Recently I went out with a New York City bartender, and intimidation was an understatement.
He had all the inner workings of a Taylor Swift music video. He stood tall, confident, and sure of himself with his heather grey eyes I could barely look into. He was all the dating red flags waving right in front of me, but I didn’t care. At least, that’s what I kept trying to tell myself.
He was seven years older than me. He fell in love with a woman in Spain. They got married, and ran away together to New York City. They later separated, and one way or another, we found ourselves here. I was at one side of the bar trying to shake off my last fling, he was the bartender on the other side giving me free mojitos I had convinced myself would help me feel better and feel less.
We exchanged numbers.
My friends ooh’d and ah’d, and I didn’t know what to think. I felt like I was on a high and I couldn’t decide if I loved it or if I felt absolutely terrified. I just didn’t want to be another number to him.
We met up on a Sunday night and I was out until 4 a.m. He took me to a bar as hipster as he was, where I found myself more intoxicated by the way he held my hand than the drink I held in the other.
As he twirled me on the dance floor, my logic, rationale, and all my predisposed thoughts on him being a bartender and everything that came along with that territory spun in circles out the door.
The truth is, I never thought I could find myself here. I would have never thought someone like him could possibly be interested in someone like me. And then, he poured salt to the wound of all my insecurities he had no idea I even had.
“You’re Filipino? What? I never thought I could be attracted to a Filipino.”
I thought, if he only knew what being Filipino meant to me. I wanted to be mad at him; I wanted to be furious. And then he told me he was half-Irish, and half-Filipino.
We all have baggage. We all carry the weight of our pasts. And, sometimes, we find that whatever personal issues we haven’t fully resolved yet, we instinctually project onto others when we see fit.
His job intimidated me, and my ethnicity was a supposed detractor. As one of the most diverse generations, you would think we’d be above this by now. But when it comes down to it, I judged him before he even said hello, and he judged me right back.
I have a past, and so does he. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. By entering a date with predispositions, expectations, and pre-judgements, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We can call it our way of protecting ourselves. But who are we to sit here and make assumptions if we can’t even handle whatever may hit us on the other side of the bar?
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