The Reluctant Dater

Me: He called me beautiful, as an endearment. We haven’t even met. Is that creepy?
Gail: It’s not creepy, but it is hollow. He has no idea what you actually look like. Just don’t respond to it. You don’t want to make him feel self-conscious or like you’re reading into things.

Assistant Manager: I haven’t heard from you in awhile and was wondering if I’d said something to upset you.
Me: No. Everything is fine. I do think that, since we haven’t actually met, using endearments (beautiful) is uncomfortable.

I take instruction well.

Me: “I am totally wasting this guy’s time. I’m just not feeling it at all. Like, not even against him, just dating in general. He’s all ‘What would you like to do?’ and I’m all ‘Hang out with my best friend, while you text someone else.’ He hasn’t even done anything wrong. I just want to delete all of my profiles and take a break!”

Me: “Help get me into the mood to go on a date tonight.”
Me: “No. Wait. That came out wrong. It’s just that, every time try to psyche myself up, it comes out really… mean. You’re able to make me look forward to things, when I’m just like ‘DO YOU WANT TO DIE ALONE?!?! DO YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN OR NOT?!?!'”
Gail: “Ummmm… maybe this is why you’re not enjoying your dates. It’s not a chore, Belle.”
Me: “You know, lately it really is. I just cannot do another bad date. I can’t. I’m half tempted to just text him with ‘I’m not coming tonight. I’m just not feeling it. Sorry.'”

I’m not sure what the catalyst was, or if there even was one. I just woke up one day and was completely over dating. The problem was, I’d been talking to Assistant Manager for a week already. We’d even made plans to meet and just hadn’t worked out the details. In fact, he’d wanted to spend Fourth of July together, but the last thing I wanted to do on my holiday was have a possibly awkward romantic date with no way out. However, bailing wasn’t really an option, particularly with my recent insistence that if things progressed to a first meeting with a man, I would meet him.

Originally, I was hesitant over the age difference. Assistant Manger just turned 34 and I turn 27 in September. Before I started looking for any way out at all, I’d messaged my friend Lacy, whose husband is 35. She told me that while it’s weird to think about if she considers that he graduated high school when she graduated elementary school, day to day, their age difference doesn’t really come up. Furthermore, Assistant Manager wanted kids, but not tomorrow, which would usually be my concern in regards to age. Most men I’ve dated or spoken with, in that age range, either don’t want children or feel like the clock is ticking. Additionally, this guy has a career he enjoys and makes fair money. He’s never been married, but was engaged once and is looking for something serious. And finally… he’s Catholic.

Y’all, the man is Catholic. You have to understand that, growing up, I knew every Catholic kid in town… because there were like eight of us. It’s just not common in the South. Christianity spreads like the clap, but specifically Catholicism? Please. I still occasionally get accused of worshiping Mary. So, age being the only real concern, and not even really one at that, I decided I needed to see this through… more or less.

Me: When did you two break up?
Assistant Manager: January 09.

– Whoa. What? That was like… yesterday. January wasn’t even six months ago. I knew there was something wrong with this guy. Every fucking time! I should just stop talking to him altogether. 

Me: He just told me his fiance left him in January.
Lacy: Wow. Maybe there’s an explanation? 

– Don’t be an asshole, Belle. Just ask him about it.

Me: That’s… recent.
Assistant Manager: Five years ago. Not that recent.
Me: OH! January 2009! I read January 09, 2014!

Even with that cleared up, I was looking for red flags. I don’t know why. The guy looked great on paper. His pictures were a little blurry and, based on my Facebook stalking, didn’t seem to be current. He was nice and wanted the same things I do, though. He didn’t send a dick pic or ask if I like massages. It was just the idea of another man who insults my career… another hovering moment where I’m not sure if he’s going to pay… another guy who lives with mom… another weepy and hysterical phone call to my Gramma or Gail… another I SHAVED MY LEGS FOR THIS?!?!… another funny blog story.

So… I acted like an asshole and figured if he put up with it, I was obviously meant to meet the guy.

No, really. Just put that sentence on the headstone above my solo burial plot.

I’d like to just claim that I didn’t want to get to know this guy through text message. That really was the bulk of it. The first guy I ever dated, after my divorce, I messaged for two months while he was in Afghanistan, only to realize that 1. it was super awkward for a stranger to know so much about me and 2. I wasn’t actually ready to date, anyway. So, yes, that was my primary concern… but it doesn’t explain why, in addition to ceasing most communication with the man, I totally postponed a date to play Bunco with a bunch of middle aged women last Friday.

That’s right. Assistant Manager wanted to meet for dinner a week ago. I told him I’d get back to him about the time and then claimed I had already had evening plans with Ava, because she’d just texted and asked if I could play a dice game with her, her mother, and her mother’s friends. I was just dreading another date so badly… with anyone. 

Last night, however, was the moment of truth. I would either keep the date or cancel, get to a point where I wasn’t over dating, and always wonder what might have been. So… I kept the date. In the time when I was getting ready, I did find some peace. Whatever would be would be. If he was a chubby troll, unwashed, or just plain drunk, I could easily leave in under 30 minutes. After all, my record is only 20. So, I shaved my legs, did my makeup, worked with my hair the best I could, since I desperately need a cut and look like Mufasa, and even headed out with plenty of time to arrive at 8:30 on the dot… after getting lost in the city I’ve lived in my whole life. Sigh.

Fortunately, I found the Starbucks I needed… and Assistant Manager, who was a lot cuter than his pictures, who waited outside for me, opened the door for me, bought my coffee, and chatted and laughed with me for an hour and a half… plus an additional hour and a half in the parking lot after close.

Me: “I graduated high school in 2006.”
Assistant Manager: “… seven years after I did. I graduated in 1999.”
Me: “You graduated the same year as Buffy!”

We had a genuinely good time. Though I could hear Gaily’s voice in my head telling me to ignore it, I apologized for my flakiness, explaining that I didn’t want to get to know him through text message (leaving out Bunco). Assistant Manager even agreed that his questions about my marriage, coupled with endearments, probably came off wrong. We made jokes about it and it was no big deal. There was no confusion about whether or not he wanted to see me again, as he walked me to my car and opened my door for me. He even texted me after I left, asking me to let him know I got home safely. We set a date for Monday or Wednesday, depending on our schedules…

Assistant Manager: I’ll text you tomorrow.
Me: I’ll actually text back this time. 😀

… and I almost missed a good date, because of the sour taste from all those bad ones.

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