Tom Bergin’s is closing down, here in Los Angeles.
I’d only been there about ten times, on various occasions, but I feel sad about it’s closing. It had character, and history. It was a casual Irish Pub that had become a hip place for cool people and also a deep hangout for bar flies and all those in between. It had a lot of sports fans and regulars and people like me who didn’t go to Irish Pubs much, but always felt happy at the suggestion of Tom Bergin’s. In a city that is becoming less unique and more corporate chain oriented, it’s a pitty to lose another good ole establishment… it was a great place… even though I had my share of bad dates there.
Here are two of them:
MURRAY… A DATE
I was set up with Murray by friends who told me he was Jewish (like me) and employed; two positives, in my book. They also told me he was my age and pretty attractive.
The first time we talked on the phone we talked mostly about his back pain. Often, when first speaking with a date, you try to present yourself in the best light possible – this means sometimes not complaining about stuff… but not Murray. I decided I’d try to admire him for being himself. I’d suffered from back pain before. It’s awful. I lent my sympathetic ear. We decided to meet the next week for drinks at Tom Bergin’s.
The day of our date, which was to be at 7, Murray called me at 4:30 in the afternoon. “Hey Evie, can we meet now, instead of 7?”
It wasn’t like, I just can’t wait another 2.5 hours to meet you, kind of thing either. Murray explained, “I had a dentist appointment in the area and I don’t want to drive all the way home to shower, shave and change, and then drive all the way back, so I was hoping you could just meet me now.”
Nothing like a blind date who is trying not to impress you. “I can’t come now,” I said, understandably annoyed. “But I can meet you at 5:30,” I said. That was my compromise.
When I got to Tom Bergin’s at 5:30, I spotted (who I thought was) Murray in a sweatshirt, baseball cap and a few days beard growth. He was having a pint. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Evie.”
We said hellos and I asked, “How was your dentist appointment?”
“Well, I don’t have mouth cancer,” he told me.
“Were you worried that you did?” I asked.
“Not until they told me they were going to test for it.”
We sat at a table. “Let’s order dinner,” he said.
One of my first date rules is no dinner. If I don’t like the guy I don’t want to have to sit through a meal with him. And I don’t want him to pay for me if I know I’ll never go out with him again.
Murray opened the menu and selected a prime rib with baked potato (in tin foil) and asked to substitute french fries for the vegetable of the day. I ordered a turkey burger.
I asked about his job. He started telling me a lot about it. He worked in entertainment and he did lots of name dropping. “I work with famous person a, and famous person b and c and d…”
“Oh!” I said, trying to actually have a conversation, “I know famous person b! She’s great!”
He barely paused, “Uh huh,” and continued with his speech about his work.
I kept waiting for him to ask me a question, but he didn’t. I brought up our friends who set us up. “How long have you known them?” I asked.
“They are in my weekly poker game,” he said.
“Oh, that’s nice,” I already knew this, of course. “I love poker.”
“Yeah, and I’m supposed to host a game in a month and I don’t know if I’ll be able to because I have skunks.”
“Hmm,” I said as our food arrived. “I’m sure it will be OK.”
“No! It’s actually not going to be OK,” Murray was getting sweaty. “I’ve had these skunks for weeks and weeks. They hide under the house and I put rocks in front of the hole they dug to get in and out and they just move the rocks. I can’t get rid of them!” He talked about how horrible the skunks were for a good ten minutes. “I had this father and son exterminator team out the other day, they said they can take care of them.”
“Great,” I said, still trying to engage, “Then you will be able to host poker.”
“But what if it doesn’t work?” he asked. “I can’t have people over when I have skunks!!!”
I ate my turkey burger. “I play poker too,” I said.
“Well, I’m not going to be playing poker much longer if I don’t get rid of those skunks!”
I was pretty sure he was trying to be rude because he wasn’t interested in me, but a small part of me wondered if this was just him; hypochondriac, paranoid and skunk phobic.
He talked about his skunk for the rest of the dinner. I gave up trying to assuage his skunk fears and just listened and nodded.
I didn’t want to see him again and I let him pay for my meal without any guilt. It was 6:30pm – I need to add likes the early bird dinner to Murray’s list of qualities.
“Good luck with the skunks,” I told him as I got in my car.” He didn’t walk me to my car, in case you thought he did. We were just both in the parking lot.
*Dating Tip: If you don’t want to go out with someone again, a nice way to get that across is to say “good luck with… (add something they talked about that is an aspiration/issue for them.) This let’s them know you aren’t going to be around for the results.
I called my friends who set us up, as I drove away. “You are on your way to meet Murray?” they asked.
“No, I’m on my way home. It already happened.” I told them about my date. “He has a skunk obsession.”
A few days later my friends told me they’d called Murray to get his take on the date. He told them I wasn’t his type.
SEAN… A DATE
I’d been chatting with a few guys on nerve.com. It was kind of hard to keep track of which guy was which and who liked watching soccer on TV and who told me he cried at his niece’s birth and who said they wanted to make me a souffle and who said I had the nicest smile he’d ever seen. You know, it’s hard to manage these guys when they are only small photos with handles like RomeoAndYou.
One guy took the lead, in my clump of potentials. Sean. He took charge and asked me out. I went back and read his emails over again; he seemed smart and well traveled and had a job in sports management. I tried to really see what he looked like in his photos but it was no use – they were long shots.
Sean wanted to meet at Tom Bergin’s for a drink at 6pm on a Saturday. I liked that idea and quickly made an 8pm plan with friends so I’d have an excuse to leave my date with Sean. Listen – I’d been on a million dates and I could probably swear this guy wasn’t going to be the one good one. They always seem good and then something goes wrong. It was just my luck, for some reason. But I was going anyway.
I wore a cute, short dress with boots. I looked better than I had intended to look, but what could I do? 😉
He arrived, and wouldn’t you know, he was very cute and very tall. He smiled warmly and hugged me and I was glad I had worn that dress. We sat at the bar and immediately connected. He asked me questions, he was interested in my life and he talked openly about his. I was extra impressed because there was a basketball game on TV and he didn’t look at it once, even though he’d mentioned it was a good game.
We drank our beers and then ordered seconds.
I was in shock; I didn’t hate him. I didn’t dislike him. Um, I actually thought he was interesting and cute and smart… I would totally have a second date with him. It had been so long since I’d thought that. Now I was hoping he’d like me!
After an hour, he asked me if I’d like to have dinner.
“I’d really like to, Sean,” I said, “But I have plans tonight.” I was tempted to break my other plans, but I also didn’t want to rush this. If it was real, it would wait a few days.
“Ah, smart,” he said, “You made an escape plan.”
I laughed. “I did, but I wish I hadn’t.” I wanted to be clear that I was interested.
At 7:30, he walked me to my car. “I’m going out of town this weekend, but I’ll call you when I get back,” he said. “I’m going to be in the mountains and I won’t have reception.”
“Great,” I said.
“Then we can make a plan for dinner? Next week?”
“Yes,” I said.
He paid for my valet and gave me a little kiss as I got into my car, as the sun set in the west.
The weekend went by. Then a few more days went by. I wondered if Sean was going to call and what was taking so long? We had connected, hadn’t we?
Six days after our date, I got a letter from him on the dating site:
Dear Molly, I’m so sorry I didn’t call you. I had a wonderful time with you and it’s not you, it’s me. My therapist thinks I shouldn’t be dating at all, right now. I’m going through a lot of stuff. I need to take some time off. I’ll be going off this dating site and changing my phone number. Please don’t try to contact me. Sean.
Then I got another email:
Sorry. I meant Evie.