2nd Date With The Short Guy

I’m an idiot. Have you ever done something stupid and just felt like an idiot? I spent my Saturday night like I was nearly a decade younger than I am. I had much too much to drink. It started out like most days before a date. Eventually “I have nothing to wear” became “I guess this will do” until I tried it on and the straps of the dress kept slipping down. I tried safety pins and tying them in a knot, but it just looked silly and not cute or sexy or whatever the heck I was going for anyway. Back to my closet of misfit outfits I do a double take on a dress that I haven’t worn in nearly a decade. Maybe I’ll blame my actions later in the night on the dress. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it and it’s not too short like most of my dresses that shrunk in the wash. Maybe it’s a little faded, but the only thing I ever remember about it is that a guy once guessed my bra size to be an entire size bigger than it is, and I decided that the dress misrepresented me. But now it’s 10 minutes later than it should be before I start doing my makeup to leave in time. I can’t say I don’t look good in it, and while I don’t feel like this date deserves any extra cleavage, I figure at least I’ll be on time.

Only then I step onto the train and I swear everyone’s eyeing my chest, so I send him a text. It’s my second date exactly a month from the first time I met the short guy. “I’m on the train so I should be on time but it’s only because I didn’t spend time changing my clothes and I wore a dress that wasn’t my first choice because it’s a little more low cut than I felt like wearing, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look at my boobs any more than you would any other stranger passing by.” Before he replied, I followed up that text with, “Yes, I actually just sent you a text that says that lol.” At the next stop twenty minutes go by and the train hasn’t moved. Now I’m late. As I’m about to update my date on this turn of events they announce that a tree has fallen on the tracks and train service has been suspended. This time I call my date to work out a new plan. Eventually, a few different train rides later, I meet him off a different train stop. I don’t really believe in “signs” but I’m wondering if that tree was a message about how the rest of my night’s going to go.

We make it to the bar. It’s the bar I chose, not the bar he chose, all because I had a craving for this amazing artichoke dip they serve. We get a table and it’s at the booth I like. “Hey, maybe despite the tree falling and the rain things are looking up for your night!” he says. I open the menu and flip through but something’s wrong. It’s not the menu that I’ve been ordering from for the last few years. After a waitress explains to me they no longer serve any of my favorite dishes because of a new chef, my date changes his mind, “Or maybe not.” I tell him too many details about Clark Kent too quickly and he gets awkward, but he seems to push through it. I pressure him to tell me about the other dates he’s been on. Of course he’s been on dates, so I don’t even ask if he has been on any others when I ask this. He eventually opens up and we laugh about it. He’s telling me about how rusty he was and how he had some difficulties getting back in the dating game, but he hasn’t been seeing as wide of a variety since he met me. I tell him that this makes me nervous and we both assure each other that neither of us is looking for anything serious with the other. That martini was my first drink. It was a strong one. And without anything I liked on the menu, I definitely didn’t eat enough. One of the first stupid things I did. I’d joked with my date that he owed me a drink for my hassle on the trains and he opted to pay for everything. He hadn’t forgotten that I’d admitted to not being thrilled with him accepting my offer to pay for half on our first date. This time he didn’t let me.

I want to check out the bar he suggested, so we walk over since it’s in the area. It’s loud and not at all what we expected. But we’re there, so we get another drink and decide to people watch, harshly and sloppily making judgments about people we don’t know who can’t hear us. I’ve just gone with a glass of wine this time. It’s slightly pricey, so I’m happy with how fairly they’ve poured it, only I don’t know that I’ll regret the hefty pour later. My date paid for it since we didn’t want to open a tab and I was short on cash. I decided it would be fair for me to get the next round. For the next hour or so, we drank while we people watched people drinking. The drunk girl in the red was the worst. We tried to figure out if she knew the guy who was holding her up or not, but we decided he looked like he was going to take care of her rather than take advantage of her either way. We watched the progression of her drunkenness from her awkward dancing, to inability to stand, and eventually her making the “I’m going to be sick” face. We watched her for so long that when she passed by and accidentally stomped on my open-toed sandal I winced through the pain with this weird feeling that some kind of celebrity had stepped on my foot. Little did I know I’d be joining her in poor drinking decisions in just a couple of hours.

We left that bar because it was too loud. I was certainly drunk by now, but I knew my usual tolerance was about three drinks, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. I remember announcing that we should go into the next bar we came across no matter what it was. We headed into a bar I’d been once some years ago. It was empty and we could sit down and hear each other for a change. I opened a tab and covered our drinks. Had it been good wine, my only drink, or on top of a decent meal I would have been happy with the pour, but I don’t think any wine connoisseur would ever agree to a wine glass so full one can’t take a step without spilling some. That was my third drink which might have well have also been my fourth or maybe my fifth without a proper dinner. But we were sitting and I felt fine. Sure, I felt a little drunk, of course, but not that drunk. Even he thought we were just having some pretty regular conversation. That’s the last part I remember vividly, though. The rest of the night gets a little splotchy, but if I only write about the parts I remember instead of the parts I was filled in on, it’s not as interesting. It would almost end up with, “and then I woke up” right here. But that happens a little later.

I am pretty sure I remember a second glass of wine. Only it was that colossal glass of wine because it was somehow even more full than the first and some poured onto my hands as I made my way back to our table. That would be number four, or possibly number five or six if you count the amount of wine in the glass. Now the official fourth glass we’re both sure I had. It’s the fifth that we’re not sure if I had or not, but at this point does it really matter? Apparently I tried to tip 120% and he had to fix the receipt for me. This is where a lot of sentences now start with “apparently” because it’s what I was told happened and just a blank spot in my memory. Later, I was thrilled to find out I’d brought home my credit card. Apparently he called a cab and we took it to my place after I convinced him this was the best plan and refused all others. I remember having that conversation when I still remembered the night, but I must have become more adamant about this plan. Of course, then nothing went to plan. Apparently I fell asleep in the car. Apparently I couldn’t get the keys in my front door. And Apparently I threw up. A lot. For a while. This was probably not the “good time” I’d promised either of us would be having back at my place.

I woke up on top of my blankets, all my clothes on, with randomly sore muscles, some black and blues, and a skinned knee. “Shit,” is the first thing I say. I remember earlier in the night at the bar, I wanted to kiss him. I thought it would be fun to come back to my place after a few drinks. That didn’t happen. I don’t know what happened, I’m usually great at knowing how much I’ve had to drink and when to stop. I turn to him, he’s sleeping on my side of the bed. “How did we get here?” I ask. He starts to fill me in. It’s too early in the morning. I brush my teeth because it’s something I really need to do. Back in my bedroom I nudge him over and climb back into my bed. “You’re on my side,” I tell him while scooting him over. “Well, you lay down on that side after I finished cleaning up after you.” This is when I really start to feel like an idiot. I wasn’t that into this guy. I mean, he’s alright and everything but now he’s done something really nice that I probably wouldn’t have done for him. “Why does my knee hurt and it’s all rug-burned?” I ask him. “You tried to run back to the toilet to throw up again, but you fell on your carpet and skidded pretty hard. I tried to move you to the bathroom but you insisted on throwing up on your carpet, so I cleaned that up too.” “Aren’t you glad we didn’t go back to your place now? I point out. He laughs and agrees even though it was closer to the bar. The morning of recovery goes on and I notice more. He’s refilled my toilet paper, put on my air conditioning, brought me a bottle of water, and so on. He fixed my dress when it slipped too low. I cuddle up to him because I feel bad and grateful. The first night all I could think about was how short he was, but it’s not meaning as much to me anymore. Aside from some long term relationships I’ve been in, I don’t know anyone else who would’ve done this for me without expecting anything in return.

The morning comes and goes, but we’re still in bed. Then the afternoon comes and goes. We talk, watch movies, order food from a diner, and eventually do some things that I’d originally planned on doing the night before. I turn to him, “What did you mean last night about being rusty with dating? Why give a shit about how you’re supposed to date. I don’t do that. This is certainly not how you’re supposed to date. I sent you that text from the train, told you about someone I slept with around 10 minutes into our second date, threw up, and then hung out with you like this the entire next day. I don’t think you always have to date a certain way because I certainly don’t do it.” Around 5pm it seems decided that nearing a 24 hour long date isn’t normal enough and he heads back home. He’s hesitant because how do you say “well 15 hours was great, but 20 hours, that seems like it’s been enough” without it being weird. We text a little the next day. It’s just sort of a check-in/recap. I have to apologize and thank him once more for really going above and beyond in the nice guy department. It sort of almost makes me like him a bit, but not quite enough to develop any strong feelings, just enough to be comfortable with a third date and possibly heading to his place for a change. “Why did you drink so much? So you could tolerate me?” he asks. “No, I don’t think that’s it, I’d still see you sober…That’s as nice as my compliments get,” I tell him. I’ve been tough on him since the start and I’m still not really sure why.

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Honesty

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 Business Trip

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…

Be Wary Of Stated Height & “Roommates”

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…

Catch Up

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.

About The Ex…

I did it. Lending your favorite book to someone in the middle of your breakup is never a good idea. But, I finally did it. Four years later and I ordered a new copy. I’m onto e-books now, but I still purchased the hardcover version I’d owned. It was sort of this symbolic gesture, I thought. Acknowledging and accepting that I’ll never be getting that book back from him. We haven’t been in contact for nearly four years now, and I prefer to redirect my thoughts to something else if he ever crosses them. So, I haven’t really thought about him in quite some time. Then my phone rang the other night and I didn’t pick up…

No, it wasn’t him. It was just some kind of telemarketer, so I enter the password to my voicemail to delete the message, when I suddenly lose service on the train. My voicemail box has been nearly full for about seven years now. If I don’t delete a newly saved message that comes in, I can’t receive any new messages. I didn’t know who some of my saved messages were from anymore, but I knew there were some I didn’t want to hear. They’re messages that I wish I could add to the box at the bottom of my closet that I never open, but also don’t plan on throwing away entirely. If I hang up in the middle of checking my voicemail, the message gets moved to my saved voice messages, and the only way to delete it is to listen to all the saved messages that come before it.

I take a deep breathe. The first message is from a guy named —- But I’ve dated so many men with that name, I’m not even entirely sure who it is. I figure I’ll feel nostalgic over it at a later time and save it again. Then I start to sort through the rest of the messages, deleting some, and re-saving others. Random friends I’ve missed calls from over the years chime in with 2am drunken rambles, birthday wishes, accidental “I love you, bye” messages, and then my ex’s voice comes on. Did you know there’s such a thing as instant nausea? I imagine it’s like getting punched in the stomach, though I’ve never been hit. It’s sort of like when you see the car crash and you know you’re going to see something upsetting, but you just can’t look away. So, I listened. I made observations about our relationship from his tone and what he said in each message, sort of as an outside observer now.

Then I reached the message that must have happened right after our break-up. He was explaining why he wouldn’t be able to use the internet immediately and begged me not to delete the pictures of us on FaceBook because he liked them and wanted to save them before I did. I wasn’t feeling great by the time I got up to my most recent message. I remembered why I didn’t listen to those messages, open that box in my closest containing mementos from our relationship, and had blocked him and everyone he knew on FaceBook, four years ago. But, this time, listening to his messages, I remembered the break-up more than the relationship. There was more exhaustion than love in his voice in these messages. I was feeling like we’d never been right for each other listening to his messages, yet simultaneously it felt incredibly difficult to hear his voice. In my mind I had revisited the circumstances in which we’d broken up. Who tells someone they love them for the first time while dumping them, anyway?…

Dickless Pics

You can’t tell a guy you’ve never received a “dick pic” without that smirk appearing on his face. I went out for a drink with my coworkers the other night which turned into drinks, shots, and would-be-extremely-office-inappropriate-conversation. It wasn’t even a Friday night but it wound up being the latest we’d stayed out with each other since any of us had started at the company. This is one of those “let’s grab a happy hour drink after work” gatherings that take place a minute after 5pm, before you’ve had any time for dinner. We’re getting better and realizing we should order a pizza to our usual bar, but that thought hadn’t occurred to us yet the other night. I’m starting to like that we have a usual bar and a usual group. It’s a crappy bar. The drinks aren’t all that cheap, the glasses aren’t cleaned well, and the bathroom’s basically on the other side of the planet, but it’s growing on me. We’ve got a usual group, a usual bar, and even a usual waitress and usual booth –Isn’t that what every sitcom lover has always hoped to have?

But this night we all got a little too personal. The morning after was one at the office where not one of us could make eye contact with the other. Maybe it was the brutally honest round of “who would you do at the office?” that pushed it too far. The first drink arrived and I had my nose in my phone, fingers rapidly tapping against the screen. I threw it in my bag with a smile and announced “Sorry, it’s morning on the other side of the world.” The girls chimed in, “Well, you were talking to someone you’re into because you’re smiling.” I couldn’t deny it, but what does one make of a crush on someone you’ll likely only meet twice, briefly, in your lifetime. “Yeah but this-” I pretended to type textmessages on my phone- “is really the extent of our ‘relationship’ –I don’t even know how to react when he sends these sexy kind of pictures when he’s in bed with his shirt off and whatever. I’m over here all ‘hey uhh here I am bundled up in my winter coat.’” They giggled, “Well, you just gotta send one of those pics back!” I glance at the one guy at the table before the others arrived. He was squirming around in his seat. “We’re making him uncomfortable with our girl talk!” He laughed and took a long sip of his beer. I passed around a picture of my crush. Yeah, that’s right, I wanted them to know who *I* was capable of attracting. I actually appreciated that one girl sounded a bit surprised when she exclaimed, “wow, he’s pretty hot!” I flashed the phone at my male coworker, explaining that I didn’t want him to feel left out. He shrugged, “yep, a guy.” “Well, I was out when he sent me one picture in bed,” I continued my story, “but he asked me to send him a picture while I was at the office. So I did. I actually went in the bathroom because I didn’t want anyone to see me taking a picture of myself at my desk.” They giggled and asked if I’d taken nudes in the bathroom. I hadn’t.

The rest of the group showed up. We explained how uncomfortable we seemed to have been making our coworker when there wasn’t much testosterone around the table and they wanted to be filled in. My coworker started, “Well, if a guy sends a girl a sexy picture, how should she respond?” “Send one back!” both guys replied simultaneously. “And if they’re at work?” she continued. “Go in the bathroom” they agreed. “That’s what she did!” my coworker announced, pointing to me. Their surprised expressions were priceless as they stood up, jaw dropped open, demanding I hi-five them. I insisted I hadn’t been nude in the office bathroom, but of course they weren’t about to drop that idea. The conversation inevitably moved to the topic of dick pics, and how I never received one. “Dick pics” remained the recurring topic of the night. It circled back when a couple of the guys decided to text another coworker asking to send dick pics –from my cellphone. Luckily, I caught it before too much time passed and was able to explain the joke.

The buzz from my third glass of wine on an empty stomach was strong. Cellphone in hand, I couldn’t resist the urge to drunk-dial. I messaged my far-away-crush while the room seemed to be spinning and the chatter of dick pics hadn’t ceased. The next day he responded with a laugh. Only then had I remembered I’d messaged him before passing out in my bed. I scrolled up to reread my jumbled rant about how I’d never received a dick pic and I didn’t want one, but I did want one of him in his underwear. I thought, “aw what an innocent version of that request.” But, I’d followed it by some sort of, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” A few days passed and one morning I awoke to a new picture message. It was my far-away-crush in his underwear. Request honored! Shortly after this message I remembered my part of the deal…But, I was running late to work so I sent an “IOU” message and let it be. I’d never sent this sort of picture before with the paranoia of where it might end up, and because it had never been too difficult to arrange an in-person-meeting posed this way. If there ever was a time photos like these were appropriate, this was definitely the type of “relationship” that called for them. My mind raced- “I don’t actually have to follow through, but I kind of want to because I’ve never done that. If I’m just in my underwear it’s really not that different from a picture in my bathing suit at the beach. But it is different if I’m not at the beach. I can’t have my face or anything in my bedroom in the picture so no one will ever be able to tie it back to me. I should probably shave. What kind of underwear should I wear? What was I wearing that night I was with him? It can’t be the same or he’ll think that’s all I wear. It shouldn’t look too posed, it should look realistic, but it should look good.”

All those questions considered, I took the picture –or rather I chose the picture that came out the best- and clicked “send.” It was only minutes if not seconds, but such a simple and small action had felt like such a rush for me. I nervously awaited his reply, phone in hand. I’m now convinced guys always see your message right away, but they don’t always respond right away –unless your message is a picture of you with clothing removed. So, after this week, our messages have evolved to include occasional nearly-nude picture messages, and for the first time I’ve joined the rest of the world in becoming extremely paranoid about whose hands my cellphone falls into.