by Jamie Sughroue Brown

He's in a buffalo plaid shirt, black cross-hatched with my favorite hue in the color spectrum - kelly green. It complements his fetchingly copper-burnished auburn hair in the last of the winter sun's rays. 

I'm normally the first to arrive, everywhere, no matter with whom I'm meeting. I like to scope out the place, pick out the best vantage point from which to observe. I want to see what's coming, have a sense of what to expect and in what form it will arrive. 

So . . . I was taken aback to find him there. Fifteen minutes early. 

What the hell? This is my turf, fella. I purposefully chose the intimate, eclectic coffee shop, knowing what drink I prefer from which barista, the least likely to collapse of the creaky wooden chairs on the shaded patio, and what angle to sit at to covertly stare into the parking lot for his arrival. 

He's in MY appointed chair, a half-full iced coffee sweating on the scarred table, its concentric ring of condensation saturating the wood and betraying the length of time he's been sitting there. His presence is forcing me to reassess and rework my initial game plan. How should I handle this? Be myself, and fret for a moment over how loathe I am to be thrown off-kilter? Or, yet again be the fake and spontaneous gal that I embody to be what I think every man wants? 

I wing it. 

A skein of yarn is idling on the chair next to him, a ball in motion next to it I note as I approach. I set my own drink down and thrust my hand out to him. He looks up as my outstretched appendage is caught in his peripheral vision, sets aside his knitting needles and shoves his chair back to stand. 

Good lord. His eyes were comically blue in his profile picture and I've never felt more cheesy and awkward in my life as the thought bubble forms - but it's like two aquamarines erupted from his skull at birth, and re-formed as his irises. They're that gorgeous. 

He grabs onto my proffered hand with his own, warm and firm. I love a grip that translates strength and confidence. It imbues me with some of the same feelings, and as that thought bustles its way through my spinal column, I straighten to my full height. I still have to look up to meet his gaze, and I mentally pump my fist. On more than one occasion has a guy lied to me about his stature.

I'm perturbed by how intimately I feel I already know him. We've only exchanged a few emails before I asked him to be my friend in “real” life. Friend being the operative word. This is my new approach to the dating website I find myself utilizing more and more often to meet new people. It's awkward and a little unsettling to talk to men through email and text messages with pictures they've specifically chosen to represent themselves as reference points and mental images as we converse in every format available aside from our own voices.

Isn't it much easier to lie without the physicality and facial cues that trigger the gut instinct of an untruth being uttered? The briefest scratch on the nose, a tap of a toe . . . there's always a tell if you're looking for it.