His profile stood out. Here was an artsy guy who wrote, produced and directed short films and posed a range of intriguing discussion topics for a first coffee date. Finally, a man of substance!
Still, I didn’t want to have another butt-glued-to-the-chair first date. I suggested we check out some Vancouver galleries. Why not experience something together and exchange opinions of what we see and feel? In firming up the starting point, however, he suggested a vegetarian restaurant for brunch. The place is one I’ve been wanting to try so I agreed.
I arrived on time and he’d already staked out a table. From the start, I knew I was not physically attracted to him—in person, he was a wonky funhouse version of his profile photo. Even so, I looked forward to an engaging, edgy chat.
He conveyed a nervous energy, immediately blathering apologetically about a geographical error he’d made online about where I lived. It was not an issue, but he’d apparently obsessed about it, having shared his supposed faux pas with friends. He’d also consulted friends about where to take a vegetarian; as proof—not that I needed any—he pulled out his phone with texts about suggestions he received. Apparently, this meeting was an Event.
As we scanned the menu, he pointed out an item with beets and shared a comment about the vegetable’s effect on human feces. Egad. Could we not just stick to one of the discussion topics from his profile?
But things got worse.
When he finished talking shit, he went on and on and on and on about how he had conquered the local film industry and how every short film he created had won major awards at every Canadian film festival he entered. He smugly expressed his superiority to the apparently clueless wannabes who coughed up megabucks to film schools.
I sipped my coffee and gazed at other diners, longingly observing the clear back-and-forth in their table talk. My distracted glances became more obvious, but he remained oblivious. There was too much hot air to release.
I became irked as I waited to see how long it would be until he’d take a breath and perhaps pose a question. It finally came. “So what do you write?” Unfortunately, I needed a second to finish chewing a mouthful of pancake. Amazingly, he continued on with his monologue.
I’d missed my moment.
In vain, I tried to get the attention of our server. Check, please. PLEASE. When I finally had a chance to talk, I didn’t care anymore. I simply posed a question, and let him ramble on again.
Check or not, I’d checked out.
It took ninety minutes before I got out of there. I’d had plenty of time to figure out what to say to get out of a gallery walk. “I’m sorry. I’ve got errands to do before I catch an early ferry home.”
He insisted on walking me to my car. The fresh air seemed to do some good. He became more subdued. Perhaps there was some self-reflection: I blew that. One can only hope. I certainly don’t wish that blabbering mess on any other poor online sucker.
So, yes, another dreadful first date. Another toad that will never become a prince. Another stinky clam with no pearl.
Some of us have forgotten the inherent mutuality in conversation. I have had too many coffee dates like this. I am convinced this is not my doing. On the ferry into Vancouver, I ran into a friend, a coworker and some acquaintances. We each talked. And we each listened. We built off of one another’s comments. We laughed. We enjoyed the interplay. Yes, it is true: I can be part of a dialogue with an able social companion. Why are so many single, middle-aged gay men so lacking?
This dating world is full of needles and no hay. So many annoying pokes, so many bad reactions. Are the good ones really all gone? Or have the few remaining good men gone into hiding? I keep trying to be hopeful, but I walk away from every experience shaking my head or wanting to scream.
Make it stop.
Please, enough already.