October 15, 2012
So, Phantom texted the next day to say hello and check in. He was going to some kind of Burning Man-related party, and I was returning to Hardly Strictly with my wonderful/not-so-wonderful ex, let’s call him Mr. X.
Phantom and I pushed our plan back for the next evening, a Monday night. After spending a blissful Sunday afternoon and rather heated night with Mr. X, I woke up Monday morning excited to see Phantom.
I called Phantom on my way home from work that evening and we decided on Thai food near my house. I went home, gussied up a bit, and walked over to the Thai place. As I approached, I saw Phantom standing on the street corner in his crisp new checkered shirt and I got that cheesy butterfly feeling in my stomach.
We hugged. He smelled so clean and crisp, definitely moreso than any San Francisco man I can recall, who might smell like anything from a musty closet to that sort of au natural armpit scent (I actually have no complaints about that one though I appreciate a man who showers for me.)
We walked into the restaurant and sat down and I felt surprisingly nervous sitting across from this handsome young guy. We started chatting and somehow Phantom absolutely blew me away. We talked about family, philosophy, books, music, travel, and life. He spoke like someone at least ten years his senior. He was witty, wise, adorable, intelligent and easy to talk to. And he was un-fucked up. He was straightforward and earnest. We even discussed, at length, the meaning of the word earnest over our drunken noodles and tom kha gai. He paid for dinner and we walked over to a nearby wine bar.
We shared a glass of wine as we talked about our lives, our need for deeper connection, and the woes of starting a career. Phantom said he felt like he couldn’t really connect with people around him back in Australia. This blew me away because here I was experiencing a deep connection with this man. I asked him, “Do you feel a connection right now?” “Yes,” he said. “But these moments and these kinds of conversations are few and far between.” Be still, my beating heart.
Phantom shared with me that he was a poet and a musician on the side (his main gig was that he was a photographer.) Of course he is. Of course. He recited one of his pieces for me. It was, in line with who Phantom is, wise, deep, earnest, and well-performed. It was very moving, and I just sat there staring in awe of this emotionally healthy, smiling, and attractive young man in front of me.
Thank you, Universe, for your message, printed in balloon letters on a bright obnoxious banner and attached to a tomato red blimp, circling above my head: “YOU DESERVE BETTER. I had spent the night before with Mr. X, who would become silent when conversations turned vulnerable, fall asleep at conversational twists that hinted at emotional intimacy, and insert judgments about me when I talked about anything else. “YOU DESERVE BETTER,” declares the blimp message from the Universe. Yes, blimp, I do, but hearts do not heal overnight. Mine was fluttering, smiling, and batting it’s eyelashes in Phantom’s presence, but still sick in bed, recovering with a blue polka-dot ice bag on it’s head, from the beguiling and bordering on emotionally abusive charm of Mr. X.
“I don’t want to stop talking,” I told Phantom very truthfully, “but I have an early morning tomorrow.”
“Ok, well, I’d love to keep talking as well, but I don’t want to make your morning harder. I’ll walk you home.”
We walked back to my house and did the first date dance at the doorstep. We exchanged “I had a good time”s. Phantom said he’d be around the next night and asked me if I wanted to do anything.
I happily said I would, looking down at my feet shyly.
“Well, I had fun,” he said, as he leaned forward for….a hug! And then he was off.
I stood at the door of my building, key in hand. As I started to put the key in the lock, a voice inside me screamed “Wait!” I just had an AMAZING night and an amazing connection. I wanted to kiss that man, and he damn well must have wanted to kiss me. I turned and looked down the sidewalk in time to see his back receding into the night. Instinctively I started to run down the street. “Phantom!” I called. He didn’t hear me. I kept running. A couple walking from his direction heard me and told him something to the effect of, “Hey, there’s a crazy chick running down the street calling you.”
He turned around and saw me running toward him. He started walking quickly back toward me. I slowed as I came up to him and he raised his arms to embrace me. He reached his hands behind my neck and pulled my lips toward him, and we stood there kissing in the middle of my street, my arms around him, one hand still clutching my keys. His kisses were as soft and sweet and earnest as his words.
To be continued…
A recipe to capture the kiss:
I wanted to make something as sweet and romantic as the evening, so these little guys do the trick. They are not too sweet, subtly nutty in their chestnut flavor and resemble two pairs of lips, the moment I most want to remember from this night.
Baci Di Dama Cookies (“Lady Kisses”)
Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from http://spoonforkbacon.com/2012/06/baci-di-dama/
1/2 cup Bob’s Redmill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chestnut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and divided
1/3 cup superfine sugar (granulated will work fine)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 oz dark chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flours and salt. Set aside.
3. Place all but 1 tablespoon butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a mixing bowl with a hand mixer) and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to cream, gradually adding the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the almond extract and continue to beat together for about 30 seconds.
5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until fully incorporated and the dough comes together.
6. Roll 1/2 teaspoon balls of dough and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, gently pressing on the top to barely flatten the surface. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies barely begin to brown. Allow cookies to cook completely.
7. Melt chocolate and stir in remaining tablespoon of butter until smooth.
8. Dab a small amount of chocolate onto the bottom center of a cookie and sandwich together with another. Repeat until all cookie sandwiches have been made.