I passed a pizza delivery guy on my way home from last night’s date. I smiled at him in a Midwesternly manner and was rewarded with a sleazily drawled “Too sexy!” as he passed. Thanks, Pizza Delivery Guy. As a matter of fact, I was too sexy in my thrift store jeans and bright orange hooded sweatshirt. I appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention.
Anyway, you do not care about this. You want to hear about my date with Jalapeño.
Our date started off in the usual way: Semi-awkward getting-to-know-yous which I directed almost entirely to my vodka gimlet and/or the floor. He seemed cute and smart and not as pushy as I expected and the conversation flowed reasonably well, if not exactly effortlessly.
We did, however, spend 97% of the conversation talking about hiking, camping, and rock climbing, despite my aforementioned disinterest in the above topics. I asked him lots of questions about himself (almost all of which he answered with camping stories), but I could count on one hand the number of questions he asked me. The number of times I genuinely laughed was less than or equal to the number of drinks I had and may have been correlated.
In short, it was not an entirely unreasonable way to spend an hour, but I wouldn’t want a reprise.
So around an hour and fifteen minutes into this less-than-scintillating conversation, I suggest it’s getting late and I’d better be heading home. I pull on my coat as I’m making winding-up-the-night small talk, I throw my bag over my shoulder, I start to stand, and he says to me:
“How long do you think we have until our society collapses?”
Guys, this dude is real nice. He is clearly an intelligent, thoughtful person who has real friends and hobbies so I don’t want to make him out to be a looney tune. But that is the question that he asked me as I was getting up to leave, one hour into our semi-awkward-but-otherwise-reasonable first date.
I smiled and said something about how I think stability is relative and that our society is changing all the time, but that we as individuals find our own stability within that upheaval. That people have prophesied the end of time since the beginning of it and that we will always fear the unknown even as we live it every day.
And then he told me about his escape plan.
I should mention that this is the third time the theme of Total Societal Collapse has come up in our conversations, but the first two times I thought he was joking. Word to the wise: Do not assume people are joking.
But at this point, I’m still fine with it, you know? I mean, we’re not clicking and he’s maybe a little intense, but he’s a nice guy and it’s fine. So I say goodnight (for the second time) and I hoist my bag back onto my shoulder and I start to stand… which he takes as a sign that this is a good time to tell me a story.
He tells me a story about a blind date he went on a few months ago. He thought the date went well, but he emailed the woman after their date and he never heard back. He was hurt, confused, offended. He is now ranting and raving about this experience. To me. On our first date. As I’m trying to leave.
Remember that conversation about red flags?
ME. Topics to Avoid on First Dates–
ME. (1) things your date has explicitly told you she does not like
ME. (2) THE APOCALYPSE
ME. (3) previous bad first dates
ANNA. i think it’s a commiseration tactic
ANNA. like, everyone has been on a bad date
ANNA. but i still think it is a bad move
ME. literally one of the top 10 worst moves possible
ME. but the thing is it kind of worked
ME. because i told him that if he emails me, i’ll email him back
ME. which sounds like a weird thing to say in retrospect
ANNA. he is an evil genius
I’m sympathetic. I tell him that it happens to everyone, that some people aren’t good communicators, that romantic chemistry is a hard thing to explain. “If you email me, I’ll email you back,” I say, for some bizarre reason.
“So does that mean I can expect to see you again?” he asks.
I take a deep breath.
“As long as we’re on the subject of honesty… I’ll be straight with you. I’ve had a decent time tonight and I think you seem like a great person, but I don’t feel a connection with you. At all.”
He was visibly disappointed which struck me as bizarre given that we’d just spent the entire night talking about subjects in which I have no interest and little to contribute. Then again, maybe that’s his idea of the perfect date.
The great irony of all of this is that he’s probably going to fall madly in love with me now. Because that is what has happened literally every time ever that I have tried to be ‘honest’ with a dude I didn’t like. There’s something about a woman you barely know saying “I’m just not that into you” that drives some men into a frenzy of self-destructive, stalker-ish behavior and I really do not understand why.
The truth is that until the night’s cringe-worthy denouement, it had actually been one of my least horrifying dates in recent history. Not great, but not worthy of frantic “SAVE ME” text messages from the bathroom either. But even throughout the perfectly-acceptable portion of our evening, I couldn’t quiet my internal monologue from repeating over and over: “This is not worth it. I am never going on a date again. This is not worth it.”
Because a really bad date is at least a good story, but a mediocre date? Is boring. Is depressing. Is a frustrating reminder of how hard it is to find a meaningful connection in this pre-post-apocalyptic society.
“I just don’t understand why all of my dates have to be crazy,” I whined later, in a Post-Date Deconstruction Phone Call with my mother. And then: “I wonder if a guy’s ever gone out with me and then been like, ‘Oh my god, that girl is CRAZY.'”
“I say that after every conversation with you.”