“How about the Belmont at 8? It’ll be you, me, and Lulu,” he said.
“Lulu, my dog? The Belmont has outdoor seating, so I thought it’d be fun to bring her along.”
That bitch, I thought, but agreed to the plan nonetheless.
This was to be my second date with Max, who, on paper, was my dream guy. Jewish, wealthy, entrepreneurial, British, extremely educated. But our first date hadn’t felt quite right. So, I was hoping our second would feel more natural. Now Lulu was putting a wrench into all of that, completely destroying my totally-not-rehearsed conversation plan and shattering my super sexy and confident aura concept. Already, I imagined my obligatory aww-ing and cooing over Lulu, and saw Max’s attention distracted by her canine cuteness.
It’s not that I dislike dogs, but I’d say I’m more of a cat person, if anything. But the fact of the matter is, I’ve never been a pet owner nor had pets as a kid (save for those blissful two months with Sophie Goldburn, the goldfish I won at the synagogue’s Purim carnival, who, tragically, “passed away”). I kind of feel like there’s a fundamental difference between people who have had pets and those who haven’t. I just don’t connect with other people’s animals. And while Max’s sweet and small rescue dog did seem to imply that he was a good and nurturing person, I was just slightly weirded out by sharing my date with her. And, being that it was only our second date, it did seem a little like, “Meeting the dog? Already?” When it comes to dating, I’m up for the unconventional, but in the beginning, I’m a traditional girl and I respect the formula and process.
As it turned out, Lulu was quite adorable. She was friendly, loving, and so cute that she managed to attract the attention of three separate girls before we even made it to our table. “Wow, I’m surprised Lulu hasn’t been able to land you a girlfriend,” I offered nervously, immediately regretting saying it.
When we sat down, the group at the table next to us pounced on Lulu. All dog owners, they asked Max a million questions about Lulu, stroking her, feeding her snacks. In between exchanges with our neighbors, Max offered apologetic smiles. Despite my nagging fear that Lulu was Max’s tool for charming the ladies (and not just me) he was actually pretty cute about it all. Even when our neighbor said to me, “Well, and Lulu must be great for you. You guys probably have a lot of fun with her,” and I had to reply, “Uh, well, this is actually our second date,” Max had a way of glossing over the awkward parts.
As I had expected, we devoted a large portion of the evening to discussing and observing Lulu. But I started to realize that maybe some of that was my fault, too. Maybe there was a reason I wasn’t trying to guide the conversation elsewhere and why, during those tricky pauses, we’d just wait until she did something cute or funny. Over dessert, with Lulu seated next to me on the banquette, she began licking my elbow.
“She’s really quite taken with you,” said Max. “She won’t do that with a lot of people.” I felt trapped, obliged to acknowledge the “it’s a sign” moment I was set up for, and question the truth behind it.
As I looked down at her, I suddenly felt really bad. Hoping that Lulu had some sort of canine ESP, I silently transmitted a message to her as I rubbed her ears. You’re not so bad. I just want you to know that the affection I’m showing for you now is genuine. I’m just sorry if it doesn’t seem like that because you’ll probably never see me again. I’m sorry if you got attached. No hard feelings?