On Sunday he told me I was a good writer. I’m not, or at least what he’s read that I’ve written isn’t that great, but it prompted me to reply. So, I asked him what brought him to a dating site. He spoke pretty realistically and on Monday I decided it was time to start exchanging textmessages, which was earlier than usual. He was also a bit taller and a bit younger than I usually prefer, but it didn’t seem sensible to turn down a date because “aw, you missed the cut off by a few inches and years.” (Inches as in height for those of you who read something else.) At one point he made a comment about meeting my cat. “Oh, you’re coming over?” I asked. I told him we’d have to meet elsewhere first so I could make sure that he wasn’t a weirdo, or rather that he was “good-weird” and not “bad-weird.” On Tuesday we settled on a bar at 6:30 that Saturday. On Wednesday we were still chatting, and then he stopped replying. The last thing I’d mentioned could be a deal breaker for some. I didn’t know what to make of it. Eight hours later I tried a “How was your Wednesday?” sort of test. No answer. Thursday came and went without a text. Friday was almost over. I didn’t know what to make of it. He was texting me constantly and now he’d disappeared. Plenty of people have gone ghost on me in the past, so I started to assume this is what was happening. Of course, I wasn’t used to his texting habits, so it was hard to judge and then this conversation happened after a long pause following my first message:
So, we went on the date. (After some excuse about him not responding due to a big project at work.) Honestly, I was more excited about putting myself together for a night out, than I was about meeting him. I wore my usual go-to wintertime first date outfit: My favorite perfect-fitting pair of jeans, a plain black cowl-neck blouse, and boots. I wore the boots that give me an extra couple of inches, with his height in mind. I tried to arrive on time, but still wound up 10 minutes early. I’m always early. He was two minutes late. I didn’t judge. He was kind of cute. I nervously removed my glasses when I saw him wearing his. “I don’t usually wear my glasses, they’re just for distance, and I can see better this way now.” That’s the first thing I said to him. “Okay? Should we sit?” was his reply. “It smells like licorice in here!” This was the next thing I said to him. “It does, but I like licorice, so that’s okay. Do you?” We both like licorice. He seemed really nervous and his hand was slightly shaking as he picked at the corner of the menu on the bar. “So, have you always lived here?” I asked. “No, I actually attended college at…” He unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a t-shirt with the college’s name. I raised my eyebrows, “uh, right, I see…” The bartender probably enjoyed the show. We wound up being two awkwardly quirky people dating as if neither of us had been on a date before. I guess it had been a while for me. He ordered a beer and I had a glass of their happy-hour wine. As cheap as it was, I didn’t mind that he didn’t offer to pay. We talked about religion, our families, where we grew up, trips we’d taken, and my dark humor shone through it all, but he didn’t seem to mind.
We took a walk in search for food. He stumbled over a bicycle resting near the curb. “Are you okay?” I asked. He said nothing. “Did you just trip over a bicycle?” I asked. “Yep,” he replied. “There’s a place over here…” he said while looking at his cellphone. He announced the name and continued to describe it. An image flashed through my mind of the…“intimate” moment I’d shared with someone in the bathroom. “Don’t tell him about the last time you were there,” I made a mental note. “Er…I’ve uhh…I’ve been there.” I said. “How was it?!” he asked. “Don’t tell him what you remember about that place. Don’t tell him about the bathroom encounter,” I repeated in my head. “Uh, it was okay. I saw someone’s band play there once.” He responded with an enthusiastic “Cool!” and I changed the subject. We got some wraps at a falafel place. They were pretty messy. He didn’t offer to pay, but they also weren’t that expensive. Normally this would have sent up a red flag for me, despite claiming I want everything to be equal, but my job had given me a bonus the day before, so in this moment it felt kind of rewarding to be this financially comfortable, and I wasn’t really seeking anyone to treat me to anything. Not that he knew that. “I saw that on your profile it said you prefer to date someone older than you, why is that?” I asked. “I don’t know if they can teach me something exactly, but I feel like they’re more experienced. I don’t really like women my age. Most of them aren’t looking for the same things as me and they’re kind of immature.” His leg was bouncing up and down on the bar stool. “Do you have to pee, are you nervous, or do you just do that sometimes?” I asked. He said it was just sort of a nervous tic and he was a bit nervous. I admitted to doing it occasionally as well. He asked if I wanted to head to another bar. It was still early, so I decided to let the night continue. He scrolled through bar options on his cellphone. “You know, you’re just going to find a bunch of bars, we’re never going to settle on one, and then we’re just going to walk around and find one anyway, so-” He put his phone in his pocket and said “I was just thinking that.” I pointed out that he had something stuck in his teeth and helped verbally guide him to where it was. Then we were off.
We eventually wound up going to a bar in the area at my suggestion when I realized we were close. I hadn’t been there in years. It looked different than I remembered, but it also could have been that I was sober at that point. Walking there, I asked “do you smoke?” “I have a pipe, you wanna see it? I took a picture of it!” He replied while pulling out his cellphone. I glanced down at the glass octopus tentacle-shaped pipe. “Wow, it’s octopussy,” I replied, then quickly frowned thinking, “Did I just say ‘pussy’?” This time he offered to buy me a belated birthday drink, but I declined again. We had two more drinks each. We talked about drug trips, previous relationships, the concept of marriage, being losers in school, the recent surge in crime and how he knew someone who could get me pepper spray. When I returned from a trip to the bathroom I asked him how many people he’d slept with. “That’s what you were thinking about in the bathroom?!” he responded, confused. “No, I was just wondering,” I clarified. His number was significantly less than mine. He uncomfortably stated, “I don’t really want to know your number, but I feel obligated to ask.” I gave him a range. “So, you know the exact number just like that?” I pointed out. “Yeah…” he replied hesitantly. “It is a kind of a low number,” I admitted. Suddenly he became a bit defensive about how he chooses not to just sleep with anyone. “I didn’t mean it like that! I think it’s by choice. I was just pointing out that it is less than what I usually hear from a guy,” I explained. He nodded. When it was close to midnight he said he was going to get going. “Okay. I was going to invite you to my place, but I don’t mean to hook up or anything,” I said. “Yes,” he replied, rather quickly. “Are you sure? You realize I live really far from your place, right? It’s cool if you stay over, but I’m not inviting you for anything sexual,” I warned him. “You’ve made that very clear, you’re not attracted to me, I get it. That’s okay,” he said, defeated. I shouted back in his ear over the music and chatter of the bar, “No, I mean I don’t mind you staying over because it’s late and you live far. I think you’re cute and all, but I don’t want to hook up or anything because I only just met you and I wasn’t lying earlier when I mentioned I had my period.” Because you know, this is all first date talk, right? Though I have a history of bringing dates home just for sleeping.
So, we boarded the train to my place. I ducked under two men kissing in front of an open seat, “Excuse me.” He awkwardly held a pole over the seats opposite me. I shrugged, “There was a seat.” Eventually the seat next to me became available and he joined me. We arrived at my apartment and it was quiet. It suddenly felt a bit claustrophobic to me, like there was too much attention drawn to each other, away from the distracting hustle and bustle of the bars and trains. I attempted to offer him pajama pants, but we were very different sizes. He tried to climb into my bed with his jeans until I’d repeated a third time that I really didn’t mind if he took them off to sleep. Suddenly he was nervous again. “I just want to warn you I will wake up with really bad bed head,” he turned to me. “That’s fine,” I replied confused. Did he not think my hair got messy when I slept? This was the first man I’d met who had shown worry over sleeping on his hair. He asked if he could wash his hair in the morning to fix it. I told him whatever he needed was fine, and added that I had an extra toothbrush. Suddenly I started laughing, “Not that the toothbrush is for your hair. I just meant that you could also have a toothbrush.” He joked along, “Some toothpaste as hair gel.” I started cracking up, “I just pictured you coming to tell me you’d just used up ALL of my toothpaste tomorrow morning, and I’m just liked ‘that’s…okay…’ and I just replaced the tube, too!” He laughed at the picture I’d painted.
We continued to talk and laugh and almost watched a movie but I quickly turned it off when the characters sounded exactly like a conversation I’d had with him earlier. “But, it’s us! I want to hear our story and find out what happens, let’s keep watching it!” he protested. “It’s creepy, no!” My vote won. Around 3am we got to sleep. That morning I heard him running the water in the bathtub. He came out asking me for a towel for his hair. “I just don’t want to spend the whole day looking like Ace Ventura,” he explained, pointing to his hair. I smiled, “It does look EXACTLY like his hair.” He went home shortly after that. -After he offered to cook me something (he cooks!), and give me a massage (he took Swedish Massage classes!) “Are you a hugger?” he asked. “No, not really,” I answered, and then hugged him goodbye anyway. He was all smiley like he liked me. He told me he felt a lot closer to me. I brushed it off. He was sweet, but the entire night he’d repeated the sentence, “Isn’t it nice we also have _____ in common?” Like he was pushing too hard for us to be some perfect match. I had to push back that I wasn’t looking for someone identical to me. It’s differences that compliment one another that make a good match. I don’t want to say he was “too nice.” I don’t want to say it because I know how stupid it sounds, but I felt it. I wanted him to have a tougher side to him that I just didn’t see. When I admitted a certain fantasy/fetish-thing I had, he was too freaked out by it. Okay, it’s not that common, but it’s also not that uncommon and I’ve met plenty of people who brush it off like it’s nothing, which I’d prefer. He even brought it up in a textmessage to me that afternoon, after leaving my place. It was about how he didn’t think we’d be a good match just because of what I like to picture during sexual scenarios. I have a feeling he’s one of those “let’s just make love” kind of people. That’s all nice and everything, and sometimes that’s great, but there are times when one hopes for something a little more uninhibited and so I found myself shooting some pretty sexually explicit messages to my far-away-crush shortly after my date ended. The weird part was that it felt like cheating. I’d only just met this date, my crush is thousands of miles away, and yet I couldn’t help but feel like what I was doing was wrong…Of course, it hasn’t stopped me.