The Two Night Minimum

Connor’s trip to Vegas was only intended to be for business only.

But you know Steinbeck wrote about the best laid plans of dice and men…

Ever wonder why the world hates us? It’s not due to our presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, or our support of Israel, or because has become our most trusted news source. Instead, it’s likely due to the fact that most major companies feel compelled to conduct important business conferences in a desert town they call America’s Playground.

You know the deal: Nothing of substance is accomplished, at least four top executives make asses of themselves, and the ones who are single who are actually able to take advantage of such situations invariably find their intra-company soulmate from another branch office. It’s as automatic as Joba Chamberlin (Google the name if you don’t get it).

So when Connor visited Sin City for the first time during his company-wide meeting for three seemingly innocuous nights, he had no idea he would meet Vanessa, a saucy, flirty, thinner version of Rachael Ray who happened to have the same exact job that he did in X Corp’s New York office.

The night that now ranks in his Top 15 happened on the final evening of the trip, where dinner table assignments were based on mixing people from different branch office locations who shared the same day-to-day responsibilities. This process would ostensibly allow them to learn from each person’s successes and failures. Of course, such corporate endeavors always fail after the first glass of whatever is consumed.

It’s Vegas.

There’s free alcohol and food.

Do you think anyone is talking about how to penetrate a C-Level contact or the best way to handle client objections when kicking back at Nine Steakhouse at the Palms?

Rhetorical question.

As fate would have it, Connor and Vanessa were seated next to each other. For guys, this is dream situation because, (A) It eliminates the awkwardness of approaching a girl they don’t know because, like being on a chairlift, she can’t go anywhere even if she wanted to, and (B) The commonalities via being able to lightheartedly complain about working for the company are already established.

So after a fat Porterhouse, some key lime pie and downing one bottle of wine each while not even speaking to anyone else at the rest of the table almost from the very start, they decided to hit Moon, a club on the rooftop of the Palms that features the most dazzling view of the strip you’ll find just about anywhere. Predictably, the wine turned into vodka tonics, which led to dancing, and eventually the inevitable PDA on a comfy couch outside. It was then back to Connor’s room for heavier-than-usual petting, which was rudely interrupted by the co-worker he was sharing a room with who simply wanted to go to sleep after a long evening himself.

Connor and Vanessa were both intrigued by what they both privately considered to be a magical evening. Dating in Hoboken and DC, after all, always consisted of the same predictable itinerary: Dinner, after dinner drink, polite thank yous, and perhaps an opportunity to do the same thing again next week.

They agreed to email each other when they got back to arrange a rendezvous in Hoboken or Adams Morgan (Washington’s version of our town) the next time they had some time available to get away, which turned out to be in two weeks. So the decision was made: Connor owned a car, so he would go to Hoboken after work on Friday and stay until Sunday.

And that two-night plan was his first mistake…

Remember what made Spring Break so amazing? Perhaps it was the euphoric nature of it all. Nothing was real. You were drunk for seven days, hardly ever slept, but somehow never felt tired. You met people, explored some possibilities, sure, but do any of you know of anyone who actually got a serious boyfriend or girlfriend out of the deal?

Since we’re adults, we no longer go to the Cancuns and Panama Citys of the world, but we have a more-than-suitable Plan B: Vegas. If not there, perhaps Chicago in the summer, San Fran in the fall or Vermont in the winter. All good. The dream is still alive.

But so many singles seem to falter when it comes to planning the weekend-after-the-incredible-first-meeting-in-another-city (seriously, someone needs to come up with a one or two word term for this). Instead of taking a step back and thinking logically about what had transpired when they met that guy or gal who was too-good-to-be-true, they forget that, like Spring Break, none of it was truly genuine. Most of the conversation was alcohol-fueled, and most of the venues visited during the night simply don’t exist where they’re from. So…to book an entire weekend with someone that you’ve never seen in the daylight or sober can place tremendous pressure on both parties when the home-and-home series begins.

For starters, there’s the question of where to sleep. Sure, she may have been more than willing to have an everything-but slumber party in Vegas, but now that’s she home, and living with a roommate, that first five minutes of unpacking can be an uncomfortable process, particularly when placing a toothbrush next to hers in the bathroom. Suddenly, this thing has gone from one fun night in another city to, well, living together for 48 hours.

And if you think a guy is going to drive 4-7 hours just to drop two bills on a hotel room, there’s some beachfront property just outside of Vegas I’d like to show you.

So here’s the deal. When visiting someone for the first time for an entire weekend, you receive:

No breaks from each other.

No beer during the day to make the situation easier. After all, you don’t want to come across as a Lohan or Dylan (the 90210 second season of college version).

Friday night started with dinner at Three A’s, where Connor and Vanessa picked up where they left off…getting toasty quickly. Unlike Vegas, however, where oxygen is pumped through the hotels to keep people awake and no clocks exist anywhere to remind anyone what time it is, Connor began to feel tired. The four-hour ride became six thanks to rush hour traffic out of Washington and on the Beltway, so by the time he arrived it was already 10:00 PM. With no second wind under their sails, they decided to go home

…And already things felt decidedly different.

If this was a normal date, a man that Vanessa had only met for the second time, then Connor wouldn’t get within 10 feet of her apartment door. But since he was visiting her, where else was he going to stay? Maybe she could ask him to sleep on the couch, but wait, the Vegas PG-13 romp had already set a higher expectation, she thought.

The conversation for this date actually covered other things besides who sucked in their respective offices or other peripheral items that she couldn’t even remember. And for the first time since meeting him, she wished she was somewhere else.

Connor felt the same way. It wasn’t as if he disliked her (or vice-versa), but the bar was set so high in Vegas that when he realized he was out with just another girl (without Nine Steakhouse or Moon Nightclub to illuminate her aura), he too felt like he was just going through the motions as well.

After they got back to the apartment at the Shipyard and were getting ready for bed, Connor wasn’t sure what to sleep in. He normally goes with boxers and nothing else, but thought better of it and put on gym shorts and a T-shirt in an effort to be polite. His head began to hurt. Too many hours in the car, too little sleep during the week, too unfamiliar a circumstance to deal with when fatigued.

They talked a bit when getting under the covers, which led to a soft, tentative 1st base session for about five minutes. This was far different than their last experience, which resembled the pouring rain make-out scene on the rowboat between McAdams and Gosling in The Notebook.

Authors note (in a standup Seinfeld voice): You ever notice how foreigners in this country always have to talk so DAMN LOUD on their cell phone and to each other while riding the trains, or any mode of public transportation for that matter? I’m on my way to Spring Lake trying to finish this column, and there are four guys that make me look like Shawn Bradley who are speaking at such an earsplitting tone that I can’t move on to my next thought. Who needs a phone, Cholo, when you could just open a window and allow your relatives south of the border to hear you anyway?

Anyway, where was I? Right…Vanessa and Connor smooched for a bit, talked about bedding for two minutes and then fell asleep almost mid-thought when the topic moved to the comfort of goose pillows. There would be no snuggling, and both experienced a few restless tussles throughout the night. Each of them, particularly Vanessa, was thinking, “Who really is this person in bed with me?”

And that’s the rub with the weekend visit that serves essentially as a second date: The whole relationship, or however one would characterize it, has suddenly fast-forwarded 6-7 dates. Not only does the stay-over occur immediately because of cost and convenience, but there is no escape hatch the next day.

Wake up, shower, breakfast, and a day’s worth of activities make it three-dates-in-one. And unless there’s a bar crawl scheduled for that day, the next 12 hours upon awakening will be the exact opposite of a night in Nevada. The Saturday-day schedule included a trip to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and, thankfully, a late lunch back in Hoboken at Elysian Café. The day ended up being more comfortable with each other than was originally forecast after they arrived home the previous evening, but it still seemed contrived, forced.

Connor still regretted not employing what his friend, Joe, had advised him to do before taking the trip up I-95. That plan was much simpler: Wait until Saturday afternoon to leave for Jersey, go to a Yankee game that night, followed by drinks around Hoboken. Having a game as a backdrop would allow for conversation, but it wouldn’t need to be perpetual to fill the silence, Joe explained. Plus, the obligation to do the touristy stuff during the day Saturday, combined with the exhaustion that would result from driving 200 miles north on a Friday after a 50-hour workweek, would be eliminated.

One night, full itinerary, gone the next day after breakfast. No fuss, no muss. It may sound trivial, but until they got to know each other better and perhaps truly wanted to pursue a long-distance relationship, this was the only and best option.

Instead, Connor and Vanessa were suffering from partner fatigue, as each hadn’t spent 40 hours straight with someone since they ended their long-term relationships five and seven months ago, respectively. They had dated other people since those disasters ended, sure, but those engagements lasted 2-4 hours, max.

They needed to get smashed, and quickly, if this visit was going to be worth giving up an entire weekend for.

The only solution in this regard was to hit Ted and Jo’s early for some relatively cheap food and a cozy atmosphere. Connor wasted no time getting Cuervo shots to kick things off, and from there the night morphed into that night back in Vegas: Ridiculous banter, observations about nothing and an intense game of thumbsies.

They stumbled back to Venessa’s pad around 1:00 AM. Her roommate was nowhere to be found. Clothes were removed quickly. Both knew where this was going. Connor, being a guy, felt that making such a journey should at least result in something positive (a single guy’s mind invariably quantifies “positive” in one way) while Vanessa felt she should let herself go in the moment, knowing that she probably wouldn’t see Connor again for awhile due to a remaining beach weekends and two weddings in September.

Connor, while turning out to not be husband material, nevertheless was still a catch from a physical perspective. Her circle of friends would never know what was about to transpire, so why not double down and go for it? That’s the benefit a weekend visitor provides…the opportunity to be morally bankrupt without damaging one’s local reputation.

The next day Connor woke up early and made Venessa breakfast while she slept. OK, he threw some bread in the toaster, spread a bit of jelly on some slices, found some fruit and poured two glasses of OJ. He then woke her up to tell her that breakfast was ready.

Vanessa walked into the kitchen wearing nothing but a Chad Pennington jersey to see what Connor had put together. The meal, she reasoned, was a microcosm of their time together: Not bad, not great, easy to make, and even easier to finish.

Connor kissed her, well, more pecked her, upon leaving the apartment. He knew he would never do this again, just like she knew she wouldn’t make the trip down to Washington. Still, as he walked down the stairs while she closed the door to the apartment, each had a mischievous smirk and more importantly, no regret.

So the next time you meet someone who lives somewhere a Hoboken cab or the PATH can’t get you to, remember three things:

1) Only go for one night

2) Keep your long-term expectations to a minimum

3) Bring a love glove or Ortho Tri-Cyclen

Because to think otherwise therefore applies the same mentality as those who go to Vegas and expect to make money on the trip.

Sometimes enjoying the thrill, breaking even and walking away is the most one can hope for.