I knew that he would never be my boyfriend on our second date when he said, “you’re really funny.” I am really funny. I am the deeply unattractive mix of ‘really funny,’ and competitive, and it has always been boner poison for me. Once a guy sincerely deep gut laughs at one of your jokes he starts to care less what you would look like making those jokes naked. I digress.
It’s noon, the day after a date I have been looking forward to for two weeks. For context it was our fourth date, our first being about a month ago. We had the perfect first date. We decided to meet for a drink at a pub between our houses, not knowing it was music bingo night. It was so full we had to sit at the bar, and by the end of the bar night I had watched him be lovely to the people sitting around us, slay at music bingo, and have excellent taste in beer. He was charming and lovely. He was a varsity rower, it shows. He is passionate about his hobbies. He’s a little bit self deprecating, but not in a way that begs me to disagree. He walks me home. We have the perfect first kiss. He comes in. He stays the night. I feel like I would like him to leave 12 hours earlier than he does, and I misinterpret this as him liking me. (Actually, I think he was waiting to be offered a ride home.)
The other two ‘dates,’ are him coming over to Netflix and talk about his ex. A lot. I tell him I want to make it clear that I’m looking to actually date someone, and I’m not in the pursuit of something casual. He says he’s “in a weird place.” I say that’s fine, but if he’s not looking to date someone then we really have no reason to carry on. He says he wants to keep talking, and implies things could be different over time. I want him to think I’m ‘chill,’ and confident enough to be okay with that answer, so I say it’s okay. He kisses me goodnight at the doorway, and it’s so good I think I could be fine with waiting for him to figure it out. Maybe?
After date three I go home to visit family for two weeks. He tells me he got his first phone when he was 25, and is ‘bad at texting,’ and he’s not lying. It’s okay. I don’t need to text. He keeps initiating it though, which is endearing at first, because he’s trying. He’s just such a different person over text, his punctuation makes him sound permanently angry, and I know the concentrated effort I’m putting into coming across cute/chill is not reading. It’s not working for me, I feel deflated when I see his name on my phone and open a text that says, “I have glue on my hands,” when I really want to see one that says “I miss you, and I’m thinking about you too.” I suggest we don’t speak until I’m back, or we talk on the phone instead of texting. He completely ignores those suggestions favouring the idea that he will text me every 48 hours to explain how his sinuses feel. Okay? Magically, he manages to text me about his ex. I suggest I am the incorrect audience for that. He had a taco today. I have been looking forward to the Christmas show at the Belfry for quite some time, and I remember how our first date felt. Surely we could get that again at the magic Belfry Christmas show! I’ll wear the unbelievably expensive dress I bought for my brother’s wedding reception! He’ll wear some version of formal! There will be wine! The show will make us warm and Christmas-y, and he’ll realize I’m cultured because I love theatre. I ask him to come with me, he says, “I guess.” Jackpot.
Finally, it’s last night. Date night. I remind myself to keep my hopes at bay, and then I don’t. I text him to ask about the logistics of driving, and he gives me a weird vague answer. I ask again, he tells me he got called racist at work today. I ask in all caps, “AM I DRIVING OR ARE YOU?” He says he will, and I say “GREAT.” I tell him we should be there for 7. He asks what to wear, and says he’ll wear a tie. (Cuteness!) At 6:15 I text to say, “just to clarify we need to be there for 7, so I’ll see you at 6:45?” A few minutes later he says he’s downtown, out for dinner with friends, and needed a ride home that never came. He makes me do all the problem solving, which eventually whittles down to I’m driving, I’m going downtown to pick him up, and I’m leaving 25 minutes earlier than I expected to be, because I have to leave right now. 25 minutes pre-date is crucial hair/makeup time that I now have to squeeze into a one minute slap and dash. I’m unimpressed that he did not communicate this to me in a considerate way. Had I not texted him at 6:15 would I be waiting at 6:45? Would we have made the show? I pick him up and he’s wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a plaid shirt over top that he got mustard on. He smells like alcohol. We get to the beautiful Belfry and my dear friend Eryn, who works there, gives us two free drink tickets (babe), so we go to the bar. He seems like he doesn’t quite fit into this world, or maybe he doesn’t want to. I talk about past shows I’ve seen, he doesn’t really seem to be listening. We take our seats, (the ones I booked carefully two weeks ago) and the show starts. I wait the entire time for him hold my hand, or put his hand on my leg like he has before, but when I shift in my seat to uncross and recross my legs he leans away from me. I touch his arm to ask him a question and he pulls back. I’m sinking. The show ends, and I ask if I’m driving him home. He says we could grab a drink, so we do. He has three beers, I have one. We talk, and he’s so charming. There he is! The guy hiding behind all those ambiguous shitty texts. There’s varsity rower guy with a big enough heart to hand write 30 Christmas cards. He asks if I want to meet his dogs, and I’m beaming. It’s the first time I’ve been invited into his world in any capacity. I drive us to his house where he shows me his driveway full of cars. He’s into drift racing, and works on his own cars. We go inside and I meet his roommate, we smoke his hookah, he smokes a joint, and they show me videos of themselves racing. They banter together in a cute way. I’m freezing, and trying to find a way to sit on his couch in my over priced dress that will make me look maximum skinny/not get covered in dog hair. He gets smoke all over me. I don’t like it. I tell him I’m cold so he gives me the world’s biggest most ridiculous coveralls that he wears when he works on cars. He says, “you look wide now.” Cool. His roommate goes to sleep, finally, and we’re alone. He kisses me, and then carries me to his room. We talk a lot about lighting. Finally, he turns them off. We have fourth date sex, which is pretty excellent. We cuddle. We have round two fourth date sex, which is even better. I really like him. I tell him. We’re spooning. He’s kissing the back of my neck. He talks about his ex. I say, “every time I tell you I like you, you change the subject.” He tells me he’s, “not really into this.” He implies we’re friends. I say, “no, no, see, I don’t do this with my friends.” He says, “what else would we be?” I start to cry. Maybe it’s because I’m naked, or because I’m embarrassed at this semi expected rejection, either way, I don’t want him to see. He says he, “cares about me as a person,” and I laugh the most manic batshit laugh I can possibly laugh. I put my dress on, and leave his room holding my bra. I put my coat on slowly, waiting for an apology that never comes. I leave, and ugly cry in my car until I get home. I cry in the shower at 230 in the morning, and my tears mix with my makeup and the water. I cry in bed until I’m asleep. I wake up at 10 and realize I won’t be getting the money he owes me for his theatre ticket. I download Tinder again on my phone, and go back to sleep.