I’ve been on several dates since my last dating post. None of them was particularly special. There was the guy who looked like a turtle but who was really nice. There was also the guy who cringed every time I swore. I don’t have the cleanest mouth, but I do generally possess tact.
At a certain point, I just gave up. When the date started to go poorly, I began dropping the f-bomb to see him cringe. I wonder why he didn’t call…
But last night’s date was with a new man. A persistent man. A man about whom I was reticent because he had kids. It’s not that I don’t like kids. In fact, I love children. I paid for a trip to Europe on babysitting money. I have been vomited and shat upon in the name of new bookshelves. I have squealed when I saw baby socks. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to be someone’s parent. That requires a certain “togetherness” and financial security I’m not sure I have. Sometimes I eat chips for dinner. Or spaghetti sauce. Out of the jar.
And then there’s my liberal guilt. I can barely feed myself, how will I feed a kid? What about the planet’s resources? Is it fair to bring another child into the world? What of impending nuclear war? THE APOCALYPSE!! You see, I have stress and worries. You don’t really want me passing that on to a kid, do you?
But I digress.
I was worried. Moreover, he had horrible pictures on his dating profile. I’ve met with this problem before. Men choose pictures of themselves wearing horrible hats or making faces that even a mother can’t love. They find it amusing. I have one lovely friend who even posted pictures of himself on his dating profile with Sharpie-illustrated tattoos. For shame, sir. Don’t worry, he doesn’t even know this blog exists.
Date guy, we’ll call him Steve, was no exception. Steve had horrible pictures. But he was a moderately successful children’s book author (I cyberstalked him. I feel in the modern age you would be remiss to go on a date with someone without at least googling them). His blog was funny. His rants on Superman and the importance of good grammar in schools seemed promising. And his e-mail messages, though not terribly lengthy, were entertaining and seemed well-intentioned.
So, we arranged to meet. I was nervous that he had kids, but I’ve been trying this new thing where I attempt not to judge before I meet up with someone because I could be cutting off my options and no one really wants to die alone and probably naked because your cats were very sad when you didn’t get up to feed them and then in their depressed hunger consumed the clothes from your body purring in cold comfort. You see? This is why I’m single.
I arrived at the agreed upon location five minutes early. I looked around. No sign of Steve. Some 22-year-old who paid for his tab with travelers checks and suspiciously guarded his weathered blackberry checked me out. I text Steve. Steve notes that he is 20 minutes away because he took the light-rail and showering was time-consuming. He actually tells me that showering was time-consuming.
Rule 1: Do not be late to a date in general, but especially don’t be late to a first date. If you must be late, do not be more than 10 minutes late and prepare to grovel.
Steve shows up, and he looks like hell. He’s wearing a shirt that is decidedly middle-aged, ugly sneakers, and ripped jeans. He is 36. He does, however, appear to be clean, so I decide to be open-minded.
And then Steve speaks.
The first thing he tells me is how he is broke.
Rule 2: Don’t tell your date about your money woes. But especially don’t tell your date about your money woes in the first 10 minutes of the date.
He has started looking for holiday work, and as such he spent most of the day at a training session for the pipe fitters union. No shit. I nearly choked on my Shirley Temple. He’s telling me that they were putting him on the fast track for management because he has an MBA, but that he could earn $140K as a pipe fitter. Does he know anything about pipe fitting? Not really, but that’s ok because that’s what training is for.
Not to worry, though, because if this doesn’t work out, his mom will be able to find him more part-time work…as a stage hand for the shows that she helps run for a local theater.
Rule 3: Don’t tell your date that when all else fails, your mom bails you out–even if it is true. Just leave that out.
We are now 25 minutes into the date. I know this because I have checked my phone’s clock approximately 6,000 times. I have also received a text message from a gamer friend who knows I’m on a date (see, I have gamer friends. More reasons I’m single) and who is making Indiana Jones references (Bad dates…ha). I’m keeping a straight face. Barely. I’m not responding to the text message because I think it’s bad manners to text while on a date. Though I nearly break this rule when he answers a text message from his ex-wife.
Rule 4: Don’t answer text messages on dates. More importantly, don’t tell your date that it is your ex-wife texting you about a picture she found on your dating profile of you two having sex.
That’s right. He had a picture of her legs over his shoulders on one of his dating profiles. She found it and was shocked. He responded to her, while snickering. I check the time on my phone again. It has now been 45 minutes. I check my e-mail. He’s still texting. I consider for a minute of whom his mannerisms remind me. I can’t quite place it. I move on. I suddenly realize that he reminds me of an unfortunately unattractive friend with a tiny mouth. I of course can’t shake the image of tiny-mouth talking. His lips sticking together as he attempts to enunciate. Steve does not have a tiny mouth, but that is now of no importance.
He stops texting. The conversation progresses to more normal things. We talk about his kids. We talk about the publishing industry, we talk about our friends. He has not asked me a single question.
Rule 5: At least pretend to be interested. Ask your date questions. Make her feel like part of the conversation.
I’m asking all the questions. I’m driving the conversation. So I stop talking. I wait. And I wait another minute. Then it happens. He tells me a story about his friend, the 35-year-old virgin. I am pretty sure that I am now part of a Judd Apatow movie. So his 35-year-old friend is now dating a stripper….a virgin stripper. They met at the strip club. He was a regular customer. She is saving sex until marriage. He is smitten. Then one night she decides they should have sex, and invite another stripper to join them. So, he went from virgin to threesome.
And Steve is jealous. He tells me he is jealous. He waggles his eyebrows.
Rule 6: I’m sure there’s a rule in that story somewhere, but honestly, I was so dumbfounded at this date that I was just plotting escape routes.
I tell him I need to leave. I tell him it’s a long drive home. It is another 45 minutes before we manage to get the bill paid. He makes a joke that the stripper story might not have been the best material for a first date. He intimates at a second date. I consider spontaneously vomiting to get out of the restaurant.
I drive Steve to the light-rail stop. I tell him to have a good night. He asks if I want to see him again. I say “I haven’t decided yet.” I chickened out, but what was I supposed to say? He was in my car. I needed him to leave. I needed to drive home. I needed wine.
And so it ended. I have not heard from Steve. Though it’s only been 12 hours. I feel bad that he is lonely. But I don’t need a man. At least not that badly.