He suggested we meet for lunch at the school cafeteria. I'm not saying that the guy has to bring me to a fancy restaurant, but eating cafeteria food in the company of undergraduates, including some of my own students, is not my ideal first date. But I didn't want to be a diva about it, so I said yes.
We had the usual first date conversation: where did you grow up, how do you like your job, and yes, I would rather move in next door to the Kardashians and Dog the Bounty Hunter than live next door to undergrads again. But to be honest, I didn't feel any chemistry with him.
Nice Guy apparently felt differently because just a few hours later, he texted me to ask if I wanted to watch some stand up comedians perform the following night at a bar in town. I thought that although I didn't feel a spark with him on the first date, maybe I would feel something on the second date. First dates are often awkward, after all, because both people are nervous and still getting to know each other. Maybe I should give this guy a second chance.
When I arrived at the bar, I couldn't find parking, so I had to keep circling the area to find a spot, until I found one that was several blocks away. It irritated me that not only did I have to spend money that I couldn't afford on a ticket to watch comedians I'd never heard of, I also had to spend money on parking and trudge through the snow and ice (I got lost on the way back to the bar) to get there.
I'm ashamed to admit that I was irritable when I talked with him, partly because I was frustrated about the parking situation, and partly because I didn't really want to be there.
I was also irritable when I said that I didn't like the seats the host put us in (there was assigned seating); we were seated at a table right in front of the stage. Nice Guy said it was fine and that he liked sitting up front. But I knew, based on my experiences watching comedy in Chicago, that if you sit near the front, you will definitely get made fun of by the performer at some point during the evening.
I apologized for being irritable with him and said that I was stressed out over an academic piece that I'm writing and revising that is going to be published soon, which is true. He was nice about it, but I could tell that my mood put a damper on the evening. So I stopped being moody and we went back to talking about random things until the comedians started performing. Our conversation improved after that.
I'd like to say that the comedians were hilarious and put me in a better mood. I'd also like to say that I didn't eat M&Ms for breakfast. But then I'd just be lying.
Although Nice Guy and many of the other people in the audience enjoyed the show, I didn't laugh once. I felt bad about sitting there stone-faced right in front of the comedians because I know it isn't easy getting up there on stage and trying to make a room full of people laugh. But I don't see how a joke like "I don't want to have kids. That's crazy!" or "I hate marathon runners. They piss me off!" is funny.
I was right about sitting near the front, too. One of the comedians asked Nice Guy and me if we were on a first or second date. When we admitted we were, the Unfunny Comic (listening to him speak made visions of sheep jumping over fences dance through my head because I was this close to falling asleep during his act) made fun of me and started joking about sex acts I should perform on Nice Guy later.
I wanted to jump up on stage and slap him in the face with his microphone. I wanted to yell, "And when's the last time YOU got laid, LOSER? What's the matter, did your inflatable doll break up with you?" But I didn't. I said nothing and didn't even smile, while Nice Guy and the others laughed and laughed at Unfunny Comic's sex jokes about me. I felt humiliated and angry, and to this day I wish I had made it clear that although that jerk was a "comedian", he had no right to degrade a woman like that.
It made me think of that episode from Sex and the City where Miranda has an awkward date with a guy at a comedy club because the stand up comic makes fun of them, too. I remember thinking, "Oh my God, my life has become an episode of Sex and the City, minus the sex." When I first watched the show, I was in my early twenties and couldn't understand why the women on that show were so cynical about men, dating, and marriage. But now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I understand.
After the show, Nice Guy suggested we go out again. I was noncommittal and said that I was going to be really busy.
The next day, I felt guilty about how I acted and texted him to apologize. I shouldn't have acted like that, and I was (and still am) ashamed of myself. He was a nice guy who just wanted to get to know me and have fun, and I shouldn't have treated him like that. I told him it wasn't his fault and that I was going through a lot right now, and that I planned to take a break from dating. He was kind about it, and he told me to let him know if I ever changed my mind.
I've gone out with three guys from Tinder and three guys from Bumble in the past three months, and I think it is time to take a break from dating. No more conversations with guys who disappear in the middle of our conversations or who swipe right on my profile but don't respond to my messages. No more profiles that say stuff like, "I'm married but bored" or "I'm a better-looking Christian Grey looking for my Anastasia" (I should add that the guy didn't look so much like Christian Grey but more like the dad on Family Guy). No more profile pictures of guys posing proudly with animals that they hunted and killed, with the bloody bullet holes still in the animals' bodies (insert sad Sarah McLachlan song here). No more awkward first dates, boring small talk, or unrequited crushes. No more. At least for now.
I'd like to take a break from dating and focus on teaching, writing, research, working out, and learning new recipes.
What about you? Have you ever been publicly humiliated on a date, or have you ever behaved badly on a date?