Sifting Stars at Starbucks

With the Borders on McKinney closing, I'm reminded of how my hockey player date once prepped at the book store before our first date. I met this guy in an elevator as I was leaving a book club meeting. He asked if I lived in the building. I replied no and told him that I came there for book club once a month. Excitedly, he exclaimed, "You read? I'm a reader too."

Now I know it's not nice to poke fun at people, but I didn't think literacy held the same cachet as other things you want a potential date to have in common with you. Regardless, we took the elevator down to the lobby and we kept talking. He asked what I did and I told him. Then I asked his profession and he said he was a hockey player. I didn't automatically think of professional sports and asked if he played on some sort of intramural team. He said no and that he was a "Star." "Oh, you're a Dallas Star. You play for that hockey team," I realized with embarrassment. 

He asked for my phone number, called, asked me out and I said yes. Who wouldn't go on a date with a Dallas Star? At the very least it's a good story to have in your dating arsenal. And no, I'm not some jersey chaser. I think he was actually hurt -- OK maybe stunned -- that I didn't know who he was from the get-go.

If I'd said no to the date, I would have disappointed all my guy friends and half of the men at my office. (Before the date they stalked me and pleaded that I ask specific questions about games he'd played in or players he'd played against.) The Star and I ended up scheduling a low-key, causal coffee date at Starbucks.

Starbucks: It's a neutral place. It doesn't scream romance, but it does offer a reliably comfortable atmosphere. The coffee franchise also provides a good place to weed out undesirable suitors. A cup of coffee, or whatever drink you're drinking, is quick, cheap and usually painless even if the person sipping java across from you turns out to be a dud. That's why it's a go-to place for many people when planning first dates. Call it cliché, accuse us of not supporting local coffee houses, but it was the place we chose.

In the couple of conversations we had before our first date, the Star didn't come across as an egomaniac. He talked a lot about his family and growing up on a potato farm in northern Canada. On the night before our date at one of the Dallas Starbucks, the Star called me to let me know he'd just gotten back from Borders. He shared that he'd bought two books -- a mystery and a Western, and asked if I'd read them. I hadn't, but it was sweet and he was trying.

Starbucks isn't the most private of all date places when you're meeting a Dallas Star there. I arrived before he did. When he got there several people turned, recognized and stared at him, with his taped fingers and scarred up chin, as he made his way over to me. He really was a hockey player, an enforcer.

We talked about some books and tried to have normal date even though people kept sneaking peeks or attempted to take nonchalant walks by our table. Our date took place a while ago -- during the 2005 NHL lockout. When we started to talk about our jobs, the Star mentioned he'd already lost $500,000 that year and it was only February. Despite the fame and fortune, which many girls would jump at, I realized the Star and I didn't have much in common -- we couldn't even have a regular old coffee date without an audience. On the plus side, it only took me one Starbucks cup of coffee to figure it out.

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