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Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

Dining, Dating and Dashing with Agnes

For my next date, I went to lunch at Otter Creek Bakery with Agnes*. My best friend, Edgar*, who plays on a varsity team with Agnes, had introduced us a couple times before. However, our interactions were always fairly brief and insubstantial, so we became acquaintances of awkward proximity — we knew each others’ names, but little else.

Despite being two years older, I was a little intimidated by Agnes; she’s pretty sexy. It’s easy to deflect my own ineptitude with girls by blaming them as standoffish, when in reality I just need a chance to dig deeper. It’s also easy to be unnerved by a fetching lady, having never had a solid conversation with her to humanize the physical attraction.

Agnes and I ended up in a science class together last semester, which put a personality behind the pretty face. Turns out, Agnes is as cool as the beets in the salad bar, and cool as the beats in a Drake bar. I admired as she nonchalantly shrugged off the professor’s teasing. Agnes also sat sweetly in the Goldilocks Zone, neither friend nor stranger. For all these reasons, I asked her out.

Last month, we went to Otter Creek Bakery (OCB) for lunch on my birthday. I love the place and, over my Middlebury career, have become friends with the staff and many of the regulars. Tim*, who worked that day, even shares my birthday and bought me my first legal drink last year. However, there’s only indoor seating during the winter, so I worried it’d get a bit too intimate when the lunch rush subsided, with my friends behind the counter listening in on my date — almost like taking Agnes to meet the cousins.

I was wrong. I didn’t feel cramped by the familiarity at all. OCB is a bright, bustling atmosphere at lunchtime, filled with gleaming pastry cases, the waft of hot coffee and happy people. No one begrudgingly comes to the Bakery for a latte. Tim cordially brought us a couple delicious sandwiches — the gentleman — but otherwise left us alone. Ultimately, the venue, well-lit and lively at midday, gave our date a terrifically casual and noncommittal air.

Conversationally, I really enjoyed Agnes’ confident nonchalance. Instead of cautious introductions, we skipped a lot of the decorous nonsense and spoke like real people who actually have a lot in common. We talked about Edgar, teasing him because it was fun to. My friend was her First-year Counselor (FYC) last year, so we teased him too. Her aunt teaches at the Putney School, my alma mater, and we discovered a lot of mutual friends. We swapped embarrassing stories of our youths as schoolyard bullies and walked the long way home, through Marble Works.

For some reason, I’ve always thought of the first date as a more serious event, and the second date as a more relaxed occasion, something chill like mini-golfing. My date with Agnes was proof that casual first dates are really fun and do a lot to diminish the grave intensity that dating typically has. I had a wonderful time with Agnes but don’t feel committed at all and would feel great about going on a second date and totally fine about not.

*name changed