"People want instant gratification. Sex right now. They don't value getting to know each other."
'It feels nice to be known,' I thought to myself as I walked back uptown.
"To be honest, I always had a crush on you," he said.
I was on my way to meet my old 'friend of a friend' that I hadn't seen in well over a decade and I wasn't sure whether it was a date or just catching up. I decided on no expectations, and fun.
"Me too," I said. "But that was not cool of me because you were dating my friend!"
"And not cool of me because I was dating your friend. But we didn't do anything,"
We settled into a back table at Uncorked, a wine and tapas bar in Midtown East.
"I'm gonna go with my standby, an Old Fashioned," he said.
I ordered a Chardonnay and we decided on sharing the truffle mac n' cheese and Italian meatball with ricotta and red sauce.
"It's great to see you," I said. "It's nice to be around someone who's known you for a long time. People move here from all over and no one really knows you. So you came to New York five years ago? Right around the same time I did, " I said.
"Yes. I moved to Queens first, Long Island City. And then later into Manhattan, Midtown East."
"Funny. When I first moved to New York I lived Astoria, Queens, then a year later into Manhattan, Upper East Side."
"Actually, let me back up," said Art. "I was married ... and ... it's still in the process of ending, about another month.
"It's been amicable. We met in KC and were together eight years. We never fought really but she didn't like it here. In the end ... we grew apart. She moved back to Missouri a year ago."
"I'm sorry Art."
"No, we didn't have any kids. What about you?"
I let that sink in for a moment.
"Kids? No. And I've never been married. Dating has always been tough for me, but even more so in the city. People want instant gratification. Sex right now. They don't value getting to know each other."
"Sandy said to tell you hi," I said.
"I was going to ask if you were still in touch with anyone," he said.
"We actually talked today. We're still friends. She hasn't changed at all. I saw her and Bob on July 4th when I went back to Kansas City."
"I went home this summer too, just after the 4th."
"We're just following each other around aren't we?" I said.
"So you said you're in risk management? Is your job stressful?"
"My boss is really smart and I never seem to answer her questions 100% right," he said. "So I try to answer really completely and then she'll say, 'give me less but more specific.'"
"That reminds me of my job," I said. "I'm a recruiter, so I will be interviewing someone who's going on and on and I'll say, 'Stop. Be specific. You're giving long-winded answers without saying anything at all."
Art bowed his head laughing. "I do that. Filibustering. I run out the clock with my answers so I get less questions."
"But if there's not enough time for the manager to get all their questions answered, they might think, 'this guy can't get things done, he can't even get to the point.'"
"That's true," he said. "You're right."
"I'm very direct. It's something I'm working on. I'm either brutally honest or I don't say anything. I try to coach these candidates if I see their interviewing skills need work. But if I'm too gentle about it they don't get the point. I don't have an in between."
"I like that you're direct," he said. "You're very impressive."
"So why did you move to New York?" he said.
"I've wanted to move here since I was eight. I remember one summer while visiting my dad in Kansas City we went to St. Louis. At the time, that was a big city to me. I loved the energy, the lights. I remember there were a lot of homeless people and I wanted to help them all. I've always been passionate about helping people, almost to a fault.
"I felt very unfulfilled when I was younger. I have a ton of energy, and when you're a kid you don't know how to channel it. For me it turned into angst and then depression. I was on anti-depressants for years and when I moved here I sought help from another therapist. He said, "Amy, I don't think you're clinically depressed. I think you're unfulfilled. I can help you.'
"And he did. I got off the medication and I began to seek out things that fulfill me. I love that about New York City. Whatever you want to do ... there is opportunity. I've met a lot of great people here pursuing the things I love. I get to burn up all my energy and sleep very well at night. I've never been happier."
"You are very impressive," he said.
We headed out into the cool evening.
"So, do you want to see each other again?" he said, standing close.
"Of course," I said.
He kissed me good night. The first kiss is usually awkward. Or maybe it's me, takes some time to warm up.
He looked at me. "I always found you attractive. You have a great smile, that's the first thing. But it was more than just physical. I am very attracted to intelligence," he said. "And I didn't know you that well then but I knew there was something."
Our clock had run out for the night. As I walked back uptown I thought, 'It feels nice to be known.'