Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On dating, and crushes, and love and the worst dates ever!

The first real Valentine I ever sent was to a gay guy I had a crush on. I was thirteen and he was seventeen, and I painstakingly picked it out at William's Pharmacy. I actually bought two identical Valentines, so that I could keep one for a scrapbook memory. It wasn't a mushy Valentine, it was a funny card. It's kind of adorable. I am still friends with this guy. My crush was apparently good for his ego and honestly, I knew I had no hope of this crush growing to any sort of fruition. I was just happy he took the card, opened it and took it home with him. Later, years later, he would tell me how it was the only Valentine he got that year and how sweet it was. At the time, he acted like it was nothing- and how silly I was but it was one of the moments that tested my courage. I knew, likely he would mock me for the gesture and even if he didn't, others would. And that happened, but I didn't care. I had a pure sort of affection for this guy. And he was so important to my social growth at that time. He made me determined and toughened me up. Because he didn't treat me with kid gloves, I knew what I was capable of when I was with him. In an odd way, he grew my confidence because he challenged me.
Later when I did start dating guys who returned my affection, he would function as a big brother kind of figure, disapproving when I wasn't treated well. I'm happy I still know him.
Ah the world of dating. Having not been a 'single' woman really for the last sixteen years- a look back at the world of dating and crushes and love is pretty amusing from this vantage point.
Funny how people in long term relationships miss dating and singles long for a long term thing- and there are those rare and wonderful, single and happy, in a long term thing and happy. When John and I had been together for about five years, I missed the sick to my stomach, head over heels, gotta have you NOW kind of feeling that consumes the first six months or so of a relationship. It has evolved now into this steady and beautiful kind of love and affection.
It's funny that I remember our first Valentine's Day together but not the second.
He's getting it right, this guy. I asked for a letter this Valentine's Day, and it was so sweet and poignant, and funny, it made me laugh and cry.
Once I was dating this guy, a very significant relationship and he asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day and I said, very flippantly (as I was 22 at the time) I want flowers and candy and jewelry. So he got me all three. A bouquet of roses, a box of chocolates and a pearl and diamond ring. And it left me feeling completely empty. He had followed instructions to the letter, and it was this terrible experience because I couldn't feel anything out of it. I had no idea what this was at the time. Why was I not happy? I chalked it up to feeling guilty for asking for things- not being good at accepting good things, being accustomed to disappointment.
But I know now that it was not the things but the complete lack of connection we had for one another. I was always trying to make something out of nothing with this guy but he was an empty shell. He knew how things looked but he never really knew me or loved me. I fit his definition of girlfriend, woman he owned but he never 'got' me. He never saw me for who I was. Near the end of our relationship, we were at his friend's house and he was bragging about me.
"Vanessa is a really good writer," he said.
We'd been together a couple years at this point.
I looked at him, and realized for the first time what a fraud he was.
"How do you know I'm a good writer?" I asked him.
"Well...you are."
I pressed him and he stuttered.
"You've never read one thing that I've written," I said. "For all you know, I could suck at it."
He gave me the how dare you embarrass me look. I made it worse by asking him what my college major was. He couldn't answer. Yeah, that was why it all felt so empty. He had filled himself up with what his idea of me was and the real me was nowhere in there. He had picked out the roses he liked, the chocolates he thought I should eat, and the jewelry he thought I should wear. I don't even like pearls. It never occurred to him to ask really WHAT I wanted. To this day, he still doesn't understand why I left him, because he never really saw me. He saw a reflection only of what he thought I should be and reality kept intruding.
I guess I was fooling myself for the longest time about him as well. I did not see how empty he was. He kind of looked good on paper. He had a good job and a nice car and he liked to buy me things. I was used to dating guys without jobs or cars or even driver's licenses, this was supposed to be the kind of guy who would do right by me. I tried to make it work for the sake of my son and for the sake of not giving up on the dream of a family that I had for so long, but you know in the end, I had to be true to the reality of the empty shell that he was and would always be.
In the end, I don't think Valentine's Day is about the perfect date or the perfect flowers or candy or the most perfect crush. It's just a day full of expectation of something.
In the single days, I used to send my single friends cards and buy myself my favorite chocolate. Day after V Day is the best day for half price chocolate!
Here is my favorite worst date story.
I had gone on one date with this guy, Wayne who seemed kind of nice and sort of normal enough for me to give him a second date, considering the first one I had met him at Denny's and had talked to him for around an hour. About a week later, we agreed to go out to dinner, so he came by my house and picked me up. When I got in the car, I noticed he had brought his dog with him.
I mentioned I thought we were going to dinner, he said "Oh,I can leave him in the car."
That just didn't seem right to me. Mind you in the week we had been talking he had never mentioned even owning a dog and he had definitely not asked if I minded if he brought the dog along. I'm NOT a dog person and it seemed totally rude to me that he hadn't even mentioned it. The whole time we were in the restaurant, I felt bad about the dog sitting in the car and alternately resentful that we couldn't take our time out to eat because of the dog.
I had gotten a babysitter for our date, could he not have gotten a dog sitter? If I had brought my kids along without asking, he might have been a little upset. This guy was definitely weird. After dinner, he asked to go back to my house.
I asked him if he was taking the dog home first. He said, no, he was bringing it to my house. I said, no, I have four cats and they won't like a dog in their house. He says well, I'll put the dog in your back yard. Um, except my yard was not fenced in. He acted huffy, as if this was my fault, I was ruining his plans. There was no third date.
This might have been tied with the guy who on the phone planning the date told me he had a vasectomy. Yeah, baby, that was sexy. I mean- TMI way too soon, assuming I even believed him, which I didn't. The last thing I needed was another 'sterile' guy getting me pregnant. Then he wore the worst cologne ever, I couldn't get within ten feet of him. Handshake goodnight after worst movie ever and then driving home, I got a speeding ticket. Perfect end to the perfectly awful night!
It makes me laugh now. I love the bad date stories. It's easy now to not have too many expectations. John and I skyped tonight. That and the letter was enough, every day knowing he is my husband is special.


Julie W said...

I just re-read this again, and realized I have the best worst first date story, in which the guy told me had once slept with his cousin as an adult (who was Swedish, which was European--thanks for the update, dude, I do know my countries, but anyway--so that made it more okay somehow) and that she came on to him first (which also made it okay somehow especially since they were sharing a bed, which is what Europeans DO, you know, as opposite sex family members....).

As up til that point (several conversations over a couple of weeks and emails) I had ascertained he was genuinely nice person, I suggested he might not EVER want to share that on a first date ever again. He looked at me, confused. I explained that it was technically incest, and that it was a bit uh, not justifiable. He was chagrined.

WHICH didn't stop him from going on and explaining that he'd always had very progressive ideas about sex since the day his dad explained it all to him with porn....at which I suggested therapy might be helpful. He asked, "Really? Do I really need therapy? " He was pretty morose about that.

At least he polite and kind and genuinely interested in what I said and my perspective. And I doubt he's telling that story any more on first dates. But I also doubt he's gotten any therapy. ;)

Dante Mallet said...

Oh, teenage years. I don't know why some girls expect to get picked up by cars (regardless what model) everytime they go on a date. Well, some may say that a part of dating traveling in a car. Failed dates may be a bit disappointing at first. But when you look back, you'll sure laugh. These things make a person stronger.

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