I went on my second date with him. It took place at Cedar Point. I had never been to Cedar Point before, let alone during Halloweekends.
I met him at his place. He has a nice one-bedroom apartment in a quite nice complex. Definitely schnazzier digs than I lived in during my apartment tenure. He apologized for the mess. Indeed, he has Single Man Apartment (TM). By that, I mean nothing hung on the walls and clutter. Weights. Mail. Cans. Change. Laptop. His bedroom door was closed, so I was not able to peek to see if his mattress was on a frame, nor could I see if his bathroom had or lacked hand towels. Lest you think I’m judging, I’m not. These are just observations. I prefer nothing on the walls compared to that poster of women’s backsides painted to look like Pink Floyd album covers.
He drove us to Sandusky. His car was very clean — nary a food wrapper around my feet. Now that’s impressive. He pointed out various landmarks in his town. We listened to an Cleveland AM radio station he’s fond of and he told me about the sportscaster. I admire that he’s able to listen to someone who espouses conservative talking points, as I bristle at it (having grown up around it). I know I should, especially as I am one of those liberal brain-washing professors everyone warns you about, but I just can’t.
I mentioned how the night before, I watched a little movie called The Room. He immediately knew what I was talking about! We exchanged some of the one-liners and he made me laugh nearly to the point of snorting (I didn’t though).
I told him about what I had taught that week – body hair norms, bears, etc. – and more about the manuscript I’m working on that focuses on marriage and emerging adulthood. He was engaged and didn’t tune me out, which was nice. Amazing, right? There were some lulls in the conversation, but that’s to be expected.
When we arrived at Cedar Point, I told him that I had read up a bit about it. He didn’t realize, for example, that his season pass meant that I could get entry for a mere $28. Yep! I also had downloaded the Cedar Point app, giving us a map as well as the wait times of attractions.
For his part, he regaled me with information about the park and the rides. I mentioned in an earlier post that he loves roller coasters. It was a bit of a nerdy obsession for him and his friends growing up. It was so fucking charming listening to him tell me how he would geek out over g-forces. As we went to different parts of the park, he would tell me pieces of a story related to the Dinosaurs Alive attraction. I found out he’s not a big fan of gift shops and he also hates that they charge an extra fee for you to basically even see your post-ride pictures (fair enough).
In terms of haunted houses, I boldly went first in the first haunted house – Hexed. I just walked confidently. Things still made me jump. We walked through Fright Zones after that. One person leapt out and shouted “Manamana” at us. As we’re both Muppets fans, this brought us no end of delight. When I couldn’t see due to smoke and/or lighting, I clung to his arm and walked slightly behind him. He laughed loudly every time someone jumped out at me and I reacted, usually with cursing. He showed me the spot in the haunted bayou-themed Fright Zone that he worked as an undergrad. It was under a red light, sort of near the beginning.
The best (as in worst) Fright Zone was the Harvest Festival. There was a tent with holes in the side, advertising a peep show. You looked through the hole and saw three giant Peeps (as in marshmallow chicks). FANTASTIC.
Our wait times weren’t long at all. The longest wait was for the Freak Show haunted house. The freakiest parts were the non-human displays, like the bird man model and the model of a man eating birds (three foot man eating chicken).
We practically walked right on to the minetrain ride. Leading up to the ride was hashtag #WhatsInTheShed. They were really trying to build it up. What was in the shed? Light projections of spiders on the wall. For the rest of the evening, we shouted “What’s In The Shed?!” to each other. I really appreciate that he is equally goofy as me.
After we were done with rides, we shared an order of fries covered in ketchup. I pointed out how there was a mother and daughter stealing small pumpkins and putting them in their hoodie pockets. No idea why except perhaps a very cheap souvenir.
He had left his hat on our first ride and he was able to retrieve it before we left. I’m so glad because I would have felt bad had he lost it, even though he reassured me it wasn’t a big deal.
Walking near the exit, I stopped a runaway stroller with a kid in it. The parents weren’t paying attention. Weird.
On the drive home, I asked him some of the 36 Questions from The New York Times. I probably should have explained where I was getting the questions, but I asked them under the guise of keeping him awake (it was around midnight and he had been up since 5 am). It was cute to watch his “wow” reaction to some of the questions. I ended up disclosing more than I probably should given that it was our second date, like that I’m estranged from my maternal grandmother and why. I appreciated the answer he gave to “For what in your life are you most grateful?” He said white privilege, though he prefaced it by saying he knows it sounded odd. To me, this demonstrated a certain amount of “woke-ness”; that is, he realizes that what he has is not purely due to his own agency, but rather due to the circumstances in which he was born.
When we got back to his place, he was going to let me stay the night on his couch. I appreciated the gesture, but I had to get back to my dogs and he understood. Leaving his apartment to walk me to my car, he said, “Let’s go, beautiful,” which made my heart melt. We hugged at my car and he waited until I drove away.
I stopped at a gas station to fill up and I texted him that I regretted not asking if I could kiss him. He replied “No worries. Baby steps.” I did want to kiss him, though. Very much so. I wanted to hold his hand at Cedar Point, too, but I was too shy to do that, even in the haunted houses.
We haven’t discussed when we’ll see each other again, but I should be in Cleveland part of next weekend for a conference.
I remain smitten.