Last summer I met a lifeguard during my swimming lessons at a local YMCA. Doesn't that sound like the beginning of a teen romance novel?
Eventually he asked me out for coffee (tea in my case) and I obliged. As a film student, he enjoyed going to the movies and as a movie-lover, I’m always down for a trip to the cinema. He over peppered his sentences with "dude” and “bro,” usually a red flag for me (man-child alert!), but I was trying to tone down my own pickiness. You know, widen my horizons and all that? So our Starbucks meet-up turned into a movie "date".
Fast forward five or six more “dates.” Are the quotes giving you a hint? Besides going for drinks once and out for sushi, which he begrudgingly paid for, once almost all our dates happened at the movie theater. And he never paid for my ticket. Not. Once.
A month and a half slipped by and we just stopped texting one another. There weren’t any hard feelings. I wasn’t extremely interested in him and figured he felt the same. We could still be friends, right? Wrong.
A scary movie came out that nobody else wanted to see and instead of seeing it by myself (because scary), I called up my old movie buddy. For the first time ever, he actually beat me to the theater. When we were "dating" he'd always show up late. So late that I would go ahead, buy my own ticket and wait for him inside. Exactly.
Anyway, this time he arrived early. When I got there he informed me that he'd already bought his ticket and asked if I'd already pre-ordered mine online. Whatever, I thought. I considered us friends now and I was prepared to buy my own ticket--just like when we were dating.
Two hours and a few horror scenes later we were walking back to our respective cars. I was all ready say goodnight when he asked if I wanted to grab something to eat. Full of popcorn and not at all interested in dragging out the hang, I let him down easy. "That's okay," I said. "I'm pretty beat." He kept insisting. Apparently he was super hungry. "The Wendy's around the corner is open late," I suggested, trying to be helpful. Who doesn't love a good Frosty? After going back and forth a few more times, he finally got the hint.
"I'm really not trying to chill," I said.
“Really?” he asked. “You really invited me to only see a movie?”
This man must be joking, I thought as I laughed it off.
“You can’t call up a person that you used to date, invite him to a movie and not want to hang out afterwards!” he said with a bit too much bass in his voice me.
“Are you serious?” Indeed he was.
“Next time you want to go to the movies and just the movies, call your girlfriends, don’t call me!” he finished before taking off.
I thought of all the things I wanted to say to him but instead opted for the quick and safe, "Goodnight." Of course, I never heard from him again.
But the whole situation got me to thinking about titles and labels. I really had no idea that we'd ever “dated.” Sure, we'd made plans to be in the same place at the same time but was that all dating was? Was that what constitutes courting these days?
We went dutch so often I should be fluent. We never kissed. I never let him cop a feel. Nothing. I mean we gave each other “side hugs” which are just as bad as "church hugs." If that doesn’t scream "Friend-zone!" then I don’t know what does.
I believe everything happens for a reason. So I feel as if I've got to learn something here besides the fact that some guys are just cheap. Next time I won't ignore red flags. I knew from the jump that this "dude" wasn't the "bro" for me.
Second, communication is key, whether you’re just getting to know someone or in a long term committed relationship. I should have gotten that awkward "so what are we doing exactly?" conversation out of the way early. That way I would have known how fast and loose the lifeguard was with the term "dating." I could have saved him the trouble of not paying for movie tickets and me the trouble of finding another Y for my next round of swim lessons.