On January 26th, 2010, my 33rd birthday, I moved out of the house I shared with my wife of 8 years and was single for the first time since I was 21. I’ve had some interesting experiences exploring the dating world as an adult, and I’ve decided that it’s time to share some of those stories. The names will be changed, but everything else will be true. They might be embarrassing, some will be raw and profane, but it’s all part of my new life . . the single Avitalife:
(This post was originally written on a private, anonymous blog that I maintained. The original title was “The First Date”)
Twelve years had passed since I met Amy. I was 33 years old. The older, slightly more mature, moderately more wrinkled, significantly grayer, me. Recently divorced and looking at the prospect of dating for the first time since I was 21 years old.
I posted a profile on one of the online dating sites. Actually, on three. And it bore fruit in the form of a lovely woman named Kiki. Kiki was a blogger and a chef and a sommelier, and we planned a date out at her favorite restaurant in a nice part of town.
I got to the restaurant thirty minutes early. I would have been early to my own birth if I could have been. I sat at the bar, facing the door, and ordered a vodka and cranberry. I felt calm, relaxed, and confident. Nothing at all like my last date, twelve years prior.
My first date with Amy consisted of a bad movie followed by a cheap dinner. We talked a lot, and I used pretentiousness combined with self deprecation to be funny. I was awkward and nervous and even a little bit terrified. At that point in my life, I didn’t drink alcohol. I told myself that it was because I was a control freak and drinking alcohol with my addictive personality would make me lose that much-needed control.
It wasn’t until much later that I really identified the source of my discomfort with alcohol. After spending years in college looking down on the fraternity brothers who reveled in drinking copiously to the point of unconsciousness, I saw my avoidance of booze as something that elevated me above the others. I was better than they were because I didn’t need to drink. I would go out with them, enable them, encourage them to drink more, record their stupidity, and laugh at them, I’d think to myself. This superiority complex, combined with my increasing weight, led to my fear of being known as the “sweaty fat drunk guy.” Everyone knows this guy. He drinks, he gets stupid, and he’s grossly fat so it’s funny. Nobody’s laughing with him. They’re laughing at him. I was deathly afraid of being that person.
Things have changed now that I’m older. I’m more comfortable with who I am, and I know that I can relax and have a few drinks because I am a normal person. I’m not some higher being who needs to demonstrate superiority. I’m just a single guy.
My teetotalitarian position may have affected the quality of the date with Amy, but I don’t think so. I just think I was young and sexually and emotionally immature. I was extraordinarily nervous and remember sweating to an inappropriately moist degree. The late summer/early fall in the midwest did not lend itself to cool nights.
The conversation went well, and we enjoyed our dinner. Being the gourmand that I am, and gourmand is, of course, code for glutton, I ordered appetizers and a milkshake and fried food and dessert. Amy struggled with ordering something too expensive. My response was too threaten to order one of everything on the menu if she didn’t pick something that she actually wanted. Ah, how chivalry reared its ugly head!
Do you know what happens when you consume copious amounts of fried, greasy food very quickly, especially when your digestive tract is as finicky as mine? Yes. You have to evacuate your bowels posthaste, or, more aptly put, shit your motherfucking brains out.
I paid for our meal and ushered Amy to the car. She chatted away and didn’t seem to notice the strange way I was walking, much like someone who was trying to mentally glue their butt cheeks together. The drive was painful – my stomach would clench and I would think to myself, “This is it, old boy. This is the first and last date that you will ever go on, after everyone finds out you shit your pants.” But the pain would subside and I was able to breath again.
As a teen, I learned to drive from two Masshole parents, so I am by nature a fast, aggressive driver. Even so, my driving from the restaurant to Amy’s apartment was maniacal. I calculated in my head that after dropping her off, I could make it home within ten minutes and as long as the elevator wasn’t too slow, I might be able to pull this off.
I screeched to a halt in front of her apartment. “Thanks,” she said as she got out of the car. I replied in a frenzied jumbled mess of words and tore off for my great white porcelain savior.
Sitting at the bar, I ordered my third drink and waited for Kiki to show. From her photos online, she looked like a friendly, attractive blonde woman in her mid thirties. Our phone conversations kept me interested, and while I can’t speak for her, I felt like I had plenty to say as well. The phone, an extension of my brain, is my favorite tool. If I could, I would talk to telephonic companions for 8-12 hours a day, and when I was in high school, I totally did. I prefer the nuances of phone conversation to that of email, instant messaging, or texting, and it’s only surpassed by the advent of video calling.
When she finally entered, I recognized her instantly. We sat at our table and had a pleasant conversation covering everything from television to local restaurants. We talked about her life and mine to a lesser extent. We drank and ate and shared bites of each other’s gourmet meals. I was at ease, at home in my own skin, and it was early in our date when I had two important revelations.
The first revelation was a simple bit of ego boosting and an exercise in self confidence: Dating is easy. I am a fucking catch. I am good with people. I can talk to anyone. I’m an intelligent, funny, moderately attractive, successful man who can communicate openly, share his feelings, and has no major psychological failings. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.
The second revelation was unfortunate but just as helpful: There is no spark with this woman. She’s friendly and funny and seems great, but I am completely unattracted to her on every level.
After dinner, I walked her to her car. We shared a brief hug and a peck on the cheek, and my first date in 11 years was over. Painless, carefree, fun, and hopefully indicative of my future as a single man. And not even a modicum of risk of shitting my pants.
My apartment was a studio apartment less than 450 square feet in size. The bathroom was a miserable dirty hole, and one side of the toilet was less than three inches from the radiator. I sat on it sideways, the only way that you could sit on it, naked, digging my feet into the peeling linoleum, biting my lip, sweating, and thinking, “I wonder if she’d consider going out with me again.”
It wasn’t until the last year of my marriage that I actually shit my pants. But that’s a story for another time.