light and quite delicious.”

My attorney breathed a sigh of relief, relaxed, and we ordered a bottle of wine.

All was well until she suddenly said, “What was that?”

“What was what?”

“Did you just touch my thigh under the table?”

“No. Not purposely. I’m a tall drink of water and there never seems to be enough legroom for me, so I cross my legs a lot, shift, fidget, but if I grazed you, I’m sorry. I apologize. It was an accident.”

“Oh, that’s alright. It felt good,” she said with a wink. My attorney looked at me as if I’d just dodged a bullet.

The wine arrived and I poured us each a glass. I filled hers up a bit more than ours, but it was purely unintentional. My attorney glared and shook his head. He mouthed a warning to me when she looked at her cell phone, “She’ll think you’re trying to take advantage of her by getting her drunk.”

She was bright and articulate, worked as a paralegal, and regaled us with many amusing stories and anecdotes. “Poor junior attorney had a getaway planned with his wife this weekend, but at five o’clock, one of the partners marched into his office with a stack of files and said I need a brief on Monday. There went his romantic getaway. Poor guy. His wife was not pleased.”

We definitely had chemistry. Even my attorney could see that. So when we returned to my place he started drawing up the consent forms. She signed, I signed. Then we kissed, sealing the deal. My attorney took his leave and before exiting looked back at me as if to say, “You’re on your own now. Don’t do anything stupid.”

In the morning I brought her coffee and a croissant and she purred like a contented kitten. While she was getting dressed, she said, “You know, I should’ve had the sausage and peppers. I love Italian sausage.”

Richard Torregrossa is a journalist and the author of eight books, including the mystery crime thriller, “TERMINAL LIFE: A Suited Hero Novel.”


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