After completely blowing the date before this because I was too uptight to accept a random comment on my Facebook page from someone I’ve never met, I approached the fifth date of my sworn 24 with as open a mind as possible. Easy like Sunday morning! Even though it was actually a weeknight and my date was 45 minutes late, as is tradition, I was rolling with it.
I set up most of my dating app profiles years ago. It seemed like if I wasn’t putting in the good faith effort to meet people on the Internet, I couldn’t say I was really trying to meet anyone. I didn’t actually ever get together with a single soul in the Cloud, but I diligently swiped left and right while sitting on the toilet.
When entering in my age range for these profiles, I went as low as three years younger than my age at the time, as high as fifteen years older, and I haven’t changed it. Now, I am *COUGH COUGH* years older than when I filled these things out, and that range is no longer appropriate, as I discovered when I found myself sitting across from an actual baby drenched in YSL cologne.
He was handsome, and had a certain confidence that was at least compelling enough to make me stay for a second drink. Were I nineteen years old, I might have found his constant bragging about absolutely juvenile shit intriguing. Here’s a sample:
Him: I haven’t eaten today.
Me: Why not?
Him: I only eat once a day. I wake up, smoke a cigarette, and don’t eat. I bet you eat three square meals a day.
A younger me might have tried to keep up with him, to one up a guy who clearly has a very specific idea of what is “cool.” Charging his roommate more than half the rent is “cool.” Quitting a job if he doesn’t get a promotion every four months is “cool.” Being an EDM DJ is “cool.” Frankly, I’m too old for this shit, which wasn’t his fault. It was mine for not adjusting my age settings and also giving myself a maturity reality check before going on a date with someone who MAJORED in philosophy in college to “get to know more about himself.”
Finally, he paused in his litany, and an awkward silence descended.
Him: (in an astounding moment of awareness) So, I feel like we’ve talked about me all night. Tell me something about you?
Me: Hmm, what would you like to know?
Him: Tell me a secret.
Me: Honestly, I’m kind of an open book.
Him: I know—tell me what’s most annoying about me on this date so far.
I swear to god.
“Well,” I responded, in what I think was a pretty calm and forthright manner, “This is the first time you’ve asked me much about myself and it’s still about you. That’s kind of annoying.”
If someone asks you what you find annoying about them, they don’t really want to know. I should have said, “You’re too good looking and all the girls in here are staring at you and I’m jealous please have sex with me in the bathroom!!!!”
In the following moments, as he became flustered, then almost scarily hostile, a weird thing happened. Briefly, it felt like we connected. He offered excuses for why he hadn’t asked anything about me—the conversation had gone too smoothly and I didn’t leave enough pauses for him to get a question in. Hadn’t I? Am I deflecting people from really getting to know me by always guiding the conversation back to them? Perhaps I had lulled this baby man into complacency, and made him think it was okay to ignore anything more specific about his date than whether or not she could guess how expensive his jeans were ($325, for the record).
I waited until he calmed down and finished my wine, promising myself to be even more open on the next date, because I’d clearly failed this round. I stood up to say goodbye and offered him a handshake.
“This is so weird,” he whined, becoming upset again, “I’ve never been on a date and shook their hand before.” I gave him a hug and as I walked away, his cologne clung to my hair. The date had given me a lot to think about.
Then I got the following messages:
I should mention that just before I left he bragged that the beer he was sipping on was his ninth one that day. Then, moments after texting me that I should enjoy my life, he wrote this:
And you’re blocked motherfucker.
I had been nice to him. That’s when I realized that he was young, but there was a part of me that was still young too. Green and inexperienced. Still a girl who thinks she needs to be polite, to stay for a second drink, to give someone a hug when you don’t even really want to give them a handshake.