Saturday, September 17, 2016

Meet Applebee's Guy This Instant!

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Disclaimer: It’s long. It breaks my usual format. It contains absolutely no spiritual value whatsoever. And, yes, names (of people, not restaurants) have been changed to protect the innocent. Otherwise, every. Single. Word. Is true.
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“Are you dating anyone right now?” my friend Jen got right to the point after I picked up the phone.

“Well, you could say I’m dating people,” I offered. “I’m online and I’m getting to know some guys, but no, I’m not exclusively seeing anyone right now.”

“Great,” she said. “Tell me what you think of this guy …”

She went on to describe her friend Dan to me. He was in his 40s, had two kids, been divorced for a couple of years, was a faithful church-goer, a computer guy, oh and I could look him up on Facebook and let her know what I thought of his looks. No pressure.

We hung up, I checked him out on Facebook, and I thought … sure, why not? So I gave her my green light and my phone number and email to pass along to him.

The way guys tend to move I did not expect to hear anything for a week or two. Lo and behold, that evening the phone rings. I pick up. He introduces himself and I say something like, “Wow, Jen just called me this afternoon – you are quick!” He says, “Well, she said you’d be off the market soon if I didn’t act fast.” 

Points for boldness, or negative points for coming on too strong? I wasn’t sure. 

We proceed to talk for 35 minutes. The conversation didn’t exactly flow, and I felt myself carrying the weight of trying to make it not awkward. There were a couple things he said that should have immediately been red flags to me. But you know how it is … you wanna give a guy the benefit of the doubt.

First weird thing: “So, what’s your sign?”

Me: “Haha!” 

Who asks that?! 

Him: “Really, what are you?”

He was serious. I was baffled. Astrology means nothing to me. If he did believe in it, what information was he trying to glean from my sign? I told him, then asked his … just to be polite? The conversation moved on.

We talked for quite a while, and it wasn’t exactly smooth and enjoyable, so I tried to wrap up. At which point he suggests we go out. Red flag #2? He wants to take me to Applebee’s.

I literally laughed out loud. There was no way I could deny a significant truth about me: I hate Applebee’s. 

“Ah, that’s funny you would suggest that,” I say cheerily. “I’m quite a foodie and I love eating out. However, anyone who knows me well knows that there is one place I refuse to eat. And that’s Applebee’s,” I say with a smile. I’m in my mid-30s. I know what I will and will not sacrifice to have a date. Good food is not one of them. “Sorry!”

So he says, “How about if I surprise you then?”

That’s fun. Why not? 

We figure out the details for Monday night and then hang up.

I’m definitely not wowed, but it’s worth a shot.

# # # 

Monday night. My nerves aren’t up at all. Another guy, another date. No big deal.

We’d decided he would pick me up at my apartment complex office. No point in having him know exactly which apartment was mine. I walked down the sidewalk and out from a humble but not awful car emerges a guy with a white rose. Wow, I thought. Pulling out all the stops.

“Aw, thanks,” I say as I greet him.

We get in the car and make small talk – about apartment complexes or something of the sort – as he drives to … well, I still didn’t know where we’d be eating.

Along the way, he proceeds to ask: “So, am I too old for you?”

What? Who says that out loud? Jen had told me his age, and I had agreed to a date with him, so what am I going to say, “Yes, you are. Can you please take me back home immediately?”

I laughed and tried to smooth over the awkwardness. I did not succeed.

A bit later, still in the car on the way to dinner, mind you, he says, “So, do you want kids?”

What is happening in my life right now? This guy is weird!!

I once again laugh awkwardly and say I’m open to it, but I’m not eager to bear my own children like many women are. 

“Well, that’s good. Cuz, you know, if you were to fall for me and this were to go all the way to marriage, you need to know that I can’t have any more kids,” he says.

Get me out of the car. NOW. We are still on the way to dinner and we just met. I do not want to have children, and I really do not want to have the ones that you can’t have anyway!

It gets better. Where do we end up for dinner? You better believe it. If this guy is the Applebee’s type, his next best option is … Red Lobster. No, no, and no. He actually thinks chain restaurants are okay!!

There’s a small wait, so we sit in the lobby next to each other with menus, part talking, part reading. I’m really not into the guy, but he is taking me out to dinner and it’s not Applebee’s and he deserves a chance. Right?!

We get seated next to window. He puts his menu down and says, “Finally, I can look at you now.” Oh, man.

We order. We talk. He talks a fair amount, but after the dates I’ve had recently, he actually does know how to have a two-way conversation. Relief. However, in the middle of something I was sharing he interrupts to say, “You’re really beautiful, you know that?” 

It’s like the man had been studying chick flicks and noticed that when the guy says that, the girl kind of melts and gets dreamy-eyed. What he failed to note is that the guy never says it in the middle of something she’s saying, nor when the moment is totally unromantic. Nor when there is absolutely no romance happening, period.

Later in the evening he says something like, “I’ve been doing a lot of talking. Tell me about you.”

Nice move, especially next to all the one-way conversation guys I’ve been out with lately. I say, “Gosh, I’m not sure what to share,” thinking he’d say, “Tell me about what college was like for you,” or, “What are some things you like to do in your free time?”  But no. He takes this as an opportunity to talk even more about himself.

He reaches for his phone. He pulls up Amazon and proceeds to show off a fantasy book with his name as the author. I’ve about had it with guys bragging about themselves, so I don’t play into it. Rather, I reach for my phone. “That’s nice,” I say. “Let me show you this.”  And I pull up the book I’ve written that’s on Amazon, as well. Two can play this game.

The night goes on. In one lull after our plates are cleared, he says point-blank, “Can I hold your hand?”

Uh, what? 

“Uh …” I say.

This is so weird. 

I don’t want to be rude, so I slowly reach my hand across the table.

“I guess so?”

He takes it and says, “I like to do this …”

Ah. He “does this” with all his dates? 

“ … to see if there’s any chemistry. Sometimes it’s like holding my sister’s hand, so I just like to see.”

He’s holding my hand and I feel like we need to pray or something. It is the most unromantic non-prayer handholding I’ve had in … well, ever.

The waitress comes back and I find the timing perfect to pull my hand back to my lap. And to ask for the bill. And to get out of there as soon as possible.

“I really have to get some work done tonight, Dan,” I say. 

So we wrap things up at good ol’ Red Lobster and head for the car. Home, home, home. Must. Get. Home.

“I really had a great time tonight and hope we can do it again,” he says on the drive.

I laugh lightly and bring up something else.

By the time we get to my apartment, he brings it up a second time, “Shall we do this again?”

How did I pass his hand holding test?! 

Most normal, smart, bold women would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” 

Me, I just can’t let a guy down hard. So I’m lame about it and say I’m a thinker and I need to process the night before I decide. “Can I let you know later?”

And with that, I bolt from the car to my apartment and vow to never, ever, ever agree to a date with a man who thinks Applebee’s is okay.

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