XOXO teammate Florence is back, and we’ve got another installment of her misadventures in dating. It’s time to learn about the bus boy and let Love–yes, Love–begin.


 

By the time we pull into Port Authority I’ve gone from Lonely Girl – keeper of stuffed animals and hoarder of rom-coms– to Lover Girl, capable, worthy and on the precipice of securing a boyfriend just in time for summer. Fate hath delivered me here, I say to myself in the voice I talk to myself in. How much less pathetic it will be to attend bottomless mimosa brunch with another person! But, and this is a reoccurring theme, I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit.

In two hours Bus Boy and I are able to learn a lot about each other, mainly that we have everything in common, or at least a couple of things: We both moved to New York in the winter after having grown up on the cape. He went to high school ten minutes from my town and graduated just a year before I did.

“I was just in Plymouth,” he says, which is my darling hometown chock-full of Pilgrims in the daytime and fifteen bars for every square mile by night. “My friends and I went to T-Bones both Friday and Saturday. It was a blast,” he says and there it is, the first warning sign, which I happily ignore in the name of potential romance. Call it hamartia, but it takes a lot for me to give up on a good story once I’ve determined it’s as close as the elbow rest.

You see, T-Bones is a raunchy affair and that’s generous. It’s a BBQ house Monday-Thursday, then on weekend nights they clear the tables out of the backroom and it turns into something like the most explicit homecoming dance you’ve hopefully never seen, due to the cheap alcohol and 21-40 year old gropey men. There’s also this terrible communal peanut bin with as many free peanuts as you can eat, so by the end of the night there’s shells all over the floor, plus sweat, plus vomit, depending on how many vodka Red Bulls someone accidentally drank on a peanut-stomach. That Bus Boy would leave New York (actually, Brooklyn— my suspicions were correct) to throw down at the worst place in Plymouth suggests a lot more about him than any of the other interesting things he’s said: about how he doesn’t like the Internet, deleted his Instagram because it fed his ego too much, is a filmmaker who just finished an 8-minute piece about the ice cream shop he used to work at in the summer…

“I worked at an ice cream shop, too!” I say. Clearly we are two people who’ve been living parallel existences up until this one fateful bus ride where they’ve been destined to converge. “I’d love to see your film,” I say.

“I hope you like Adam Sandler,” he says and there it is. Warning Sign #2. I play it off as endearing. How sweet that he’s still in touch with his twelve-year-old-boob-obsessed-boyhood. Just as sweet as that UFO ankle tattoo!

“To remind myself to stay true to my weirdness, even as I grow up,” he says fixing his pant leg.

I’m so smitten that I’m willing to consider taking an anti-nausea pill and watching Grandma’s Boy if it means having a good story to tell at our rehearsal dinner.

As we hit city traffic the topic turns to exes. He tells me way too much about his – how he was blacked out and made out with another girl at a bar, but was “very sorry” and “even told her about it” and then she went and slept with someone in Barcelona, whom she’s now moving countries for. Um, Warning Sign # A Million but what do I do? Play it off as him being vulnerable, honest about his mistakes, human! Is there a better trait in a guy than human?

When we file out of the bus he apologizes for “spilling his guts” then asks for my number. I give it to him because it’s the first time I’ve been able to sustain a conversation with a guy in a long time, and he’s cute and funny and well, mostly due to the aforementioned hamartia.

Later that night he texts me, “So great to talk you!” so I call upon my reserves: “You too! Would you want to get a drink sometime?”

He responds, “Definitely. Tuesday after work?”

I look in the mirror and mistake myself for Beyoncé, send a thumbs-up emoji, then tell all my friends and a few acquaintances the good news: Contrary to all empirical evidence, I am totally, without a doubt, one hundred percent datable.

Tuesday comes and I show up to work looking better than I have since prom, which I expect since I woke up two hours earlier than normal to prepare. (Most of the time I look like an electrocuted lion because straightening my hair is too boring to do unless someone is going to appreciate it and since Adam and I are meeting right after work I won’t have much time to fool him into thinking I look like this all the time)

We’re meeting in the Times Square area because we both work there (Coincidence # A Thousand) and I wait anxiously for the day to get over itself so I can get on with my fate. At 2:08 I’m eating an unsalted hardboiled egg (gotta cut down on bloat in the precious hours before show time) when I get a text from him.

“So I have some bad news,” he says and it’s like, why don’t you just tell me the bad news flat out so I can chew on it instead of my fingernails. I’m gonna have to come to terms with it eventually and I’d rather not need to get a manicure as well.

“My roommate just got tickets to” and he names some rapper? DJ? musician of sorts that I’ve never heard of “off of craigslist and the show is sold out and so if it’s okay maybe I could just ruin your whole day and make you wake up at 6 a.m. for nothing because I’m not even going to show?”

Of course I send the kindest, most understanding reply about the importance of following your heart, the power of music on a generation, etc., etc. but if a doctor were to do a scan of my emojis they’d be all the crying ones, plus the a middle finger.

“Can I make it up to you this weekend? My parents are in town but they’re leaving Sunday if you’re around,” he says.

New scan: All the smiling emojis, and the smiling animal emojis too.

“Sure,” I say and disregard yet another Warning Sign because it’s plausible. Things happen. Who can say no to that musician I’ve never heard of before? I’ve been saying since New Years Eve that I really ought to be a more forgiving person. Why not start on that resolution right now?

“I just hope you won’t ignore me after this! I’m so sorry again and I do really want to meet up!”

Resolution accomplished. I change the date for “Love Life Begins” from Tuesday to Sunday, then start Googling how many days are too many days to use dry shampoo.