Sunday, January 11, 2009

never insult a woman if you want a second date

The above-mentioned rule is only one of several that came out of my date with Bachelor #1, who I met on a popular online dating site. #1 was 42 years old, divorced, with two teenage boys. It was summer, so we agreed to meet at a restaurant with outdoor seating.

I arrived at the restaurant to find #1 sitting on the trunk of his car reading a newspaper. He was dressed casually in a polo, shorts and flip flops. After getting the initial awkward introduction out of the way, I assumed we'd head straight into the restaurant. Not so. "Wait!" #1 exclaimed, "I need to change my shoes." He proceeded to reach into his back seat and exchange the flip flops for a pair of boat shoes. I wondered if he had really agonized over flip flops vs. boat shoes and brought both so he could swap out at the last minute if the flops seemed too casual, or if he maybe had a shoe fetish that compelled him to keep an entire shoe collection in the car ready to go for any mood or occasion.

As we waited for our table at the bar, I took in all the usual bar noises: talking, laughing, music - along with a very loud smacking sound, which I quickly realized was coming from my date, who was chewing gum with his mouth wide open. Maybe he felt a need to fill the awkward silence between us. Or maybe he just didn't realize that he sounded like a cow chewing its cud. Whatever the reason, it was not attractive. Which brings us to lesson #1: Never chew gum with your mouth open.

Finally, we sat down to dinner. My eyes opened wide in amazement when all of a sudden, while perusing the menu, #1 took off his boat shoes and propped his bare, sweaty feet up on the empty chair next to him. OK - if you are at home, hanging out by yourself, or with the guys, this is perfectly acceptable. But there is no excuse for doing this in public, particularly on a first date - no matter how casual the restaurant, or how beautiful your feet may be. First dates are for putting your "best foot forward" so to speak. Take it from me, it is impossible to enjoy your company or food with the smell of foot odor wafting across the table. Lesson #2: Never take off your shoes during dinner. You may think your feet are odorless, but more likely you've just grown accustomed to your own stink.

The remainder of dinner actually proceeded fairly smoothly, and my date proved to have a very interesting sense of humor. He told the waitress that our names were 'Susie' and 'Tim' (not our real names), and that she should watch out because I was high maintenance and can be very belligerent if my needs aren't met. The waitress was unusually attentive, so I think that his little joke actually resulted in better service than we would have received otherwise.

After dinner #1 suggested we go for a drink elsewhere. I wasn't feeling any sort of chemistry, but I agreed because it was early on a Saturday night, I wasn't in the mood to sit home, and he wasn't altogether unpleasant as long as he kept his shoes on and didn't chew gum.

We ended up at an infamous dive bar that I'd wanted to check out for a long time. We shot a game of pool amidst a heavy metal cover band sporting mullets, and a bachelorette party serving up a cake shaped like a large male organ. After that we settled at the bar. All I wanted was a beer, but #1 presumptuously ordered me Bailey's on the rocks while telling me what a good date he thought this was. For all he knew, I hated Bailey's. To shut him up, I drank it anyway. And then he proceeded to order me another one, at which point I half-jokingly accused him of trying to get me drunk. Lesson #3: Never order a drink for your date without first asking her what she wants. It's just plain rude to do otherwise.

To top off my special experience at this dive bar, the elderly gentleman on the other side of me, who smelled like he hadn't showered in quite a long time, told me that he spoke Japanese. I determined that he either a. suffered from dementia, and/or b. had tied a few too many on when he decided to show off his mastery of the language by rambling on and on in what was definitely not Japanese, but complete and utter jibberish. He also told me, in English, that he was with his wife, but she was hanging out on the other side of the bar because "she bore the children so she can do whatever she wants."

After this debacle, my date and I parted ways. I was pretty sure he had a better time than I did and that I would hear from him again, Sure enough I did, a couple of days later via an email that contained as its main source of content - now brace yourself - a dumb blonde joke. The email did not express that he'd had a good time on our date, or any of the normal things that a guy who wants to pursue a second date with a girl would write. All it said was 'Good morning. Check out the best dumb blonde joke ever."

Now, I am blonde. And if we'd had a conversation during our date about dumb blonde stereotypes, sending me this joke would have made some kind of sense. But we hadn't discussed anything even remotely related to my hair color. It just came across as a very immature attempt on his part to get a rise out of me. Kind of like when I was a kid and the boys would call you names or pull your hair on the playground when they really liked you.

I'm sure he thought that this was really funny, and that it would definitely get me to respond. Which it did - being the non-confrontational people-pleaser that I am, I told him in the nicest way possible that while the joke itself was funny, that I thought choosing that type of joke was kind of insulting. To which he responded not with an apology, but with this:

"What, did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Here's another dumb blonde joke for you." At which point I wrote back that I was not interested in hearing from him again.

I mean, I have a sense of humor. I really, really do. And I understand that people find different things funny. But if a woman indicates that she's offended by something you did, you don't do it again - you apologize. I think #1 must have been spending way too much time with his teenage boys and not enough with adults. Hence, the 4th and final lesson from Bachelor #1: Never Insult a Woman if You Want a Second Date.

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