I was smoking near the stage of a popular bar in Malate when I was introduced to Jt. I was with my friend Toph, who recognized Jt because they had a mutual friend. I made small talk and dropped a few lines I hoped sounded charming. We shared a cigarette. I found him attractive so I asked for his number. He had no problem giving it.
(Interesting aside. I initially thought Toph was introducing me to Jt because he thought we'd be a good match. I didn't realize he was actually hitting on Jt, and that he only introduced me because that was the polite thing to do. When I learned about it afterwards, I apologized, but Toph said he had absolutely no problem with it. He even said, now that he thought about it, that Jt and I would probably make a good couple. I still felt guilty, but that didn't stop me from going on that first date.)
I texted Jt, and we scheduled dinner the next day. I was late because I came from another party which I couldn't blow off. He said he didn't mind waiting, and raised the book he was carrying. We ended up in Kitchen in Greenbelt. I had chicken pandan, while he got tomato soup and a salad.
Here's the thing, I'm clumsy and awkward on first dates. I hate them with a passion. I tend to be too polite because I'm always afraid that I'd say something embarrassing. This, I think, makes me exceptionally boring.
Jt confessed later that he thought the exact same thing. He said he couldn't understand where that amiable person he met at the bar went. I told him that I was charming only because I was drunk, and that the best time to see my charismatic side is when I'm inebriated. Otherwise, he'd have to hang out with me more, and wait until I feel comfortable around him.
Notwithstanding the lackluster dinner, Jt asked if I wanted to have drinks. I said yes. A couple of glasses of wine later, I started to loosen up, and felt more like myself. We had a much better time, which led to several dates after the initial one.
At some point during that first date, I told Jt I've always had a thing for beards, which I found very attractive. Even the scraggly kind. Most people hate it because, when you kiss, it can be rough on the skin. I'm the exact opposite; I actually enjoy the sensation. It's like having a makeout session and a facial at the same time. Which means it's also a time-saver. What more do you want?
Anyway, a month later, I invited him to stay at my place for the weekend. We were getting serious, and I wanted to see if we can take it further.
Friday night, I picked him up at his office. I have this compulsive habit of rubbing my fingers on his chin while I'm driving just because I'm weird like that. I don't even realize I'm doing it sometimes. Jt didn't really mind, so the habit was reinforced. This time I realized something.
"You have stubble on your chin."
"Sort of. I think. Yes. I guess," he answered.
I looked at him briefly, narrowed my eyes, then stared back at the road. "Are you trying to grow a beard?"
"You said you find it attractive."
"Yes, but only on guys who can actually grow one. Yours is just some weird stubbly thing."
"I know. Beard-growing is not in my genes."
"Obviously. You don't need to do that. I already like you. You don't need to try too hard."
And then it hit me.
I'm in love with this guy.
My brain went into overdrive. He waited for me for almost an hour on our first date, just because he liked me. Notwithstanding our mind-numbingly boring first dinner together, he gave me a second chance. He lets me rub my fingers (which might have touched god knows what) on his chin, just because I want to. He knew he couldn't grow a beard, but he tried to anyway. For me. What more can you ask from someone?
This was it. Silver platter. Boyfriend on a plate.
I realized the universe was telling me something.
I told him I love him the Sunday after.