One of the worst dates I ever had…

This is about one of the worst dates I’ve ever had.

DISCLAIMER: Before we begin…I feel a bit weird because the person I am writing about in this blog entry will probably read this. The events that took place on this night happened about nine years ago. He and I have discussed it a few times over the years since, and we both know why this date went so badly. We’ve even laughed and joked about it so I feel its okay to write this. And if you are reading this – please don’t get mad, because really, you have turned out to be a good friend.

And now…the story.

I used to be part of an online community called “Black Singles Incorporated” (BSI). It was basically a big chat room where single black men and women could meet and talk and so on. I thought it might be a good way to make friends, so I signed up and began chatting in the room regularly. Eventually I got to know the people in the chat room pretty well, both online and in person, because we’d occasionally have get-togethers and such. I met a guy who lived in my area. We struck up conversation, just casually. He seemed nice, and I knew several of the ladies in the room were interested in him. He was single, no kids, intelligent, gainfully employed, home, car, etc. He was a catch in the chat room, where sometimes the guys weren’t always really nice, or working, or even single.

But one thing this guy was adamant about – he would not seriously date a woman who had children.

Now I had children. Two in fact. I made no secret about it to anyone. So I ruled him out for any kind of serious dating. And as I talked to him in the chat room, I did feel a bit bad about that initially. This man seemed to have some qualities that I admired and would have enjoyed in a man, in my man. He was intelligent and articulate, things I have always found attractive in men. But kids were a deal breaker for him. Now some other ladies in the chat room who had kids still tried their luck with him, perhaps hoping they could sway him with their charming personalities, or other qualities, skills or talents they might possess. I have never been one to try to change someone’s mind once they made it absolutely clear that they don’t want their minds changed, so I didn’t even bother trying. And in spite of the other things I liked and respected about him, a part of me was a bit troubled by how ADAMANT he was about “no kids”.

I’d never met a man who was totally against kids from a previous relationship. Most men I’d met would at least consider kids, depending on the circumstances and conditions surrounding them, and how the woman was dealing with the situation. Most men just didn’t want the kids to be badly behaved, or didn’t want the mom to have drama with the children’s dad, that kind of thing. Most men I’d met, while they might prefer childless women, wouldn’t totally rule out women with kids if there was not major drama attached. Plus most men I knew had kids themselves. But not this one. He had no kids, and wanted no part of a woman who did, and had no interest in evaluating women with kids on a case by case basis. When we would talk in the chat room I told him I felt it was a bit unrealistic of him to expect a woman in the age range in which he dated (thirty and up primarily, he was approaching his late thirties at the time) to not have children; I didn’t say it to sway him, but I just didn’t get his line of thinking since I had never encountered that attitude before. But he stuck to his guns, and spoke a lot about not wanting to shoulder another man’s responsibilities and such. And while I understood that intellectually, a part of my heart still felt it was just a kind of cold, unfeeling way to be. It struck me as kind of judgmental, sort of harsh. It seemed to indicate a kind of rigidness in mindset and opinions that I didn’t care for. And it seemed like he didn’t care to consider that he could perhaps be a great blessing to some woman’s child who might really need a positive male role model in their lives. So he did lose cool points in my book for that; not that it really mattered, because I wasn’t dating him.

But then he asked me out on a date.

Now I didn’t get why he was asking me. I had kids. He knew this. I never asked him to consider dating me in spite of my kids. Yes I had discussed his views on the subject in an attempt to understand his point of view, but I finally accepted that I’d never get it and let it go. And here he was, asking me out. I thought about it. I mean, clearly he couldn’t be trying to date me because he knew I had kids. But we had become friends in the chat room by this time, and so I figured there was no harm in engaging in a bit of social recreation as friends. It would probably be fun. So I agreed to the date.

We met at a restaurant in Columbia, near the lake. I had just gotten this beautiful lavender and burgundy silk dress with 4 ½ inch stiletto suede sling back pumps that matched the dress perfectly. I looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. Now the shoes were new, so I was still “breaking them in”, so I was tipping around after I parked my car, hoping he wouldn’t be hard to find. When I got to the restaurant he was already there. We’d never met in person, but we had exchanged pictures. He was a tall guy with glasses, with a neatly trimmed beard and moustache. There was a bit of grey in the beard. He had a very deep booming voice. So there were no major complaints about how he looked.

The first thing I learned about him was that he smoked, which I really didn’t like at all. Smoking is a deal breaker for me. I didn’t know people still smoked; I hadn’t met a smoker in ages. It was like seeing a dinosaur. But it wasn’t really my concern since I wasn’t trying to get serious with him, so I didn’t give it too much of my energy. After we ordered our drinks and began looking over the menus, I figured I’d get to know him a bit better. So I began asking him a bit more about himself; things I didn’t know about him from our previous conversations. I asked about his job and what he did there to open up the conversation. He had what sounded like a very interesting job to me, and I did genuinely want to know more about it. But as I did, he stopped me. “That’s now how we’re going to do this,” his said in his booming voice.

“Do what?” I asked.

“We’re not going to do this question and answer thing, like some kind of job interview.”

I was a bit stunned. I paused, first trying to grasp the idea that he had interrupted me mid-sentence, and then not quite sure how to continue. He went on to say that he didn’t like those “question and answer” types of conversations because that wasn’t really the best way to get to know a person, etc. The only way to really get to know a person was to be around them, spend time with them, etc. He shook his head and said “so, none of that interrogation stuff.” Now while I did agree that spending time with a person was a way to get to know them, you had to get to know things about a person in the beginning to determine if you even wanted to spend additional time getting to know even more things about a person. And I have always felt you could tell a lot about a person by the things they did not say in their responses to questions as what they did say. And I mean, a first date is in part about exchanging information. So I asked, “well, asking questions is a part of getting to know a person, right?” He said, “no, we’re not doing this.” I paused again, not wanting to debate the point and trying to get what he meant by this. “So, you’re saying if I want to ask you a question, I can’t?” “Yup,” he said. Then he added, “trust me, it will go much better that way.”

Now I felt this was extremely rude, for him to attempt to dictate how I should interact with him on this date. I really wanted to leave then, but I didn’t because I was really hungry, and our food came to the table.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to him talk about his beliefs, his ideals, his convictions, and so on. I said very little. I did learn he was a strongly conservative Republican (another close to deal breaker in my book at that time in my life – I am more open minded and tolerant these days), but I did cut him some slack on that because he joined the Navy during the time when Ronald Reagan was President, and Reagan took very good care of military staff during his terms in office, so I could almost understand why he was a Republican.  During dinner he asked very little about me, which at least gave me the opportunity to really enjoy my food, which was wonderful. But I didn’t feel like I was participating in the date; I was just an audience.

I was really confused as I sat at the table. I felt bad too, because I had really liked this man, and I don’t like a whole lot of men, and now my opinion of him was changing right before my eyes. I kept trying to explain and excuse and understand his behavior in my head as he talked. I couldn’t believe he had become such a jerk so quickly. It was disappointing, and a part of me just couldn’t believe it and kept trying to rationalize it. So I made plans in my head to tell him later how much I had disliked the date, how I felt he was extremely self centered and dull, and how I found his politics as offensive as his smoking. There was an arrogance about him during the date that I really found unappealing.  I did decide while sitting there that I wasn’t ever going to see him again socially, though I figured we would still talk in the chat room. We just wouldn’t hang out anymore. And maybe I was being unreasonable in some way. I figured I’d let the date play itself out. It might get better as the night went on.

As the check came, he said to me, “let’s take a walk around the lake.” Now first of all it was a chilly, slightly breezy night. I had not worn a coat or jacket, so I was already a bit cold, and the date had done nothing to warm me. Plus I had on new 4 and a half inch sling back pumps that weren’t really conducive to a walk. So I said “no, thank you.”

“Oh come on let’s walk,” he repeated. “It’s a nice night. Let’s walk around the lake.” As we left the restaurant and went outside toward the parking garage, I pointed out to him that I had no coat and I was a bit cold. I also pointed out my heels, and explained they were new and not ready for that kind of activity. I was a bit surprised he hadn’t noticed how I was dressed in relation to being outside and strolling, but I just chalked that up to his arrogance again.

“Oh come on,” he said with a chuckle. Then he smiled, continuing with “you Black women never want to take walks. Tonight you’re gonna walk.” And with that, he grabbed me by the arm, pulled at it, and pulled me over to the pathway that circled the lake. “But…I don’t want to walk…” I said. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I wasn’t used to being treated this way. But he ignored me. And so, with his arm encircled in mine, he pulled me onto the path and began marching along the path, pulling me alongside him the whole time. I stumbled, shivering cold, totally angry and embarrassed as people passed by us. We walked around the lake for a bit, looking totally ridiculous. He pulled me along and I was clearly an unwilling participant. But he seemed not to care. He was looking straight ahead, stepping quickly, holding me tightly, and I did my best to keep up, angry because I had to lean on him for support to keep from falling, praying I wouldn’t fall and ruin my new dress, and hoping it would be over soon. Fortunately it was, and he offered to walk me to my car, which I let him do. Hell, it was the least he could do. As I got into my car, he said, “I reserved a room at the Marriott.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “What did you say?”

“The Marriott down the street. I thought maybe we could stop over there, spend some time, you know.”

“Ummm…no,” I said. I peeled out of the garage, hoping I had run over his toes with my car.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Peace!

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