I have had three long(er) term relationships. In two of them, the guy fell reluctantly into things with me. In both situations, the spiel went something like this: “I’ve got a lot of changes going on in my life right now. You just need to know that I’m not sure how much I want in dating right now.” I ignored the yellow caution light (or the red flag) and continued on. Love did bloom. In both scenarios, I was the one who chose to end the relationships. Ironically, both guys would have stayed the course.
But things were flawed from the outset. They didn’t hide things from me. I, due to a genuine interest and perhaps a blind determination to be in a relationship, didn’t allow a vague “no thank you” to lead to an early exit.
Here I am in a similar situation yet again. During a promising first date and a second date over dinner tonight, conversation ran smoothly. Both of us shared freely, going into greater depth than I typically encounter with the interview-styled surface dating. Tonight’s date was cut short due to the fact I have to catch the last ferry home which departs at a night-owl-unfriendly 9:15 p.m. I had to leave at 8:30 to ensure that I would make it. As we walked back to my car, things got quiet.
For me, I worried about my dog sitting in the car for two and a half hours on one of the coldest nights of the year. (Yes, I’d wrapped him in blankets, but what if that wasn’t enough?) I also fretted about whether the breath mints I discreetly popped would cover up the Thai curry aftertaste from dinner in the event we shared a goodbye kiss.
My concerns were for naught. My dog remained nestled amongst the blankets, a distinct smell permeating the car as I opened the door. He’d found my overripe banana, pierced it and feasted on the tropical treat. His birthday is tomorrow. I’ll consider that an early present. And the kiss? Alas. I got a standard hug and a “Drive safely.”
Ouch. I think the banana fared better.
The car radio taunted me as I drove to the ferry terminal as Lady Antebellum sang “Just a Kiss”:
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
No, I don’t wanna mess this thing up.
I don’t wanna push too far.
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
So, baby, I’m all right
With just a kiss goodnight.
Why didn’t I switch to the all-news station?
Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” immediately followed. Not as relatable but the kissing theme highlighted something glaringly missing from a second date.
As there were no road-closing accidents en route to the terminal, I arrived with a few too many minutes to spare. I had too much idle time sitting in my dark vehicle to allow me to wonder, Uh,...what happened? He had said, “We’ll talk during the week”, but was that simply a polite substitute for “Have a nice life”?
Yes, I think I knew the answer, but why spend the next five days wondering and entertaining the remote possibility that we would indeed talk? If things were going down, sooner would be better. Forget the dating rules. (I’m too old to bother with them.) I wanted clarity. I called him.
To his credit, he wasn’t creeped out...or he didn’t let it show. He even answered on the first ring. (Isn’t there a two-ring minimum? Seems he is not a rule follower either.) “I told you that I’m just starting back into dating,” he explained. Yes, his two-year relationship ended less than two months ago even though he knew it wouldn’t work three months into it. “I don’t know what I’m thinking. I don’t know what I’m feeling. I just want to go really slowly.”
Et tu? Déjà-vu? “I understand,” I said. “No pressure at all.” Seems the only place kiss fits in this evening is in the kiss-off.
I have no tears like the castoffs on “The Bachelor”. I could go into one of their classic Woe Is Me speeches: Why does this always happen to me? I put myself out there. I showed I am ready for love. And he didn’t want it. He didn’t want me. What’s wrong with me? I wonder if implants will make a difference next time around. Again, not all parts of “Bachelor” talk are relatable, but I understand the gist of things. (I’m thinking of getting my teeth whitened. Okay, maybe not a full procedure, but I could pick up a packet of those Crest Whitestrips.)
I know that five days from now I’ll still entertain the possibility that he might call, just like I will gullibly fork over a couple of dollars tomorrow for a lottery ticket. But I also know that no call is an honest, merciful (in)action. I cannot continue to be the dating coach for another tentative man.
A shame really. I saw potential. Intelligent, empathic, attractive, artistic,...even a quasi-vegetarian. (Sorry, but sushi is not a vegetable.) On the bright side, there are no snags in my future plans. I can continue to dream about taking a peon day job and writing during my free time when I move to California. I will be leaving nothing behind. My life needn’t be so complicated.
And yet I wouldn’t have minded.