We met at a singles mixer through one of my favorite podcasts. I thought I was just going to mingle and observe, perhaps fan girl over the producer, so I was pleasantly surprised when I hit it off with a guy and we made plans to see each other again.
The first red flag happened through text message when we were planning our date. We had decided to meet the upcoming Thursday, but the day before he asked if we could move it to Sunday.
I wasn’t available Sunday and suggested we move it to the next week, which apparently hurt his feelings.
“You know, I was looking forward to tomorrow night but I’m starting to get the feeling that I was alone in that. Is that just my imagination?” Someone’s a little insecure, am I right?!
I assured him it was for the sake of his schedule and told him I was looking forward to meeting again, although this gave me doubts.
Upon arrival, we hugged and he held me tightly for a few more seconds than was comfortable, his pleather outwear crinkling in my ear. In quintessential first date form, we chatted briefly about our days, until I noticed a book next to him and asked about it. He suggested I close my eyes while he read some aloud to me.
On a first date this could go one of two ways: romantic or creepy. It was the latter, as I sat eyes closed, listening to him read excerpts he chose at random and that made zero sense to me, while he, knowing the context, chuckled to himself.
After that, we got stuck in a holding pattern where I missed his jokes (they weren’t funny) and he couldn’t hear me when I spoke (I am not a quiet person). Our nonversation (non-conversation) was a proverbial train wreck, but what eventually derailed us were his constant generalizations about women.
A lot of his sentences began with two words that were starting to irk me: “Women love…”
“Do ALL women love that?”
Startled, he spiraled into a story about an ex who was “defensive and explosive” and asked if he should be worried. I laughed it off and said "No, of course not, just please maybe don’t generalize women so much?"
He dominated the conversation with riveting things like listing every place he’d ever lived (including street names) to his favorite tea varieties, as if he was talking to himself, before handing it over to me.
“Now it’s your turn to tell me something!”
Since that’s not really how adult conversations work, I suggested he ask me a question, imagine that, and he said, “If you were me, what would you want me to ask you?”
Only my manners kept me from fleeing.
We arrived at the topic of Tinder and had a few laughs about the hot-or-not dating app until he said, “Every girl I’ve met on Tinder is crazy!” I asked for a few examples of this so-called “crazy” behavior, and each story made the girl sound sane while he came off like a total tool.
I suggested that maybe, just maybe, not all girls were crazy and he said, “Wait, are you a feminist or something?”
“I hope everyone in this bar is! Aren’t you?”
He said he’d never really thought about it but, “I’m pretty liberal, so I guess women should have control of their own bodies.”
WELL PIN A ROSE ON YOUR NOSE, BRO! I know, I should have walked out in this moment.
He talked about ex-girlfriend after ex-girlfriend, yet when I mentioned my ex, he declared he hated him. (LADIES DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S UNBECOMING TO MENTION YOUR EX?) I happened to bring up my ex in the context of meeting humorist and author David Sedaris, to which he replied, “Girls LOVE him!”
I said, “So does my dad!”
We had a tense moment where he looked at me with the fear of God in his eyes and said, “You know, I didn’t realize I was going on a date with a raging feminist!”
It was really important to me to remain calm and not further fuel his stereotype of “crazy girls.” Believe me, I could’ve showed him raging. I had been nothing but patient all night, keeping things light since I was walking on eggshells from the get-go.
I explained that I feel words are powerful and the way we talk about things carries weight, but suggested we change the subject. Despite that attempt, we spent a few minutes digging our way out of this, him concerned that I was upset, me trying to move on.
He said he couldn’t tell if I was real or fake: “real” meaning I could take his generalizations in stride and wasn’t bothered, or “fake” meaning this was all a front and I was a ticking time bomb.
“Are you upset? I just want to know for future reference.”
I looked him in the eye, smiled and said, “You know what, there is no future to reference,” picked up my purse and stood up to leave.
His eyes widened like a deer in the headlights and he said "OH! OK, well then!" (He really said that.) Then he fake-reached for his phone and coat, unsure of what was going to happen next. I could tell he considered walking me out for a moment, before being struck with rage and shouting, “Take care!”
I said, "YOU take care" and walked out.
Dating is exhausting and the mathematical probability of two people liking each other is daunting. My date and I would never see eye to eye: To him I’ll always be raging feminist (albeit, a really calm one if you ask me!) and “just another crazy LA girl” (he texted me that the next morning), and to me he’ll always be the guy from my worst date ever, who "guesses" women should have say over their own body.
It’s easier to be who your date wants you to be, say the things they’d like to hear. My younger, more demure self would never have fathomed cutting the night short; she would have endured more, boredom tears leaking from her eyes, and maybe even gone out a second time.
There’s a fine line between being polite and a doormat, honest and rude. This time I was unapologetically myself and cut my losses, and it felt really good.