Refill your coffee, settle in and brace yourself. This is going to be a long post.
Last night I had my second date with Date #12. My enthusiasm for the date waned when he sent up the entire date via e-mail. We've gone out before, he has my phone number and he's called me before, but he sends me an e-mail asking if I'd like to get together this week. I respond in the affirmative, thinking he would follow it up with a phone call to make plans. No. I get an e-mail about the activity, an improv show. I send another affirmative e-mail back. Then he sends another e-mail asking if I would like to eat beforehand. It took about 10 e-mails over the course of 2 days to firm plans that could have been made in a 2-minute phone call. The last e-mail hints that I am to meet him at the restaurant and there is no date confirmation made within 24 hours of the date.
I show up on time. I walk up the street and notice that there is now a digital parking meter where there didn't use to be one. There is a guy standing in front of the meter exasperated. He's cute with a fauxhawk and I notice we have matching cars. He looks at me, "I'm sorry I'm taking so much time, but I've put four different credit cards into the meter and it says, 'Card not read.'" He sighs and jambs a Mastercard into the meter and a receipt prints. "Good luck," he tells me.
I try my Wells Fargo card. Card not read. I try my Mastercard. Card not read. I try each card two more times. Card not read. I fish a five-dollar bill out of my wallet. Take your cash. Transaction cancelled. I have now tried three forms of payment in good faith to this meter. I go back to my car and start fishing out change I use for toll money. Fauxhawk returns to his car and sees me. "Hey, I just saw the meter maid drive away if it makes you feel any better." I thank him, shove in $2 of change which buys me an hour at the curb.
Now I'm 10 minutes late. Date #12 already grabbed a table. I thought it was strange that he chose a table outside in the dark when it's less than 60 degrees outside. I'm thankful I brought my coat and button it up. The very first thing I do when I sit down at the table is tell him about the parking meter. "When dinner is over, I have to go back to that meter and try again. I can't just leave my car there like it is."
"Well I found cheaper parking," he says simply. "You know I have to be careful about where I park." I think back to why. That's right. Because his 20-year-old pickup truck doesn't go in reverse anymore.
"Have you gone out on any other dates since I last saw you?" he asks.
I think back. "No, I was out of town. Remember?"
"I had one. It was bad. All we did was talk about school and work. I mean, I can talk about school and work with anyone, I don't need a date to do that."
"I'm sorry," I say automatically, realizing I'm consoling him on his failed date with someone else.
Date #12 checks his watch. I'm still eating my po' boy. He gets up and leaves the table to hunt the waiter down to grab the check. The service wasn't bad, Date #12 was just antsy about the time. He'd count down the time every five minutes. "We have 20 minutes. We have 15 minutes..." It's a good sandwich. I munch away while he leaves me alone for a second and third time to give the waiter his credit card and to sign the slip. He's visibly anxious and his body stiffens over the time.
We walk down the stairs and he looks at me. "Do you really need to go check your car?" he asks. He's tense.
Once again I feel the need to console him. "Um, no, it's okay. You don't want to be late," I say. I behave like the good little woman I'm supposed to be. I'm agreeable and put his needs above my own. He just looked so upset.
"Good," he says, relieved.
We walk to the improv house. Inside he asks if I would like a beer. I answer in the affirmative. We stand in line. The house lights blink and Date #12 turns and looks at me. "We don't have time; we have to go sit down now," and he gets out of line and enters the seating area. Just like that.
I sit beside him. He rests his hands on his knees. We don't say anything. As the show progresses, he doesn't really laugh. His hands are still on his knees. I take a minute and ponder whether he has Asperger's Syndrome.
The house manager asks for suggestions. My suggestion is used. Date #12 doesn't acknowledge me in any way.
We walk back to my car. "Have you told your friends about me?" he asks.
"Yeah," I say casually. "They know about all of my dates, good and bad. I have nothing to hide."
"I haven't told my friends about you because I don't want to jinx it."
I remember feeling that way when I was younger. I'm in a different place now.
I approach my car slowly. There's a ticket on it. Parking tickets in the city costs $25. Considering my recent credit card bill, that's a lot of money. All of a sudden, I'm angry. I'm beyond angry and I'm trying to hold in my rage. I told him at least three times at dinner that I needed to go back to my car. I didn't want to be a bitch and I let this guy's emotions talk me out of standing up for myself.
"That sucks," he says casually. No I'm sorry. No I should have let you check the meter when you were so concerned. He doesn't care; it doesn't affect him.
He goes in for the hug. I'm still holding the bright orange ticket in my hand and I'm trying not to let my head detonate off of my body. I force a smile.
"I would like date you exclusively," he says to me.
I check his eyes for the punchline. It isn't there. The guy who went on another date and told me about it, the guy who hasn't even kissed me, the guy who has shown me less compassion than I've shown him, wants to be exclusive after two asexual dates. He asked me to be exclusive as I'm shoving the ticket in my purse. I can feel the blood course through my body.
There was a long, uncomfortable silence as I process this. Yeah, that just happened. "Ha, well I'm not ready for that."
I'm puzzled. Date #12 has two years of school left. He told me he's neither looking for a wife nor to settle down, yet he wants to be exclusive in record time.
It's the exact opposite problem I had with Valdosta. I laugh at the irony.