After a two-day hiatus from dating and a well-timed facebook post, I embarked upon my fourth date of this adventure to the as-yet-unexplored borough of queens. Rock.
The Time: Wednesday, June 16th, 645pm
The Place: Eddie's Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, Queens
The Guy: Dave L., in my history of dating, this was our third date spanning from 2001.
What Creative Time Says: A soda stand is the perfect place to meet.
I met Dave when I was 16 years old in the ways of Judy Blume and Jewish Yenta's, meaning his parent's set us up. At the time I was living in China on a study abroad program in High School; his stepfather was my english teacher, his mother was my guidance counselor, are we sensing the rom-com indie set up in China movie yet? Basically I was told I was going to marry the guy before I graduated High School and after two dates in Beijing and another in CT, we were ready to hit the big leagues in NYC. Dave saw a facebook posting of mine asking if anyone knew any good men to date and, characteristically, nominated himself. Could the KEYS bring us together after a decade apart? Read on and find out!
Honestly, I had been having a pretty rough day. I love my job but the non profit world does not always smile on us workers. My instinct lead me to go home and watch bad tv but the keys had other plans and an adventure was predetermined by art! Thank goodness I didn't chicken out; instead of finishing the day in defeat, I had a decided victory over the gray clouds hanging in the sky.
Dave and I met as we exited the E/F trains at 71 Ave-Forest Hills stop and it was like old times. Funny thing is, we didn't really have any old times to fall upon. Meeting for this project was literally the third time we had met in over a decade's time. Being with Dave, however, was immediately like being with an old friend, or being reacquainted with the door of your childhood bedroom. It felt comfortable and easy, which was delightful.
Together we attempted to distinguish north from south and walked past the insanely adorable houses lining the streets of forest hills. I kept commenting that the only thing missing from the storybook adventure was a trail of breadcrumbs leading us to the sweet shop, seriously we could have been Hansel and Gretel. I kept stopping to take pictures of the flowers, the angles on the houses, the angular windows; while Dave filled me in on his life of the past five years, from playing, to coaching to now working for professional soccer. It's official, every one of my dates is going to incorporate the world cup in some way, guess I may have to start paying attention to the game...
When we finally made it to the sweet shop I think I actually squealed with delight. The old school soda shop sign, the rows of candy display, the faded booths and spinney stools, it was like taking a step back into childhood-fantasy time, all with fresh whipped cream on top. Truth be told I'm not sugar's biggest fan but I'd eat anything made in a setting like Eddie's. The frosty coffee ice cream's delicious cut against the humid night just added sprinkles to my sundae...literally.
Dave and I waited until the last moment to present our key with much fanfare. (Well, fanfare on our end, just expected groans from "Tommy and Olive" behind the bar) I wasn't expecting an actual lock as creative time's passport just said I should expect "an extra helping of a delicious treat." So you can imagine my delight when Vino the owner (who took his wife on their first date in that very shop!) pulled out a rather plain looking lock box and placed it in front of Dave and I.
Here, my friends, was the real magic. Stuffed inside that metal container were notes, knick knacks, business cards and letters from scores of people who had visited the shop before us. Everything from kooky playing cards to hand sketched drawings, menus from Bengali restaurants (in India!) to dinosaur tattoos, it was as if everyone left behind a little piece of themselves inside that box. Naturally Dave and I had to participate and we each selected a little something from our wallets. From Dave I chose a cranium card which he had labeled "un-whistleable" and he selected a business card from a hostel I had stayed at in Thailand last year. With a kiss on the cover and a turn of the key, our pasts and presents were sealed forever inside the shop of sweets.
We asked the guys of ESS (ha!) where to eat and unanimously we were pointed in the direction of Nick's Bistro, a new but "great" Greek restaurant "right around the corner." While we waited for a table to be prepared we explored the houses some more, me crouching down to photograph miniature gnomes, Dave keeping me laughing every step of the way. Let me tell you this, the people in Forest Hills are fantastic. I traipsed across many lawns, stopped many people for pictures, and asked endless questions. None of this seemed to bother the amused locals, they said sure with the careless attitude that only comes with being a true blue New Yorker.
So back to Nick's. Dave had never had a stuffed grape leaf before ("what do they do? use laserbeams!?" he asked) so we ordered a greek special and a plate of gnocchi to share. The grape leaves, greek sausage, and stuffed mushrooms were by far the best part of the meal. The complexity of flavors with the hearty orders made me stuffed and satisfied before the gnocchi even came out. Thank goodness for fridges containing leftovers which I am, truthfully, eating as I type this.
Things usually come full circle and as I approached the subway a favorite client of mine called around 10 30 and reminded me of why I love the work that I do. As the night ended so did my entirely lovely date with Dave. And here's the kicker folks, Dave lives in L.A. When I accepted Dave's invitation to go out I thought it couldn't have been BAD but I didn't expect it to be quite so much fun. We've really grown into ourselves and it was nice to feel at ease with and yet energized by someone else's presence. Dave is not only supremely intelligent (we fought over the best Shakespeare play, I still say the Tempest wins) but, more endearingly, everlastingly hilarious and I was bummed at the end that the chances of a second site visit with him would be slim to nil. If the point of the keys, however, is to bring wonder and curiosity to places that would have otherwise been left unexplored, well then it served its purpose with this gal and her fated love.
Besides, I will be visiting CA in July...