Sunday, December 10, 2006

The case of the disappearing date

You've read Blink, right? The book by Malcolm Gladwell about the instinctual ability we all have to make judgments about people, places and things in the blink of an eyelash?

Well, "blink" happens and it happened to me last night.

What's worse than being my age and going out on a date? That's right, being my age and going out on a blind date. The guy--I'll call him Finger Foods--was to meet me at the theater where I was reviewing a play. Get there a half-hour early, I had told him on the phone, and we'd have a drink in the lobby and chat for a bit. Then we'd see the show--a comedy only 55 minutes long--then go out afterward for another cocktail or a light bite at the restaurant next door. He'd sounded excited about the whole thing. Very chatty-chatty on the phone.

So on the stroke of 6:30 p.m. I breezed into the lobby. I was looking good, chilluns. On a chilly winter eve I had on a black lacy skirt, a stretchy velvet top, my new black velvet coat and my favorite glittery earbobs. Henri, the world's greatest hairstylist, had blown my 'do into a poofy-but-sexy array of layers just hours before. I was ready-Teddy.

So I see Finger Foods (he's in the catering biz) standing by the box office. I glide up, extend my well-manicured paw in his direction and say my name.

BLINK! In the instant it took for him to turn in my direction and look me over, I saw it. Revulsion might be too strong a word. But disappointment? Disgust perhaps? Certainly not happy-happy-joy-joy. His face actually visibly sagged. He didn't smile. Didn't say "nice to meet you" or "kiss my ass" or anything.

Finger Foods had the fight-or-flight look. He wanted out and the sooner the better. Whatever it was about me, my face, my poofy hair or my shiny earrings, he didn't like any of it and he didn't like it instantly.

Not so fast, buster. If I had to get dressed up, fork out change for the tollway and drive all the way out there, I was going to make him at least sit through the show with me.

There were crowds there, so the house manager kindly seated me and Finger Foods early so I could get a spot on the aisle (the bettter for writing notes in the dark for review purposes). That meant we were in our places nearly 30 minutes before the 7 o'clock curtain.

FF never looked my way again. Not once. He sat silently, staring at the empty stage in front of us and drumming his stubby fingers on his khaki-clad knees. (I know! Khakis! In winter!)

A brief description of FF: A bit older than me. Not tall. Completely hair-free, like Yul Brynner but without the authoritative skull shape. Dicey dental work, especially among the canines and forward molars. Khakis, red polo shirt, summer-weight navy blazer. In winter. Worth mentioning again.

I'm "opening night at the theater." He's "casual brunch with the grandkids."

Differenced between him and me: I'm willing to give him a chance. You know, get to know him before I "blink" him out into the cornfield.

But I'll be darned if I'm going to force the conversation. So I wait for him to speak.

At about 6:55 he asks me if I take notes in shorthand. No, I tell him, I just scribble stuff in the dark during the performance and try to decode it later.

End of conversational gambits. I think I may have asked him if the E.coli outbreak in salad greens had affected his business. But when he launched into a diatribe about how the liberal media only print negative stories, I tuned him out. (Hey, he said he wasn't a righty--believe me, I ask.)

Show begins. It's funny. He never laughs. I can hear his brain-wheels turning: How do I dump this chick? Can I start coughing now and claim I'm getting the flu? Is there an emergency exit I could crawl to during the scene change?

Curtain comes down at 7:55 and I save him the trouble. In the lobby, I say, "Hey, I could sense that you were plotting your escape, so let's part ways here."

He's so surprised that I've let him off the hook that he blurts out his made-up excuse anyway: "I have to be at this thing at 9."

Poor shmuck. He expects me to believe he has two dates in one night.

He offers to walk me to my car but since I've parked right in front, that's a trip of about 20 steps.

He never says "Nice to have met you" or "Thanks for the free ticket to the show" or "I'm sorry it didn't work out" ner nuthin'. He just lickety-splits.

At 7:58 the date is done and Finger Foods is gone... without ever even waving goodbye.


Anonymous Hillary said...

Man Professor, that's rough. Who teaches men manners these days? I'd like to find the source and destroy it.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous andrea said...

Wow, blind dates suck.

My only one was an Italian guy who told me straight out that his hairy chest scared away kids at the pool and asked if I wanted to see... then didn't give me a chance to say no. I gladly took my roommate's pre-planned "emergency" call at 9pm and got the hell out of there :)

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yugh. Sounds like you had a lucky escape.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who set you up with this guy? How come you took him to the movie? I would have met him for a quick coffee in the daytime.

Do not waste any time feeling rejected by this loser! Feel sorry for the person that he chooses to spend time with. You got off lucky.

Rudeness to the opposite sex is a sign of insecurity. You don't need "little men" in your life.

By the way, have you thought of connecting with folks online? That you you could line up several dating candidates. It may be an interesting experiment. By the way, I'd meet them at a public place and not give them your number. Then you could meet a number of guys, not just one every few months. This would give you CONTROL OVER DATING. (If you met this guy through a friend, I'd talk to them to see why they recommended him!)

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy has his head up his butt, it's as simple as that. I agree with the previous comment--online dating is the answer! Pictures are up front, so that's out of the way. A female friend in her 50's is going this route and getting some reasonably good results!

5:09 PM  
Blogger Tikvah said...

Oh my, how rude! I like the fact that you spoke his mind for him, good move.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Alex Bensky said...

Elaine, I trust you are not considering that you had anything to do with this excepgt possibly not being a dead ringer for Lucy Lawless.

I've been on a heap of first and blind dates in my life and even if you or the other side decide quickly that you aren't interested, it is entirely possible to be conversational, pretend to enjoy the play or meal, carry through on what you had arranged to do, and say politely good-bye with the "and good riddance" tacit.

As to who teaches men manners these days, I can confidently say from my experience and observation, ladies, that some of you are not exactly poster children for Miss Manners.

Here's my worst blind date story: I went down to Dayton (from Detroit) to see a minor league ball game and found a woman on or one of those sites who lived in the area. I e-mailed her, explained what was bringing me to town, and asked if she wanted to see the game with me, leaving it open that we could have a drink or something afterwards and trying to phrase it so she could say yes or no according to her wishes. I described what I looked like and I wore an easily identifiable cap--not a lot of Waterbury Spirit caps out there.

I got to the park early and in time she came along...with her two sons who I'm guessing were about ten and twelve. "I was sure you wouldn't mind if I brought the boys along," she said. Nothing about "I couldn't get a sitter."

Well, I couldn't do much about it so I got into line and she smiled encouragingly as I bought four tickets and handed them out. No move towards her purse, of course.

I bought a scorecard as we were going in and she said the boys would like to have one, too, so I bought them one.

I tried to engage the boys in conversation but they seemed mostly interested in the game they'd brought along. She did chat with me a bit. When the hot dog man came around she offered that the boys would like one, as she did when the coke guy came around.

By the time the souvenir guy wandered by I recognized the look and said, quite untruthfully, "You know, I forgot to stop at an ATM and I'm about out of cash." I was sorely tempted to say, "But I could do with a beer" and see what she'd do. But it was lousy industrial beer anyway and I had a feeling as to what her reaction would be. It was possible, I suppose, that she'd forgotten to bring money. Of course, it's also possible for the morning dew to wash away the ballpark.

Anyway, Elaine, the galloping rudeness this guy demonstrated is not something you should blame on yourself in the slightest. My usual offer stands: I'm from...Detroit. You want him whacked?

Our seats were in the middle of the row and she got up a number of times for such purposes as I could only guess at, each time without any reference to what was happening on the field. I don't think she picked up the dirty looks directed at her when she chose to go in the middle of a double play but I sure picked up the ones directed at me.

The game finally ended--all I could think was usually I'm delighted for as much baseball as possible but this time I was thankful that the home team won so we didn't have a bottom of the ninth, much less extra innings. We left the park, she briefly said, "Well, thank you, Alex" and took the boys to her car. She didn't suggest that they thank me they didn't do it on their own motion.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex. Dude. That's incredible. How do people like this LIVE with themselves?

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Alex Bensky said...

As to how such people live with themselves, I'm sure it's quite easy. What I think she figured on the way home was that she'd gotten a little family trip for free.

I want to emphasize that despite the boys' rudeness if she'd said something like, "I'm really sorry but I couldn't get a sitter and I either had to bring them or blow off the game" and she'd paid for them, I would have been fine with it.

On the other hand, when you take a date to the game one drawback is you may not be able to concentrate on the game. Given the boys' obliviousness to me and my difficulty in getting much of a chat going with her, I was able to follow the game closely.

Incidentally, I am told there are people who do not organize their summers around minor league baseball schedules. Go figure. For the rest of you, the Dayton ballpark is quite nice, one of the better new ones, and worth the trip.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Latitude 41.663N/Longitude 83.555W said...

Laney, this is good, actually. Calculate the odds: What are the chances you'll have another blind date and he'll *also* be a social ... moron. (That wasn't the word that came to mind first, but you get the idea.)No, fer reel, honey -- you must have gone through the entire inventory of worthless Penis Possessors as it exists in the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex. (It's worse here in Tuleedah, so be thankful.) mmwwwaaahh -- miss ya, babe!

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alex, got another of those things?

nothing personal, but i don't think elaine's gotta take all the heat for the dumb comments we all make in this section of the galaxy.

happy to see you


7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can dismiss someone out of hand because they are a right-winger and have zero guilt about it but when someone dismisses you out of hand because of their equally self-centered criteria you don't like it. Well...good luck next time.

10:45 AM  

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