I’ve joked about looking forward to catching people on their second round of pairing off in the marriage relay race, since I missed the rush to marry and procreate in my twenties. Like most jokes, it is actually just the truth. Give me all your second chance romances! Y’all tried it, and I’m here for the more thoughtful and self-aware versions of people who have been through the gauntlet. They’re not in a rush this time, and slow is my romantic speed. Going on another date with a product of divorce (a single man) felt right, because we are both just trying to do the best we can under the circumstances. The vibe with the divorced is “wary but kind.”
This was yet another person I knew in real life and asked out after a friend scoped his sitch for me. Yes, it is very high school to get your friends to text someone you’re interested in and see if they’re mutually interested, but Tinder has killed the wingman. That’s wrong and bad! Bring back the wingman. Robots should not be taking your friend’s job, which is getting you laid.
It’s a beautiful day and we agree to meet at a bar nearish the movie theater. He is, of course, late. I no longer care if people are late; whatever nerve that used to work is dead now.
I drink a Corona under a blue sky and appreciate that having a date forced me to change my shirt and go outside. I’d been having a bad day, and on bad days I want to retreat and eat in my house/cave. If I weren’t on a dating regimen, I’d be at home sinking deeper and deeper into my hole. No matter how the date goes, I have at least redirected this energy and am engaging with the world.
My date arrives, and it is momentarily awkward. We don’t know each other very well at all, but once we admit that, it isn’t very hard to talk. Here’s a new reason it’s nice to date people in your community: you don’t have to explain the difference between improv and sketch to them. This may not apply to you, but trust me, it’s great.
There’s no way to say this that doesn’t sound weird, but he reminded me a lot of my dad. My parents also divorced when I was young. Their divorce was also contentious. There were also custody battles and accusations on both sides, and a long slow process of repair for all our relationships.
For a period after my parents separated, my dad dated a lot. I remember meeting several of his girlfriends. Some of them he was very serious with, some of them he was not. Some of them tried to befriend me, some of them were clearly testing what it would be like to have a stepdaughter as contrary and demanding as I was as a child. I was never afraid any of them would try to be my mom, but I dreaded pretending we gave a shit about each other. They could have my dad whenever they wanted, but I had no interest them and scorned their interest in me. If it sounds like I was a bitchy kid, I was.
It was strange to see myself now, slightly less bitchy, and sitting in the seat all those women sat in at some point: on a date with someone’s dad and wondering how that plays in to going on a second date, or more with them. In the moment it seemed irrelevant, but thinking something is no big deal is the first step to being surprised when it actually is.
We get to the movie theater finally, late together. He bought me a ticket ahead of time and also offered to pay for beer, though I deferred. While I do not expect people to pay and usually discourage it, someone just doing it is undeniably nice. This was someone who knows what the fuck they’re doing on a date, even if it’s maybe hard or not the right time or I’m a weirdo who got our mutual friend to creep on him for me. We whispered to each other in the dark and giggled about the movie, and it was probably obnoxious for everyone else but I enjoyed it, being several Coronas deep. It was simple and easy and fun.
Maturity makes dates like this possible, and the thought of a second date a pleasant one. Being older is good, but it also means you’re tired after two beers. Soon after the movie ended, I bid him an abrupt goodbye in the train station, then headed home to my cave. There I slept the peaceful sleep of someone who has waited a long time and can wait a little longer if she has to. Maybe even until round three.