This date needs no introduction: We have garnered the wrath of Andy and John, and it ain’t pretty. (My name has an accent, Cantu.) But does it matter? Call it love-by-trial. Call it a friend date. We messed up, but isn’t love supposed to be messy? Work for it! In all honesty, our logistical gaffes are actually just part of our Machiavellian plan to make the Blindest Date an actual triumph. And we will succeed. We think. —Jordi Gasso
By Any Cantu
Let me just preface the report of my magical evening with John Riley by saying that I’ve got a bone to pick with the sneaky rascal who organizes this series, Jordi Gasso. Not only did Jordi choose one of my more “uninhibited” evenings in which to conduct a phone interview, but he neglected to tell me that I would have this extra little homework assignment to compose. But that’s not why I’m angry. I’m angry because when I got to Caseus, I was told there was an hour-long wait. I exhaled an audible whimper. Caseus was an amazing idea, but Scene forgot that it’s restaurant week and that shit is in high demand.
I spent my whole day trying to decide how to spend the $70 stipend – a paltry sum in Caseus country, but I was willing to fork over a little extra green so that I could order crab — crab! — in my mac ‘n cheese. But all that anticipation was for naught: no reservation.
Was I as disappointed as a child, who, on Christmas morn gleefully tears off the wrapping paper on his present only to find a big turd in the box? You betcha.
On to the date.
Real talk: John Riley and I have met on at least a couple of occasions, so I guess you couldn’t term this a “blind” date per se. More of a “dumb” date. We hadn’t yet had the opportunity to develop a rapport. I usually see John slumped over the arm of a couch at 78 Lynwood or near the front row of a Duke’s Men jam taking a bottle of chardonnay to the face. The circumstances in which he’s encountered me are equally prohibitive to conversation – slumped over the arm of a couch at 67 Edgewood or near the back of a Duke’s Men jam taking a flask of Old Crow to the face. I thought we might be kindred spirits.
After the fiasco at Caseus, we decided that the best course of action was to seek out a place not enjoying the temporary uptick in patronage of New Haven Restaurant Week. Solution: Kumo. For anyone who’s ever been to a Benihana, Kumo is like the unclassy version of that. Yeah, seriously. The Hibachi chef was charming but I found his affected Japanese accent a little annoying. Your name is Thomas and you’re from White Plains. In fact, you might be a clandestine Mexican. I know you’re going for that “authentic” touch, but you can save the schtick because I’m sitting here for one reason and one reason only: to have warm sake poured fresh out of a squirt bottle into my gullet. The rest is fluff.
Still bitter and with a Human Emotions final at 9 a.m. the next day, I proceeded to order the largest drink in the house, a $17 monstrosity known as the Scorpion Bowl. It’s basically the Asian version of a Long Island iced tea. All the good stuff and none of the bullshit. The Kumo iteration came topped with a flaming jigger of Bacardi 151. John and I debated whether it was lighter fluid. There were two straws and I felt like a girl meeting her beau at the malt shop before the sock-hop.
After that, the conversation flowed quite smoothly. I learned that John is the son of a preacher man and his family is quite conservative. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “This isn’t going to bode well for the wedding.” My family is the definition of hedonistic self-indulgence. Would John’s parents approve of godless in-laws? Would the cake decorator charge more for one black and one white groom? All appropriate things to wonder on a first date.
A super queeny bitch-fest and a whole fishbowl of liquor later, John walked me home like any good southern gentleman. I would tell you what happened after, but I think I hear John getting out of the shower. My turn!
By John Riley
Blinds dates are difficult to arrange in a college of only 5,000 or so students. Add to that a genetic mutation leading to attraction to members of the same sex and they — the blind dates, I mean — become virtually impossible. In any case, upon running into Andy on the corner of Whitney and Trumbull outside of Caseus, it was clear that 1) we sort of, kind of knew each other and 2) we were determined to do the whole date thing anyway. Unfortunately, Caseus was participating in restaurant week, resulting in an hour-long wait. No cheese is worth that much time. We proceeded to walk toward downtown to find a different restaurant and begin the whole get-to-know-you-even-though-I-kind-of-know-you game. It was fun. Andy had studied abroad in Cuzco and Lima, was basically over Yale and had an exam in BS psych class the next morning at 9 a.m. Like a typical Yalie, he had taken the class Credit/D/Fail but was concerned about getting a D. Meanwhile, I was trying desperately to be a real person after having worked on my senior essay until 6 a.m. Let’s pray my babble about my senior essay was comprehensible, if not engaging.
Eventually we decided on Kumo, a hibachi restaurant near Elm and State Street. The place is too hokey to resist, especially for a blind date. We began the dining experience by ordering a scorpion bowl, a large bowl filled with what tasted like grain alcohol and fruit punch garnished with flaming Bacardi 151 — or possibly lighter fluid. I ordered the shrimp and Andy ordered the scallops. I knew there would be no romantic connection. Hibachi restaurants are notorious for overcooking everything and really, what’s worst than overcooked scallops?
We had a lovely conversation about coming out stories — his parents are the cool kids from Austin, and I’m stuck with the Baptist minister — injuries at debauched parties, a cappella, past romantic conquests — or defeats — and plans for the summer. Oh, and I’m sure I bored the poor kid to tears while explaining my hatred of New York City, my future home. Keep in mind that throughout this conversation there were various interludes involving catching pieces of zucchini in our mouths, having a Japanese man with a possibly affected accent pour sake down our throats, a flaming volcano made of onions and oil being squirted from plastic figurine penises. I had a great time.
After settling the check, we walked back to campus, and I’m fairly sure I gave a lecture about the merits and pitfalls of pop music. The uncertainty is a result of my heavy drinking at dinner, although Andy appeared unaffected. Dude’s a champ.
Were there sparks? Probably not. I’m about to start receiving my social security check, and graduate, and Andy has romantic awkwardness with one of my best friends — Hello, Gay Ivy! I did have a great time though and am thankful to Scene for introducing me to someone who could very well become a good friend. My night continued down the path of blacked-outness and Joy, a euphemism for grain alcohol and blue DRANK, so I’m pretty sure meeting this guy was the highlight of my evening.