Just pay attention to the dates in these messages and reconsider not deleting messages in your inbox for this reason…
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…
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 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.
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