I met a man at a house party high in the Hollywood Hills. It was the kind of party where even though the food was catered, no one actually ate. The kind of party where the waiters and bartenders were actors who looked like models. The kind of party where a maid would magically appear at people’s feet to wipe up vodka spills. At a very LA party, this man seemed very unLA.
He was from the Midwest, had a Master’s degree, and a legitimate job. He came off as smart, friendly, and confident. I took pause when he sat down next to me and sang Frank Sinatra in my ear. But it wasn’t until he unabashedly answered inappropriate personal questions thrown at him by two drunken women he’d met minutes before that I really took notice. I was impressed he didn’t hesitate for a second in responding two years when he was asked to specify how long it had been since he’d last had sex. For most girls that would’ve been a signal to run, but not me. Solely based on that answer, I decided he was someone I could trust. When he hugged me goodbye, I wanted him to ask for my number. He didn’t and I let him go without asking for his.
That next week I kept thinking about him. So I did the most logical thing I could think of, I stalked him online. Armed with his first name and where he worked, I was able to locate him within minutes. My Facebook message to him was simple and straight to the point. I told him it was nice meeting him at the party, asked if he wanted to grab a drink sometime, and included my number. Within an hour, he texted me his availability. A couple days later, I was sitting next to him at a bar.
As they usually are, the first five minutes were awkward. While I tried to get a handle on my fogged up glasses, he re-hashed the details of the party in the Hills, then talked about how long it took him to get to the bar from his apartment. Once my glasses were defogged, I promptly cut the small talk short. Instead of giving an overview of our individual lives thus far, we proceeded to become acquainted with how we approached life based on what we knew from living. At one point later in the evening, he leaned over, kissed me on the cheek, and asked if I was having a good time. I said yes.
At closing time, the bartender left the check on the bar in front of us. I wondered out loud if I should pay since I was the one who suggested we get drinks. After we each paid for our own, my date turned to me and asked what the next step was. I told him since I’d made the first move, the ball was in his court. He asked me if I was available for dinner on that next Sunday. I said yes and he suggested I choose the restaurant.
After discovering it would be impossible to get a reservation less than a week out at the restaurant I’d initially chosen, I researched alternatives. After way too many hours of scouring the Internet for something that wasn’t too expensive and was halfway between where we lived, I settled on a restaurant in Santa Monica whose interior was just the right amount of modern eclectic and whose globally inspired menu was code for varied. I spent the week in between dates excited about the possibility of having someone to spend weekends with. Then Sunday came.
Upon our arrival at the restaurant, the hostess inexplicably brought us to a four-person table. I watched as my date sat down in one chair and put both his feet up on the other chair next to him. He then kicked his feet wildly in the air and joyfully celebrated all the space he had (his actual words). Yes, I repeat, this grown man I was on a date with flailed both his legs in the air at a respectable restaurant. My initial instinct was to grab his arm and pull him up, but instead I turned to the hostess and asked her to seat us at a two-person table. As we walked to the smaller table, I knew I was done.
When it comes to dating, I don’t have a particular set of rules like some women, but I do expect my date to have a general understanding of how to act in public. If he had walked into my apartment, plopped down on the couch, put his feet up, and waved them in the air, I probably wouldn’t have had an issue. But we weren’t in private. He had previously mentioned he didn’t get out much, which I thought was endearing at the time, but knowing it meant he was unfamiliar with how to behave in the outside world was not.
I endured the entire dinner knowing I’d never see him again. I went through the motions and tried to pretend I was interested in his favorite meals to cook and hearing about the time he was late for a college exam. In reality, I was counting down the seconds until I could leave. When the check finally came, it sat in the middle of the table for a good ten minutes. When he eventually reached for his wallet, I decided to offer my credit card just to see what he’d do. I can’t say I was surprised he took it, but I was when he asked me how to figure out who owed what. He officially just didn’t get it.
After we split the bill in half, he wanted to know what I was thinking. Without hesitation, I responded I was thinking we weren’t compatible. He flinched and asked me if I had any feedback so he could learn from the experience. Conscious of not wanting to hurt him, I quickly racked my brain for the appropriate words. Failing to find them, I told him I’d get back to him, then ended the evening shortly thereafter. Before we went our separate ways, he asked why I’d reached out to him. I said I was curious about him and would’ve regretted it if I hadn’t.
Initially, I thought I owed it to him to explain my perspective. So lying in bed that night, I crafted a tactful text, which I promptly deleted. Sending it would only open up the conversation for more questions from him and I just wanted to move on. More importantly, he’d asked me on a date and I paid for my own dinner, so I didn’t owe him a single thing. And damn if that didn’t feel good.
Even though I’d made incorrect assumptions about who he was and created a person in my head who wasn’t consistent with reality, I had fun briefly fantasizing about what could be. But in the end, I was enamored with the potential, not the person.