I’m just numbering the engineers by tens now.
Gail: “Judging by the men you skip over, that’s probably pretty accurate.”
For some time, I’ve been operating under the rule that if a man meets no deal breakers, I’ll give him a shot. I know I haven’t written about a date since the night I was stood up downtown, ultimately ending up crying over a bag of jelly beans, but that’s not because I’ve vowed to recruit my gal pals in some sort of eventual Golden Girls arrangement. There’s just nobody left. Every man I meet in person and online is perpetually 12 years old. I’m dating in The Children of the Fucking Corn and there is not a grown up to be found. Thanks a heap, Generation X, for raising a society of men who can’t put down the XBOX controller long enough to fill out a job application.
I jest, of course… sort of… at least about the choices and laziness of grown men still being the responsibility of their parents. Everyone in the dating world, though, has that one stat that they look at before all others. For some, it’s physical attractiveness. For others, it’s whether or not they have children. For me, it’s career. I’ll respond to a man with an otherwise blank profile if he has a legitimate and promising career. It’s not about money. I make my own money, proudly. It’s about security and knowing that I won’t be the sole bread winner, pretty much ever. What can I say? Young divorce broke me.
In 2014, when the Peter Pan Generation reigns supreme, it seems the number one profession for men under 35 is “student.” In the South, second to that is “oil.” Finally, at least in my experience, it’s “engineer.” I won’t, under any circumstances, even respond to the first. The second, rarely, because no further specification usually means blue collar rig worker who likely won’t have a job in 10 years, because the oil field just sort of works that way. So, I date engineers. Apparently exclusively.
Engineer number 104 had messaged me multiple times over several different dating sites. He wasn’t especially pushy, doing so with a significant amount of time between each, but he was persistent in his interest. I… wasn’t.
Gail: “What’s going on in your dating world, by the way?”
Me: “Meh. There’s this one guy who keeps messaging me, but there’s really not much there. He’s also too old for me, built like Uncle Fester, and has scary teeth.”
Ultimately, I decided I was being shallow, because I totally was, and I should give this guy a shot. He didn’t meet any of my deal breakers and I did say I would actually start trying, so as to lessen my chances of getting a Daddy in a Jar at 32 and raising a child alone. I finally responded to his offer to text, with some lie about why it took so long, and tried to get a conversation going. There still wasn’t anything there, but whatevs, in for a penny…
Engineer 104 told me to choose a place to meet, which obviously lost him some points right away, but I was pretty adamant that I was going to give the guy a chance and not go in with any assumptions that the night would be a disaster. I chose a local sports bar and ate beforehand, because however dedicated I was, I knew I’d felt little connection in our digital communications and didn’t want him to buy me dinner if there was no spark in person.
I got to the bar first and, after my tearful night of jelly beans, I most definitely thought I might be stood up again. Engineer 104 was about 15 minutes late, with no text message, but had told me he was on his way earlier. I mentally calculated the money in my bank account and planned to leave and buy a cat at 30 minutes after. No joke, because that is definitely an impulse buy to make after a bad date. When he finally arrived, I realized that Engineer’s pictures didn’t really do him justice, as is often the case with men. They suck at selfies and he’d only posted a single very unflattering one. He wasn’t a Winchester, but he also wasn’t an Addams, so woot. We chose a high top table in the middle of the bar and he started talking… about himself… and didn’t stop.
In all fairness, 104 wasn’t awful, but he also wasn’t interested in engaging me in the conversation in the least. I make an effort to ask questions on a first date, so as to avoid a a nervous Buffy the Vampire Slayer fangirl rant, and did so this time as well, but it really wasn’t necessary. Engineer was happy to tell me all about his father/sons camping trip, his problems with deceased family estate drama, the dog his ex-girlfriend kept in the breakup. He even did a few racist impressions of the past clients he name dropped. Let me tell you, you don’t know romance until you hear a Southern white man’s imitation of the Sultan of Dubai.
Now, I like to exaggerate, y’all. It’s kind of my thing.
Gail: :: shivering in the cold grocery store ::
Me: “No one has ever been this cold. I feel like I’m in the hedge maze at the end of The Shining.”
I must clarify, however, that I do not exaggerate when I say that this man checked his phone at least 10 times in the hour we spent together. He explained that his dad was sending him score updates for the high school game his brother was coaching, but dude, you are on a date. Either this is important enough that you need to leave, or you can put away the fucking phone for one hour. I thought my generation was supposed to be the iGeneration. Which brings me to his age. Engineer was only 34, but to listen to him, you’d think he was nearing 40. I’m 27 years old. I do not feel old and I’m not going to for some time, so the last thing I want is to be with a man who is constantly talking about burial plots. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but he did keep saying things like “now that I’m older” and talking about how hard it was to get around these days. I’d rather be with a 35-year-old, who realizes he has all the time in the world, than a 28-year-old who talks nonstop about the dreaded 30. The golden ticket with 104, however, was when he got out of his seat to stand next to the table for a moment.
104: “I’ve gotta stand for a minute. My butt’s asleep.”
Engineer 104 just may not have been that interested in me and felt no need to impress or engage. I can’t imagine this was his best behavior. Maybe I was too young and spry. Possibly, I just didn’t do a great Arabian impersonation. I don’t know, but after just an hour, I told him I had to get up early the next morning and he didn’t seem particularly disappointed. I feel no need to leave a date with false hopes and simply told him to have a good night. He moved in for a hug and told me we should do it again sometime. I likely just looked confused, because I didn’t think the date went all that well. He either agreed or I’m not great at hiding my emotions (I am so not great at hiding my emotions), because I never heard from him again and I was not sad.
Engineer 104 was… forgettable. You know what, though? That was kind of nice. It wasn’t a good date, but I also didn’t leave in tears, which is, sadly, an accomplishment after these last few months. He did not insult my religion. He did not drink five beers in one hour. He actually showed up. He was just some guy and I assume I was just some girl. Sometimes, it’s kind of nice to have a forgettable date, as it reassures me that I’m not just overly critical and eager to buy myself some sperm for my 32nd birthday. Had he asked, I might have gone on a second date with 104, just to give him another chance. In hindsight, I realize it would’ve been a disaster, but I’m proud of myself for not letting his incorrect usage of the word “literally” write him off as a person. No, it was definitely the racism.
So, here’s hoping that things might go more smoothly with the new guy I’m texting. He’s an engineer, y’all!