I think it’s safe to say that most people have seen a romantic comedy in which the theme is this: two unlikely (and attractive) people can’t stand each other due to inherent differences in personality, upbringing, culture, or lifestyle. Then, magically, after their witty banter and crazy hijinks, they end up falling in love despite these glaring differences.
This wasn’t the case for me and Jeff.
A while ago, I reluctantly agreed to go out on a blind date with Jeff for dinner and drinks, or so I thought. He seemed nice and enthusiastic about living in Boston. He also had a stable job and seemingly didn’t have a drug problem, which is always a plus. We texted back and forth a few times before he picked a good restaurant for our first date. A good omen, I thought, since he must have good taste in dining locales.
I got there characteristically early (the Catholics really beat this into me from a young age) and waited at the bar, attempting to look like I was doing really important things on my phone. I then hear “Liz?” I glance up and smile ( a nice girl always smiles!) and instantly my heart sinks.
Jeff is wearing an Ed Hardy T-Shirt.
Now let me be clear here: I do not consider myself a shallow or incredibly judgmental person. However, there are just certain types of men that I go for, and those types usually don’t fall into tight pants, leather shoes, slicked back hair, and Ed Hardy T-Shirts.
I shake off my initial disappointment and we decide where we’re going to sit. The host approaches us, “Would you two like a table? If so, it’s for patrons who are eating and drinking only, since it’s dinner time.” I look to Jeff to see what he thinks.
“Oh, I already ate, you’re not hungry are you?”
I look at Jeff then at the host nervously. I’m fucking starving. Didn’t this guy invite me to dinner and drinks at 7 pm on a Saturday? The host seems to read my mind and gave me a look of pity.
“No, I, Uh, I’m fine with just drinks.” I say, you cheap bastard.
We end up getting crammed in the back of the bar, near the bathroom, so people continually came through to knock into my chair, but I didn’t let it get me down because I’m so easy going!
Jeff and I got into the meat of getting-to-know-you conversations. As a previous community organizer in Los Angeles, I felt like first dates were relatively easy for me because my boss used to describe getting to know community leaders and other staff from organizations as “eternally being on a first date.”
Whenever there’s uncomfortable silence, just ask a lot of questions because people really love talking about themselves.
So I asked Jeff a lot of questions.
“Where downtown do you work?”
“Oh, I work for a Sports Magazine, I’m in publishing.”
That’s pretty cool, I think. I like sports.* It turns out that the more questions I asked, the more I felt like the evening was silently spinning out of control, completely out of reach as I watched myself ask this stranger in a obnoxious graphic t-shirt question after question, not even allowing room to talk about myself.
*I like hockey, baseball, and soccer. I detest basketball and football and generally think most professional sports players are giant overpaid babies.
Jeff, who hails from the great state of New Jersey, answered some of the questions as follows:
“Oh yeah, I love football, and Nascar. I really don’t understand Hockey though. Especially why we have to bring over all those stupid Russians.” I fumed silently at this remark, as I thought about my fantasy hockey league statistics and standings from last season, with all my fucking Russians.
“Yeah, I don’t have a great relationship with my family. My mom is supppperrr overbearing, I pretty much moved up here to get away from them.”
“Guns? I love Guns.”
“Oh my god, you cook? I really want to marry a woman who cooks. How great would that be?”
“I think it’s so great that you help all those poor people. They’re always standing in the Common, asking me for money. Why can’t they just get jobs?”
“I love hoppy beers, but usually just drink Budweiser, because it’s so cheap, AND delicious!”
At this point in the date, I was attempting to drown myself in my second stout, hoping that the heaviness of the beer would quell my hunger and utter disbelief at how horribly wrong for one another me and Jeff were. Luckily, I had an exit strategy. I had plans later that night at a party to which, sorry Jeff, you were not also invited.
“WOW! It’s really getting late. (It was 7:45) I should probably head over to my friend’s house and help her set up for that party!” (My friend had set up the night before)
“Oh no problem, do you need a ride there? Maybe we can pick up some beer on the way.”
WE?! Sorry Jeff, there will never be a “We.” Unless that “We” involves me yelling at you from the kitchen while I’m making your dinner,
planning when I’m going to run away from New Jersey, while you sit on the couch in your Sarah Palin’s My Girlfriend t-shirt since your Ed Hardy one is inevitably dirty from over-wear, watching Nascar.
I panicked as we walked to his car. “You know, it’s such a nice night out, I think I’ll just walk. I think they have plenty of beers, and stuff. Great to meet you!”
“I had a great time Liz. What do you say we do it again?” Jeff held out his arms as though he were going to move towards me and wrestle me to the ground until I agreed. I gave him the classic butt out, light tap hug, smiled, and told him we’d talk soon.
Really, Jeff? You thought that went well? All I could do was laugh as I walked away, thinking about our blissful future together.
Lesson learned: Never date a guy who wears Ed Hardy t-shirts, unless it’s because he lost a bet.