Not so long ago, I griped to a friend about how much I hate dates that fall into the category of fine.
No one needs to be be sold on the value of a great, chemistry-filled date. On the other end, a spectacular failure of a date at least is interesting, drastic, offensive or pathetic enough to become a good story. And a good story is some kind of consolation prize after awkwardly smiling through an evening. It’s the goody bag after a disastrous party, something that salvages what happened in the long run.
The trouble with a mediocre date is that it neither knocks my socks off nor leaves me chuckling or cursing. It ends and I say to myself, “OK, what now?” I hate this feeling. Much easier is when a date ends and I either say, “Wow, when can we do that again?” or “Holy crap, I never want to come within 20 feet of that man again.”
I wish it was acceptable to tell someone just how fantastically awesome you thought they were or how painfully torturous your time together has been and how when you went to the ladies room you were actually frantically texting a friend. But experience has shown me that you can’t really do either one. It comes off as desperate or mean. Neither is super ideal.
Back to the point. Mediocre dates are the worst. Unfortunately for me, for the last several months, more dates than not have fallen into in this C range. The guy has been perfectly nice, perhaps smart, sometimes attractive. Conversation has held my attention enough. In other words, it was perfectly bland. Not exactly fodder for an impassioned, furiously-written “Dear Diary” entry summarizing the details.
As a result, I declared in rather declaratory fashion. “No more dates that are just fine.”
The cliched phrase, “Be careful what you wish for” is now ringing in my ear.
The other night was the first really wretched date in a while, and I still feel scarred by it.
I should have known trouble was in store when the guy insisted that we get sushi in Silver Spring. I tried to negotiate a meeting halfway or even a quarter of the way between us. But when I suggested downtown D.C. or Arlington, it was no dice. “For a first date? Your persuasion would have to involve at least a little nudity.”
Oh no, my gut told me. I responded in a way to let him no that that wasn’t possible. He replied that, of course, he was kidding. Maybe a sense of humor was in there, so I kept the date.
Flash forward to the evening in question. My date Joshua—most definitely not Josh, he told me, but Joshua—beat me to the restaurant. As I glanced at the menu he rolled his eyes waiting on my choice and let me know that I should decide based on how much cash I had on me. Apparently I was covering my own bill.
Then, the lies started. For some reason Joshua found it amusing to tell me ridiculous stories about himself that seemed not terribly believable. “That’s not real, is it?” I’d follow up skeptically. He’d swear up and down it was. Then, sometimes later he’d clue me in on the exaggerated nature of his tales.
• He beat up his Boy Scout leader and was kicked out of the entire Scouts after just five weeks.
• He lived in an old jail town and was acquainted with a guy who kept escaping from the facility and being returned back without consequences.
• He broke a 7-foot-tall classmate’s nose accidentally and then convinced the classmate to let him spread a rumor about how tough he was.
• He had a girlfriend who was a model. Oh, and she loved girls too.
• He had seven advanced degrees. Ph.Ds, masters and bachelors (oh my).
I’m still not sure what was part of the fabric of his true life, what was a pile of crap and what was somewhere in between. All I know is I’d prefer not to be Sherlock Holmes picking apart facts and filing Freedom of Information Act requests over what is supposed to be a friendly meal.
As he fibbed and spun his web I revealed one thing about myself—the number of broken bones I have accrued over my lifetime (this was following a question about it, not something I just volunteer willy-nilly). He probably didn’t even hear it. The only time my date responded to me as if in a conversation was at one point when I suggested he might be pathological. “Now you’re turning me on” was his response. Oh, and when I took out my wallet to grab money, he remarked that I didn’t look at all like my driver’s license picture. Not better or worse, just not like it. “Well, my eyes are shut in that photo, so there’s that,” I explained.
Generally speaking, Joshua was too busy dazzling me to really engage at all. “I’m very quick and witty,” he told me without a hint of a smile and in full brag mode. I’m thinking if he were so impressive saying that wouldn’t be so necessary. But maybe I’m just a lesser being who wouldn’t understand such sophisticated ways.
As the evening ended and we both paid our checks the rain fell more heavily outside. It was incredibly appropriate. Joshua sort of tapped my head as I fumbled to switch out of my heels in order to make a run for it to the Metro. Meanwhile, he jaunted off to his car and a quick few-minute ride.
At the time, this felt anything but funny. It was insulting and anger-inducing. This man made me travel out of the way, listen to his shenanigans and pay no attention to me. He was a liar,
All I can think is, during a mediocre date, the conversation would have been at least been decent and participatory for me.