|Sepia Selfie. Sepia = Spookier.|
I have many, many flaws.
HIMYM, by the way, is short for How I Met Your Mother, a show I started watching in its 3rd season (I went back and watched the first two seasons later, thanks to Netflix). And last night was the last episode of the series.
I have built a pretty productive life without being completely dependent on a man. Sure, when I run into car trouble I call my dad first, but for the most part, I am self-sufficient. Every now and then, though, I want to be carted around. I don’t want to drive. I don’t want to decide where to eat. Sometimes being a single woman is exhausting just for the constant decision-making I alone am responsible for (do men ever get exhausted by making decisions? Asking for a friend).
Last night my friend Grant was in town, and we knew we wanted to do something downtown, but I knew I didn’t want to drive or mess with parking.
“I’ll pay for all parking if you drive,” I said.
Turns out that Grant is fabulous luck with finding downtown parking spots so I didn’t have to pay for parking anyway. But it was so nice to climb in the passenger seat and visit with Becca (who let me ride shotgun the whole evening) and go to a couple of bars and have Grant bring me a drink so I could just sit.
Sometimes ceding to the patriarchy is relaxing and nice and I love it.
Sometimes the patriarchy pisses me off.
Like this morning, when I received a message from a man who is looking for the “Snow White to his Prince Charming,” someone who wants a woman whose sole ambition is to be a wife and a mother, someone who wants to be waited on hand and foot.
Now, the waiting on hand and foot is nice every now and then, as demonstrated by last night. But all the time? I don’t think I would like it. No reason why–maybe my propensity to feel guilty when people do things for me (though I felt no guilt last night). Anyway.
Over the past ten years, and little by little, I gave up the ambition to be a wife and mother. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t mind being married, and if said fictitious husband has kids, I’d like to think I’d be a kind stepmother. But I love my career. I’ve worked hard to be successful, not only at teaching, but also at writing. My sole ambition now is to be a good person, to love the people in my life as best I can, and to continually improve in my chosen profession.
But he completely lost me at the Snow White/Prince Charming analogy. Snow White: he wasn’t talking about the Snow White of “Once Upon a Time”–that’s a Snow White I can get behind. And as a fan of Stephen Sondheim and “Into the Woods,” I know Prince Charming’s true colors:
Anyway. So I replied to this man’s message explaining why I didn’t think I was a good match for him. His response?
“You might consider masking the bitterness at least partially. It will continue to keep you in the dating scene ad infinitum.”
All I did was explain to him, in very clear terms, why I didn’t fit what he was looking for.
I was clear.
I was honest.
I was logical.
And yes, I was blunt.
Clarity, honesty, logic, and bluntness apparently mean I am bitter.
Yet if a man explained to me that I did not fit what he wanted, I don’t think I would accuse him of being bitter. I’d like to think I would thank him for his honesty and time. Which is all this guy had to do, but instead he “taught me a lesson” (I shared one line of his reply here–it was a couple paragraphs long).
Smash the patriarchy, is what I’m thinking this morning.
But the next time I want to go downtown, I’ll probably wish the patriarchy could drive me there.
“Would you like to go out for sushi?”
I cringed slightly, because I am a moderately superstitious person and since the previous date was also at a sushi joint, I didn’t want to doom my first date with John.
John was not a phone talker–in fact when I gave him my phone number after he asked me out, he said he preferred to not exchange numbers until after the first date. I only gave him my number in the name of practicality, should either he or I suffer a tragic car accident en route to the date and need to get in touch. Especially given that, just like my previous date, said sushi joint was quite a hefty drive from my home.
John’s emails to me were incredibly formal, but as I pretend I’m a writer, I chalk up formal emails to someone who values the written word.
I arrived at the sushi place wearing the exact same outfit I wore on the previous date: dark wash jeans with a black floral print v-neck shirt that shows just enough cleavage. Classy cleavage, if you will. (Though in hindsight, maybe I needed to switch up my “date outfit” to change the luck.) I scanned the restaurant and saw someone who looked a little like John, but anemic compared to his photos.
“John?” I approached the anemic-looking man sitting by himself.
“Hi Julie!” He stood up and extended his hand in a very formal manner. I shook his hand, and we sat in our booth.
When I’m on a first date, I’m all about figuring out what to order first and then getting around to talking. So I found a couple of items that looked similar to sushi I loved at my favorite sushi spot and ordered those, and John ordered several of whatever he wanted.
And then we started to talk.
Something wasn’t quite right about the way he was conversing. It was almost as if he was working from a script. Like he was so concerned that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about that he allotted a specific amount of time for each discussion topic.
But at least he was interested in what I had to say, which was so different from the previous date. There was still something about John that concerned me, and I couldn’t figure it out right away. And as he was explaining to me the audition process (he was active in community theater) I realized what it was–he had many of the verbal mannerisms and physical tics as some of my students on the Autism spectrum. I don’t know if he actually was, but the bigger issue was that he was a carbon copy of one of my students.
It explained the formality of his emails, the handshake, the scripted conversation. He was so very nice, and when dinner was over, he asked if he could walk me to my car, which of course I agreed to. He stiffly offered me a hug, and I got in my car and drove home.
That’s the down side to being a teacher–so many things can ruin a guy. If he has the same name as the kid who called me a racist, or looks remotely like the kid(s) who refused to do any work and be surly about it, it affects how I view him. Not fair, I know. But it just is what it is.
Not that it was a horrible date at all–it really wasn’t. It was a lovely evening with only one super awkward moment (the conversation had died, I looked around desperately for a conversation starter, looked back at him only to find him staring at me intently), and it was nice to be out with a nice man who liked to talk as much as he liked to listen.
But I was pretty sure I would never hear from him again, and I never did. And that’s okay.