"I feel like we are drafting the contract," he said.
He had pensive brown eyes, thick wavy black hair, big hands and a tall comforting presence.
"Can I tell you what I am thinking?"
"Sure." I said.
"So, first ... we meet, we have a conversation. It gets deep. I say something that upsets you, I push too much. I go to the bathroom. I come back, and voom! You take the opportunity to leave."
I laughed. I was guilty.
"Then ... at 2am you text me."
"I texted you? I thought you texted me."
"Maybe I'm wrong. Can I look?"
He pulled out his phone to show me the text.
"Aah. I forgot I was the one that texted you. Yes I remember now. I felt maybe I was abrupt."
"But see then I was thinking, 'okay, it is 2am. She is texting me. I'm drunk. I don't want to say the wrong thing again.'
"Then ... we connect the next morning. We talk, you accept my apology. And you invite me to your get together. Then ... just when I am ready to head over, you text me it's winding down. Now we are here. I am afraid to go to the bathroom because you might run out the door."
I laughed again.
"Can I ask you a tougher question?"
"Ask me whatever you like. I'll be honest. I'm a terrible liar anyway."
"Have you ever felt that someone truly deeply loved you?"
"Like in a relationship?"
"In a relationship."
"How long ago?" he said.
"Eleven years," I said.
"Can I tell you what I see?" he said. "I think that you have so much love and sensitivity to share and no one to share it with and that makes you sad. You want to spoon." He smiled. "I want to give you a lot of hugs."
The server brought our appetizers. Grilled octopus with fava beans and creamy burrata with baguette and fresh tomato. He set down small plates for each of us.
"May I?" said Sorin.
He reached over for my fork and together with his, went to serve me. He hesitated.
"I need to do this my way," he said.
He stood up, came around to my side of the table and carefully plated my food. I smiled big. My cheeks blushed.
Four servers from across the room were watching and one walked over.
"Can I assist you?" he said.
"No, I'm good, thank you," said Sorin.
"I don't usually shake when I do this but I have only ever served someone like this while waiting tables."
"You're doing great. I'm enjoying it," I said. "And so is everyone else ... you take the big piece."
"Size doesn't matter," he said smiling. "Or does it?"
'It does,' I thought to myself.
He sat back down.
"This is very different for me."
"What is?" I said.
"Going on dates, sitting down, having dinner with someone. It's usually ... I'm out, I meet someone, drinks ... I go back to her place and that's it."
I was surprised by his honesty.
"I like you," he said. "I want to get to know you. I will not hurt you.
"What are you afraid of?"
It felt like he was pushing again. Who says I'm afraid of something? And if I were, these are things you just find out along the way.
"I'm not really afraid of anything," I said. "Maybe you will hurt me. Maybe I will hurt you. We hope not, but that's sometimes a part of life. You learn and move on. Listen to your intuition and there's nothing to be afraid of.
"One night I was walking home. I was nearing my block and didn't need to cross the street yet, but I felt this strong urge to cross immediately. And I thought to myself, 'what's the rush?' The urge became stronger, so I stepped off the sidewalk to cross. Just then a drunk guy appeared in front of me. He leaned over and hurled right where I had been standing!"
"Wow," he said. "That's pretty strong intuition."
"Can I ask you a question?" he said.
"We have talked a long time, about a lot of things. Are you willing to open the door ... for me?"
"Hmmm ... I am willing to open the door for me. I will be open to getting to know you, and that is opening the door for me."
"I told you I grew up in Romania, a country that was ruled by Communism for 45 years. I saw what my parents had to do just to keep me alive. So I am familiar with struggle. And maybe that's why I am so intense. There are always more doors to open, something more on the other side. I don't like closed doors.
"Like in my work at the restaurant ... if a guest is unhappy, I change it. I am so passionate about what I do that I even helped out the owner here once, and I don't work here.
"The lady wanted chicken breast and the kitchen was closed. The owner asked them to just make it and they would not do it. So I said to the owner, 'would you like me to help you?' And he said, 'do what you think is best.'
"In the end, I was not able to get her the food but I did get her a drink and give her the attention she needed so she was happy and will come back again."
"I have never heard of anyone doing that at a place they don't even work," I said.
"That is what I do. I turn situations around and I make people feel comfortable."
"You have a warm way," I said. "I can see how that goes over."
"Can we try something?" he said. "When you start to feel uncomfortable and you want to leave ... can you try giving me a hug instead?"
"I'm smiling because I actually came up with that idea myself once ... with someone else."
"And what happened? You didn't try it?"
"He didn't treat me right in the end ... or the beginning, so ... "
"So you did not get the chance."
"I'm going to talk to you everyday. I'm going to want to and try to see you everyday," he said, "You are good with that?"
"We can try that," I said. "I like that."
"It's not too intense for you?"
"It is like a contract that we are drafting," he said.
"Do you mind if I go have a smoke?" he said.
"I don't mind."
"You won't feel uncomfortable?"
"I don't want you to run away. I'm afraid to go to the bathroom. You might run out the door. But if I'm having a cigarette outside I will be by the door so I will see you."
I didn't run away...