Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader. Along my way to a single’s V-Day, I celebrate the rite-of-passage known as the first date. I love meeting people, and that curiosity keeps me open to encounters of the romantic kind. Today, I am relishing the online stories of many bad dates. One of my absolute worst first dates was so disastrous I still remember it over a decade later.
Early in my career, I worked as an immigration attorney in Atlanta. Around that time, I had a cute scooter and rode it to an immigrant justice rally. There, I met Amir (come on, you didn’t really think I would share his real name). We had a few mutual friends, and we shared a multi-cultural background. Towards the end of the rally, he asked if he could take me out on his own two-wheeled transport. He was cute, clever, and seemed like good company. I am, also, such a sucker for a motorcycle ride and, of course, said yes.
When he showed up a week later at my place in Midtown, a tad late on his very lovely red Ducati, I immediately forgave his tardiness. I hopped onto the back of his bike clad in boots and a sweet rider’s jacket. We were off to dinner at the Vortex, I thought…
We took the gorgeous Ponce De Leon Avenue up towards Little Five. The road was smooth, but we were wavering a bit in the lanes, and at a traffic light, I stopped to ask if everything was OK. Amir replied: he was not used to so much weight on the back of his bike! He did not dare look at my face and sped off as the light turned green, and I sensed that I had just to hold on now for an interesting evening…
We had decided to get burgers at this lively spot in Little Five, but he drove right past the turn. So I asked what was going on, and he told me he had a package to drop off in downtown Decatur. It was a gorgeous night, and I enjoyed being a passenger, so I patiently and curiously hung out, enjoying the ride.
Finally, we arrived at an office complex’s underground parking, and Amir pulled out a package from his jacket. He dropped the thick stack of materials into an after-hours dropbox. Coincidentally, I recognized the attorney’s name where he shoved his delivery. She was a rockstar lawyer with a very niche focus in removal defense for immigrants with criminal convictions. I did not let on that I recognized her name. The night only got more interesting from there.
By now, it was getting late, and we were both getting hungry. We finally get to the Little Five neighborhood, and Amir pulls the bike into a parking lot about two blocks away from the Vortex. On the walk there, we saw a pop-up shop that had a line of over 50+ people waiting outside. I did not recognize the artist’s name, but Amir was eager to check it out. I uncomfortably agreed to wait in line (I no longer do this, Tokyoites!), so we waited outside for nearly an hour and made small-talk with one another. I learned he had several motorbikes and that apparently, he was behind on bike payments…. When we finally made it to the entrance of this pop-up, the staff asked us what we would like to get signed by the artist. Amir ended up springing for a $50 T-shirt. We shot a few selfies with the graphic artist and then rolled out of the pop-up. At this point, I sensed we were not on the same wavelength. He seemed amused, and I started to see the evening as a wash.
When we finally got to the Vortex, the dinner crowd was already seated at all the tables. The hostess suggested sitting at the bar. Amir stepped up with a yes, please, and we were seated, next to each other. At this point, I would have loved to use Uber to go home, but it was not around yet… Over burgers at the bar, I obliquely inquired about his delivery. He explained that he was in deportation proceedings stemming from a night of partying that resulted in a criminal trespassing arrest. His specialist immigration defense attorney would try to help him stay in the country. I knew from my legal work that he would need an excellent basis for relief in his removal proceedings. When I asked the basis for his relief was, he mentioned his marriage to a US citizen spouse! I am not in the habit of dating married men (on principle). I was already surprised, and then he casually mentioned that he and his wife also have two kids. Some surprises are best shared on a first date.
All the while, Amir seemed intrigued by my knowledge in this area. I had been working in immigration now for about 2 years and knew the legal shithole he was in. I imagined that things were not working out too well for Amir and his wife. He did seem quite eager to lean in and feel me out for free advice on his predicament. By this point, I was certain this date was going nowhere. When I thought it could not get any worse, the dinner tab showed. He said, I would have paid for you, but I just spent my last $50 on that T-shirt.
After we split the bill, he commented, you are pretty cool. Let’s hang out again sometime. I managed to keep from laughing in his face. Luckily, he drove me home without any other surprises. His audacity still gives me a good laugh. I no longer hop onto any old bike. In fact, I learned I much prefer walking to motorcycle surprises.
Watch out, ladies! Amir is still out there. He managed to stay in the US and now is an attorney too.