I push open the restaurant door. The air smells like garlic and roasted tomatoes. Possible-Mate-from-Chicago sits on a lobby bench just to my right. He stands up and other than his height (he did say was tall, he left out that he towers over 6’-0”) he looks EXACTLY like his photos, which is VERY refreshing. He’s very fair, black hair, no grey and balding on the top. I don’t know what word I would use to describe his body. He’s slim, but not skinny, trim, but not hulky, lean, but not like a runner. And has hazel eyes.
“Hey, I’m impressed that you made it here on time. Did you leave at noon?” he asks and jokes. Also, refreshing, a desi who can tell time. “Just about,” I tease back. “Are you ready to be seated?” the hostess asks. We nod; she leads us through the very full restaurant. This is the thing about Minnesotans and Wisconsinites – we/they are not bothered by a lynching of snow. I guess we can't be, otherwise we'd never leave our homes from October to May.
We sit down and Possible-Mate-from-Chicago puts a plastic bag on the seat to his left before he completely settles in. “How is your niece?” he asks. “She looks like desi Pebbles. But she is 157% personality. Very feisty for someone who is barely one years old,” I say and sip my water. I am debating if I will order a glass of wine. I have a drive that can last anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, and I think it would be better to be sober. But I am sure dinner will take a few hours – so I can have one drink.
“How are your cousin’s kids?” I ask. He sips his water, nods and smiles. “They are great. Eight and four, very cute. We have been very busy today making art and watching their father shovel snow,” he says. “My sister has three kids, too,” he adds. “You didn’t help your cousin?” I tease. Possible-Mate-from-Chicago shrugs. “He has a really long driveway and uses a small bobcat,” he says. I have no idea if he is serious about the bobcat and I don’t ask. I decide Possible-Mate-from-Chicago is funny and leave it at that.
When the waitress returns and we order drinks, a beer for him, red wine for me. We talk about him mostly because I am a little drained from working all day and dealing with Dad’s health. The commute to Hudson is not helping as it takes concentration to drive in a blizzard. I learn that he’s an alum of the Big Ten, plays volleyball and softball, is an engineer, works in technology and was born and raised in Chicago. And most importantly he is just nice.
After we finish eating dinner the waitress removes our plates and asks if we want dessert. I decline as does he. “So,” he says. “Yes,” I reply. “You don’t want dessert, right?” he asks. I nod. “I don’t love tiramisu,” I explain. He grins, reaches to his side and pulls up the plastic bag. He fishes inside for the Tupperware container, pops it open and voila, cheesecake. “In addition to making art and watching the snow fall, my nieces and I made cheesecake,” he says. He picks up a fork and offers it me. And I accept.