The Bro Next Door (Part 4) :: Luce

(Stop right there! Don’t spoil the story. Start with my review of our first date here.)

Since our first 3 dates had been fairly casual (one was a pajama party FFS), we wanted to go on a fancy pants dinner date. I obviously live in the same neighborhood as The Bro Next Door, so he chose a nice little Italian place that neither of us had been to. I really appreciate that he likes to try new things.

He landed from his vacation on Sunday morning, so we planned to meet at 6pm. On our third date, he complained that none of his friends wanted to pregame anymore, so I proposed we pregame our date. This suggestion was met with an enthusiastic “YES!” Finally, I’ve met someone who is my same level of functional alcoholic! Honestly, why wouldn’t someone want to pregame? I grew up pregaming everything with my mom. Easter services? Pregame. Grandma visiting? Pregame. Grocery shopping? Pregame. It’s in my blood.

I dressed up and brought with me some homemade apple pie shortbread bars. Truthfully, I made them for work, but I thought he might appreciate them. I know it’s cliche, but I really believe cooking is the way to a guy’s heart. They’re simple beings. They just want to eat and fuck. Do both well and you’re golden.

The Bro Next Door had also mentioned that he had never done a Jlägerbomb (?!?!?!), so I brought the ingredients to make those. Maybe it was overkill, but I’ve NEVER had a bad night start with a J Bomb.

The first time we see each other is always a little bit awkward. This time was especially so. It had been almost a week, so there was an air of distance between us. I could tell he wanted to go in for the “Hello!” kiss, but my hands were full and it didn’t feel right. I was also kind of sweaty from rushing around and trying not to be late.

The entire first 30 minutes of our date, he told me stories from his trip. It donned on me that he REALLY likes to talk. I’m used to dates where the woman does 65-70% of the talking. Women are just more verbose. Whenever I hang out with The Bro Next Door, he does 70% for the first hour, which is perfect, because it can take me awhile to warm up to an expressive level.

I think his oversharing can be blamed on his nerves, just as my quietness can be blamed on MY nerves. After he has 2 drinks, he usually settles down and I warm up and it falls into a 50/50 conversation balance. It’s a nice symbiotic balance.

After we each did a Jägerbomb, he started serving up vodka sodas. The first was a typical pour, but the second was hella strong. Was this Bro trying to get me drunk?!

The New Bro Pros
Judging by his stories, he didn’t go Wolf of Wall Street wild. Men who like cocaine and strippers are not cute.
He’s always willing to try new things… even surprise Jägerbombs!
(Spoiler alert!) Clearly not afraid to be emotionally vulnerable…
Total sweetheart and will go out of his way to help me out.

We decided it was time for dinner and headed to Luce. It’s a little spot on Burnside that I’ve driven by countless times. I honestly always thought it was a catering company. I’m not too big on pasta (who wants a belly full of carbs on a date?!), but I let him choose and Luce was what he wanted.

Trimet has been doing a lot of construction on Burnside, so they closed off the sidewalk in front of Luce, subsequently blocking the entrance. As a result, patrons are required to use the side door and walk THROUGH THE KITCHEN! It was steamy and awkward. I felt simultaneously unhygienic for being around food and guilty for being in the way of the chef.

The Bar Cons
I’ll blame it on the construction, but it’s a feat to find the entrance!
I don’t want my food prepared in a kitchen where strangers are walking in and out, shedding their hair everywhere….
Very quiet. The single woman sitting at the table next to us was inevitably eavesdropping on our entire date.

We sat down and he ordered wine and a cheese plate. Usually on dates, the conversation gravitates toward basic topics like favorite food or best travel destination. But with TBND, we debated the artistic value of including 9/11 in film. We both had strong opinions, but the discussion was respectful and interesting.

I ordered another round and he followed suit. We decided we were going to share two entrees, so he ordered the lamb pasta and I got the rabbit. We each thought ours was so good, we ended up not sharing! It was the perfect portion, too. I felt satisfied but not stuffed. Those Italians do it right.

The Bar Pros
The best cheese I’ve ever tasted.
Super relaxed and and friendly atmosphere, especially the server!
Quaint interior. Think trendy Swedish farmhouse.
Delicious & unique pasta… coming from someone who doesn’t like pasta.

I figured we would split it like we normally do, so I ordered what I wanted with no regard for price. I think a guy is paying, I try to be respectful and only order one drink and a modest meal. To my surprise, he paid for the entire thing! Typically when a guy offers to pay, I say “Oh, are you sure?!” as a challenge, but this time I meant it. TBND definitely redeemed himself with that move.

We went back to his apartment nearby and opened some wine. We had discussed the New York Times article “36 Questions to Make You Fall in Love” and he asked if I wanted to answer them. Definitely a risky date move.

They were deep questions, but nothing too intrusive. Nothing about past relationships or repressed secrets. They were mostly about life views and family values. It took us 3 hours to get through them all. It got pretty serious and I definitely saw another dimension to him. At first I was skeptical that the questions would bring us closer, but now I fully believe.

The final step of the exercise was to stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes straight, without talking. We decided to go for it. At first it was a little awkward – we giggled about blinks and reacted to each other’s expressions, but then it got comfortable. It was serene to stare into his eyes and not feel judged. I thought about everything he had just said and recognized his personal struggles and how it has shaped him as a person.

Before I knew it, he broke the silence and said, “I think I set the alarm wrong.” Sure enough, it had been 8 silent minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes. We laughed about it and then started kissing. One thing led to another and suddenly we were upstairs.

I won’t go into graphic detail, but it was a great ending to the night. It was definitely one of the most intimate experiences I’ve shared with another person. Maybe this speaks more to the caliber of my past relationships, but typically the first time with someone new is a little awkward and a lot of weird. We’ve all had those times when you stare at the ceiling and pray for him to hurry the fuck up so you can sleep… but with TBND, I genuinely enjoyed every moment. Sex can be awkward and make you realize that you aren’t actually compatible with someone, but this time I feel like it strengthened the connection significantly. I had to wake up early to go to work so I left abruptly at 7:30. He stayed to sleep in. He didn’t even walk me to the door and I scurried out into the street in my skirt and heels, holding a bottle of Jager. Fabulous.

Only one thing bothered me about that night – a comment he made after we were finished. A comment he kept repeating. He said how shocked he was that this happened and how he didn’t expect it at all. Honestly, it made me feel easy. Did I ruin things by suggesting we go upstairs? He said he thought it would happen in another week or so, after my trip. Was it too soon? Of course he wouldn’t have said no. He’s a man. It doesn’t matter for him. But I’m a woman, so I have to bear the societal consequences of sex. Maybe it altered his opinion of me. Maybe not. But it’s changed the way I think of myself.

After work that Monday, we were texting about my upcoming trip back home. I complained about my 5 hour layover in LAX – hoping at best that he would have some good restaurant suggestions. Instead, he thoughtfully asked if I wanted to use his pass to get into the VIP lounges and enjoy the free booze! Of course my answer was yes!

He brought it over to my apartment a couple minutes later. He was fresh from the gym and I was in my pajamas. We were both raw, unfiltered. The impromptu visit felt nice. We laughed about the pass and talked about my trip. It was a short visit, but it was nice to see him.

The New Bro Cons
Likes pasta
…. literally nothing else.

Now I have 6 days to spend processing it all. This is the first person in awhile who I’ve cared about and it’s scary. I know he’s probably dating other people. We both still have our Bumble accounts active. I’ve been talking to other people, too, but I’m just not as interested in them. Dating is a competition at this point. You have to make yourself the best option. If our conversations are as honest and intimate as they seem, I think I’m doing well. I can’t imagine someone having the energy to sustain such deep connections with multiple women… and I’m not just talking about sex, that’s the easy part. He admitted some very personal things during our 36 Questions game and we both got emotional. He would have to be a next-level player and a talented actor to give a convincing performance like that on multiple dates with multiple women. But it’s not impossible. Men are capable of unfathomable trickery.

All I can do at this point is focus on my own game. I feel confident in our relationship so far and that’s all the matters. If the Olympics and Chad le Clos have taught me anything, it’s that you never get ahead by focusing on the other lane.

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