I was a little late, but I still got there first. I'd just settled into a booth when he came in and spotted me. He'd biked there fast, trying not to be late, and he was sweaty. Like, ears dripping, hair matted down sweaty. He was tall and skinny like his picture. He sat down and flashed me a quick, nervous smile.
I had come from a friend's birthday party and was already one beer in for the day, and I started doing my normal rambly talking too much thing. I talked about normal first-date things: my job, my apartment, where I'd moved here from. He didn't say much, only nodded, smiling. So I kept talking. I talked about my affair, about moving out, about my divorce, about dating. I talked about my fear of shriveling ovaries and my baby anxiety. When I stopped for breath he mentioned, off-handedly, that this was his first date since his divorce. His first date! I took a quick and appalling account of all I'd said so far. "So...how'm I doing?" I asked.
He laughed. "You're setting the bar really high," he said. I didn't believe him, quite, but I put my hand over his anyway, just for a moment.
I asked him questions, trying to get him talking a bit. He was nervous and quiet, hard to draw out. Finally he started talking about bikes, and I stopped him when I heard him say 'tandem.'
"Wait, hang on," I said. "You have a tandem bike? Like, a bicycle built for two? Really?"
"Yeah," he said, smiling.
"Oh, man," I said. "Oh man, I really hope you want to go on a second date with me."
It was many months before we tried it out. He's so much taller, we had to cut off part of the seat post so I could fit on the back. He said, before our first ride, "This is either going to be awesome, or we're going to break up."
Now when we ride together, I put my hand on the small of his back and we make jokes about the people we pass, and how they must be jealous of us. I close my eyes when we go downhill, and it's scary at first, and then I forget everything except the warmth of his skin under my hand and the feeling of moving forward.