It was only a month after the end of my relationship, but I said yes when the dude asked me out. Maybe because I was astonished—people DO that? It’s a thing that happens? A real thing? Where one person asks the other if they’d like to have an awkward meal together and then you both eat painfully slowly and save up bits of awful conversation to call up a friend and yell about as soon as you go your own ways? Weird.
No, I’m pretty sure I said yes because I don’t think I had ever been on a real first date, complete with real what-do-I-wear anxiety and a serious, considered decision about whether or not to shave my legs. And because I had just broken up with someone and felt wretched, wrecked, lonely, alone, uncharming and possibly alone forever and you can’t tell me different you don’t understand how I am more sad than anyone else on earth okay?
He was not my type, and I was so clearly not ready to date, with the dark under my eyes and the churning in my gut but I said yes anyway because I wanted to spend some time inside the idea that someone wanted me and wanted to spend time with me. I wanted drinks and food and a conversation. I wanted him to make me laugh.
He did. We were supposed to just have a drink and then go eat but we sat at the bar and we talked for two hours, maybe, and there were no lulls and it was one of those conversations that just go, straight-ahead and full-on and breathless and hilarious. He thought I was hilarious; we talked about Star Wars and—I don’t even remember. He had been in Brazil, maybe? He liked books or music. One of those. Possibly filmmaking.
He kept laughing at my jokes, anyway, and maybe that’s why when we stood up and he leaned down to kiss me, even though he wasn’t what I wanted to or who I wanted and this was nothing I had any business doing, I let him. I kissed him back, in the middle of the bar, and people slipped around us and I thought, what the hell am I doing?
But he kissed me and then he kissed me again it was nice to be kissed and his hands tightened around my waist and I thought, he wants me. So I let him kiss me in the middle of the bar like an asshole. I’ve always wanted to punch those douchebags in the kidneys, the ones who have Special Moments in the most egregiously awkward and visible place in the whole room, as if they have specially staked out the place and put down tape so they could make their marks for the most epic romance drama moment of all times. No one punched me in the kidneys but they ought to have.
We ate dinner slowly and closed down the place and when we left the restaurant it was misting and he started kissing me again. Oh romance! Oh drama! Oh, lack of kidney punching. What good are disapproving bystanders if they only stand by while they disapprove?
In the gentle rain and the soft glow of the Romance Streetlights we drifted down the sidewalk, tucked ourselves to the overhang of the building. I honest to god didn’t remember the last time I had made out with someone. I like making out. I think everyone should make out, all the time. All over the place. Everywhere, like bunnies if bunnies made out instead of reproduced madly. But it still wasn’t what I wanted so I kept my eyes closed and then I realized he was saying, “why don’t we go back to my car?” and then I realized that dating sucks because really dude? Yes, please lets go back to your car so I can what, clean out your glove compartment? I can do that. That’s not a euphemism. Get your hands off my ass.
I didn’t go back to his car, and later he texted me a few times and then he drifted away and it wrecked me. It wrecked me completely because—no, I didn’t want him. I just didn’t want to have fucked up, I guess. I didn’t want to have gone on a date and then have it end like some terrible romantic comedy where I sit in bed and eat a pint of Strawberry Lonely Chunks (call me, Ben and Jerry’s) with a spoon and cry on my unmade bed to my best girlfriend. I am not that girl. It is unpleasant to get even a little bit close to feeling like that girl.
Dating sucks. It has not gotten very much better. I didn’t go out with anyone until months later, and then I tried online dating. An extreme sports guy who kept his hat on during dinner and did all the talking; the blank-stare, acting-deaf guy who couldn’t seem to hear what I was saying and didn’t care, but spent a lot of time scanning my body up and down—and who, when I said automatically, “Talk to you soon!” as we were saying good bye, replied “You want to HANG OUT?” with an ears-ringing sting of incredulity.
The Bro with the baseball cap and the inability to make small talk—the guy who had texted me on February 14 and said he’d kiss me on the lips next year because I’d be his valentine then, and then got in a fight with me about women in sports. The beautiful guy who seemed perfect in really a ridiculous number of ways, who I saw a few times, who I had started to develop a crush on, who disappeared entirely. Who never explained exactly what happened. The guy who liked me so much, who I ought to have felt the same about but didn’t. I guess I was his disappearing act.
The guy with the black straw fedora, who chewed gum during dinner and snapped his fingers at the waitress. The guy who said all the right things but never bothered to make a move. The way too young guys who made me feel too old. The guy who said he was 5’9 but was actually some kind of elf. With whom I ended up in bed, unfortunately, because I am nothing if not the world’s greatest decision maker. Nothing was supposed to happen—he was just staying over. And nothing particularly happened, especially after he put his fingers where fingers DO NOT GO on a FIRST DATE. Especially unexpectedly and in the dark, for fuck’s sake. We texted briefly and then I realized I kind of hated him and his ass face.
I do not like dating. I hate online dating—which sucks because I thought it would be ideal. I like shopping online! I like writing! Online dating should be awesome! It is not awesome. I did not even get to make out with anyone really and I need to ask the universe where the fuck is the fairness in that? I get some kissy face and then boom fingers where there oughtn’t be any. I meet them and know them just a little bit, and they know me just a little bit or not at all, and it always ends up sadness.
That doesn’t seem right. Connection should be lovely, and important, and transformational. It shouldn’t make you go home and throw things around and stomp up the stairs and swear you’re never talking to anyone ever again.
I keep forgetting to deactivate my profile, and I keep getting messages that make me sorrow for the human race. From guys who see I’ve logged onto the site to look at them and without messaging them back. Who are angry that I’m ignoring them. Who, if I’m going to be really honest with you, I sometimes want to die in a fire. Okay, always. Always dead, always in a fire.
Right now, right now what I want to do is step back. I want to let things happen. I want things to happen, and I want to have hope, instead of anxiety, and happiness instead of worry that I’m doing things right, and know and be known instead of hoping having a drink together now means maybe someday we will totally have love babies. I want to believe and I’m going to say yes to things for the right reasons, and only to things that don’t suck, and figure that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. Because I am, in the end, probably not actually more sad than anyone else ever on earth.