Oh he’s cute.
How was I here, sitting in this New York magazine-highly-rated restaurant, savoring things that would cost me groceries for two weeks? And with him? Given, he’s not something that’s really that difficult to come by — going on a date with a banker is as common as seeing a cab, but finding one that’s emotionally is available is like trying to hail one when it’s raining, Halloween or New Year’s. Sources say dating in New York is nearly impossible, but I was still less than a year in and refused to believe them. I had yet to meet Mr. Possibility and the possibility sitting across from me seemed quite…possible.
As we nibbled on the appetizers he ordered so quickly I couldn’t understand him and cocktails he assured me were delicious (they actually weren’t), I listened intently to what he said, making mental notes of what I wanted to remember to tell my friends and mom later. Before the third week (or let’s be honest, the sixth), you really only highlight the positives of a man and carefully leave out the select details that could make him seem unsatisfactory, until you call frantically, in tears, spewing off why he’s really a big jerk. This guy was 28, right around 6’0, did something for a living that’s so terribly boring I don’t care to explain it, had a buzzed head with blue eyes and biceps, and though he wasn’t particularly funny, I found him charming. We easily bantered and balked at topics we both found appalling, shared childhood anecdotes and he asked to see some of my work. He talked about the family he wanted to have while I wondered why we were talking about babies on the first date, but went along with it anyway, softened by the soft heart I imagined he had. He commented on my hair as he reached to touch it and asked how I liked my eggs cooked. We said “jinx” when we both said Eggs Benedict at the same time.
Oh he was cute. And he never called me back. I imagine he’s somewhere out there, doing that tiresome banking job and frying up some other girl’s eggs. I hope he learned how to sip wine instead of gulping it.
Now, his silence would probably annoy me, but it wouldn’t bother me for too long. I would consider why he wasn’t interested, bitch a bit to my friends and then move onto to the next date. But nearly two years ago when that Mr. didn’t call me back – I was flabbergasted. Because even though he wasn’t exactly right and I wasn’t exactly that interested, the fact that he wasn’t intrigued by me, made me feel totally rejected. Without even knowing him, I made him up to be some sort of wonderful, picture-perfect, made-to-marry man who I couldn’t let get away.
I thought, what if there wasn’t another one? What if I don’t have another great first date like that again? What if there is no special chemistry or man who can afford fine dining when, at the time, I was barely getting along financially fine? What if I didn’t get asked out on a second date or a third one or any number, again? What if there was something wrong with me?
Alone in that tiny studio that now I don’t miss one bit, I went through the words I said, the flirty glances I gave and the exchanges we had. I couldn’t pinpoint what had gone South or why he wouldn’t contact me again. I drafted emails I never sent, sent SOS text messages to friends who, bless ’em, always respond, and updated my Facebook status with a cryptic quote from a poet I had never heard of until I Googled “disappointed quotes.” A few weeks of silence later, I gave up on the blue-eyed banker and agreed to another date that ultimately didn’t turn out well (I didn’t like him, this time), and I put it behind me.
But now, as I venture back into the often terrifying world of New York City dating, I feel different. I used to put men up on a pedestal, believing their presence was more important than my happiness, and that if only I could find a good one, I’d have the good life. That’s why one sour date or one un-returned BBM could send me into an obsessive, analytical frenzy that often convinced me I wasn’t pretty enough, endearing enough or good enough to be with a guy I thought was great.
What I’ve discovered is that the great ones are few and far between, so there’s no use in worrying about the ones who are unavailable, captains of disappearing, only interested until they get laid or masters of careful word play because that also means they’re cleverly playing my emotions, too. And so, instead of putting all of my expectations into one man or into one date, I try to follow my heart but lead with my head.
And this is the advice I give to my friends when they’re having the same frustrations that we all face while trying to find love. It’s not the same wisdom I gave a few years ago or in college — perhaps I’ve become hardened or cynical, but I don’t think that’s the case. I only really noticed a change in my perspective after one of my dearest friends (one of those who answers my dating cries for help) when she started a text message with “Can I ask you something and you not get offended?” After assuring her I wouldn’t, she replied, “When did you stop diving into love? Was it Mr. Possibility or before? When did you become rational?”
I don’t think I’m rational, really – I’m think I’m quite an emotional, optimistic irrational person the majority of the time. It’s not that I stopped taking chances on men or that I don’t think falling carelessly in love is a foolish or impossible thing, it’s just that now, I know that I’m valuable and deserve to be appreciated. Perhaps Mr. Possibility showed me that by pushing me so far that I had to finally stand up for myself and for what I wanted. Or really, what I deserved.
So now, my heart doesn’t create dreamy notions of what a guy could be after one date. He doesn’t get the privilege to be embedded into visions of my future through those rose-colored glasses I tend to wear just because he opened doors, listened to what I said, bought my dinner or kissed me sweetly on the street. Those are things, in my humble Southern opinion, that guys should do. They don’t get brownie points for being decent human beings, but they might get a spot in my life if they prove to me they’re worth it.
Because I already know that I am. Dating may be difficult in this city but it also supplies a never-ending supply of bachelors, most of which, aren’t deserving of my time anyway. But one day, maybe, there will be one who was worth all this trouble to find. And who, always calls me back.