Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 4
"Didn't I tell you that I had a thing for serial killers?" I wrote to an online fellow traveler after he suggested that we continue an email exchange to make sure that neither of us were serial killers, or live dangerously and get together at some appointed place for coffee.

After hanging out at work eight hours a day with transportation planners, and then going home to listen to my daughter's hip-hop music, I needed a break. I opted for up close and personal.

We arranged to rendezvous at Peet's in Berkeley's Fourth Street district, an easy off ramp from the freeway, plus there was available parking.

In the early sixties, Peet's had seceded from the growing Starbuck's coffee machine to develop its own center of artisan coffee and teas in Berkeley. Fourth Street is one of Peet's newer Berkeley satellite outposts with umbrella-shaded tables outside the actual store. Up and down the street were an assortment of hip retailers. I took a slow stroll looking through the windows until I spotted Peets 100 yards ahead, just as I was tucking a $20 dollar bill into my wallet.

For I had realized on the way to our meeting point that I had no money, and I thought it was bad karma to rely upon tigertail101, for that was my date's handle, to offer to buy me a cup. So first I found an ATM machine and stepped up to its stylish mustard-colored window. I knew that if my date didn't make that initial offering to buy me a cup, I'd think he was stingy. But on the other hand, I wouldn't offer to buy him a cup because that would smack of feminist baggage, which I'd already checked at the car door.

I looked to see if I could match a thumbnail with a face. I saw no likely suspects. But there was someone who'd just entered the area, which was noisy with rattling cups and the hiss of espresso machines. He was looking around, and he was cute.

"Do the words serial killer mean anything to you?" I asked.

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