… not to be confused with The Last Engineer. I’m sure I’ll date more, seeing as how that’s all that exists among men, but this is the dating story I never really told, despite once regular hints that things were going well.
If you’ll recall, I first met Engineer 114 (we’re numbering by tens now) around Christmas break… in person, that is. We’d been texting for well over a month, because he’d been working a job in Texas. While I don’t normally chat with men for so long before a first meeting, E114 was super apologetic about how long he’d been gone, insisting that he almost never works out of state. Since Christmas was nearing and I was buried under piles of burlap and nursing hot glue burns, I figured I didn’t have anyone else pursuing me, nor the time to pursue anyone else, so why the hell not?
By the night of our first date, however, Christmas was only days away and I had run myself ragged with substitute teaching, working at the library, crocheting four Olaf hats, two Elsa hats, a football beanie, and crafting four personalized burlap wreaths. I knew I’d agreed to dinner, but I just… didn’t wanna.
On my thirty minute commute from work, I gave myself the usual pep talk, which is almost always in the voice of Gaily.
Be nice. Give him a chance or cancel now and don’t waste his time. The worst that can possibly happen is you pay for your own meal and you go home. You will meet someone new. You will be pleasant. You will not die alone.
Despite said pep talk, though, I was exhausted and postponed the date by about 30 minutes. E114 was perfectly fine with that and it gave me some time to decompress from what is a surprisingly stressful job and get a little cuter. Even more convenient, the restaurant E114 had suggested was directly behind my apartment, so the commute was minimal. Not surprisingly I arrived first… and was absolutely convinced I’d been stood up again. Finally, my date walked through the door and he looked just like his picture and didn’t seem disappointed in me. We all know that’s the first test.
E114 was friendly and just opinionated enough to manage a conversation with me, without it turning into an argument. He didn’t seem to mind my awkwardness and laughed at my jokes. That’s a rare find, folks. I’m funny, but I’m not exactly P.C. I told him about being a librarian and he told me about the commercial pumpkin farm he ran with his dad. What can I say? It’s the South, y’all. In general, it really was a great date. It was a dinner that lasted three hours and he seemed eager to meet again, when he walked me to my car. While I, of course, told Gail everything, I wasn’t up to blogging about it. I was pleasantly surprised and I’ll admit, I had my hopes up.
Our next date didn’t happen right away, but E114 kept messaging and asking about my Christmas. We shared pictures of family get togethers and planned to meet again before he went out of the country after the new year. He assured me, once again, that this wasn’t the norm and I figured I couldn’t very well complain that a man hadn’t turned up an opportunity to make bank just so he could get to know the girl from Plenty of Fish. I even assured him that my divorce was primarily caused by a refusal to work, so I truly didn’t mind his schedule. Finally, we set a plan. We would do something the Sunday after Christmas. It was vague, but he was willing to commute, so I wasn’t too upset that he wasn’t willing to be the one who made the plans in an unfamiliar city. So, Sunday morning we messaged back and forth with a touch of “what do you want to do?” and seemed to have settled on a movie at the mall, followed by dinner. I went to Mass and the gym and then received a message explaining that E114 had to help his dad with taxes involving the pumpkin farm and he needed to postpone “if you don’t mind.”
“If you don’t mind”, at this point in a relationship, is a total throwaway comment. If I mind, I’m clingy and crazy and I don’t understand familial obligations. As annoyed as I was with being ditched at the literal last minute, I texted Gaily and Catherine about it, and was perfectly polite to E114, figuring a one time occurrence was forgivable. My coworker even made the point that he might have been uncomfortable explaining to family that he was seeing someone he’d met online so soon. Fair enough. A couple of days later, however, he still hadn’t suggested new plans, so I had to inform him that if he wanted to do something before his trip, we needed to set something up, so I could plan my week. We settled on dinner in Springfield, just north of Shetland and bowling in the city. I wore jeans. I was appalled at the idea of wearing jeans in general, let alone on a date.
Dinner and bowling went great. During dinner, I caught myself searching for flaws (read: being a judgmental bitch). While even in hindsight, I still think blowing your nose at the dinner table is unforgivably disgusting, The Voice of Gail intervened and asked if I was really going to let something so minor keep me from getting to know this guy.
I loosened up a bit over bowling. We laughed and talked and really had a great time. It was a fantastic activity to share with someone you’re considering in a romantic capacity. I can be extremely competitive, but with sports, it’s always in jest… because I suck at them. I don’t want someone coaching me on bowling, because I don’t care that I suck. I don’t care if I lose. I enjoy ridiculously over-the-top smack talk if I win. It’s just fun. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while E114 was a former athlete and had a strong work ethic, he didn’t seem put off by my “meh” sports mentality. It was a good night and I hoped we’d get together again when he got back from Aruba.
Over the next few weeks, E114 messaged daily. Early on, I asked point blank if he wanted to do something when he got back. I wasn’t interested in being entertainment while he was bored in another country. He said definitely and when he received a wayward text to Gail, accidentally demanding his presence at a local bar and grill in 15 minutes, he said he’d love to when he got back. Finally, the week of his return, nearly a month after our second date, E114 eagerly made plans. He’d get back on Thursday, spend time with his family on Friday and Saturday and we’d go to a museum on Sunday. What a fun date… that that would have been.
E114’s flight was delayed until Friday, about which he was texting me up until he landed at our local airport. At no point did he mention changing Sunday’s plans, so I didn’t think to ask. It was his idea. On Saturday, though, I sent a text to confirm. When I didn’t get a response, two hours later, I sent another.
So, that was the end of E114. There was no apology, not even the throwaway “if you don’t mind” and I never heard from him again. It turns out “women just can’t handle my schedule” really meant that they can’t handle being such a low priority that they get stood up without reason or apology. I love a hard worker, don’t get me wrong. I made an effort to keep in contact for nearly a month in order to get to know this guy, not once complaining about the fact that his return date kept getting pushed back. We’re not kids anymore, though. This isn’t just another day with no responsibilities or plans. I cleared my schedule for him, on my only day off, at his request. Not only did I not get a response when I asked, but his only reason was that he made better plans. Seriously, dude? Go suck a bag of dicks. I’m not a show on your fucking DVR, there to entertain you when you’re ready. We had plans.
Gail is… well, she’s just the perfect best friend. She was rightfully outraged and has declared E114 to be her least favorite of the men, because he led me on for a month. Looking back, I realize now that while E114 mentioned children numerous times, he never seemed interested in the wife part of that equation. Maybe he claimed he’d be willing to move from his hometown, but considering the fact that I was ditched twice for non-urgent family plans, I don’t see that happening. He doesn’t want a wife. He wants an incubator.
I wish now, that I’d been more forthright in my response to that last text message. The next woman will just get a story about how women can’t handle E114’s commitment to his family. I wish I’d been clear and told him how disrespectful that was to my time and feelings, how I’m no longer interested in getting to know him because he’s inconsiderate and has poor time management skills. I don’t want to date the guy who’s gonna bail on me two hours before my Gramma’s birthday party, because he has to help his brother move a sofa. He’d even mentioned the fact that planting season was nearing anyway, so I can’t imagine how he thought he’d fit in dating a few months later. I’m not even gonna lie. I totally fantasized about getting Catherine to find E114 on Plenty of Fish, make plans, and cancel at the last minute for a ridiculous reason. “I’m so sorry. I have to drive my roommate’s sister to get her dog groomed.” The only reason I didn’t ask is that she probably would have done it.
That is why I never told my beloved readers about E114. He wasn’t very nice and it hurt. I felt embarrassed and very much like I’d been used to ease his boredom while he was in Aruba. I cried and I’m not really a crier. Fortunately, God gives us what we need when we need it and just an hour or two later, Andy messaged me. That relationship has become as platonic as it can possibly be, with me giggling like mad over the misunderstanding that led Andy to have sex with a woman who’d slept with his brother and Andy explaining that that he “levels up” with every woman he dates. He calls it “Pokemoning.” So E114 ditched me hours before our museum date. Whatevs. I got to zoo with Andy.