Ever since we hired Nora as an intern (and then made her a permanent fixture here), the new-New Yorker has regaled us with her sometimes sad, sometimes unbelievable, but always hilarious “only in New York Williamsburg” dating stories. We figured you should get to hear them, too. So we’ve asked her to share her trials and tribulations as a single 20-something trying to bag that elusive not-too-hipstery non-asshole–and coordinate the perfect outfit to go with. Taking some inspiration from that other Nora, the legendary Ms. Ephron, we present, a very special Valentine's Day edition of “Love, the L Train, and What I Wore.”
The only thing worse than playing third wheel to your roommate's recently rekindled relationship on a Saturday night? Staying home alone and repainting your two-square-foot size bathroom while listening to Taylor Swift--occasionally pausing briefly to Google Jake Gyllenhaal's favorite Brooklyn coffee shops as you whimper softly to yourself--after the guy you had a major middle-school-crush on texts you saying he's seeing someone else.
These were my options a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I tried out the latter for as long as I could stand it, then slapped on some liquid liner and my black skinnies and headed for the L train.
Two subway stops later, I found myself in the least likely of environments: A Boston-themed sports bar in Lower Manhattan--and let me tell you, my friend, the San Francisco 49ers weren't the only ones playing hard that evening. There were boys everywhere: At the entrance, impersonating bouncers ("Let me check your ID--whoaaa we're gonna have sex tonight!" ...Really, now?). Eating intricate-looking wraps, their glazed-over eyes fixated on the flat screens lining the room. Standing on barstools, hollering and high-fiving harder than anyone's ever high-fived before. Pulling their player jerseys over their heads intermittently for reasons I cannot, to this day, comprehend.
Admittedly, I know next-to-nothing about football. But I know enough to appreciate the fact that attempting to communicate with a fan mid-game is futile at best. Instead, I took my time forming a rebound strategy--much of which involved downing pints of Magners and most certainly not re-re-re-rereading said offending text message. (Now is the moment I wish there had been a basketball game on instead, if only to excuse my poorly executed "rebound" pun.)
Twelve hours later, the game ended and 90% of the guys flooded out instantaneously--except one dark-haired, extremely well-cheekboned specimen, standing alone at the bar. After a brief, simultaneously depressing and uplifting "what have you got to lose" pep talk c/o my roommate--plus one more cider for luck--I went in for the tackle.
"I know this might sound really random," I told Cheeks--née Ryan-- "but you might have the best cheekbones I've ever seen." (Disclaimer: Yes, I actually said this. No, my mental illness is as yet undiagnosed.)
"Wow, thanks!" he said, "no one's ever told me that before. You're not so bad looking yourself." Phewf! "No, no, I'm just kidding," he continued (Excuse me?!) "...You're gorgeous." And just like that, I was back in the game.
He was 26, nicely dressed in a crisp button-down and leather shoes. I asked him if he was from Boston; he wasn't, but the friends he was waiting for were. He grew up outside of the city and now had an apartment in the Lower East Side. I said I live in Williamsburg--he used to work in Williamsburg! He had been apprenticing at a brewery there, but recently switched career paths and now worked for J.P. Morgan (I know). He asked what I did; I told him I was a writer. "So are you like... Lena Dunham??" he joked. Yes. Just like Lena Dunham. But with nicer breasts.
After maybe ten minutes of me thinking I'd finally graduated to the New York dating big leagues with my exceptional flirting techniques and newly rediscovered confidence--visions of children with excellent bone structure dancing 'round my head--my roommate approached me and Ry. "We're taking off," she whispered, "...but I kinda think you should stick around."
"Me toooo," I nodded. She disappeared into the post-game crowd that was once again gaining momentum.
"That was my roommate," I explained to Ryan, "the one I was third-wheeling with--but I guess she's leaving. I might stick around for a little bit, though, if that's cool..." Score!
He half-smiled nervously. "Well, um, actually," he stammered (NO.) "I should probably tell you..." (Time out! Time out!)
"I'm meeting another girl here."
What happened immediately after, I really can't say. It involved me mumbling some incomprehensible non-words and booking it out of there just as my roommate and her guy were turning the corner around the block--and right before every liquid I'd consumed in the past 72 hours came pouring from my eye sockets. Game over.
Little had I known, I'd been head to head with a professional player the entire time--an amateur underdog doomed to fumble on kick-off. Suddenly that old "hating the game" adage found new meaning...