How many of you have ever started dating because you were too lazy to commit suicide? – Judy Tenuta -
I have to agree with Lori that life…well, my life anyway, is just a series of embarrassing moments. Actually, there are degrees of embarrassment aren’t there? There’s the “oops, wasn’t that cute or funny” kind of embarrassing. Those usually involve falling down, or ice cream in the face or the dreaded wardrobe malfunctions of life. Then, there are the really abject humiliations. These can occur when you insert your foot into your mouth so far you could bite your own kneecap, or when your own selfish behavior comes back to haunt you. And sometimes, humiliation and embarrassment can be heaped-upon-your-head by someone else.
I have had plenty of the first kind, some of which I’ve written about in the past few years here on 4P. Like the time I fell off the treadmill at the gym (because it was dark). Or the time I fell off the trail while hiking on Y-Mountain (because I have feet). Or the time the woodland creatures at Girl’s Camp reminded me just how disenchanted and un-Disney-princess-like I am. Then of course I’ve had plenty of the second kind too. There was the time I realized I had been calling one of the dads from the ballroom team by the wrong name for like a whole year. Actually this same thing kind of happened again in my Sunday school class just last week. I’d been calling a kid by the wrong name for like two months since he moved in. In my defense though, it’s not like either of them said anything. Which I suppose I can understand because there is a lady at work that I’ve known for about 3 years now who calls me by the wrong name all the time and I haven’t told her either. And besides being simply clueless sometimes, there are lots of times that I have been just plain thoughtless in my behavior. I look back of some of the things I have said or done …I’m embarrassed and I wish, I wish I could take it back.
But the one I’m thinking about today is actually one of the third kind. The one where humiliation is heaped-upon you by someone else. Sometimes it’s because they are just plain being mean, but sometimes it’s because they’re trying to do something nice….something for your own good even and it just goes horribly wrong.
I had one of those happen to me only a few weeks ago...and it was pretty bad.
I have a friend, a relatively new friend who just finalized her divorce a few months ago and so, like myself, is now single. I have been single for coming up on four years now and have only very recently started thinking that maybe being alone isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered…even though I’m pretty sure it probably is. I am very different from my friend. She has been officially single for about 4 months and is signing up for dating sites and basically putting herself out there to take another swing at wedded bliss. It seems to have worked for her because she has found a new relationship that she seems to be enjoying and who knows where it could go?
I am happy for my friend if she is happy and I admire her courage. But my friend, on the other hand, is worried about me. I guess basking in the glow of new romance really makes her want to share the love and she has really been encouraging me to put myself out there too. She has even coerced me into signing up for an online dating site. You may be thinking “online dating site? Wow that is really embarrassing.” You’re right, it is (at least for me), but wait, there’s more.
After I signed up for the site she actually expected me to do something with it…you know…talk to men and even arrange to meet someone. This whole thing hooks directly into every awkward and inadequate feeling I’ve ever had about myself from the time I realized I’d probably grown into too much of a girl to play tackle football with the boys anymore. I don’t think I’m a troll or anything. I have, after-all, managed to get two men to marry me - but it’s not like it was love at first sight. I kind of had to grow on them….over long, long periods of time…you know, wear them down. I’m just not the kind of girl a man is going to notice while picking out tomatoes at the grocery store and then follow around for her number. On the other hand my friend is exactly the kind of girl a man would stalk up and down every isle in the grocery store for her number. But you see, my friend is a kind, kind soul who I genuinely don’t think really understands the difference between the kind of girl she is and the kind of girl I am. She sees admirable qualities in me that she thinks men would respond to. I appreciate that, I do. But I've also spent enough nights sitting home without a date and missed enough proms to know that “admirable qualities” aren’t what get your foot in the door when it comes to dating.
So after all of that, you may be wondering why, if I am so reticent about the whole “online” scene, I went along with all of this. Good question. I’m trying an experiment with my life lately. I’m wondering if people aren’t brought into your life for a reason. You know, to help you grow. No offense to the millions of online daters out there, I know it’s fun for some people, but I’ve never been very comfortable with the idea myself. On the other hand, I’ve been single for almost four years now and there isn’t anyone in any facet of my life that I am remotely interested in romantically (or conversely, is interested in me). Nobody I even flirt with just for fun. So, if I am going to meet someone (even though I’m not completely sure I want to) maybe online is the wave of the future. My friend certainly thought/thinks so and maybe that’s one of the reasons she’s come into my life – ‘cause I certainly wouldn’t have done it on my own.
This is where it gets bad.
So, after several weeks of lurking unobtrusively on the dating site I actually “talked” to a few prospective dates. Then after a few more weeks, I actually arranged to meet “a prospect” at a local restaurant.
I arrive at the restaurant first.
I am nervous.
I am embarrassed to be here,
I was embarrassed just getting dressed for the date.
But I am here.
I find myself wondering, while I’m waiting, about the etiquette for the online hook-up. Does HE pay for dinner or do we each pay for our own? And how am I going to know that going into the date? Should I just ask right up front?
I kind of know what the prospect looks like from the fuzzy pictures on the computer, so I’m pretty sure I see him when he walks in. He’s wearing cowboy boots. I’m not saying that’s a deal-breaker for me, or anything, it’s just, you know, information. Because I had told the hostess my name and the name of the man I was waiting for, she directed him over to where I was sitting. I stood up as he approached and we shook hands then sat down in the booth.
I smile at him. He seemed ok - nice looking –a bit older than me and pretty tall (though I’m sure the boots helped with that). He was a little heavy-handed with the aftershave, but at least he smelled good.
He stares at me intently for a moment. Then he leans back in his seat, sighs deeply and places both hands heavily on the edge of the table.
Then he spoke.
“You know, I’ve been doing this online dating thing for awhile now and I don’t believe in wasting anyone’s time.” He had a nice voice with a little bit of an indefinable drawl to it...but I can't help but wonder what's coming next.
“Okay.” I say cautiously.
“You seem really nice, but this…” he says kind of waving his hands to encompass the entire package that is me, “…isn’t what I’m looking for.
“Okay.” I say again.
“So, I’m going to wish you a good evening. Enjoy your dinner.” He then slides out of the booth, stands up, and out of the Red Robin he goes.
As he’s leaving he passes the approaching waitress who was coming over to take our drink order and who, of course, I happen to know from Ebay’s former ballroom team.
“Okay.” I say to her. “I guess I know who's paying for dinner.
See, I told you it was bad.