I’m always honest. I’m always so openly volunteering information about my life that it doesn’t come naturally for me to do anything else. But I wasn’t this time. While I was away on business my date from the previous week –the short one- checked in with me via text message. I hadn’t yet met Clark Kent and I’d been thinking even if this guy wasn’t “the one,” I’d at least be up for a second date with him to see how that went. I was going to text to him, “I was thinking about it and I decided we can hang out again when I get back,” but I read it to myself first and deleted it. What, was I that amazing I was going to allow him to spend more of his time with me? Well, maybe I am but I don’t have that big of an ego. So, I said, “I was thinking about it and I’d like to see you again when I get back.” He said we could arrange something then. I went about my week, Clark Kent came and went, and the short guy crossed my mind again. I was less excited now. Sure, there was no future with Clark Kent, but he was a nice height and not all that hard to get a date with. Clark Kent texted me at work today, just a “happy Monday” kind of text -even though there’s never anything happy to be about on a Monday. I was too busy to respond. A couple of hours later my short date checked in asking how my trip had been. I was too busy to respond to him either. Heading home from work I caught up on my text messages. First I replied to Clark Kent and then I went back to the short date. He asked how my trip had been. Immediately I thought, “Good, I hooked up with some guy” but that didn’t feel like the best response I could give to someone I was considering a second date with. I told him it went well. He asked if I’d seen anything interesting. “Yeah, some guy I met…The movie I saw with a guy I dated for the week…” but I didn’t say that either. I told him about the dinner my boss treated us to. He asked when I’d be free to tell him more. In person. I’d mention it in person if it came up. He’d probably dated someone else while I was away, and there was nothing wrong with what I’d done after just going on one date with him, but he probably didn’t want to hear about it. If he asks. If it comes up. If he’s prying to know more about my week. Then I’d say something. Until then, I’ll just have to learn how to be like most people and keep my other dates out of the conversations with my current dates. Oh but how uncomfortable hiding any thing at all feels…
The company I work for sent me on a 5+ hour plane ride to help set up our booth at a trade show. Spending a week with my boss and colleagues, I wasn’t expecting to fall into any kind of intimate settings, but I guess it never hurts to wear the nicer clothes paired with a little makeup on an average day. My coworker had warned me that the people we’re sent from the company of laborers hired to help us construct everything were often lazy and not that intelligent. I figured it would be a long day. Two guys showed up and told me they’d been assigned to help us at our booth. One seemed like he’d be pretty typical -been in the company for 35 years and no longer cared about how helpful he’d be as long as he got his paycheck. On the other hand, the other laborer must have been just starting out. He was also handsome to say the least. My eyes ran up and down his body. His upper body was pretty muscular but settled into a cute, clean-shaven face, with sweet bright blue eyes. Between his biceps that bulged under his t-shirt and square glasses against a boyish face, Clark Kent came to mind.
They got to work and I continued to unpack some boxes. Hours passed and I kept glancing at Clark Kent waiting for a moment when his collogue wasn’t by his side and my coworkers were out of earshot. But we’d already caught each other’s eyes a couple of times. He’d be on a ladder and his head would pop up over a wall and he’d smile. I’d smile back and before quickly getting back to whatever I was working on. Then I finally got my moment, while he was on the floor screwing on the legs of a table and his partner was helping us with a platform on the other side of the booth. “So, I was told I should hope the laborers we’d get assigned would be smart…” I started. He looked up at me, face full of worry like he was doing something wrong. I smiled, “I’m glad we did!” I added. He looked relieved and looked back down. “But I didn’t know we’d also be getting such an attractive one…” I continued. He might have blushed, “Well uhh thank you!” he said and asked where I was from. He lived on the same block as my hotel. We continued to chat a bit and he asked if I’d like to go to dinner some time when I was free that week. I looked back into his eyes, he did look a bit young, didn’t he…But I always had been attracted to that baby-face look and convinced I’d always been a cougar in the making. I’d also realized he had a pretty bad lisp, but luckily my ears didn’t judge as harshly as my eyes. I told him it sounded like a good plan.
More hours went by and we decided to call it a night. I had to sign the laborers out. The two of them and my colleague stood by my side while I marked things off on the paperwork sitting on the counter by their boss. He wasn’t going to ask for my number in front of his bosses, was he? Would he get in trouble if I asked for his, pretending it was work related? I didn’t find out, we had already parted ways and were walking back to the hotel without another word to him. Later that night over dinner and drinks my coworker randomly brought him up. They must have had a conversation at some point. “You know that guy who was helping us had been in the military? He hurt his foot and now he isn’t able to run anymore. He’s only-” His age sucked to hear, but at least he wasn’t underage to drink. I cleared my throat, “Did you get his number?” I asked. “No! Why would I have?!” he asked me. I shrugged, “I wouldn’t have minded having it…” A few eyebrows raised in my direction. “What, he’s legal!” I protested. They laughed it off. I guess that’s it, I thought.
Back in my hotel room I lay down exhausted, but mentally awake. He must have been only the second or third guy I’d flirted with in my lifetime. What a rush. It would have been nice to see how far things could have gone. What a missed opportunity. He was pretty cute. I guess he was too young. Although he didn’t seem that immature. It’s not like that much could’ve come of it, I’m only here a few more days. I wonder if he’s on FaceBook…I’m not usually a social-media stalker, I figured I wouldn’t find him, but I was curious to see if I could. Let’s see, I know his first name which isn’t all that popular, and I know he lives in this city. So, I did a search for those two things alone. Okay, that’s a girl, that’s not him, that’s not him, that’s not him, that’s a girl, that’s not him, that…hmm…I click the picture and instead of the floppy short hair I’d met him with that afternoon, he had buzz cut hair and no glasses. That didn’t quite rule him out, and he did have bright blue eyes. His job seemed to be in some sort of labor field, although it wasn’t the name of the company we’d hired him through. I scrolled through a few more of his pictures. His smile was the same. I scroll down the wall and see his foot in a cast, followed by other photos in military attire. This matches my coworker’s story about him. Could it have been that easy? Was that really him? I sent a message, “Hey.” If it’s not him they’ll probably just ask “Who is this?” or ignore the message. Since I didn’t friend him, the message probably won’t show up in his regular inbox and he might not even get notified about it. I close the app and stare at the ceiling a little longer. A message pops up on my phone, “Hey, what’s up?” Would a stranger respond that way to a FaceBook message from someone he didn’t know? Suddenly I have another idea and I jump up. I flip through the receipts and copies of paperwork I’d signed the laborers out on. I run my finger down the page to their timesheet and see two last names. Sure enough, one matched the name of the dude I’d FaceBook messaged. I replied and a few messages later sent my number.
When things wound down the next day I noticed a text message from Clark Kent asking how things were going and letting me know he was free. I asked him if he wanted to get something to eat and within an hour or so I was in one of my few packed changes of clothes greeting him in the lobby of my hotel. “Are you cold? My place is right over there if you’d like a jacket,” he suggested. I declined. Mostly we walked around. A lot. We passed by nice places, meat places, bars, salad places, a mall food court, and so on. Eventually I decided I really didn’t mind where we wound up so we stopped by a pretty simple place for some pasta and he paid for my dish. Again he mentioned his apartment and how he had a bottle of champagne he didn’t remember how he obtained over there. I’m not big on champagne. Next we hit a bar. I ordered a martini the way I prefer them and he got a margarita because he wanted “something with tequila.” This young he hadn’t been to too many bars and clearly had no idea about what he preferred to drink. I tried to ignore this. I told him I liked his glasses –as he’d opted for contacts that night. We talked about travel, pets, jobs, relationships, and religion. Then we talked politics. He’s planning on voting for someone who I believe is clearly a horrible choice, but I ordered another drink and he seemed to admit that he wasn’t even at all confident in his candidate, so I let it slide. I looked down at his empty drink glasses and pointed to one, “That one was your limit. You just got this one here because I got another drink. You didn’t have to do that. I know you just started going to bars, but you’ll learn that eventually.” Now I was teaching him and getting too close to when our age difference gets weird. “How old are you?” he finally let out. “I’m older than you, but I’m not in my 30’s.” I said. He apologized for asking and told me what his guess would have been. “Older, but it’s not important,” I told him. For the first time I realized how terrifying my age sounded as a number when you’re his age. I waited for him to down another drink before I randomly spat out the actual number. By that time it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.
I’m not sure how I wound up inviting him up to my hotel room…But that’s how that night ended. I hurried him out the next morning before meeting my colleagues in the hotel lobby and brushed off their, “How was your night?” questions. “How’s the show going?” he checked in later that evening. My boss had taken our team members out to dinner. I’d be free that night after eating, and there was a movie theater across the street from my hotel, so I decided to ask him to see a movie. “I wore a jacket this time in case you were cold,” he told me. I thanked him and smiled. I noticed he’d also worn his glasses that night after my comment. He’d probably make such a sweet boyfriend to some girl his age. The thought didn’t bother me or make me jealous –We lived on opposite sides of the country and I wasn’t interested in anything serious with someone his age. He needed a few more years before he planned on settling down, and even outside of that it was clear this wasn’t the perfect match. It’s really an interesting experience dating someone when you’re both aware the maximum length of the relationship won’t exceed 3 days. I actually said a lot less than I normally would have with someone who I might have had a future with and would have felt should have a better idea of who I am and what I like. I selected a children’s movie which was quite a letdown, but I rested my head on his shoulder and he put his hand on my leg. It was cute and made me feel like I was back in high school and practically innocent. I asked him if he remembered when this or that movie came out and he seemed to draw a blank. The age gap thought entered my mind again. When I was preparing to enter my twenties, he hadn’t even entered his teens yet. “You know you were __ years old when I was __?” I put out there. He sighed, “Well, I hadn’t thought of it like that before…But we’re both in our twenties now!” I nodded, “Yeah, now we’re in our twenties. It’s fine.” I ended another night with him at my hotel again. The nights weren’t that notable, and there were definitely a few things I could have taught him had we more time, but what -who- else did I have planned out there at night anyway?
The last day I hadn’t planned on seeing him. We had to break down our booth and were assigned other labor workers, but when I realized we were assigned some of the lazier ones and it was getting late I decided reaching out to Clark Kent wouldn’t hurt. I knew he lived nearby and had already finished his shift so I figured I’d mention how long the process was taking. Sure enough he offered to head over and help out. I told my coworker he was on his way and he made a face. “We’re not paying him or anything, he’s just coming by as a friend,” I said. My coworker replied, “Well maybe it’s not money you’re paying him with, but nothing’s free.” Alright, it had gotten a little weird but it wasn’t like I was just using him to help us, I did think he was cute and I’d have hung out with him either way. It got me thinking about the double standard, though. A few days earlier, one of our clients was about to step into a meeting with one of my collogues who was hoping to close a deal with him. As they headed off the guy handed me his business card and told me if I called him he’d buy me a glass of wine at the business event that evening. He was at least twice my age so I’d politely laughed it off, and although I was somewhat annoyed by his suggestion, I was afraid of messing up the sale for my company. “How dare he suggest such a thing to me when I’m so much younger than him!” I thought, only how different had it really been with my reversed situation with Clark Kent?
I spent my last night at the hotel with him again. At this point I felt the cat was out of the bag, and there was no longer any shame in stepping off the elevator at my floor with him, though my coworkers were still in the elevator. I watched him get dressed the morning of my flight, while he was running late for work. “Well, uh, it was nice meeting you,” I said. “Likewise,” he replied. “If you’re ever in my city…” I went on. “I’m sure I’ll make it there one day,” he said. A quick hug goodbye and he stepped out the hotel room door and out of my life, excluding the occasional check-in text/FaceBook message. -It’s odd how these days no one is ever really out of your life forever with social media. All the ghosts of your past relationships, all the skeletons from your closet, forever accessible in virtual form…
He looked cute, didn’t live too far, had a job, was about my age, and didn’t write anything too creepy about himself, so I tapped the “like” icon and a few text messages later our date was set. The future is now, I guess. When I asked him to name a time and a place he went with some kind of sports bar at 10pm, so I assumed this would be more about hooking up, but knowing my back-up plan was off the table, I was still planning on showing up. (A few days earlier I’d texted my hook-up buddy after a year of silence to confirm he’d met someone.) Lately most of my nights were ending by 10pm, but I felt like it would be silly to protest after I had asked him to choose, so I kept myself busy and awake. I wore my favorite jeans, a plain black tank top, and knowing he wasn’t that tall flat open-toed sandals with blue nail polish because I thought it represented myself the best. It was an hour away, so my mind raced the entire time. How would the night go? What if he wasn’t attractive? What if he was crazy? What if I said too much? What was I going to order? What if I got tired too early? Would he come all the way back to my place if things went well? Was I willing to go to his place? Would we stop for food because I’d skipped dinner?
I got off the train and it seemed like everyone was already drunk. Women wobbled down the streets in heels, groups of guys laughed trying to figure out the next bar they’d hit, and one guy slapped a girl’s ass as she got in the car with him. (She didn’t seem very upset with him about it and I pretended not to notice.) I was running pretty late. Being that this is completely unlike me, it’d already thrown me into an awkward tizzy upon meeting him. He was pacing outside and I recognized him right away, but he was shorter than I thought he’d be. I mean, I’m considered pretty short for a woman and I was trying to figure out if he was actually any taller than me. I had a second of panic where I started to walk by him as if I’d pretended not to see him yet, but then I stopped walking and turned and he seemed to recognize me too. It was the first time I’d been on a date since my shorter haircut and I had wondered if it would be an issue since my hair was longer in most of my pictures. He hugged me hello and I was awkward as fuck.
We walked into the bar and it was surprisingly completely empty, except for a couple at one of the tables. It turns out it was a holiday weekend and they were closing early, but we had about an hour until last call. My eyes darted everywhere but on him, my body language faced away from him, and I argued with myself in my head about being so superficial as to be this un-attracted to someone over their height. What, I’d always said I didn’t want someone too tall, but now I was with someone too short, so was I really so picky as to have to be with someone who fell within my perfect range (where most people did happen to be)? Here I sat, as Goldilocks. I turned to look at him. He was cute. Everything about his appearance was perfectly okay, couldn’t I let his height go? I’d known his height before meeting him hadn’t I? Sure it was 2 inches shorter than what I prefer, but I’d gone out with someone an inch under it before and it wasn’t a big deal. Had he lied about his height? Had he really said he was just a little taller than he was when he was actually this short, and didn’t think there was a possibility some might be disappointed upon meeting him? I answered his questions with a slight delay because I was in the middle of this conversation in my head. He’d asked what I’d spend that day doing, it wasn’t a difficult question, so it shouldn’t have taken me so long to respond and add, “What about you?” He’d been helping his roommate move out. When I realized what I was doing, and how odd it must have seemed that it was taking me so long to realize he’d asked a question, I turned to face him and started out with, “So where did you grow up?” I ordered my drink with extra olives. He doesn’t like olives, but he does like pickles, and I have 3 jars of pickles in my refrigerator. This is the part where you learn lots of little facts about each other that will usually eventually become utterly useless. I sort of skimped on the details of some of my best stories because the repetition of telling them on so many previous dates had kind of killed it for me. We talked about our jobs, religion, and eventually our past relationships.
I asked him when the last time was that he’d been in a relationship. He shifted his weight in his seat and said “Actually, pretty recently. It ended a month ago.” They’d been together for over 2 years and he ended things because he didn’t see a future between them. I hated that my first thought was, “How tall was she, and was height never an issue?” I asked if they’d lived together and they had. Then something clicked. Clearly I hadn’t been drinking enough. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Is the roommate you were helping move out today your girlfriend?” He paused and nervously smiled, “Ex-girlfriend. And well, to be honest, I wasn’t going to bring it up, but Tuesday. She moves out Tuesday. I’ve been on the couch.” That was different. It didn’t really bother me, but I was a little thrown. We continued the conversation, moved on, and ordered our second drink before last call. The check came with it and while he seemed to be under the impression it was automatically on him to pay when I offered to split it, he was pretty open to it and accepted my offer. I grumbled about it in my head for a moment, but he had offered, my drinks had been more expensive and I had gotten another raise at my job not all that long ago. At some point that night I told him that I’d deducted some points from him for that. “But you offered!” he protested. “I know, But I was hoping you’d refuse. I just offer to seem nice, like I don’t actually care. I don’t usually, except the first couple of dates,” I admitted. He started to defend himself, “See, I never know, because sometimes-” I cut him off, “I know, I know, some girls want the independence and I know I want things to be equal and all that too but I guess I just like to know someone would be willing to pay for me sometimes early on.” At some point I also told him that he was shorter than I thought he’d be. I forget how mean my bluntness can sound sometimes. But I also told him that I wasn’t sure of what to make of the situation because he was cute otherwise. He said he might have rounded up on his height. Clearly. And he was clearly aware of his height.
A group of people had walked in and were excited to find out they were being allowed one drink before the bar closed. My date got up to use the restroom. The girl sitting on my right asked the bartender what the age of the crowd that’s usually there was and then she turned to me and asked if I’d been there before. I asked her to guess my age. She shaved 5 years off my age. I smiled, thanked her, and revealed my real age. Then a guy appeared on my left in the seat my date had been in. “So how’s your date going?” he asked. “Um, alright. Have you been listening the entire time?” I replied. He told me, “He better take you somewhere nicer than this place after this.” I kind of couldn’t believe this was happening. “Well, I asked him if we could get some cheap pizza after this, so I think we’re going to do that because that’s what I requested.” He laughed, “Cheap pizza alright, right on.” He asked how we met and I told him it was through an app. “You actually met someone through there?!” It was only the second or third person I’d met through that one in particular. “Well, listen, if you don’t like how tonight’s going, why don’t you let me know,” He held up his phone to me with the “enter a new contact” screen open. “That’s not nice! I can’t do that!” I said. Granted it wasn’t helping his case that while clearly taller, he wasn’t very attractive. My date returned. “Hey bro, what’s up?” He introduced himself to my date, but I don’t remember his name. They shook hands. It must have been awkward for both of them. “Let’s get some pizza” I said and that ended there as we headed out.
He sat across from me as I hungrily shoveled two slices of pizza into my mouth. At this point I mostly only remember our discussion about how he enjoys eating meat more than salads, and we seemed to be in agreement about a few other things. After that we walked. I told him we were headed towards my place, or at least the best train to take the hour ride back. He was pretty hesitant about it. The walk alone would have been 30 or 40 minutes and I guess he wasn’t really the walking type. It must have been 1 or 2 in the morning by then. I dragged him along a bit further. “So what’s with asking me to meet you at 10pm?” I asked, “I figured this must be some sort of hook up plan more than anything else. When’s the last time you slept with someone?” I seemed to have caught him off guard and he asked if his answer made a difference in anything. He said it was recent. “I get it,” I said, “You and your girlfriend broke up a month ago, and you joined this app. You’re not exactly looking for something serious because you just got out of this long term relationship, and you slept with someone, what a week ago?” He laughed, “It actually was a week ago.” Continuing to guess right, I added, “And she was the first since your ex.” He nodded, “So what about you, how long has it been?” I told him how many months. “Ah, that’s why you’re leading me towards your place.” I laughed, “Not exactly, I haven’t made up my mind about that yet.” He wasn’t too keen on this long walk in the middle of the night I had in mind, so he said if I was inviting him to my place, he’d get us a cab.
Back at my place, I wasn’t impressed with him and he knew it, but all too late. Then it just got kind of awkward. Of course I let him spend the night, it was around 4am at that point, but when he wanted to make up for things the next morning, I just wasn’t up for it. I got lazy about sending him home, though. We stayed in my bed and talked for a while until the morning had turned to the afternoon. Maybe this was actually when we’d had that conversation about who paid for the drinks. “I lost points?” he asked. I explained where I’d deducted points from his score. There are no actual numbers, of course. “It’s like when you go to the carnival and you get tickets based on how well you play the games. You get to trade the tickets in for prizes. Right now you probably had enough for a couple of stickers and an eraser, but you just got the Play Station 2 and giant teddy bear.” I told him I was going away on business and wouldn’t be free for two weeks –which was true. “So, can I see you again when you’re back?” he asked. The idea didn’t really excite me, but then again what else –who else- was I doing at this point? “Maybe,” I answered. “I know how this goes, you know. You say ‘maybe’ now, then we don’t talk for two weeks, and then when I text you after that you say you’re busy and we never see each other again.” Okay, that had been one plan I had in my mind already. I told him we could text and discuss it when I got back. When he got dressed all I could think about was his height again. I thought he should’ve worn a shorter shirt, or maybe if he would just tuck it in…The t-shirt dragged over his pants, swallowing most of his body, and seemed to make him appear even shorter. “I’m going to hurt his feelings, I know it,” I thought. He lingered around, he wanted to kiss me goodbye again, but I was already opening the front door.
I got the “I had a good time” text from him a day or two later and I responded. Another two days passed and I checked in again. I mentioned that I had put my air conditioner in. “So it will be cooler next time I come over?” he texted. “Is that nonchalantly ‘Will you be inviting me over again’?” I replied. “Well given that you are texting me I know I’ll be seeing you again. Though now that my roommate has moved out it might not be at your place.” How forward of him. “Well, you wouldn’t be the only person I texted who I have only met once that I still text, but until the train by you stops skipping my stop, I doubt I’m heading that way too soon,” I texted. “It’s good the other train isn’t far from me either then. How about we hang out tomorrow and then it’s up to you if you want to go to work from here the next day or head home that night,” he persisted. “Too many reasons why I’m not up for that, but we can re-discuss hanging out when I get back,” I replied. “Sounds ok other than re-discussing,” my phone buzzed once again and that’s where this story hangs for two weeks…
I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but never got around to editing it and therefore never shared it…Well, here it is, better up and unedited than never caught up at all:
“When are we meeting up?” the date I wasn’t attracted to texted me. I spent a couple of hours thinking about what to say. Usually I tell them I’m busy until they stop asking. I couldn’t just go ghost on him. It would be worse than turning him down. But does anyone really enjoy rejecting someone who didn’t really wrong them in any way? I know how shitty rejection can make me feel no matter who it comes from, but even more so when it’s someone I have any interest in. I decided the least information I gave the better. Hopefully he wouldn’t ask. We’d only met once, neither of us had vested that much time into anything, it was perfectly acceptable to turn him down, except it always ruins my day when I do it. I went with four words- “Sorry, I lost interest.” It was true. It didn’t specify that I’d lost interest in him or in seeing him or in the suggestion of hooking up with him or in dating in general. But he’d still get it. After a few hours he replied “No prob! All the best!” in two texts. And that was it. It was easier than I thought and I felt good about not continuing to lead him on or string him along. I was also happy I felt confident in my decision.
I probably felt crappy about getting a message from someone I didn’t have interest in when they had interest in me because I still haven’t heard back from my Faraway Crush. This is actually a private note I wrote the other night, but I decided to share it here because I thought maybe others could relate: “Thinking about the way I don’t talk to guys who have crushes on me, I feel it’s similar to how —– isn’t talking to me now, and I have been pretending I don’t care, but I can’t seem to stop myself from liking him and I really wish I could because I feel like he doesn’t deserve to be in my thoughts because he doesn’t think about me, but since I can’t stop myself from liking him, I still feel bad that he doesn’t think about me or like me and I miss him.”
How long is one supposed to wait before sending a follow-up “Hey, what’s up?” message after the last messages were ignored? It’s been a few months. Originally I figured he’d message me at some point. Maybe there’s still a chance he will. I don’t even care about what the reason is that he hasn’t been speaking to me, as long as I don’t know what it is. I recently tried to put myself back on his radar by “liking” some of his FaceBook posts every now and then. That failed. I think I might no longer care how it may appear if I try to start a conversation with him again, but I also don’t want to further push him away, or feel even crappier if that message goes ignored too. It’s about timing, if I message him at a good time he might respond and we can resume occasionally chatting, but if I message him at a bad time and it goes ignored, there’s no way I can casually try again in a few weeks, I’ll have blown it. I feel really silly about the whole thing. About thinking about it this much. About not dropping it by now. But no one else has piqued my interest these last few months. I’ve been trying to date around and so on, but I have yet to find a new distraction. And I can’t drop it because maybe he really is still coming to visit in September and I’d really like that. So yeah, I’m posting this. Just so you know I have a silly/pathetic/whiny/occasionally-obsessed/vulnerable side to my mind too.
He’s an aspiring screenwriter, really. I guess he’s written some and he works now, but he’s not really a screenwriter. He did look like a screenwriter. His hair was floppy and he was kind of short. Maybe he just kind of looked like the one other screenwriter I’d met. He hadn’t shaved, but he had in some of his other pictures, so I was hopeful. I was a minute early and he was over a half hour late! There were delays on the train, he apologized via textmessages and got a cab to be faster, so I tried to hide how annoyed I was. I didn’t that well; I was just kind of quiet and avoiding eye contact when he said “Yeah, my bad” a few times upon meeting me. I think he did feel bad about it, but I’d also still been standing in the cold outside of a restaurant for 40 minutes, not really wanting to pay for an extra drink before he arrived. It was a small restaurant and there wasn’t really anywhere to sit and wait inside. The thing was, it wasn’t even just train delays. He hadn’t checked the train schedule, hadn’t taken the closest train, and had missed his stop. Some of his lateness could have been prevented. I started to wonder if he’d made a reservation. He hadn’t. We waited to be seated. It wasn’t a long wait, but again I felt like he was unprepared. I was sort of caught off guard and impressed that the date from last weekend had made a reservation. I did like how prepared he had been. I looked around the restaurant and saw better looking people I wished I was with instead. Maybe they weren’t even better dates, but my date’s slightly grungy look wasn’t doing it for me. It’s been a while since I’d been with someone more than just “okay” on the attractive scale. I know looks aren’t everything, but after a while one starts to wonder if there’s just some league they’re out of.
We talked about work. I talked about my job a lot. He talked about his job. We talked about drug experiences a little and then it was over. That was it. Less than two hours together. He lived pretty far, too. He didn’t offer to pay. He automatically assumed we’d split it. We did split it. I pretended this was fine. But he was late, shouldn’t he have made a gesture to at least buy my drink or something? His dish was a dollar more, for the record. We walked to the train together. “You’re not taking your to-go bag from the restaurant?” he asked as we entered the train station. “Why didn’t you remind me?! Why are you reminding me now?!” I asked him. He said he figured I didn’t want it. Why would I have asked for it and then decided I didn’t want it 5 minutes later just leaving it on the table?! I barely ate my food and had been looking forward to finishing it later. I could see myself having a mini meltdown over it if we’d known each other better. But we didn’t. So, I didn’t say anything else. I just silently took away another point from him. One for being late. One for not offering to pay and one for not reminding me to take my leftover food when he saw me leave it. Three strikes you’re out? He didn’t know I was into the clean-shaven look, so I couldn’t really count that. When the train arrived I asked which way it was headed. Not my direction. He was already on it. “uhh bye” I said. He said “Nice meeting you!” as the train doors closed. And that was how it ended. I felt stupid for actually having hope this one would be better than the last one.
My train arrived shortly after. I sat down and texted my date from a few weeks ago, asking how his weekend was going. I asked what he was up to and he sort of dodged the question. Maybe he had another date. I asked him if he wanted to hang out next weekend. He said “if he’s free” he’d be up for it. I asked what determined him being free and he gave some kind of philosophical answer. I assume he’s waiting to see if a better date comes along first. Maybe it was whoever he slept with last Saturday when I’d asked that question. I looked at the textmessage the guy from last weekend had sent. It’d been a week since we spoke and I was hoping we could keep the silence going, but he had texted me earlier that afternoon, “where’d you go?” I replied then, “No where, just been busy.” Busy, yeah. “How’s the night?” he asked. “Going to sleep.” I answered. It wasn’t that far off from true. (At 1am he replied, “meh.”) Walking home I picked up my phone thinking about asking my date from a few weeks ago to come over. I decided against it and dropped my phone back in my bag. Single life is home in bed early and alone on a Saturday night after a boring date.
That’s the textmessage I sent my bestfriend with the thought of my upcoming date this weekend, and my date from last weekend. (The one I wasn’t really attracted to.) I thought about him for a moment. I didn’t want to see him again. I haven’t been in a relationship in four years. I picked up my cellphone and texted my date from a couple of weeks ago who had spent the night (not sexually.) “When are we going to hang out again?!” I asked. We chatted a bit. I opened the FaceBook conversation with my foreign crush and starred at the last three messages. The first one was from about three weeks ago. He apologized about being incognito over the last few weeks, blaming it on work keeping him busy and such. It probably wasn’t the real reason, but whatever our “relationship” was, wasn’t real either, so I really didn’t mind. At least he was apologizing and therefore still somewhat interested. The second was my response about it being cool and how I’d only been messaging him to do my best to stay in touch with someone who lived so far away. I’d been trying to ask him questions about his life to get to know him better, and because I thought he might enjoy talking about himself. The third message was a slightly drunk message from me about wanting to send him sexy pictures. I’d sent that one last week. Both of my messages were unread. I am trying to pretend I think it’s because he’s busy at work and not because he’s met someone more interesting at the moment. I’m trying to pretend the thought hasn’t crossed my mind that he can change the address the airport shuttle brings him to and that he isn’t still staying over in September.
My cellphone beeped and I grabbed it. A textmessage from my mom. I put it back down. I picked it up again and texted the date who’d slept over. I steered the conversation sexual. He was pretty reserved and not very sexual and I felt like pushing his limits, just poke him a bit. He was the one who had (not) surprised me with a low number of sexual partners in his lifetime. “When was the last time you slept with someone?” I asked. “Saturday,” He answered. “Lol easy to remember,” I answered like it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a big deal, of course. I wasn’t expecting that, though. Who could it have been? Was it one of his friends in his recent FaceBook pictures? Did he sleep with someone he didn’t know well? Had he already started getting into something serious with someone? Was it his ex? Did I care? Why did I care? I had shown zero effort to see him over the last few weeks. He’d given off the friend vibe. I’d felt awkward about the fact that he seemed like he had this crush on me and now I felt…Could I actually be feeling jealous? What did I feel jealous about? Maybe it wasn’t a desire to be with him so much as a desire to have something (someone) of my own. I switched textmessage windows to the conversation with the guy I’d decided to meet this upcoming weekend. He’s so new to the picture I haven’t mentioned him before. He was from the dating app I’d only met one person from so far. “So what are we doing this weekend, where are we going?” I locked in a time and place for Saturday night. I switched textmessage windows back and started awkwardly flirting with him. I wasn’t intentionally flirting, but rereading the messages to myself, what else was I doing? I put my phone back down. This is me being bored and craving attention. This is me missing having a significant other. This is me being tired of dating.
That title is the textmessage I sent my best friend after my date. Of course it made me feel extremely shallow, but I had to acknowledge that it was the truth. He’s the first guy I met in person from this particular app. Their matching is a bit more random than calculated. He was hot in every picture except the last one where he seemed to have gained weight and started wearing glasses. I was tempted to ask “what’s up with that last picture?” but decided it sounded too rude. I had a good feeling that was his most recent photo, but of course I had to find out in person. It was also a group shot, so I kept hoping he might be someone else in the picture anyway. Moments after arriving at the wine bar he’d picked out, I had that sinking feeling, “I have a date with the last picture, not the profile picture.” Immediately I felt bad for thinking that. Of course I brushed off my disappointment on the outside and we had our date.
I sat across from him and he asked if I knew much about wine. I told him my only preference was that it was red and let him choose the bottle. The waiter coerced him into another lesser known bottle within the same price range and it arrived shortly after. I didn’t actually see what that price range was, but I have a feeling I’d have thought it was too much. My date riddled me with the typical first date interview questions. “What do your parents do?” “Have you lived there your whole life?” “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” -And so on, and so on, but as is with every date I go on we got side tracked into the unconventional topics and spoke of failed relationships, family dysfunction, suicide, and details of sexual experiences. I actually didn’t lead the conversation this time, but we stumbled into this kind of talk anyway, even well before my second glass of wine.
He sneezed loudly and a few people turned around while I cringed under the extra attention. He apologized and seemed slightly embarrassed, but I started to wonder if I’d have been as critical of the way he sneezed if I’d found him more attractive. At one point he brought up his nervousness of women dating him for his money. I wondered if he was accusing me, or just trying to let me know he did well financially. While I assured him I wasn’t there for his money, as I hadn’t really even been aware of it before this conversation, it definitely prompted me to make a mental note, “He’s probably going to pay for this!” Of course I still offered to split it at the end, but was quite satisfied with his refusal of my offer. It seemed fair enough as I’d allowed him to select our order.
I felt like he was more someone to talk at, rather than someone who really understood me. When he spoke, I wanted to care about what he had to say, but there were tiny warnings that kept turning me off and held off my interest. He seemed slightly more aggressive than I’d have preferred, challenging me too often. He was disorganized, he hadn’t shaved, he kept checking his watch, and we had very different tastes in music. He admitted to not being able to deal with stress well, having a short temper, and little patience. I’d been adding these things up while he spoke, so then I tried to think about what I did like about him. I liked that he had referred to “appetizers/snacks” as “nibbles” when asking if I was interested in any. I looked over his face. His glasses shaped his face nicely. He had nice, thick hair. His teeth were straight. But then my eyes fell back down. The top few buttons of his shirt were undone, a sparsely scattered patch of chest hair was visible, and my eyes outlined the shape of his body. I had been interested in his pictures, not in him. And who was I to bring it up? Why should he change anything for me anyway? Am I going to find someone who never ages and stays in shape forever anyway? Would my appearance never change? On the third glass of wine I started thinking his personality was outweighing his appearance, while simultaneously realizing it was only guilt from his speech about not putting so much value on appearances, followed by him complimenting me.
When he talked about some family issues my attraction to him started to return, but was quickly shot down by my realization at how fucked up that seemed. It appealed to me in this “aw, you seem more vulnerable now and maybe I can fix you” kind of way. Acknowledging that turned me off from him again. The handful of guys I’d met who I hadn’t initially been attracted to, and who later lost a lot of weight and got married, flashed through my mind. In the nearly three hours we spent together, I felt like I was really trying to make an effort to like him. “Maybe you’re picky, come on, you can find something to like about him. You can fall for this one.” But it doesn’t work like that. There was no spark. Sometimes there is. Sometimes there isn’t but it grows into something more. Sometimes there is and then it later fizzles out. There wasn’t any of that with him. Only, I hadn’t made up my mind about all that until I got home and started reflecting on the night.
Towards the end of the date he seemed to be pushing for a more casual kind of relationship. He asked me how I felt about going to his place the next weekend. Three glasses of wine in I still knew I didn’t want to invite him to my place that night, but I was still thinking maybe it wasn’t an awful idea for next weekend and I didn’t exactly turn him down. I told him I’d have to check my schedule. After all, maybe I did want something to happen with someone; I’d shaved even though I was in long sleeves and jeans. (Although, I also do that often enough in case a situation arises where I don’t want to feel like I have any of those kinds of excuses to hold myself back.) I gave him a quick hug and he kissed my cheek goodbye before we headed for our separate trains. I quickly thought about stopping at a bar to see who I’d meet on my way home, but then decided against it. I probably would have let something more happen if I’d been more physically attracted to him. Jury’s still out on if that truly makes me shallow or not. I mean, we can’t force attraction and choose what turns us on, right? I knew my schedule was open, but “let’s just go our separate ways after this” didn’t leave my lips. Unfortunately I’ll probably wind up telling him I’m busy pretty often for a while. I do that, I know. I just hope they eventually come to the conclusion on their own that there would be time for them if I wanted there to be.