The architect calls me on Monday and asks me out for Thursday. He invites me to dinner. He tells me that he wants to go for Korean food. He tells me to choose. I think about it. I love Korean food, but it is not exactly a place for a date. The best Korean restaurants are the BBQs. Places with communal tables, florescent lighting. I don't need a 5 star restaurant, but something a little nicer. Besides, there is so much food at these places, it is much better to go in a group.
We speak on Thursday afternoon, to solidify the details. I tell him I prefer we go to another restaurant. He tells me to choose and that he will pick me up at 8:00 pm. I decide on the African restaurant, El Buen Sabor in Villa Crespo. I like the food there, and the owners are super nice.
At 7:45 he calls to tell me that he will be late. I can see that this is going to be a constant in this relationship. Yes, people are always late here, but not like this, not on a first or second meeting. Finally at almost 9:00 he comes to get me. I tell him about the African restaurant. He is disappointed, but says OK.
On the way to the restaurant he talks mostly about work. Yeah, a guy thing here. It is to show me how "important" he is. The conversation is mostly 1 way, because that is also how it is. I try to interject at times, but he keeps talking. Sometimes I raise my hand and say "Permiso para hablar?" (Permission to speak) It is the only way to make it a 2 way conversation. Men here are not aware that they do this, in fact they deny it. Ask any woman and they will laugh and tell you yes, that is how they are. Beyond mansplaining.
We arrive at the restaurant. The owner greets me. I met them when they first opened the place. I am always amazed that they still remember me. I don't go often, but I guess the hair is a dead giveaway. I introduce the architect and we sit at a table in the corner.
He wants no part in helping to decide what to eat. He is leaving this to me. You can look at this two ways. 1, if the food is not good, then I can be blamed, or 2. He wants to be a nice guy. Most likely a combination. I choose several plates, he wants double appetizers. No problem.
The conversation is mostly nice, low key. First date conversation. I change the conversation from his work. He is not interested in mine. He doesn't speak English and says he cannot learn. It isn't like I am conducting a class, I like to talk about my students, or the challenges. We talk about food. We talk about our travels. I tell him about Bali and what an effect it had on me. He tells me that he went to Miami and is not interested in the USA. I tell him the USA is more than Miami and New York. (Where 90% of Argentines travel to in the USA) He prefers Europe and he wants to go to Thailand. A common ground. Asia.
Then in the middle of this conversation he changes it. He tells me that his son came to visit him today. "Great." I say. I remember that he told me he doesn't have much of a relationship with his sons. "No," he says. "He only comes to see me when he wants money." I don't comment. "He wants to go on a trip to Mexico with his friends, and his mother told him to ask me for the money."
At this point, I am assuming the son is graduating high school and he and his friends are going on a trip to celebrate. I mention this. He responds, "No, no, no. He graduated from high school, this is just a trip with a group of his friends." I ask him how old his son is. Before this point I was assuming that he was young. "23," he tells me. Before I can stop myself the words fall out of my mouth. "23? Tell him to get a job. He isn't exactly a child." The architect tells me no. That is not how it is here.
"Excuse me," I tell him, "I don't want to get involved, but at 23, he should not be asking you for money." He proceeds to tell me that is the only time he sees his son. That he feels like his son is a prostitute and that he should just hand him the money in a white envelope. This is passive aggressive behavior. "Why don't you just tell him how you feel? I say. "Maybe it will clear the air, rather than do something like handing him an envelope, which will solve nothing."
He doesn't get it. Then he starts to blame his ex-wife. I stop the conversation here. "Look," I tell him, I don't want to be involved. It has nothing to do with me." I don't want to hear about his ex-wife. It is like he doesn't hear me. He is on a roll. "It is because of her, I cannot see my grandson." He catches the look on my face and stops. Thank God.
I turn the conversation back to something else. Cooking is a much safer topic. He tells me how he loves to cook. I tell him I do too. I tell him about my friends, and that we are a group of people that love to cook. He says he will invite me to his place for dinner. I tell him, that I don't have a kitchen table.
After dinner he takes me home. The conversation is light, until we get to my apartment. He puts the car in park and then leans over to grab me. This is what I hate. Nothing ever seems to be consensual. It is like being conquered. Uff. No. Not at this age. When I was lots younger, like most women, it was easier to say yes, then push someone away. Now I don't care. One kiss. Then he asks about coming upstairs. I tell him no. "How will I ever get to know you?" he asks. What is this, the bible? I make it clear that I am not looking for just sex. Sex is a part of a relationship. I don't hop beds anymore. (Especially here with the Madonna Whore complex alive and well.) I let him know that it isn't no for ever, but I want to know someone first. "But sex is a way to know someone." he insists. I give him my bored look. I know what comes next. "We are both adults," he says. I hate when they say this. I am supposed to be guilted into having sex. I keep my mouth shut. I don't want to argue. I open the door to his car and prepare to get out.
"Hey," he says. I will leave it up to you, if you want to go out again. "How about Saturday?" I ask. This is the way to find out if he is in another relationship. "No, I can't this Saturday. Monday? Tuesday?" I tell him we will talk. I shut the door of his car, and walk into my apartment building. I am not too sure about this guy. Vamos a ver.