The Walking Red Flag Walks In

When I asked my potential Superman where we should meet for cocktails pre-photo project, he suggested Big Dean’s, a horrible frat-like bar on the boardwalk right by the Santa Monica Pier. He said he’d never been there and wanted to try it. I told him it was a rather Delta-house atmosphere and as much as I love Animal House, I suggested we try somewhere else. He then suggested Bar Pintxo, a cute Basque wine bar off the 3rd Street Promenade, a much nicer choice.

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As I sat at a two-top on Bar Pintxo’s patio waiting for my potential Superman to show up, I wondered if I’d find him attractive. He looked like he had acne scars in some of his photos. I have a thing about good skin and good teeth (though a well-placed scar can always be sexy).

Traffic had been horrendous getting from my apartment at the beach south of the Pier to downtown Santa Monica. I took a cab so that we could walk down to the beach after the bar and do our photo project with glow sticks on the sand and I could walk home from there. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about drinking or parking.

My date had texted me saying he had to pick up his mom at the Laundromat and
drop her off at home, so might be a little late. I had four thoughts, in this order:

1) That’s sweet.
2) He’s sharing a car with his parents. Uh oh.
3) He’s probably living at home. Oh god.
4) His family has to go to the Laundromat.

When he walked in, he was cute. Very cute. Much cuter than in his photos, in fact. That was a relief. He was wearing jeans and red T-shirt with a yellow lightning bolt on it, which I would later learn is the symbol of The Flash, another superhero. (Clearly I don’t know much about comics.) He carried a bag full of camera equipment and, I presumed, glow sticks.

I’d already ordered a glass of wine, and he ordered one too as I looked over the menu.
Although we’d originally planned to meet for drinks, I’d been running around all day, was ravenous and wanted to order food.

He was talkative, charming and disarmingly open. The picking up mom from the Laundromat text begged a couple of questions.

“That’s so sweet you’re driving your mom around,” I said. It was a natural enough segue, and soon enough he divulged that yes, he was living with his parents; yes, he was sharing a car with them. Not only that, he was going through his third divorce. He told me he had two- and three-year-old little girls who lived with their mom in San Diego and he got them every other weekend. I asked if he had kids from his first two marriages.

“I don’t usually say this all right away on the first date,” he said, growing sheepish for the first time. Now was the time to get embarrassed? He then told me he had a seven-year-old son from his first marriage who lived in Minnesota.

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Wow. Three failed marriages at 38, three kids, living back home with his parents and without his own car. Oh, did I mention that after six years in the Navy, he’d gone back to school and wasn’t working?

“I’m a walking red flag,” he said with a big smile, his dark brown eyes glistening at me like a puppy dog’s. “I’m undateable.”

I’ll never see this guy again after tonight, I thought.

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