I will be the first to admit - a date at a bookstore on a Sunday afternoon is very close to being a perfect date. There's something about being surrounded by paper and words and ink... It's all very sexy - well, for this writer it is. This is exactly the kind of date I would plan (and have planned. I've taken so many dates to bookstores that the proprietors are beginning to think I'm a book-whore), so imagine my surprise when it was Frank* who planned our first date at a local independent bookstore. I had high hopes. He seemed to get my quirky sense of humor, had fantastic taste in music and was pretty good looking. All systems were a-go.
I'm going to save the story of how we met for the next post, but what I will say is that I was very excited for our first date. I followed the Standard First Date Protocol: I chose my outfit carefully. Nothing too dressy, nothing too sloppy. Accentuate the breasts, draw attention away from my panza. Make up, of course, hair worn down and blown out. We made plans to meet at the bookstore (I'm weird about people knowing where I live before I run a background check and conduct at least three interviews), and when I arrived, he was already there. Perfect.
At first, things seemed to be going well. We both wandered around the bookstore, sometimes together, sometimes separately, calling out to each other to check out something funny or interesting, his fingers brushing over mine from time to time. I was thinking "wow, this is GREAT! What luck! Finding someone who is as big of a nerd as I am!" I was feeling pretty good.
Don't get your hopes up, dear reader, remember the name of this blog: "...and yet, I'm still single."
After a while, the charm wore off and I began to notice that he knew EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. You know Jeff Albertson aka Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons? Yeah, like him. Not only did Frank know everything, he scoffed if I didn't catch on to some obscure reference he made to Scandinavian Punk Rock from the summer of 1973 or the history of drip irrigation.
At first, I laughed it off, thought maybe he was just joking around with me, but no, he just got more obnoxious. Trying to be the cool, no-pressure kind of gal (see previous post), I just went with it. In retrospect, I should have just ended the date (which is why I drove myself rather than let him pick me up) , but no, I agreed to move on to dinner.
We went to a Mexican restaurant that wasn't too far from the bookstore. I was less and less impressed with him as each minute wore on, and then we sat down to dinner. Before we even sat down, he said "so, we're going Dutch, right? I don't conform to those old fashioned norms of dating." Translation: I'm cheap. I was so astounded, I agreed. In retrospect, there's really nothing wrong with going Dutch (which basically means each person pays for her/himself). I've been on a few dates where we just split the cost and didn't think twice about it. My friend's boyfriend A. said that he would never ever let a woman pay, but he appreciated a "reach for" - the woman reaching for the check before he snatched it away and paid. With Frank, however, it really didn't sit well with me. I'm a feminist, definitely, but to quote Joan Morgan:
"Can you be a good feminist and admit out loud that there are things you kinda dig about patriarchy? Suppose you don't want to pay for your own dinner, hold the door open, fix things, move furniture or get intimate with whatever's under the hood of a car?"
-- When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost: My Life As A Hip Hop FeministThough I'm a Feminist, I have to agree with Morgan's dilemma - there are things I'm old fashioned about. I like - no, I expect doors to be opened for me. When walking down the street, I feel protected when a man walks on the side closest to the street, and on a first date, I like it when a man pays (although, after A.'s advice, I do a reach-for). It was our first date, he suggested dinner, he bragged about how much money he made, he should have paid. Punto en fin. Fine, I agreed to go Dutch, let's move on. His next question was "do you like sushi?" "Of course!" I replied, excited. I really do. My niece's husband is a fabulous sushi-chef and they introduced me to it back in 2007. I've been a big fan ever since. Is that a good enough answer for Mr. Know-It-All? Of course not.
"Do you know that there is a special order in which you're supposed to eat sushi? Do you realize sushi is telling a story?" he asked. I was already annoyed.
"No, I didn't," I said. He looked at me as if I said I like fresh baby-toes on top of my Unagi. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and with a sort of impatient sigh (the kind of sigh you make when a 5 year old asks, for the 20th time, why birds poop while their flying) he said
"Then you don't really know anything about it. You just like it. You don't enjoy sushi."
HERE'S A CLUE AS TO WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID, JERK:Ya see what I just did? I created a totally smooth moment AND made plans for a second date. Had he been cool, I would have went on that second date with him. Instead, he was just obnoxious. Then he started talking about his mother...
Him: "Did you know that there is a special order in which you're supposed to eat sushi? It's like telling a story."
Me: "No, I didn't."
Him: "Well, then for our next date, we'll go have sushi, and I'll tell you a story."
"My mother is crazy," he said as he cut into his enchiladas.
Press pause. Now, you need to know that I often refer to my parents as crazy. My parents are the Chicano version of George Costanza's parents on Seinfeld. My parents are short, older, feisty, and say some off-the-wall stuff to each other. In all actuality, though, my parents are quite adorable and very sane... Press play.
"Oh? How so?" I asked in between bites of my chicken quesadilla (that I was paying for).
"She made me sell my collection of [something not important enough for me to remember] because she almost gambled the house away...and she doesn't like for me to use the phone after ten...and she is very paranoid and doesn't leave the house...oh, and she hates any woman I date." He casually took another bite, with a bite of beans and rice for good measure.
In case you hadn't clued in yet, he said she hates ANY woman he dates. I shouldn't have to say this, but THIS IS A GIANT RED FLAG. If you know me well enough, then you know that I am not always good at admitting the presence of red flags - I am famous for ignoring warning signs and NOTORIOUS for making excuses for someone. Well, the gambling mother who controls his phone usage and hates any woman he dates was too much to ignore... along with the know-it-all attitude and the sheer boredom I felt every time he opened his mouth, I knew this date was a FAIL.
The end of the evening was un-eventful. A side hug, thanks for the company, yeah, sure, call me. I received a follow up email (after ten, when phone usage was banned) and I replied with a very short "thank you," then he replied saying we should "do it again sometime." I didn't feel the need to say anything else and so it ended.
They say every encounter is a lesson. The lesson in this one? Even though the setting and the premise may be perfect, human nature will surely screw it up. That, and when he says his mother is crazy... RUN!
Next time: Computer Love
Next time: Computer Love
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent, boring, obnoxious and just plain useless.