One of my cardinal rules of effective dating is “Do not offer options when asking a prospective date about preferences. Get the information and make a plan.” I did not follow this rule when I asked Marianna out for the evening. Essentially, I let her plan the date and added my own twist as we went along.
Marianna had not visited the treasured sandwich shop of her childhood memories in years. She decided that making the 2.5hr drive would be worth the pleasure of eating a sandwich at a rickety wooden table. I hold this trip up as an example whenever I’m asked why I try to keep first dates limited to brief afternoon encounters. But how could I argue? Marianna was beautiful, determined, and insistent that she couldn’t think of a better person to make the trip with.
Spontaneous chap that I am, I gladly embraced the idea of also visiting Marianna’s grandfather “since we would be in the neighborhood anyway.”
It was a warm summer afternoon and we took the jeep. Top down, wind blowing in our faces, I drove the seacoast route to her grandfather’s neighborhood. We liked the same music. We both greeted the toll booth attendant (no quick-pay on the jeep) and simultaneously noticed the live Canada Goose sitting quietly in the passenger seat of a late-model Mercedes that passed us.
Have you ever ridden around a store in a grocery cart as an adult? It’s a rite of passage in finding a sense of humor as an adult that I highly recommend. Marianna had not yet had such an experience and I pushed her around as we gathered ice cream and her grandfather’s favorite kind of pie (see where this is heading?).
Bring on the 87 year-old grandfather with a fondness for petting his obese pet cat. Fat cats are fine by me. Petting them when they seem to have a late-stage oozing skin infection doesn’t help me swallow pie and ice cream. But I did. I sat on a bench covered with afghans, having spent nearly 5 hours on a date with a brand new person, watching a very old man rubbing his fingers in cat ooze.
When he asked me how I felt about the Cubs? I told him that I didn’t think they’d ever win the World Series. I don’t watch a lot of baseball and I’m typically not out to hurt the feelings of others, but I knew I hated the cubs right then.
I’m fairly certain he didn’t hear what I said because he continued the conversation as usual. I know Marianna didn’t hear me because her smile didn’t disappear. But I knew what I’d done and that’s why I classify that date as a failure.
- I’d entered into a situation with a person I knew very little about without setting any sort of time restrictions on our meeting. I’m not saying to set beginning and ending times for your dates, but have an idea about how long things are going to take and plan accordingly.
- I’d allowed myself to remain in a situation that I knew would turn negative in the long run. Now when I see a situation on par with non-lucid guy+infected cat, I remove myself from that environ.
- I had already spent so much time with Marianna on our ride down that I’d depleted much of my raw inquisitive energy and left myself open to social blindsiding. Allowing myself to use up so much of that energy also meant that I lost out on the opportunity to make a lonely person’s day by gladly participating in a conversation that interested them. He didn’t know I wasn’t involved. But I do and I still feel badly about it.
Do not allow yourself to get so caught up in how well you’re getting along with somebody that you lose sight of the goal: leave them wanting more. More time with you, more knowledge about you, more ways to smile. Marianna was a lovely person but I set us up for failure by committing to more than I had resources for that day. Had we met up for coffee and an afternoon chat, who knows where we’d be. I still have trouble eating blueberry pie without wincing.