Let’s define our terms right off the bat here. When I say I don’t date, I don’t mean that I’m a hairy hermit woman who sits alone in a log cabin, hurling rocks at every gentleman caller who dare enter my domain. I suppose when I say I don’t date, I mean I don’t date strangers. I’ve never been able to just meet a guy out of the blue, talk to him for a few minutes, and end the exchange with an agreement to spend further time together. That sounds exhausting. No, no. I need to get to know a person first on a friend level, preferably in a group setting. Ease my way into the whole talking thing. And usually the end result is several dates, possibly a relationship. None of this let’s-get-coffee-so-I-can-tell-you-my-favorite-color-and-you-can-pretend-that’s-fascinating-and-we-both-pretend-our-breath-doesn’t-stink-from-the-coffee mumbo jumbo.
But there was one time…ONE TIME…when I decided to take a chance and challenge this viewpoint of mine. One time when I decided that I was going to be the kind of girl who dates. And then I would turn into one of those women who gets flowers sent to her by one guy while she is on the phone with another and she is sharp and perfect and good at keeping her stories straight and laughs in the face of women who struggle with men.
And this one time…absolutely confirmed that I had been right all along. Dating is awful and I won’t do it. You can’t make me.
It all started off with graduating college and me not knowing what the heck to do with myself. You see, I had moved back home and my theatre degree was really all I had. Suffice it to say, I began looking for waitressing jobs immediately. So in this sense, it felt a lot like any old summer vacation. Except for the fact that all of my friends from back home had found jobs in new and exciting places and I was just sort of shuffling about, perpetually on the brink of an existential crisis.
I found myself wandering into a hotel/catering hall to fill out a job application. There was a boy behind the front desk who I admit was cute-ish (I’m a sucker for a nice thick pair of glasses). He asked me to wait a few minutes so he could print out more applications. I said no problem and took a seat. He brought me the application, I filled it out, handed it to him, and he told me to have a nice day and that he’d put in the good word for me, to which I curtly responded, “Thanks,” because people scare me and we are often rude to the things that scare us.
Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call.
I answered pretty quickly because I assumed it would be one of the zillion places I’d applied at that day and that they were immediately enthralled and entranced by my illegible handwriting and irrelevant experience. “A theatre degree, you say? When can you start?”
“This is Seth.”
“Seth. We met this afternoon at the hotel. Look, I know it’s really weird and unprofessional of me to get your phone number off your job application, but I was wondering if you’d like to go get lunch with me on Tuesday.”
Insert my baffled silence.
“I mean…you seem like a nice person?” Yes, he did phrase it as though it were a question. Note he wasn’t only questioning my niceness, but my seeming niceness, as though the 3-4 words I had said to him earlier may have given him cause not to trust me.
We are going to play a game here on J. Awkward Prufrock. We’ll call it “Cute or Creepy?” Every so often, I will post the story of a questionable situation I have encountered with the opposite sex, and I want to hear from you: is it cute or is it creepy? So, what say you, Awkward-teers? Was Seth’s move cute or creepy? At the time, I thought it was more on the cute side. Ballsy, even. But I want to know, what would you have done if you were me?
There I was on the phone, completely tongue-tied and taken aback by what was happening. This had never happened to me before, and I had no idea what to do. Then I remembered that I was a college graduate! An educated woman, damn! This was a time to be experiencing wild and wonderful things, exploring new horizons, finding out who I truly am! And maybe I’m a dater. Also, I was incredibly lonely and he knew I was unemployed so maybe that meant I’d get free lunch.
“Uh…sure,” was my cleverly crafted response, because at this point in mine and Seth’s relationship, I had learned that keeping my sentences to two words or less made me seem nice maybe.
He named a time (1pm) and place (local trendy hipster restaurant) and I wrote it down on a Post It and we parted ways until Tuesday.
Fun side-note, I remember during the period between this phone call and Tuesday, HeyTelling my college roommate that I had a date (ya know, during the two weeks that HeyTell was popular), and her response was, “You have a fucking date?!” I was very amused at the time by her excitement and confusion. The girl had lived with me for three years and had never once seen me go out on a date. She knew what a rare thing this was for me, and consequently, she was more entertained by the end result than anyone else.
So Tuesday morning arrived and there I am, minding my business in my PJs, bitterly regretting agreeing to go out on this date because there was a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV that day, but also in a dream state about the prospects of the lunch. Maybe things with Seth would work out. Maybe he also liked Gilmore Girls and not getting dressed. Maybe he liked Harry Potter more than I do (no, that’s impossible, Jillian. Get your head outta your ass!). Maybe he knew some famous casting director and I’d be well on my way to becoming a star in no time!
At 11:15, I got a text.
“Hello Jillian. This is Seth. From the hotel. I was just wondering if we were still on for today.”
I found it a little odd that he felt a need to remind me that he was Seth From the Hotel, as though there were many Seths I had agreed to meet that day, but none of the others could have been from a hotel. But hey, maybe that meant he thought I was a girl who dates!
“Hi Seth. Yes, still on.”
“I thought we had agreed to meet at 11am. As in 15 minutes ago. It is now 11:15am.”
Whilst I can intellectualize the panic Seth must have been feeling at this point, thinking I was a no-show, I couldn’t really understand why he thought I couldn’t tell time or why he often felt the need to throw in superfluous information. But hey, I was learning things about him, and I suppose that’s the point of this whole dating thing.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I wrote down one o’clock for some reason.” Because that’s the time you told me, Seth, even though apparently you’re really great at telling time.
I didn’t get a response for a bit after that, so I threw in a second message: “I can get down there at noon if you’d rather.” Theoretically, I could get there by noon, if he didn’t mind the very natural look (as in wet hair and morning breath).
“I’ll see you at one.” Well, that was easy.
I arrived promptly at 12:55pm and waited outside the restaurant for his arrival. At this point, I am going to switch to mostly dialogue to illustrate the goings-on of this meal we shared. I have a feeling you’ll get the gist of exactly what I was thinking as all of this was unfolding.
Seth: Hi, Jillian?
Jillian: Yes, hi.
Jillian: …Yeah, I know. Sorry about the time mix-up.
Seth: That’s okay. I only live up the road.
Jillian: Oh, good.
Seth: If I lived further away, I would have been mad.
Seth: Wanna go sit?
We are seated. Awkward silence ensues.
Jillian: The food is really good here. I love that they do all-day breakfast.
Jillian: I think I’m going to get a waffle.
Seth: You should get a sandwich. It’s too late for waffles.
(I’m going to interject briefly here and just point out that if there are five words that could ruin any date, my vote is those five words are, “It’s too late for waffles.”)
Jillian: I don’t think there is a time limit on waffles. Every o’clock is waffle o’clock.
Seth: It’s one o’clock. If it were 11am, maybe.
Jillian: I’m going to get a waffle.
Seth: Okay. I’m going to get a sandwich.
Jillian: So…do you have a favorite color?
Seth: Do you?
Seth: I would have guessed pink. Your shirt is pink. And your bag is pink.
Jillian: Well, I do like pink.
Seth: Pink is an obnoxious color.
Seth: How old are you?
Jillian: 21. How old are you?
Seth: I’m not old.
Seth: I mean, I don’t want you to think I’m some old guy.
Jillian: I never thought that.
Seth: I’m 20.
Seth: So I can’t drink yet.
Jillian: It would appear.
Seth: But I drink at school sometimes.
Jillian: Where do you go to school?
Jillian: Oh, fancy.
Seth: Yes. People are usually impressed by that.
Jillian: So you’re going to be a senior?
Seth: Well, I’m taking some time off right now.
Jillian: Okay, well, sometimes people do that.
Seth: I took some time off beforehand, too. To pursue a career in ice dancing.
(Because I am not a good person, I thought he was joking, and proceeded to laugh…hard).
Seth: What’s so funny?
Jillian: Oh, oh…nothing. Nothing. I love watching ice dancing at the Olympics. I’ve always kind of wanted to try it.
Seth: You couldn’t do it. Your ankles are too fat.
Jillian: Well, there goes that.
I wish I could say I was exaggerating any of this, but I remember it quite distinctly (though time has a way of playing tricks on the mind) because it was this experience that prompted the decision to never ever agree to a date like this again ever. That lunch lasted exactly an hour, but it felt like 15. It was not worth the free waffle (when it finally arrived, by the way, he said it “looked fattening” as he ate his side salad. He could have gotten sweet potato fries with that sandwich and he chose a side salad! After this observation, I decided he was an alien sent to Earth with no preconceived notions or knowledge of what is good and worthy).
He texted me a few times after that. Frankly, I was quite surprised he wanted to spend any more time with me since it was now a life goal of mine to avoid him and dating in general at all costs.
I didn’t get that job at the catering hall.