On my quest for love, my path has, most unfortunately, intersected with an electrifying hoard of men vying for my attention. And by ‘electrifying,’ I mean not-one-bit-electrifying. Many a man I’ve had to throw back into the dating pool so they could swim off. Preferably to some other woman who is not me.
Many a man has tried to convince me they were my knight in shining armor, all the while strategically concealing their narcissism, sociopathic tendencies, or straight up bipolar disorder. That and the one with an ex-girlfriend with borderline personality disorder who still lived with him, was on his health insurance plan, and had him 100% convinced that the only way he would ever be able to get rid of her was to sell his house and move far away. So yeah, I thought I’d seen it all. Until one day…
After months of looking in all the wrong places, I finally had a “hot” date lined up for Friday night through my online dating efforts. And I was a nervous wreck.
Even while trying to be philosophical about the whole thing, I was a basket case, mostly because there’s just always so much opportunity for awkwardness. Honestly? I’m the master of anxiety. As it turns out…with good reason.
My newest suitor and I had been emailing non-stop back and forth in the 24 hours leading up to the date and he seemed pretty great. We liked the same music, both liked going on weekend getaways to hike in Yosemite, both liked going out for nice dinners, and he had two sons (who were not toddlers…huge!). It all seemed to click so nicely.
We made a plan to meet for dinner at an upscale, classy, and not one-bit affordable restaurant. His idea. Wow, this guy must have it all figured out about how to treat a lady. Spoiler alert: He did not.
I put on a cute little skirt and top, along with my sexiest high-heeled sandals. This was of course, after I had written in my online dating profile that I’m not a height snob and don’t mind dating men who happen to be shorter than me. I’d also written that I’m perfectly happy wearing my ballet flats if the possibility exists that I might tower over a man. But let’s be honest, they’re just not nearly as cute.
So, there I was, at the restaurant, in my high heels and a cute little short skirt, showing off my best spray tan in all its glory. And he was late. Five minutes went by. Then ten minutes. I took a seat in the reception area and start incessantly watching my phone to see if he was cancelling.
Then finally, he walked in the door. Twelve minutes late. Exactly. Yes, call me shallow, I track time. On a first date, you should at the very least, be on time, if not early.
At least I was pretty sure it was him. He was considerably shorter than his profile led me to believe. And more rotund. And, maybe he hadn’t even bothered to shower? It was all so very unclear. He was wearing a tired-looking faded fleece sweatshirt with pill balls all over it, a polo shirt with the collar curling both under and upward, which seemed impossible but somehow, he managed it. He was also in jeans and grubby hiking boots. And upon giving him a very brief side hug, I discovered he had a very musky man smell. Kind of like a locker room. Which made me wonder how his fleece sweatshirt got all the pill balls all over it, since it seemed quite possible that he never washed it. And this was what he wore to a $100+ per person restaurant.
But, given that I have far-too-much patience, I let it all slide. But then I stood up and discovered that in my 4” heels that I was towering above him like a skyrise building. Being the dork that I am, I simply giggled and said, “Wow, I’m tall.”
His response, for the record, should have been something like, “Yes, you’re tall and gorgeous.” But I totally would have settled for a simple, “It doesn’t matter.” Neither comment was in the offing. Nope. No sir.
His response was an extremely snarky, “I thought you said you were going to do something about those heels.” I was shocked into submission. Do I stay? Do I go? Free meal. And a good one. Hmmm. Tolerate him? Cut and run? Go hide in the restroom and sneak out the back door? Have a friend call and feign an emergency?
I did quickly consider, should I respond with a flippant, “Wow, you’re short”? Because, if I want to insult someone, I do know how to wield an insult quite nicely. But, if my childhood taught me anything, it taught me one very important lesson…don’t be sassy, don’t be snarky, and don’t use sarcasm, or you WILL regret it.
The good girl buried deep inside me proceeded to do what I always do – mentally excuse the bad behavior. We were then escorted to a table. And that’s where it really began.
I had noticed previously in the one phone call we’d had earlier in the week that he had kind of a nasally, grating and not-just-a-little-bit irritating voice. But that’s just genetics, right? We can’t really control what the universe gives us when it comes to our voices. She says inside her head in complete denial that this date was already going to be a bust and she knew it days ago when she talked to him on the phone.
But it wasn’t just his voice that was a problem. He was also quite terrible at listening, paying attention, responding appropriately, all of it. Straight up all of it. So what did I do after that phone call? I told myself we must have had bad cell reception and he couldn’t possibly have been hearing me properly. That was, in fact, not the case at all. That behavior continued at the restaurant as I attempted to engage in small talk while deciding what to order.
I started reminiscing about the pictures he’d posted online, mostly because that had to be some other guy who was clearly about 40-lbs lighter and 10 years younger. I turned my head to the side. Nope. Same guy.
So, I’m watching him as he’s talking away and paying no attention to actually interacting WITH me, when his voice just started making me want to strangle him. Not that I’m physically violent or anything. I’d just do it all with the power of my mind, like a Jedi. I just started dying a very slow and painful death, that with the cadence of the restaurant, would likely last for at least two very-long hours.
I did everything in my power to try to engage in a pleasant conversation. Not once did he take the bait. He’d change the subject to something crazy boring and drone on and on about I don’t even know (or care) what. No banter. No laughter. Just straight up dull. How is it possible that the man who could craft the most wonderful emails be this awful? And then it dawned on me. He’s an Engineer. Having lived in the Silicon Valley for most of my adult life, I’ve wrangled many an Engineer. It never goes well. This one was a particularly ‘engineery’ type of Engineer. One who has somehow mastered the skill of writing, but actual in-person interaction? Nope. Not at all.
Suddenly I became aware that there was a very high likelihood that a waiter might swing by to ask if we wanted to order dessert, which I most certainly did NOT want to do because that could extend the date by an additional thirty minutes. No. No. No. No. NO!
So then, rather than just end the date, drive away, pretend he doesn’t exist and never respond to him again…you know like men usually do to women…I thought I’d just have the conversation right there and then. And now I know why men simply do a post-date-disappearing act. Mistake. BIG mistake.
If only I was prescient enough to see the future, which would prevent me from the hundreds of dating mistakes I was going to make so I could do a little more side-stepping. Anyway, I started to ever-so-gently explain to him that I didn’t think we were a good match for each other. And I mean GENTLY dammit.
You would think that if someone has the guts to tell you while you’re still on the date that it’s bad, you’d get the memo. He did not. He started debating my points with me. I’m telling you in person, dude. It’s BAD. Really, really, really bad. Nuclear warfare bad. If it were even a little bit ok-ish or moderately acceptable, she would have either ignored you for as long as you both shall live, or at least waited until the next day to say something via the safety of Email, after which she would block you so as not to have to read your response. Or she might have even gone out with you a few more times if the date was average or ever-so-slightly above average. It was way below average. And she is telling you that, the nicest way she knows how. She’s super-duper not into you! L I S T E N more carefully. You can’t debate this away, no matter how hard you try.
Finally, the check came, he paid the bill, and we walked out. Much to my chagrin, we headed the same direction. Of course, our cars were parked very close to each other in the very same parking lot, even though there was parking all over town. So he proceeded to walk me to my car.
And then, to my shock, he actually said, very snarkily, “I should at least get a kiss.”
Should you though? Should you?
Ugh. Angel-Devil debate in my head. Men so easily play me ALL the dang time. I gave him the world’s fastest peck and ran and hopped into my car.
It was at that moment that I realized my best friend was in a bar right down the street with her new boyfriend and I totally could have done a restaurant back-door-ditch-out and met her down the street. Always. Realize. Escape. Hatches. Too. Late.
As soon as Mr. Smelly-Man-Who-Doesn’t-Listen drove off, I hopped back out of my car and ran down the street to meet up with my girlfriend.
As I regaled her with the story of my date, all the while doing the side-eye assessment of her new boyfriend, with extreme jealousy (Neither here nor there because she would break up with him soon or he would break up with her soon…Fact. Always.) before long we were laughing so dang hard, we were wiping the tears from our faces.
And that’s when we made a mental note of our new rules for dating:
Don’t waste your time on email. Many men can write. Many men can’t have a normal conversation. Just talk on the phone. Once. They get 5 minutes for you decide if you have any interest in meeting them so set a timer. If you agree to a date, decide in the first 5 minutes if you suddenly remembered you have to give someone, somewhere…out there…gestures vaguely…a ride. Quick exit strategies matter. And always, always, always have a good friend down the street at a bar so you can do a real-time-post-mortem-tears-through-a-laughter-fest after you manage to ditch the guy.