On Tuesday night, I went to see Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in Oh Hello on Broadway. I had bought tickets intending to go with my dad, but he was busy. Then I invited my best friend Boh, but Boh had to go to LA for work. I tried inviting several more people, but none of them could come.

So I found myself on the 2 train headed toward Times Square, all by myself. At Atlantic Avenue, a bearded man sat down next to me. I didn’t pay much attention beyond just noticing his presence. I was exhausted, so I dozed for most of the trip. Around 14th street, the bearded man turned to me.

“Would you like a mint?” he asked, offering me a box of Altoids.

“No, thanks,” I said. For the record, I don’t really like mints.

“Ok,” he said, with a smile. “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

I wasn’t interested in him romantically, but I did want company to that play. Why not invite a friendly stranger from the train? What a fun, quirky adventure, right? To spend the night with a potentially unbearable stranger?

“Hey,” I said. “Where are you headed?”

“To dinner,” he said. “At 73rd street. My friend just moved here from Boston, and he’s cooking for me.”

“Bummer,” I said. “I have an extra ticket to this show.”

I told him about Oh Hello. He had heard of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and we talked about them a little bit.

“I’ve been trying to get out more,” I told him. “I tend to get stuck sitting at home.”

“I know, me too,” he said, smiling. “Man. What time is the show? Maybe I can eat dinner really quickly and then come meet you?”

“8 PM,” I said. “I don’t think that will work. Too bad.”

Then the train stopped at 42nd Street.

“It was nice to meet you,” I said.

“I’m Jake,” he said.

“Eliza.”

“Listen,” he said. “I work at [redacted] in Clinton Hill. You should come by sometime.”

“Great,” I said, and then I got off the train.

I had no intention of visiting this guy. I didn’t even pay attention to what the bar was called. But as soon as the train door closed, the woman who had been sitting across from us called out to me.

“You know you have to go to that bar he works at,” she said. “That was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah.”

I hadn’t even been interested. But she was so interested, on my behalf. And when I thought about it, from her perspective – of course he was flirting, right? And he wasn’t bad looking. Maybe I really had to find this guy. Maybe this was the meet-cute that would lead to my most fulfilling, joyful future.

The woman remembered some rough estimation of the bar’s name. Later that night, I looked it up on my phone, and stalked the right bar (after a lot of work). After the show, I called the bar.

“Do you have a bartender named Jake who works there?” I asked.

“Yeah,” the guy said. He told me he worked weekends.

“Thanks,” I said. And I decided to show up.

The day I had decided to go, I got three hours of sleep. I woke up at 4:44 am, and, by noon, decided it was time to have a martini. I was really, really nervous about what felt like stalking this guy and showing up at his workplace. But the woman had convinced me! I had to go.

By 7 pm, I had a few more martinis. Yes, I was pretty drunk. I hopped in a cab and went to the bar in Clinton Hill.

The guy was behind the bar. I smiled and sat down.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” he said. “What’s your name again?”

He didn’t remember my name. After all that build up, and all the encouragement from the stranger on the train. Clearly, he was not interested. And I was mad.

I ordered a Manhattan, to feel out the situation and see if maybe I was wrong. We chatted a little bit. I drank some. It was too sweet.

The conversation was so, so awkward. I didn’t even want to finish any drink, let alone a too-sweet Manhattan. So I asked for my check.

“You’re not even halfway done with your drink!” he said.

Now, for this next part – let’s remember that I was drunk, and had just been rejected by someone I wasn’t even interested in in the first place. And let’s anticipate, as avid readers of this blog, how drunk me would handle this situation.

Now that we’ve made that clear.

“Yeah, this is fucking awkward.” I said, over my drink. “You didn’t even remember my name. You were the one who told me to come by.”

He looked at me and smiled an awkward, self-conscious, horrified smile.

“And this Manhattan is too sweet.” I said. I dropped $15 on the bar (the bad Manhattan had cost $13) and got up and left.

And then the night turned magical.

By which I mean, I was miserable. I called my friend in LA and complained about my disaster of an evening. I wandered around in the rain, trying to find a bar where someone would flirt with me and make me feel better, but there is nothing going on in Clinton Hill. So I hopped in a cab, went home, made myself a martini, and passed out by 10 pm, feeling insecure and rejected.

All over a guy I hadn’t even been interested in, in the first place.

Advertisements