Monday, October 6, 2014

Friends, how many of us have them?

Tending a fledgling friendship can be a tricky thing.  I had just returned from a short trip to England and was keen to touch base with a new-found acquaintance.  She and I are both confirmed Blighty lovers, so I wanted to share with her some of my English adventures.

We confirmed for an evening date at a newly opened bar I had neither been to nor heard of before.  Prior to leaving the house, I plugged the address of the joint into my mobile then set off.  Wanting to be punctual, I gave myself PLENTY of extra time to pedal across town.  I was confident I'd show up on time at the cafe, but not too terribly confident in the directions I had been given by the business website.  A link on the bar's website lead me to a map of the neighborhood.   There was a blue dot fixed at a point along a main road.  The blue dot marked the bar's location.  The red dot, showing my current location, was only a zig-zaggity line, about 2 miles, away.  I biked the course in about 20 minutes.  Once arriving at the street where the business in question should have stood, I became confused.  Addresses 1-3 were clearly seen.  No. 6 was up a flight of stairs.  8-10 were hidden from view.  The cafe was supposed to be at no. 10, but where was it?  Over a bridge I pedaled to another patch of the same roadway.  #22...#44...what?  Where the heck was #10?  I pedaled back down the road to where I began.  Standing at the corner of the street of our meeting spot and a main thoroughfare, I decided to text my date and tell her that I was a bit turned around, couldn't find no. ten, but was at the corner near the bus stop and standing in front of the cafe whose address was #3.  There were ten minutes until our appointment.  I still had time to find our meeting spot without being late, and, from all the pedaling and panicking I had gotten pretty thirsty.  I popped into the cafe in order to buy a mineral water.  The folk at the cafe, unfortunately, were too busy to notice that they had a customer, so I pressed on.  Time was ticking.  Thinking that, perhaps, my date had not yet received my text (we often communicated via text and the response time was usually fairly quick), I decided to ring her.  I had five minutes until our scheduled meeting time.  No. ten could not be far from no. 3, I reasoned, so there was no way I would be late.  Would I?  She didn't answer my call, so I left her a message reiterating what I had sent in an SMS to her: confused, seemingly only a stone's throw from our meeting place, at the corner of the street by the bus stop.  I then asked if she wouldn't mind coming to the corner of the street where the addresses 1-3 were located and fetching me from the bus shelter as I just couldn't seem to navigate finding her.  I hung up and kept looking around my immediate area.  I poked my head around various corners, walked up a flight of stairs, strolled along both sides of the street perplexed.

My phone rang as I was hunting around.  It was my date.  'Where are you?' she asked.  'I think I'm nearby, but I can't seem to find you,' I said.  'Where are you?' she asked again.  I gave her the names of the businesses around me and the street addresses.  I told her that I was also right by where the bus no. 56 goes.  The very same bus that, incidentally, my acquaintance relies on to travel around town.  I asked if she wouldn't mind coming to fetch me.

'I'm already here and I can't just come and find you!  Can't you just ask someone?'

Tense from feeling confused and lost, and, somehow, that I had done something wrong by not finding the bar straight away, I began to cry on the phone.  I apologised for not being able to find her and said that I'd keep trying.

'I can't just leave now that I am here.  I'll be waiting for you.  Try not to be so upset.  It's not a big deal.' 

I waited a few minutes in order to collect myself before ringing the bar--why I hadn't thought of doing this right away I don't know--and asking for directions.  I had told the person on the phone basically the same thing I'd texted, messaged and said to my acquaintance.  His response was short and succinct.  It turns out that before going over the bridge I should have made a sharp right along the river.  The bar stood just beyond a large mid-century modern furniture store.  One can't quite see the bar from the road and it would have been real handy had the bar's website made mention of the fact that their business is well recessed from the street.  Come to think of it, it would have been a great help to me had my date also thought to tell me that.  In any case, I was at the bar in about two minutes after hanging up the phone.

As I approached the bar I could see my acquaintance sitting outside.  She was at one of the many empty tables; her back was to the street and her was drink empty.  Surely she could have walked the 20 feet back out to the street in order to collect me.  Alternatively, she could have mentioned to me on the phone that our meeting spot was somewhat hidden from sight down along the river just beyond a large furniture store.  I felt like going home.  I didn't.  We met.  -turned out she didn't want to stay at the bar, so we walked around the corner to another place serving food and had a light meal.

That was over a month ago.  I haven't seen her since.

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