Koi no yokan: (Japanese) The sense one can have upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.
I hated waiting. My friends said it was a double standard for someone who was always so late but I couldn’t help it. Waiting made me super self aware. I never knew what to do with myself in those moments: cross my hands, put them on my lap, rest my head on one hand and look away as if deep in thought… On this occasion, my elbows were resting on the table and my head was lowered, deeply engrossed in the book I was reading.
My date was late. It was the first time I was meeting her. Her Tinder profile only said ‘Miss, 26’. She didn’t have a bio. Swiping right meant breaking my bio rule but her face was worth it. It was heart shaped, with bright eyes, deep dimples and a wide smile. Our conversation wasn’t anything special. There was none of the wit, sarcasm or humour I normally sought. What she lacked in these qualities, she made up for in enthusiasm. When she suggested a meet up, I didn’t know how to turn her down. I felt that it would have been akin to kicking a puppy. So there I was, on table 26, which I had picked because I figured it would give us something to talk about, should there be any first date jitters. I was sitted at the balcony of Clay Oven, surrounded by deep hues of maroon and a scattering of greenery. It was a cute restaurant. Most importantly, it was near the bus stop, affordable and served good potions. I didn’t mind that Miss was running late. She was coming all the way from Wilson. And I had a great book to distract me while I waited.
You can always tell when someone is looking at you, can’t you? The tell tale shiver down my spine made me look up. Three tables away, someone in a black t-shirt was looking at me. I wished I had my spectacles so I could see them properly. As it was, I couldn’t make out their features. They were just a body in black, looking at me. Flipping my ‘hair’ (it was a wig), I went on reading my book. When a shadow fell over me, I figured it was a waiter coming to check on me. I started to say that I was okay but when I looked up, it wasn’t the genial waiter in a burgundy suit. It was the person from three tables away.
“You’ll really hurt your eyes with all that squinting”.
I wanted to say something snappy and maybe witty but for some reason, words were caught up in my throat. She was stunning. The setting sun glimmering on her face made her skin look like caramel. Her eyes, which were close together as she was scowling at me, glinted. Her lips were an interesting shade of pink and so full, I felt parts of me twitch. This is what happened when you go for so long without…Her scent was a mix of something woody and fruity. People’s scents fascinate me. I liked hers right away. I wanted to sniff her. Don’t judge me. What I could see of her chest and her arms was covered in tattoos. I was intrigued. She was scowling at me. Shaking my head and clearing my throat, I asked:
Not exactly the witty remark I was going for.
“I asked where your glasses are.”
“Oh. I left them at a bar”.
Too late, I wondered why I hadn’t bothered lying. Her lips stretched into a smile, which made me glad I hadn’t lied. As far as smiles go, it was right up there.
“Do you always frequent bars?”
“Do you always talk up strangers?”
She smiled and shrugged.
“Hey. I was only showing concern for your eyes. I’ll leave you to your book. It is quite a good book, actually.”
She stopped and turned.
“No, it’s not a good book?” One of her eyebrows was lifted and I could have sworn it was the cutest thing I had ever seen.
“I mean no, don’t go. It is a good book. I am really enjoying it”. The people in my brain were frantic now, trying to think of something interesting to ask so I could keep the conversation going.
“Do you read a lot?” I asked at the same time that she asked:
“Are you waiting for someone?”
We both laughed.
“Yes.” I said.
“Bummer. I was really hoping I could join you and get to the root of the glasses in the bar story.”
“And I want to know why you talk to strangers.”
“Nat. My name is Nat. If you tell me your name, we won’t be strangers anymore.”
“Eva. Evelyn. Eve.”
“Okay Eva, Evelyn, Eve, who are you waiting for?”
“Eva is fine.” I laughed. “A date.” I continued.
“How did you guess?”
“I have my ways. Tinder, huh?”
I nodded and we both looked down as my phone started to vibrate. It was Miss. She was downstairs.
“I take it she is here?”
Again, I nodded. Part of me was wondering if it was too late to fake a sudden illness and cancel on Miss.
“I’ll go back to my table and keep an eye out. Can I get your number? Just so I can save you. Should your date turn out to be boring or you know, a serial killer?”
Laughing, I typed my number out on her phone.
“Maybe you are the serial killer” I said. She only laughed and went back to her table. Watching her retreat, my whole body was suffused with warmth. I couldn’t help but feel as if I was about to go on an adventure. I could almost feel the smile on my face. Miss, who was just walking in, had nothing to do with it.
I’ve always thought that meeting someone at a restaurant would be the cutest thing. I was reading up on phrases about love that have no English translations and this Japanese one got to me. I really am such a sucker for love. I hope I’ll be able to finish this story.