Although the Walking Red Flag had originally suggested the photo project on the beach with no mention of doing anything that cost money, and I’d asked about cocktails, he ended up with a $100-plus dinner tab. Like I said, I’d been running around all day and was hungry.
When I told him I wanted to order some of the small plates, he said to get whatever I wanted and he would share. He claimed to eat anything after six years in the Navy and have no culinary dislikes. We shared a cheese plate, a delicious salad, steak brochettes with an amazing creamy sauce, and garlic shrimp. The food was great. I had two or three glasses of wine and he had a couple. When the check came, he pulled out a card and paid immediately with no weird energy or hesitation. He’d told me he got a pension from the Navy since he was in school, so at least he had some form of income.
Once I’d mentally disqualified the WRF for all of the reasons he so clearly elucidated in the first fifteen minutes of our date, I relaxed and enjoyed talking with him about his life and mine. His honesty was disarming, and he had a sweet smile, easy laugh and good sense of humor. He was actually rather charming, and I might as well enjoy the date I was on even if I knew I would never see him again.
During dinner I asked if he’d ever been on the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier, which we could see from our table on the patio. He hadn’t, and I told him how much I loved it and said we should take a ride before we did our photo project on the beach. He mentioned that he brought a sweatshirt for me in case I got cold down on the beach. Wow, he’s considerate, I thought. I had my own sweatshirt stuffed into my giant purse. I wasn’t used to men anticipating and providing for my needs.
When we walked out of Bar Pintxo, the WRF took my hand and held it as we crossed Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Ave and walked towards the Pier. I couldn’t remember the last time a man held my hand, and said so, in my characteristic over-sharing style. It was so sweet and romantic. And my hand felt good in his hand.