Posts tagged ‘Dating’
Work Boyfriend 1.0 and I were having a phone conversation the other day where he brought up again, as he does every few months or so, the question of whether or not I should date. The answer to this question is always no. Sometimes I think the answer should be yes, but then I am wrong. The answer is no.
The last time someone talked me into accepting a date, the outcome was predictably tragic. I met this guy in a bar called Canary Hut or Canary Roost. I don’t know. Canary Something. I was out with Katina. This is obviously when I was still drinking, but I wasn’t drunk at the time. It was December of 2008, and I hadn’t been on a date in five years, if you count my relationship with The Rat Bastard as dating.
Wisely, after The Rat Bastard, I had made the conscious decision not to ever accept another date again. I am simply not meant to date. It works out for other humans, but it never works out for me. What is the definition of insanity? Repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome.
The outcome of me dating is always disappointment. Sometimes it’s mild disappointment, and at other times it’s profound disappointment but what all these experiences have in common is disappointment. I was an English major, and I began to sense a theme. At some point, I decided that I didn’t want to be insane anymore.
So, this guy at the Canary Something was supposedly instantly attracted to me. Why I couldn’t say. I had not taken any special care with my appearance, and I was at least one hundred pounds overweight at the time. Now the way he approaches me is original, because he doesn’t.
He sends his sister and her husband over to ask for him, like he’s in junior high and wants to ask me to go with him. The sister and her husband launch an all out campaign to convince me that I want to go out with her brother. They point him out at the bar. He waves.
He’s nothing special, but he’s also not repulsive. Supposedly, he is painfully shy. This isn’t surprising to me. Shy guys love me. I swear to God if there is a shy guy within a twenty-mile radius of me, he will eventually gravitate towards me even if he isn’t actually interested in me in that way. I attract them like magnets. The kind of guys who major in obscure and cerebral things that require them to interact with things or numbers and not humans – IT guys and math majors and engineers and architects – they love me for some inexplicable reason.
Now I finally meet this guy after his entire family has talked him up to me. And that’s no exaggeration. This is the family that parties together. Mom, stepdad, brother, sister, brother-in-law. He’s awkward, and, yep, shy. He also strikes me as not particularly bright. As in, he has the IQ of a root vegetable. Actually, that might be an insult to some of the more intelligent root vegetables, like the rutabaga and the jicama, for instance.
His whole family made a big point out of telling me how brilliant he is. Oh, he’s so smart! It doesn’t seem like it at first, but just wait until you get to know him. Hmmph. I am not so convinced. Mr. Brilliant is several years younger than me, in his late twenties, hasn’t started let alone finished college, and is currently working two or three delivery jobs.
But he’s nice enough. He seems to like me. My girlfriend is encouraging me to do this. I should go out. It’s healthy. I should make an effort. What could it hurt? Free dinner, yada, yada. And I recognize the logic in this argument. How am I going to find someone if I don’t go out? Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone? If nothing else, then it will be good practice.
Monday morning I describe the entire scenario to Work Boyfriend 1.0.
“So, you’re saying that you’re going out with this guy on a mercy date?”
“Well, if you’re going to put it that way, um, yeah, I guess.”
“Oh, my God. Don’t do us any favors.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? I thought you said that I should date.”
“You should. Someone you really like.”
“But no one I really like has asked me out. They aren’t exactly lining up outside my door. These are my choices: stay home or go out on the mercy date.”
A couple nights go by. Mr. Brilliant calls me. He hasn’t gotten any smarter. It’s late, and I’m already in for the night, and he wants me to meet him somewhere right now. Now I’m not a strict adherent to The Rules, but I’m not running like a puppy dog because this guy has called. I don’t play games. I tell him that I’d like to make plans in advance. I don’t tell him why this is, but the reason has to do with the fact that I’d like to think that a guy actually went to the effort and trouble of planning something in advance. I’d like to think that he cared enough to do that for me.
He says he’d like to meet me somewhere for dinner the next night. Tomorrow night. No place yet. No plans. But I figure this is a compromise because I at least have advance warning. I can make an effort and try to look nice, maybe wear some of that Chanel perfume that I never have a reason to wear. Tomorrow night. He’ll call. Cool.
So, tomorrow night comes. I make an effort and shower and dress nice and get ready to fly out the door to wherever it is that he’s decided that we’re going to meet. But the phone doesn’t ring. Strangely, the phone doesn’t ring all evening.
The phone does ring the next day, after he’s stood me up. It rings several times while I’m at work, and once I actually hang up on him without saying a word. Work Boyfriend 1.0 is appalled.
“You aren’t even going to give this guy a chance?”
“You didn’t even want me to go out with him in the first place, and he stood me up.”
“You should at least listen to what he has to say.”
“Unless he’s in a hospital, I really don’t want to hear anything he has to say. And nope, not even then. They have phones in hospitals. You want to know why I don’t date? This. This right here is why I don’t date. It’s a perfect example.”
First, I’m wrong for having a no dating policy. It’s so isolated and closed off, and I’ll never meet someone that way. Then someone asks me out, and I agree to give him a shot, and I’m a horrible person for agreeing to go on the mercy date. Then he stands me up, and I’m a horrible person for not giving him a second chance. At what point is he the horrible person in this scenario? After he takes me out to an old deserted road and rapes me and leaves me for dead? Or will I still be the horrible person even then?
Mr. Brilliant calls again that night. His excuse is that he had to work. He works three jobs, after all, and one of the jobs asked him to work some overtime.
I tell him that I can appreciate that he has to work three jobs, and that if you have to work you have to work. I still would have appreciated a courtesy call.
His phone was dead or something. He’s sorry. Do I want to go out right now and meet him and his friends for a drink? No, I do not. I tell him he had his chance, and he blew it, and I don’t want to talk to him again. For someone who was supposedly so enamored of me, he doesn’t seem very broken hearted about it.
And THAT is why I don’t date. I suppose my standards are too high. Once, just once I’d like for the guy that I like to ask me out and not have to settle for letting the guy I’m not so crazy about try to convince me otherwise. But I give in on that. Every time. Because if I don’t, then I’ll be alone. Then I compromise on the fact that I’d like to be courted. Then I compromise on the fact that I’d like to be treated with common courtesy and decency. And before I know it, I’m in another relationship with another Rat Bastard all because I’m scared of (Gulp!) being alone.
I won’t do it. I’m tired of doing it. And I’d rather be alone, thank you. If that makes me bitter or “judgemental”, then I guess I’m okay with that.
I think I’ve previously mentioned my penchant for stalking. I love “cyberstalking,” and I first became the accidental stalker when I was in ninth grade, and my parents moved me to an Oklahoma City suburb that one of my junior high classmates had moved to the year before. There I was in his band class. He didn’t seem thrilled.
I love coincidences like that. The second time I became an accidental stalker I was in my mid to late twenties. This man was the man that got away. Sigh with me now.
His fake name is Mark Foster. Naturally, he was not attracted to me at all. If he had been, then I wouldn’t have been interested. My level of attraction to a man is curved on an exact correlation with his level of indifference to me. I have a girlfriend who describes it as Groucho Syndrome, after a quote by Groucho Marx, in which he said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
I first met this guy at my workplace. At that time in my career, I was working for a publicly traded company in Dallas, in their corporate offices, as an administrator for their 401(k) plan. Mark Foster was an auditor for Ernst & Young. They would send an army of these guys to go over quarterly for our financials before an SEC filing or the publication of the Annual Report.
Mark was the only one of the auditors who didn’t go out to lunch every day with the battalion of suits. He would join us in the break room and eat homemade leftover spaghetti. He was clever, and he had a really great dry sense of humor. Something would come out of his mouth, with that completely deadpan face, and I would laugh a week later.
He used to take public transportation and ride his bike to work, and he was training to compete in some Iron Man Triathlon. He was totally adorable with this full head of wavy blond hair and wire rimmed John Lennon spectacles.
Now it would be inaccurate to say that he didn’t like me. We eventually became good friends, but more the sort of friends who hang out in groups. I am sure that he was won over by my wit, ‘cause it sure as hell wasn’t by my looks. I was still losing weight from my first adult porker fest. I probably easily gained one hundred pounds total the first year I lived on my own. I lost it slowly, and when he met me I was about halfway there.
I am convinced that I won him over with two lines. The first was a reference to E&Y’s staid dress code.
“Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes.” He looked scared.
“Do they really make you all shop for your clothes at the same department store?”
“Yeah, I didn’t really care which. I can see now, of course, that there might be advantages to marrying John Denver.”
We spent a lot of time together at work that year because he was the one they sent to audit our 401(k) plan. No one likes auditing retirement plans. It’s tedious and detail oriented and boring work involving a bunch of tax laws that you couldn’t possibly know unless you dealt with them on a daily basis. I’m sure Mark didn’t want to do the work.
But for me, ‘cause of my little crush, it was great fun. I learned a lot about accounting and finance from him, and he learned a lot about 401(k) plans from me. Because no one wants to do retirement plans you never get the same person two years in a row. You always get the kid who’s wet behind the ears, and after that year I didn’t see Mark again at work.
Fast forward about a year or maybe a little less. I’ve lost all the weight now, and I’m skinny. I’ve decided to get together with a couple of other single girlfriends and find a church home that we can all agree on. We visit churches on a weekly basis until we can decide on one that we all want to call home. Then we take turns cooking lunch afterward at one of our homes.
We found a non-denominational Bible church in North Dallas that we all liked. We had been there about three Sundays. We were all in agreement that this was where we were going to stay. They had a young singles class that was perfect for people our age, and one of our little group was dating the singles minister there. The singles minister’s name was Buddy.
One day after Sunday school, I’m seeing someone very familiar looking from behind. We usually took turns making and serving breakfast. One week you’d make muffins, and the next someone else would bring a Crock Pot full of breakfast casserole. I think that’s Mark, hovered over the bagels. Really. What are the odds? Do you know how big Dallas is? Well, they probably aren’t as long as I’d like to think they were because it wasn’t a sign that the stars were lining up for us to be together.
That is how Mark and I came to really be friends and hang out together socially. During this time he apparently was reconciling with a former fiancée of which I had no knowledge and was saving and planning to go to graduate school for his MBA at UT. The height of our communion together consisted of him playing and singing to The Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine” while I sang along in perfect harmony, and him pulling me over a rock wall, supporting my entire weight with one hand. I am sure I looked astonished, always the fat girl on the inside, and he laughed.
During this time, my dating life was pretty predictably one date here, a couple dates there. I made up little stories and jokes about it and shared them with my friends. For a while I was seeing an intern at Parkland that I met through a church function until he totally blew me off on Valentine’s Day. His name was also Mark, a fact that caused my friends to ask, during conversation, “Mark Mark? Or Dr. Mark?”
When Mark Foster quit his job, bought a Land Rover, and sold most of his material possessions to finance graduate school, I was secretly forlorn. Well, maybe not so secretly. The day he left, Buddy the singles minister said he had a song he needed to play for me, and it was David Wilcox’s acoustic cover of John Waite’s, “Missing You.” If you haven’t already heard it, then you should go to the internet now and play it. I know you’ve heard the eighties overproduced version, but seriously, you should listen:
Mark and I emailed back and forth, not much, but occasionally. I always, always initiated it, because I am slow to learn lessons like that you should never, ever pursue a man and expect a happy ending out of it. He broke up with the fiancée. A girlfriend of mine who had seen them together came back and reported, like a spy, that they looked to have a contentious relationship, and that for two people who were about to get married, they hardly touched.
Of course, she wasn’t nearly as cute as me. When I would show photos of Mark to friends of mine who hadn’t met him, they would always respond, “The nerdy looking one? You’re sure he’s not interested in you? Have you looked in a mirror lately?”
The company I worked for in Dallas sent me to do retirement plan seminars at their plants in Austin and Buda, and when I knew I was going to be making the trip, I emailed Mark and asked him if he wanted to meet me for a drink. He did! We met at Matt’s El Rancho for a margarita, and he brought a statistics book. He beat me there and was studying while he was waiting for me. He talked about his pain and disappointment about the break up, and he let me amuse him with my serial dating anecdotes.
When I told him Dr. Mark completely blew me off on Valentine’s Day because he later said that he wasn’t feeling well, Mark said, “Was he in a coma?”
This is where our story starts to take on a Felicity Porteresque quality. About a year later, I am unhappy and bored at my retirement plan job, so I start to put out feelers to look for work elsewhere. I figure that I can work for a brokerage firm or a records keeper and get my securities licenses and certifications and make a lot more money.
So, I had two interviews. One was with Fidelity Investments in Dallas, and another was with a turnkey outfit that I admired for a long time, a company in Austin. Fidelity decided to pass, but the other company wanted me.
They wined and dined me at The Shoreline Grill, interviewed me at a hotel in Dallas, agreed to pay my moving expenses and for a hotel while I looked for a place to live, and were going to pay me eight thousand dollars more in annual salary than I was currently making. Stalking Mark was a no brainer. Someone was going to pay me to do it this time.
By this time, we’ve just passed the Y2K panic, Mark has graduated and is working for some ubiquitous dot com start up that’s financed by some ubiquitous venture capitalists. I eventually lost my fancy schmancy job, and I am now temping around town and attending a church downtown where I met this dark haired, blue eyed young man named David. David and I start seeing each other casually. I liked him, and I had fun, but that’s all it was.
The church was sponsoring some cook out thingy at Emma Long Park, and I was going with David on a date. On the spur of the moment, I decided to send Mark an email, asking him if he wants to come with us. I mention that I will be bringing a date, and that he should come and bring someone as well, and that is the last I ever hear from Mark Foster.
At the picnic, David meets the woman who will eventually become his wife. Many years later, I hear that Mark Foster moved to Houston, started his own business with a friend who lost his job in the Enron scandal, got married and had a baby boy that he named after a famous Scientologist rock star. Well, okay. You caught me. I didn’t hear anything. I googled.
Tuesday morning at approximately five o’clock in the morning I was rudely awakened first by barking dogs and then by two police officers in my courtyard looking for a fugitive who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had apparently parked his car on my front lawn in the midst of a hot pursuit. If the cops had shared that tidbit of information with me at the time I could have told them where the fugitive ran. He scaled the fence that separates my property from some other duplexes on another cul-de-sac that is, unless you use the “shortcut” that we have to keep boarding up and screwing No Trespassing signs to, several blocks’ walk away. But they didn’t ask me that.
What they did ask me was this:
Did you see a man run through here? No.
Can we search your backyard? Sure.
Is there a man hiding in there with you? Oh, good Lord, no.
Do you live alone in there, a two-bedroom duplex? No man, no kids? Yes.
What kind of dog is that? A weiner dog.
All of this was asked through my bedroom window, which was open. No lectures please. It’s not visible from the street. During the whole conversation I am worried that the policemen can view the vibrator on my nightstand with their flashlights, like this should be my biggest worry when they are obviously wondering if I might have been harboring a fugitive. I should have been waving it in their faces. Look! See? That man who parked his car in my front lawn is not my boyfriend. I haven’t gotten any since May. I promise. And what are you doing later? I like a man in a uniform.
I am used to people thinking of me as some sort of social anomaly. I am a thirty-eight year old single white woman who has never been married and has no kids and lives alone with a weiner dog in a two bedroom duplex in northeast Austin. My Mexican neighbors shake their heads in a mixture of sympathy and perplexity at my apparent unwillingness or inability to procreate. I think I’ve answered the question in previous posts about why I am childless. I have never fully answered the question of why I am still single. The short and politically correct answer, I guess, is that I never found “the one.” But why not?
Why not? It’s a good question. Other people fall in love and couple up. Why not me? (They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.) Well, the great thing about the internets and Facebook is that you can really examine this stuff at great length, complete with pictures of the men you used to date (or even just wanted to date) and pictures of their wives and kids and girlfriends and fiancées. You can congratulate yourself or beat yourself up, rehash what has already been overanalyzed like a horse that was beaten to death and then sent to the glue factory. Wake up and smell the Elmer’s.
One of my favorite exes is a guy that I dated very briefly in college. He has a real name, but we always called him by the name of a very famous cartoon animal from the funny papers. I’ll call him Marmaduke. I was no older than twenty at the time and still living with my parents, as in I had never moved out. He was older. Twenty-five or twenty-seven. I forget now. God, was I nuts about Marmaduke! Everyone was. He was just the most charismatic sort of guy. He waited tables at an oyster bar then. I think maybe he was in school to be a paramedic. Now he’s a firefighter. All my friends were crazy about him, too. All my guy friends thought he might be the coolest guy who ever lived. All my girlfriends were envious when he asked me out. I felt like I won the dating lottery. Why me, God? I have done nothing to deserve that the dating gods would smile on me so.
After about six or eight weeks of bliss, one evening I went over to Marmaduke’s and his roommate’s. We had a double date going on. His roommate was dating someone I was friendly with, and we had dinner over there and watched a movie. It was like any other evening I had spent with him in tone, and I never saw it coming. We went to his room. I think we made out a little. I remember he had the largest hands. I used to like to hold my hands against them, palms together and be amazed at how they would dwarf mine. Later I would write a poem about this, as if it were some sort of profound revelation and I was the first woman to ever do that sort of thing.
He said he had something to talk about, which should have been my first clue. Then Marmaduke said that I was a really great girl and that he liked me very much but that he had no intention of getting serious. I could feel the blood rush to my face, start to pool in my head. The whole pallor of the world changed, and I had the feeling that this was not real. That I would wake up the next day and realize that it had never happened, and it was all a bad dream. Then I would call up Marmaduke and we could go out for coffee with all our friends.
Serious? Who said anything about being serious? Not me. I was all for having fun. There had been no serious discussions, no pressure to commit. I was committed to getting that piece of paper that guaranteed that I had jumped through enough liberal arts hoops. And then he said that he had felt pressured by my friends, that they all seemed to be steering him toward our inevitable supercouple status. It made him uncomfortable. It made him feel like a heel. And for a split second I hated my friends, every last one of them. He could not be dissuaded. He could not be talked, begged or reassured out of it. Not that I would have begged, anyway. And that was that. We stopped seeing each other. C’est la vie.
That weekend was Superbowl weekend. We were both at a Superbowl party the very next night. I observed the pressure he had previously experienced myself. How are you and Marmaduke? You two look so great together. Why aren’t you sitting together? How’s that going? I dodged the questions. I left the party early and went to get some coffee with a girlfriend that I spilled the beans to. Screw it. Let Marmaduke explain to them what happened. He dumped me. That should be his responsibility. And eventually, the grapevine did inform everyone. I never had to answer any questions.
A mere week or so later I was playing pool with Marmaduke’s roommate and some of his friends. I was able to gather from the conversation that he was now living with some woman. Huh? And that’s when I found out that Marmaduke’s roommate was not really his roommate. I learned that he’d actually been living with a girlfriend at the time that I met him, a fact that I was absolutely certain had been purposely withheld. They were having problems. She had kicked him out of the house. How long ago? Exactly one day before he finally asked me out after months of flirting. And now she had crooked her little finger and he had come running to sleep on her couch.
My rage and righteous indignation were something that only the very young should be capable of experiencing. After all, there is worse villainy in the world. I think every last one of my male friends had known about the live in girlfriend and also known that I didn’t know. I was learning that men stand up for their own kind, regardless of their alliances with women.
“What? Do I have Spalding stamped on my forehead?” I bellowed at the top of my lungs.
They looked at me like I had sprouted a second head. They didn’t know what I was so angry about. He had needed someone to make him feel good about himself, someone with whom to have fun. And I was nothing if not fun. I am the original good time girl. How had this hurt me? I got several free dinners out of it, after all.
That’s pretty much the story of Marmaduke. He never did really reconcile with the girlfriend. He tried. She wouldn’t take him back. With enough time we became friends again and once we even made a botched attempt at being physically intimate with each other. I was in the habit of being way more physical with exes than I had been when I was actually dating them, as if I could not handle the simultaneous risk of both my heart and my body. One at a time, please.
We ran into each other again several years after I graduated when he was living with the woman who is now his wife and the mother of his children. We were at church, and when I showed up with some friends they purposely let me stand beside Marmaduke, on the other side of the girlfriend, who introduced herself later as “practically married” to him. Funny. I don’t see a ring. He was genuinely ecstatic to see me, surprised, gushing over how great I looked. And that really was the end of it.
Why did I tell this story to explain why I never got married? Is it because I think of Marmaduke as the one that got away? No. I have no regret about that. I tell the story only because it is typical of my dating relationships prior to the Rat Bastard except that I usually did the dumping. I may have been overly picky. I once refused to keep seeing a really cute guy that I had a terrific time with on a date, largely because he couldn’t tell the difference between Sinatra and Bobby Darrin on a recording of, “Mack the Knife.” That was really the final straw for me. A gay friend of mine said I should have given the guy another chance since the orchestral arrangement on both recordings is exactly the same.
I sometimes secretly think that men are good for nothing. But then I realize that that’s completely unfair. They are, after all, good for disappointment. They are really great at managing to make you feel like shit about yourself from about the time you start to grow hips and breasts until, I presume, the time that you get your first hot flash. Maybe longer. And it is this attitude that probably, more than anything, is why I am still single.