This past spring, as the snow was melting and the squirrels were fucking (do squirrels fuck in springtime?), Truthful Ted and I somehow began texting again. After the requisite “how’ve you been the past two years?”, I shared my latest lament about men — the boring accountant (he’s not even getting a name) I’d been on half a dozen dates with had recently decided to introduce me to the world of being ghosted, and I was royally pissed. Not because I was particularly upset about never seeing him again (we’d kind of exhausted the possibility for interesting conversation about our short list of shared interests), but because I believe in being a decent human being.
<start rant> After a first date, go ahead and never talk to someone again. It’s still kind of shitty to ignore them if they reach out, but you’ve spent 2-3 hours together max; you owe them nothing. Once you’ve hit the 3 date mark you no longer have an excuse — in my opinion — for not sending a quick text. “Sorry, this isn’t what I’m looking for,” is short and sweet and puts responsibility on neither party. Any of you ghosters out there — feliz cumple-fucking-años, I’ve written your goodbye line for you so that you can start using your words like an adult. Take a second and put that in your iPhone Notes app and all you have to do is copy/paste for the rest of time. You’re welcome.
And if someone you’ve said that to comes back with a litany of questions (wait what happened?, did I do something wrong?, I thought our date went well why don’t you like me [yes that’s legit been said to me]?) then you have my permission to not respond. You don’t owe anybody you’re not actually committed to a long explanation, and you don’t have to pat their hands and soothe any insecurities they have over your “rejection.” But you do owe them one line that acknowledges their existence — which, thanks to the invent of texting, you can literally send while you’re on the toilet and unable to do anything else fun or exciting. <end rant>
tl;dr — don’t be a cunt, send a quick text.
Ted agrees that ghosting is rude and shares his own lament: he wants to have a foursome but doesn’t want to round up the girls.
Well, I think, good to know Ted hasn’t changed. I pull my eyes out from the back of my head (they got stuck from rolling them so. damn. hard.) and give my sympathies, as his situation does sound exceedingly traumatizing <drip drip drip goes the sarcasm>. Ted offers to give me tips on how to get men to stick around in the beginning of a relationship if I’ll help find three women he can romp with. I text “Ok” while physically shaking my head no. I’d love to help, but I just don’t think I have the appropriate friend network for the kind of assistance he’s requesting. He reveals the first three (of seven total) rules:
First rule: no private dates (i.e. be out in public) for the first three dates. It sets the precedent that you’re in a public relationship and not a booty call.
Second rule: make physical contact and kiss him goodnight on the first date. It shows you are interested and puts the idea of a physical relationship in his head.
Third rule: make plans for the second date at the end of the first date.
Say what I will about Ted’s head being full of arrogance, it also contains some wisdom, because I read those and thought, huh, yeah those all makes sense.
Flash forward a month or so and I’m getting ready to go out with Jerry, applying mascara while mentally searching the attic of my mind for helpful first date do’s and don’ts (they’re packed away between trunks labeled “interview do’s and don’ts” and “other times when we should do our best not to look like a nervous weirdo”) when I stumble over Ted’s three rules.
Rule number two can be hard for me, so I make it my goal if the evening goes well. I’m one of those people who is comfortable being my genuine, uncensored self any time any place, with one stipulation–I’m either in a familiar situation or in a new situation with at least one familiar face. When alone in unfamiliar territory, my natural inclination is to become a 6′ tall mute capable of smiling. Through practice, I’m much better than I used to be, but initial confidence/comfort is still very much a learned habit, not a natural skill. Unsurprisingly, when fully engaged in fighting off shy mode, “when can I touch them/kiss them” is not the leading thought in one’s brain.
As I’m on the subway en route date destination, I occupy myself by playing a rousing game of pros and cons surrounding the question “will this date go well?”
Pro: The night I contacted Jerry via Bumble, I was feeling pretty silly and opened with, “Not sure what the best part of your day was, but my kangaroo onesie arrived in the mail!” He responded quickly with, “I don’t know how I can compete with that,” which let me know his priorities were in the right order, because he understood that nothing he could have done would be better than my new ability to hop around my house with a floppy tail dragging behind me. That’s important! I was also glad to see that he didn’t find goofiness to be a turn off, because, well…have you met me?
Con: We hadn’t talked very much. Usually I’m the type who wants to text for several days before meeting, because I like to know the conversation can flow for more than a few back and forths before I commit to sitting through multiple beverages with a person. The morning after Jerry and I first chat, he asks if I know of any fun stuff to do for Cinco de Mayo, and I kill it with a flirtatious, “getting drinks with a cute guy falls under “fun stuff to do,” right?” We agree to meet seven hours later.
Pro: At least we haven’t wasted any time if it turns out we aren’t compatible.
Con: Based on his photos, I find him incredibly attractive. That may initially sound like a pro, but attractive people have high standards, and what if he thinks I’m ugly? What if I’m one of those girls who puts her very best pictures — not accurate pictures — on her dating profile and he feels catfished?
Pro: I’m going to arrive at the bar first. I hate arriving second and being the one who has to find the other. It makes me antsy in the way you feel antsy when you walked into the middle school cafeteria and had to stand awkward and alone, scanning the room as quickly as possible for your friends.
Con: What if I’m wrong and arriving first is the worse option? What if he glances around the bar, looks right at me, and keeps on searching in hopes that I’m not his date, because (let’s go back one con) he thinks I’m ugly? Fuck.
I lock overthinking me in her cage when I arrive at the bar and tell myself the same thing I tell myself before every first date: I hope this either goes really well, or goes so badly that it makes for a good story.
A drink and a half in, things are going really well. Jerry is adorable. I thought so the second he walked in wearing his plaid button down and tan pants (I really appreciate guys who dress nicer than T-shirt and jeans on a first date), and I think so even more once I’m tipsy and we’re having animated conversation. Our small corner table for two demands that I sit to his left rather than directly across, and because I’m turned toward him, our thighs/knees are interlaced. Over the course of one vodka cran, the inevitable (and sometimes intentional?) brushing against one another in this his-mine-his-mine pattern goes from “aww we’re cute” to “I want to climb into his lap right now.” Even minus our legs, I accomplish my goal of physical touch with no problem — though he was the first to break the personal space barrier (within the first five minutes of meeting, that hussy!).
Aside from the physical connection, our discussions are touching deeper than the basic first date laundry list of topics: what do you do for work, how many siblings do you have, what are your hobbies, etc. He shares uncertainties he has about a friend who recently started a relationship with someone quite a bit older than her, and I find myself telling him about the older man I had a relationship with during college. The thought hmm…is bringing this up going to ensure that he never talks to me again? does flash through my mind, but I feel it might be nice for him to hear a positive age-gap story, and thankfully my fear was unfounded.
We also discover that while neither of us are particularly religious now, we both spent childhood surrounded by Christianity. To a large extent, who cares if you have that commonality, but there are some perks. As someone who grew up around and within the church, my perspective on Christianity is different than that of someone who grew up never believing. I like being able to share a story that includes the line, “once at church camp,” and not having the person I’m with start squawking about OMG you went to church camp?! What does that even mean?? Were you a loser?? Did you all hold your hands in the air and cry while the pastor lifted up a cardboard cutout of George Bush like in that movie Jesus Camp?? No, we didn’t. It was mostly just like regular summer camp.
I slow my drinking down, because I haven’t eaten anything and don’t want to embarrass myself, even though seeing double would mean there would be two of his handsome face, and that sounds fantastic.
Once I finally finish my drink, it’s late, but we both seem hesitant to leave. Jerry asks if I’d like to go to a different bar, and happy Drunk Brain runs around in circles shouting, “Do it! He’s so cute and nice and cute and funny and cute and you’re having fun so why leave and did you forget how cute he is look at that dimple once more and I bet you can’t say no and oh his eyes too you probably can’t tell how nice they are because it’s kind of dark in here but they’re brown like chocolate and we love chocolate so you should go plus OH EM GEE he’s so cute.” (Drunk Brain doesn’t know about commas and rarely uses punctuation because she’s super uneducated. She also laughs way too loud and is a huge advocate for taking obnoxious selfies.)
Sober Brain sits us down for a logical chat, “B, we know you’re having a fantastic evening in the company of this gentleman. We’re even willing to concede Drunk Brain’s points about the truly magnificent dimple and warm chocolate brown eyes. However, you have a professional obligation to appear at work tomorrow at 8:30am, and you should do so well-rested and showered, not hungover with post-sex bedhead. Remember rule one, which you thought sounded smart earlier: the first three dates should be entirely public. We’d also like to point out that Drunk Brain has lost her right shoe and is currently passed out on the floor drooling, so consider who you’re going to listen to. P.S. What would your dad say?”
I decide that Sober Brain is right. If we’re having a good time then we can see each other again — it leaves something to look forward to. I let Jerry know that I ought to go home, though I would love to get together soon, and we go outside where we’re headed in opposite directions. The cool night air is refreshing, but quickly diminishes the warm ambiance felt inside the bar, creating space for shy awkwardness to slip back into the picture. Bad timing since part two of the second rule is to kiss goodnight. I’ve never been particularly good at assessing whether someone wants to kiss me, and I’m probably also inept when it comes to releasing please-kiss-me vibes, so we both stand there for a few awkward moments. Jerry, being the smart guy that he is, ultimately closes the distance between us, kissing me twice. They’re short and sweet kisses, which seems appropriate for the end of a first date, but does nothing to relieve any of the sexual tension we’ve created.
According to Jerry, I then “practically ran” in the direction of my subway station. However, since this isn’t Jerry’s blog, you’re all going to believe me when I say that I merely “walked with purpose as any confident lady does.”
I know this post is absurdly long, so I’ll end it here. If you think everything went too well to be interesting, just wait until my next post. I promise things get more dramatic.
With love, B!
P.S. Once I was on my way home, I immediately texted a good friend from college who I hadn’t spoken to in years.
Me: Jess! I went on a date tonight and I liked him a lot, but for the first thirty minutes or so I couldn’t fully concentrate on the date because I couldn’t figure out who he reminded me of…
Me: Professor Brian McNeil! He has the same speech pattern and cadence to his voice.
Jess: You did always have that random crush on PBM!
Me: Suuuuuuch a crush! I loved how hard he tried to make everyone excited about history. I wonder if Jerry knows anything about the Magyars…
Jess: I hope he doesn’t, you history freak!