Now, my stupid story.
I connected with a guy online one Friday night. You know the drill: Texts. Phone conversation. Make a date.
“Hey, you’re gorgeous.”
“Hey! Thanks, right back at ya.”
“We seem to have a lot in common from our profiles . . . would you mind chatting on a phone a bit? Easier than texting.”
“Sure! I’m packing for a trip – call me in five.”
We talked for two hours, liked each other’s vibe, and planned to meet the next weekend.
It’s all starting out easy enough, right? But I’ve learned that “easy” means “be suspicious,” at least in my dating life. This is not called “Dating is a Bitch” for nothing. But I digress.
He lived in San Francisco and I’m an hour south–however, I told him I was happy to drive to him and meet him for dinner because I was feeling all sorts of amicable and adventurous (and I really did want to go out in the city as opposed to suburbia). When our date night came, he texted me the address to his restaurant of choice, I plugged it into Google Maps and took off with a good hour for travel time.
An hour and 45 minutes later, I was still trying to find the restaurant. I know. I suck at directions and maps, but this particular evening, Google Maps sucked even harder. The little Google lady was giving me all kinds of fucked up directions to this Union Square-ish restaurant because, as I would learn later, it wasn’t on a real street – it was located on an walkway that only pedestrians could get to. So Google, in all it’s technologically-advanced glory, was as confused as I was. But I digress.
I finally arrived at the restaurant 50 minutes late, frazzled, sweaty and breathless from practically sprinting from a parking garage a half-mile away. And there was my date, sitting at the bar with his second cocktail, all calm, cool and collected because he’d simply walked a half-block from his apartment to get there. I would digress more on what my feelings were about this, but you can imagine.
Yes, I had said, “I’ll drive to SF.” However, I didn’t say, “And please, send me to a restaurant that’s so hard to find even Google will get fucked up, but that’s located within a stone’s throw of your couch. Cuz it’s gonna make me feel great to know you chose tonight’s restaurant based on its ‘hookup convenience factor.'”
Clearly I didn’t arrive under the best of circumstances, but still–I knew within about 10 seconds that this guy would not likely be a love connection. I wasn’t attracted. At all. I was slightly irritated with him. And he was a bit of a liar: His profile pictures online were a good 5 years younger and 25 pounds lighter. He wasn’t old, but he wasn’t accurate, either.
But whatever. I was there, I was hungry and I had a free meal coming. I know that sounds rude, but after my two-hour travel time, it was the only silver lining I could find.
I had two bites of prosciutto and half a slice of bread. The rest? Inhaled by Mr. Calm, Cool and Collected.
Then he ordered a steak, baked potato, another cocktail and some dessert. I had a small piece of swordfish, a little rice and water.
When the check came, I did what I always do–pulled out my debit card and offered to pay half. Because women’s rights and equal pay and–oh, whatever. Really it’s because habit. But let me clearly explain: I clearly expected him to refuse.
After all, I had driven almost two hours to meet him. Ran a half-mile to the restaurant. Eaten about a fourth of what he’d consumed. Drank one cocktail to his four. And, for those of us who believe that chivalry is not quite dead, he was the dude, he’d asked me out, and it was a first date: He should pay.
Imagine my surprise when he put his greasy fingers on my debit card, swiped it out of my reluctant hand, and said, “Great. Thanks.” $90-plus-tip later, my jaw was still on the floor.
Had I really just paid for half this date? Did he really think that was okay? Did he not realize how much he’d eaten and how little energy he’d expended getting here while I, on the other hand, had burned more calories running from the parking garage than I’d just consumed? Okay, not quite–but still. You get my point.
After we were paid up, he walked me to my car and I said goodnight with a quick kiss on the cheek. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and I fumed the rest of the way home. But it took me just about half of the hour-long drive back to realize, I’m the only one to be angry with. Why would I expect a virtual stranger to watch out for me and my interests when I wasn’t willing to do that for myself?
It was one thing to offer to drive to SF–but I could have chosen the restaurant. Or at least the area. As for offering to pay, this was one time when I definitely shouldn’t have. I mean, he shouldn’t have accepted. But I can’t control his actions, I can only control my own–and my correct course of action should have been, “Keep debit card in wallet and let the dude eat the entire check. He’s already eaten everything else.”
This was a minor example but a good reminder of a struggle that I think a lot of women have: Sometimes we trust people we barely know to take care of us better than we’re willing to take care of ourselves. This makes no sense, but we do it all the time, and then we get pissed when it doesn’t work in our favor.
I didn’t see this guy again, obviously, but I don’t regret the date. It was a good wake-up call to lower my expectations of virtual strangers and raise my level of care and concern for myself. I don’t mean that to sound selfish or cocky or anything of the sort; I just mean that, as a single woman, there’s nobody better qualified or, frankly, more motivated to watch out for me than me.
And from that, I will never digress.