Monday, January 22, 2018

Fifty Shades of Awkward

Recently, I went out with another guy I met on Bumble, who I'll refer to as the Nice Guy. I was on the fence about messaging him because although he was attractive, I wasn't really attracted to him. But unlike most of the other guys I've seen on Bumble, he doesn't live an hour (or two) away; he lives in College Town. In fact, he works at the same college where I teach, though he is not a member of the faculty. He was my age, and he seemed nice enough.

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?


  1. That comedian was extremely rude and there's no way you should have had to deal with that. I'm with you, no way would I want to sit in the front row of a live comedy act, unless maybe it was Seinfeld. Ha

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thanks! It makes me feel better to know that I wasn't overreacting. I sent an angry message to the host of the show and he tried to make it seem like the comedian didn't do anything wrong, but I made it clear that both he and the comedian were wrong.
      Seinfeld, though, would be okay. I feel like even if he picked me out of the audience, he wouldn't be a jerk about it like that "comedian" was.

  2. Oh girl. That is exactly why you never ever never ever sit by the stage and p.s. he should have respected your wishes. Next time, do you. Go sit and be where you want and say, "you can join me here at this table if you want to continue this date. Otherwise, have fun being a target for terrible jokes."

    I'm totally cheering for you!!!! Start demanding and never feel guilty. This is your forever guy. So if they can't at LEAST try to please your littlest of requests, have them move on.

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thank you! That makes me feel better. Nice Guy claimed that we had to sit there because it was assigned seating, but I bet that several people would have been more than willing to swap seats in order to sit closer to the stage. And it did bother me that that guy didn't understand how much the loser on stage bothered me and humiliated me.
      And see that's the thing. I don't make a lot of requests of the guys I go out with, at least not on the first or second date when we're still getting to know each other. So it did bother me that he didn't understand where I was coming from.

  3. UGH sexual harassment from stage is NOT COOL. And honestly, nice guy wasn't so nice for putting up with it. :-/

    I'm sorry you haven't had any luck with your dating.

    1. Hi Misha,
      I know, right? I sent an angry message to that loser "comedian", but he didn't respond. I also sent a message to the host of the show, and he tried to downplay it by making it seem like it wasn't a big deal; I insisted that it was and that the behavior (and his attempt to excuse it) was unacceptable.
      A friend remarked that maybe that "comedian" helped show Nice Guy's true colors. It did bother me that NG didn't fully understand how much that jerk's statements hurt me.

  4. A break sounds like a good idea--so does writing a book about all these dates. ;-)

    I'm sorry you had to put up with that comedian and that NG turned out to be be missing the N, after all.

    1. Hi Tara,
      I like the idea of writing a book about all these dates; I do have plenty of material, and I even wrote down some of the weirdest profiles.
      That comedian was an arrogant jerk and a creep. When I sent him a message on Facebook making it clear that it wasn't okay for him to say stuff like that, he ignored me; he didn't even have the decency to apologize. I think he was just scrambling because his entire act was awful. NG's inability or unwillingness to understand made me wonder what else he wouldn't get.

  5. Luckily not humiliated, as far as I remember. I've probably been moody and surly or too opinionated (not that we shouldn't have opinions but when even my own inner voice is telling me "shut up already, you're being too dogmatic!" there's a problem). You're right -- how nice a guy could he be if he thought that kind of joking was funny, and if he wasn't even willing to consider switching seats?
    Ugh, pictures of animals they've killed, really? Yuck.

    1. Hi Deniz,
      The pictures of the dead animals just depress me and make me want to avoid meat for the rest of my life. I don't understand why anyone would find that appealing, unless they were hunters too. And that guy wasn't so nice after all. The more that I thought about it, the more I wished I hadn't apologized to him after the date because I feel like he owed ME an apology.