Okay, I won't keep you all in suspense.
I was nervous as all heck, for whatever reason, but I sucked it up and headed off to "Barstucks" to meet Hot Mediterranean. (That would not have been my choice of venue, but I decided it wasn't worth haggling over.) He was sitting outside when I pulled up (it was a lovely day), and as I walked up, he smiled a big smile and said, "Oh my god, you are so beautiful!"
Well, can't complain about THAT.
We went inside to order. I asked for iced tea (I rarely drink coffee) and he followed suit. "You like iced tea?" Yes, I replied...I love it. I drink it all day. "Oh my god, me too. I love it." (You're going to hear this refrain a LOT.)
So, we sat and sipped our tea and made small talk. He IS easier to understand in person, thank goodness, though I'm not sure he always understood what I was saying. But that didn't keep him from saying "Oh my god, me too" a lot. Heh. For instance, at one point I mentioned that I was a vegetarian. "Oh my god, me too...I love the vegatoes." I'm pretty sure he didn't know the full connotation of "vegetarian" though, since later in the evening he offered me both chicken soup and a steak. But I'm jumping ahead.
Let's sum up what I discovered (or think I discovered--there's probably a pretty wide margin of error here): he's been in the country for about a year, though his brother has been here for years, his sister and nephew just moved here last week and are living with him in his one-bedroom apartment. He works as a cook in a restaurant, but doesn't really like it--he wants to start his own handyman business, which is what he did in Albuquerque, where he lived briefly, and presumably what he did in Lebanon. He doesn't have a car right now, so he rides the bus, and wants to move to a bigger apartment in Brookside (my old neighborhood), which is more pedestrian-friendly. He also likes beer ("oh my god, me too...I love beer"). He loves my dog ("oh my god, me..."), my cats ("omg, mt"), America in general and Tulsa in particular. He wants to make me tabouli soon. ("Oh my god, you love tabouli? I make for you. Tonight? You want?")
He's an enthusiastic guy, to be sure. He loves my hair, my boots, and the earrings I was wearing. He also loves...a general gesture in the direction of my body, with a repetition of "beautiful". Take that to mean whatever you like. And, oddly, though it reads a little sleazy, in person it came across kind of sweet.
And did I love his...general gesture in his direction? Well, he is a good-looking guy, but I have to say...he is apparently really photogenic. Good-looking in person, but not quite as hot as he came across in his pictures. Not that I'm accusing him of touching them up, or anything...he just photographs well, I think. He has a big smile, which helps...as does posing on a beautiful Mediterranean beach. Heh. He also doesn't really seem all that much younger than me, though he is, by a few years. I didn't have a "oh my god, I MUST HAVE HIM" reaction, but I definitely didn't want to run in the other direction, so...we're okay there, I think.
So, we finished up our tea, and decided to walk up the street a bit. We stopped in at a pool hall/bar and got a beer (Newcastle. I ordered first and he again said "the same."), which we drank outside on the sidewalk patio. We walked some more, then went back to my car. It was getting a bit chilly at that point.
I offered to give him a ride home, so he wouldn't have to mess with the bus, and he loved that idea, of course. I knew his sister and nephew were there, so it didn't seem particularly risky. Plus, he's not a really big guy, and I have brass knuckles, so...) I met his sister, Rima, and his 6-year-old nephew, Ali.
His sister was very friendly...she's been stuck in the apartment most of the week she's been here, and she's very bored. There's really nothing nearby to walk to, and "this apartment is not so nice." Hee. (It was a very typical off-white walls, tan carpeted, boxy south Tulsa apartment, to be sure. Not much furniture.) Her other brother had taken her to the library, and she enthusiastically showed me the books she checked out. She has a degree in Chemistry from a university in Beirut, hopes at some point to teach, and would like to get a second degree in Physics. She wanted to know if there was a demand for science teachers--well, certainly there is, but there might be quite a few certification hoops to jump through. I suggested she look into doing some private tutoring, and she liked that idea. She also wanted to know where she might acquire a kitten--in Beirut she worked with an organization that feeds homeless cats and tames kittens for adoption. My kind of girl! She asked how I would rate her English--I gave her an "A." She was very excited--turns out her older brother gave her a "C+", and her sister-in-law a "B." I said, "well, compared to your brother here..." and we all laughed.
Hot Mediterranean offered to make me something to eat, but when he began pulling things out of the cabinets/refrigerator, I realized he didn't quite understand "vegetarian." His sister did, however, and filled him in. "Oh!" I declined the food offers, we watched a little TV (he pressed the remote into my hand--guess he's not all that chauvinistic. Hee.) His sister proudly pointed out that he did all the cleaning and the cooking himself, and a couple of times chided him for not speaking English. "You need the practice." True dat.
I decided it was time to leave, which disappointed him, I know...but I wanted to stop at the grocery store and get home before the brewing thunderstorm hit. He walked me to my car, tried to get me to agree to "tabouli tomorrow night," but I made him settle for a "some time this week." As enthusiastic as he is about everything American, I can see him instantly deciding he's "in love" with an American girl, and...I'm not ready for that.
So, is there potential? Well, I don't know. He seems very sweet. He definitely liked me. But he also seems a bit...if I say "lacking in sophistication" do I come across as a pretentious snob? 'Cause I don't mean to. But he does seem a bit...simple in his tastes. If that makes sense. And not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just...not really ME. (You know...I like smart and complicated. Sometimes to my detriment, admittedly.) I am fully aware that my perceptions may be coming from his rudimentary English skills, though, and perhaps there's more to him than it seems at first glance, and certainly there are cultural differences to take into account, so...I'm not making any snap judgments. I promise. I do plan to see him again, and see how it goes.
There you have it. And that was certainly long story...long, wasn't it?
And edited to add: there was an email waiting in my inbox this morning, thanking me for the evening, so the boy's got some manners, it seems. That or his sister told him to. Hee.