Here is a list of subjects in which I would consider myself an expert:
- the best places in New York City to eat a pulled pork sandwich
- the Starbucks locations with the most imcompetent baristas
- the careers of Chris O’Dowd and Dawn Porter
- season one of UK “Skins”; all the seasons of “The I.T. Crowd”
- the best products by Benefit Cosmetics
- anything and everything there is to know about panda bears
These are the frivolties that occupy my personal life. You probably do not know more about these things than I do. You just don’t. Really, don’t even try to tell me something about pandas.
Then there is my professional life: I’m a writer who writes predominantly about the experiences of women across the world. You could say I’m a feminist blogger or you could say I write about women’s political, societal and cultural issues. I have Google alerts for “vagina.” There’s estrogen all up in my RSS feed. I know a thing or two about a thing or two.
So, men of the world, here’s a little romantic tip from me to you. Just like there is probably nothing about pandas you could tell me that I don’t already know, you probably should not get into an argument with me on a date about how women in Afghanistan “don’t have it that bad.” (They do.)
And then tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about when I say they do.
And then call me “irrational.”
Our story begins, as it so often does, on an online dating website. He was European. (I have a thing for guys with accents.) He had curly hair like Justin Timberlake. His messages made me laugh. Date #1 took us to a tiki bar and we drank fruity alcoholic beverages out of coconuts. We ate Chinese food and drank wine and made out before I hopped a cab home. It was as good a first date as a girl could expect.
Date #2 brought us to a burger joint. Early in the evening, he made a joke about how he is an asshole. The first alarm bell started going off. LADIES: WHEN A MAN SAYS THIS TO YOU, YOU SHOULD LISTEN. He confirmed later on in the evening that he was, in fact, an asshole.
The second alarm bell started going off when he told me about his trader job on Wall Street and how he and a colleague sold stocks back and forth to each other to drive up the price. They got caught. He got suspended from work for one week. (This was actually the second time in my life that a man confessed to me on a date that he committed white collar crime, but that will be another story for another day.) But that was not all, folks: It got to be a five-alarm-fire, with New York’s Finest charging up the stairs with their hardhats on, just as soon as we started talking politics.
As I mentioned, he is European and living (and committing white collar crimes) in the U.S. on a visa. We were talking, just generally, about how America is viewed by the world. He made a comment -- which I actually agree with -- about how Americans seem to think they can just go into other countries and tell them what to do and how that’s extremely arrogant.
“I agree with you that real structural change comes from within, but I also think that when a structure is so corrupt, it can help when the American military and international aid organizations help reset it up,” I told him. Then I told him a story about my friend Ben, who served in the Marines and built a well in Afghanistan; Ben has told me all about how he had to work with the Afghan people to build their trust in the idea that the Taliban (who are corrupt Islamo-fascists) are not the only way they can get shit done in their towns.
“Believe me, I am not the hugest fan of things that the military has done in Afghanistan and Iraq. But I am happy about ways that they’ve helped people, especially when it comes to women and girls.”
My date shrugged. “Women in Afghanistan don’t have it so bad.”
“Are you serious?” I asked him. “I can’t tell if you are kidding.”
“No, I’m serious!” Oh my god. “Women in Afghanistan don’t have it so bad.” Okay. “They’re women.” Uh huh. “They’re mothers.” Uh huh. “It’s not like they’re being killed.” What now? “You kill women, then you don’t have a society.”
“A woman MP was assassinated in Afghanistan just last week,” I told him.
“That’s one woman,” he replied.
Silence. Please, tell the feminist blogger more about women’s rights in Afghanistan.
“Afghan women do get killed. And maimed. And abused. All the time,” I told him.
He made a face. “How often does that happen?!”
“Are … you … serious?” I asked him. I’m pretty sure anyone could pick that up if they so much as follow Anderson Cooper’s Instagram.
He was insistent. “I want to know how often it happens, if it’s really the problem you say it is.”
All right, dude:
“It really is the problem I say it is,” I told him. “After the Taliban took power, they murdered women in public squares. They would beat women on the street for not fully covering their bodies with burqas. Women were not allowed to work outside their homes. They would not let girls go to school. Things are slowly getting better, but women are still beaten and raped and abused by their families and can’t do anything about it because they’re considered property of male relatives. In some places if your husband so much as thinks you talked to another man, you can get murdered.” And then …
“You’re being irrational,” he told me. “I can’t talk about this with you logically.”
” I … just … told … you … all … things … that … are … facts,” I said slowly.
Our meal had not even arrived on the table yet. I had half a mind to just get up and leave, but my stomach was growling. And when the waitress set it down on the table, you have never seen someone hoof a veggie burger like that in her life. We ate most of the meal in silence, by which I mean I was silent and he periodically asked me questions that were basically sentence-long versions of ”U MAD?”
The thing is, I was not actually “mad.” Disappointed that I wasn’t going to make out again tonight, but anyway, what was there to be “mad” about? Him being ill-informed? That’s his problem, not mine. Him being rude? Already I could tell this evening would make a great blog post. I don’t even know his middle name or whether he even has a middle name. My predominant emotion was “where-the-fuck-is-the-waitress-I-want-the-check.” Lord, that woman could not come fast enough.
Finally, he got contrite. “I’m sorrrrrrrrrry,” he said. “I just don’t really care about them. It’s horrible to say, but it’s true, I don’t really care. So I don’t know about this stuff. You know, because you care.”
“Maybe if you don’t know what you are talking about?” I suggested. ”Because you don’t care? You shouldn’t voice your opinions?”
The check arrived. I couldn’t whip my debit card out of my purse quickly enough. I put on my coat. And then as I buckled my coat, he had the nerve to ask whether we would see each other again.
I could not ditch him fast enough so I could call my girl friend and tell her all about this.
That’s when the sob story came out. His ex-girlfriend left him for some other guy. In October. He is still upset about it. We parted ways on the street. I watched him light a cigarette and walk alone up an avenue while I waited for a cab. As I watched him walk away, I almost felt a little bad for the guy.
And then the following text came:
So I wrote back:
So finally I just had to say:
And I haven’t heard from him since.
That last text had surprised me, though. When he had told me about his ex as we walked out of the restaurant, I suggested therapy might help him deal with that, rather than, you know, being rude to random women on dates. (Just a thought.)
“It would need to be someone really good,” he said, sadness in his voice.
“Yes,” I had told him.
At last, we had agreed on something.
Reprinted with permission from The Frisky. Want more?