If I get nothing else from this experience of marathon dating, I think I’ve earned an ‘A’ for enthusiasm. After being single for six days and on a dating site for four of those six days, I finally got up the vigor to message someone. Now, a word on that.
After my first kiss, nearly two thirds of my interactions with the opposite sex have been instigated by me. We can positively credit this to being brought up to believe that girls can do whatever boys can- and that’s great, there’s nothing wrong with that. I do believe that being so forward helped me a lot in my teen years. Raising girls in way that they never feel the need to sit around and wait on a guy (and in turn become silent, passive objects) is wonderful, but for me it turned into a pattern that I couldn’t escape. A horrible pattern of being very forward with a guy only to realize down the line that the only reason a relationship even happened was entirely due to my persistence and the guy’s inability to say what he wanted early on. I realize that these guys are partially to blame. The point of all of this is that I have decided that I am not doing any chasing anymore. No chasing, no planning- I want to make a few decisions as possible. Dude asks me out and asks, “Where would you like to go?” Answer: nowhere, because if you can’t pick a restaurant/bar/coffee shop in a city with a million choices, how do you ever make other decisions in life?
Back to real life: it’s a bright Sunday; I’m nursing a slight hangover and lying in bed compulsively trolling the dating site I joined. Despite what I had just decided about not making first moves, my friend Mary says I have to send some messages; I can’t just wait around. So I find a decent enough profile. No obnoxious quotations from terrible movies, most of the photos are either adequate or of the ‘could go either way’ category. He’s definitely wearing pleated pants in one photo, and generally looks old for 29, which is how old he claims to be.
One of the photos is of an empty apartment; a really nice looking empty apartment with trees visible through the windows and what appear to be marble countertops. Towards the end of his profile he mentions that he needs help picking furniture. Part of me thinks, “You’re 29 and can’t pick your own furniture? Grow up.” Part of me, the much louder part, thinks, “Hand me your charge card and get ready to be the envy of your neighbors!”
So I message him, short and simple, offering my expert taste. He messages back immediately, reassuring me entire faith in doing this stupid online dating thing. He says he’s thinking about buying vintage church pews instead of a couch.
I like this guy.
We message back and forth briskly for about an hour and he cuts right to the heart of things- I seem pretty great and do I want to join him for a movie tonight at the IFC? “Movie tonight at the IFC” is one of the top five phrases that make my heart beat faster. I wish I was exaggerating.
A few hours later I find myself standing in front of the IFC, 15 minutes early. It occurs to me that I look sad a desperate so I take a walk around the block. Rounding a corner, I catch a glimpse of myself in a store window and instantly recoil. In the endless back and forth of how to present myself on my first first date in almost 4 years I have made so many sartorial compromises (too low cut, too sheer, too immature, too mature) I have unwittingly left my apartment looking like the hipster version of a Hasidic woman. Black Flats, opaque black tights, knee length navy skirt, dark shirt, dark heavy cardigan- I look like the opposite of fun and flirty. I’m panicking a little, but I make it back to the theatre marquee to wait. That’s about when I realize that I never asked this guy what his name was. What if he looks nothing like his picture?!?!
Now I’m really panicking. Holding still and looking calm and casual, but losing it on the inside.
“This whole fucking thing was so stupid and pathetic,” I think to myself. “I should have never done this, it’s too soon and way too depressing. I should just become celibate and never- why is this guy in my personal space? “A hand is thrust toward me. The hand is attached to very attractive version of a photo I saw earlier that day.
“Hi, I’m Jim.”
I can’t say for certain how I returned the greeting, but I’m pretty sure it sounded like, “SCOUT MY NAME IS GIRL SCOUT NICE TO MEET YOU.”
Then, it seems very quickly, he is buying two tickets to the movie and explaining that he believes men should always pay. For all the joking about sugar daddies I’ve done with my friends, I feel shockingly uncomfortable.
“Are you sure?” I try.
“Of course,“ he says as he opens the door for me.
We have a little small talk before the movie. I have a hard time describing what I do for work every day without sounding miserable and bitter. He works in finance. I don’t have a lot of good follow up questions for that. Mercifully, the movie starts.
Afterward, I am certain there will just be a polite parting of ways, so when Jim asks if I want to walk around and get a cup of tea somewhere, I am beyond awkward. Somehow I hold up my end of the conversation all the way to a café near Washington Square Park.
We talk about our families, college, places we’ve traveled to. He still seems very stiff shirt to me. Rehab is mentioned. This guy is looking worse by the minute to me. There are a few awkward silences. He mentions something about believing women are obligated to wax their bikini lines. My inner feminist voice is screaming bloody murder. “This guy is just your average frat boy, polo shirt ass clown. RUN.”
Then he makes a joke from one of my favorite Adult Swim shows. And then it comes out that he goes to figure drawing class once a week and he loves Miles Davis. My apprehension quells to a reasonable level. By the time he’s walked me back to subway and asked for my e-mail address, I’m charmed enough not to give him a fake one. On the subway ride home, I listen to the Spice Girls and congratulate myself on being open minded. I am more than ready for the next date.