I remember my first date. Not only because it was my first romantic experience with who I considered during that time “the boy of my dreams”, but also because it was one of the most embarrasing experiences of my life. I was 17 years old back then, but I remember it like if it was yesterday. We took a long road trip from Carolina to the Old San Juan. Along the way we were sharing experiences and funny anecdotes, we were telling each other the kind of stories you tell in highschool, about pranks, teachers, odd classmates and issues that only a highschool student can understand.
We arrived to the restaurant and everything in it looked fancy. The sights were all bright because of the illumination of the place; everything was sorrounded with colorful lamps with different shapes, there were autographed pictures of what appeared to be various local celebrities who had visited the restaurant, such as José Feliciano and Ednita Nazario, the tables were decorated with red and yellow roses, Dean Martin’s lovable music was comming out of the restaurant’s speakers and the smell of garlic frying in olive oil in the air gave me that sensation that only good Italian restaurants can give to a woman with a great taste like myself.
As we walked in the host politely saluted us and asked my date if he had a reservation, to which he replied “yes”, after checking my date’s name and last name in a thick, old, black binder with Italy’s flag and the restaurant’s logo on its cover the host walked us to our table. The service was great, I can tell because only a few minutes after taking our seats the waiter was with our menus and offering us drinks. My date comfortably asked for the wine of the house, because apparently he already knew the place and he was eighteen years old, the legal drinking age in Puerto Rico, when the waiter turned to me and I got nervous, because at that time I never had a drink of alcohol in my life, not even a drop, so I pointed out the brownish looking drink of the lady in the next table and mumbled “iced tea for me please…”.
I was nervous because I had this idea back then that alcohol plays an important role in a teenager’s social live. When I was in highschool, all my friends under eighteen were drinking in parties, concerts or other social events, they even brought to school alcohol hidden in gatorade bottles and such, and, as every person who have experienced the highschool drama knows, all the “cool kids” were doing it. I felt inmature because my date was about to have some kind of fancy wine while I asked for iced tea like some fifth grader girl.
I will not ever forget the face he made when he heard me ask for iced tea, he had this mixture of doubt and mock in his expression, like frowning and smiling simultaneously. “Come on…” he said sarcastically while winking his eye “… I won’t tell your parents you had a glass of wine or two”, I stood strong to my principles by answering “no thank you, ice tea is fine”, I don’t know if I did it because I was being brave against the peer pressure or afraid that at some point of the night someone from the restaurant’s personnel would approach me asking for an ID.
The waiter came back to take our order with a tray on his hands which contained a garlic bread basket, my date’s glass, a bottle of wine and a huge glass of what appeared to be my iced tea. I remember we asked that night for a pizza with eggplants, green peppers, tomato slices, onions and extra cheese with basil sauce on top, the pizza dough was dipped in olive oil and served in a hot pan. As we waited for the food to arrive I took a sip from my drink, I noticed it tasted weird, it was sour, a little bit bitter and it was also effervescent like soda, it didn’t tasted like any iced tea I had before, but since we were in a fancy place and I didn’t wanted to look unrefined, I assumed that’s how elegant people drink their iced tea, I thought to myself that if I drank fast the taste wouldn’t bother me. With the passage my drinking speed increased, a sip turned into a swig, a swig into a gulp and a gulp into three glasses. Little did I know the contents of my drink.
As the glasses were draining one by one I started feeling woozy, like if I just came out from a long rollercoaster ride. My face felt warm, my respiration got colder, my tongue got tangled when I spoke, I found almost impossible to control the volume of my voice, my eyelids were struggling to remain open, and my arms and legs became droopy. Suddenly, I found myself in a good mood, laughing at each joke he told, even when they were not funny, and also I became very sincere, telling him almost every really deep and personal anecdotes and cofessing every single reason why I found him attractive in every way, I even told him, like I mentioned before, why he was the “boy of my dreams”, without knowing it, I was drunk for the first time in my life.
He was not a fool whatsoever, he knew I was drunk, but he couldn’t explain himself why, since the only thing I had that night were three huge glasses of “iced tea”, he asked the waiter in an angry tone of voice how come I was drunk with three glasse of iced tea, the waiter replied that was because there were five differet types of liqueur in a Long Island Iced Tea, vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec. Apparently our waiter got confused, because when he took our order the drink I pointed out from the lady on the table next to us was actually a Long Island Iced Tea. Needless to say we left the restaurant that momment with shame in our faces, to top it all off, on our way to the car we came across with my english school teacher, the one who talked like Edward James Olmos in that movie where he was a math teacher, he recognized me and greeted me and I greeted him back, until this day I think because of the distance I was from him he didn’t noticed how drunk I was but, who knows.
I cannot say that our date was a total waste of time. Even tough I was drunk he behaved like a gentleman the whole time. He never took advantage of my state and I respect and admire that in a man. He carried me in his shoulders like a wounded soldier, he also made several stops in different business locations without complaining when I needed to go to the bathroom, he held my hair for it to avoid getting dirty when I puked, he even didn’t got mad because I did it in his new shoes. After sitting for a while in the park, having two water bottles and an energy drink I regained some sobriety, he gave me some mint bubblegum for the nausea and drove me back home, I puked once on the way but he was nice enough to pull over and open the door. I finally arrived home around 2:00 AM, I puked once more before going to bed and fall sleep, it is still a mistery for me how could I puke so much in one night.
I woke up the next day with the sound of my cellphone ringing, I was dizzy, had a headache and it felt like the phone was ringing inside my skull, I answered and I heard the sound of his voice asking me if I was ok and also if I remembered something about the night before, I answered him by apologizing several times, describing how I felt that morning and that I partially rememberd what happened during our date, he explained to me almost laughing that weird pehnomena I was experiencing was called a “hangover”. He called me again when I fully recovered, surprisingly enough to ask me out again, I told him that I would go out with him if we avoid going to the Old San Juan for a long while, because after what happened in our first date I could never show my face again around that area.