Driving to my first, first date as a newly sober person, I was nervous—and understandably so. For one thing, I was going in stripped of the time-honored antidote to a lame first date (get drunk enough to make it not lame*).

For another, it was arguably way too early in my recovery to be dating. Prevailing 12-step wisdom dictates you wait at least one year before starting to date someone new. But there I was, meeting Benjamin, the nonprofit founder, only a tender couple of months after graduating from Willow Springs addiction treatment center, the scent of rehab-issue laundry detergent still lingering on my ironic D.A.R.E. T-shirt.

For yet another thing, the date was at a bar. And for a final thing, I was running a characteristic 35 minutes late.

"Wanna preorder a drink?" Benjamin texted me, innocent of the weight his question carried. As soon as I came to a complete stop at a traffic light,** I messaged him back to request a "Topo, plzz"*** and quickly hit "send" before I could change my mind about ordering a water.

Benjamin, who had finally plunged into my DMs to ask me out like a gentleman after several