A friend of mine just started online dating, and his dates keep cancelling on him. I remember going through a spate of that in Toronto, and it was really frustrating. I make plans, and when those plans get subverted I find it really annoying. I also no longer have the energy to go on dates with people I find boring or annoying, and I also find it exhausting to figure out how to end things early on gracefully. It’s just such a minefield and I just can’t right now.
Which put me in mind of yet another bad date from my past: the drunk date.
I think this date happened back in 2010. It was summer, and we were set to meet at a bar. I can’t even remember his name but let’s call him Drunk Guy. He is so-called because he showed up half cut to our date, which he proceeded to loudly announce. In those days, I had more emotional resources, and was just sort of interested to see where things went and how dates played out and so I went with it. We had a half-decent conversation at the bar over a drink, and then he suggested getting ice cream down the road.
There was a huge line up, it was a popular place, and the staff were a bit run off their feet. I ordered mine, and then he ordered his, but when it came time to pay, he seemed annoyed and inquired into the charge. It turns out he hadn’t realized that you had to pay more for a sugar cone (or something, I don’t even know) and was trying to talk the barista into giving it to him at the base rate. This was … embarrassing. As someone who’s worked in the service industry, this does not impress me. It shows a total lack of respect for the people serving you, when you try to pressure them into giving you stuff for free because…. you deserve it? Because… you’re special. Ugh. As a woman I also find that repulsive because it denotes an entitlement that is gross, and also that the person pressuring you is counting exactly on social norms and people’s inability to deal with uncomfortable situations in order to get what they want.
Anyway then we wandered over to his house (I know. I KNOW. WHAT WAS I THINKING. I was so young, and so naive. I would never do this now) to hang out in his yard. It was a decent place to hang out actually, but when we got there, I realized that it was sort of weird and unwise that I’d even agreed to go back to his place with him alone, not knowing him well, not feeling like this guy understands and respects boundaries. (This date was before I became an angry feminist. I will eventually write about the date that literally turned me into an angry feminist. But another time.)
I used his washroom (possibly this was part of the motivation to head to his place?) and then we hung out on a bench in the yard, where he put his arm around me in this gross way in which he didn’t even ask if that was okay and was really not paying attention to me or my body language.
The most hilarious part of this entire evening, however, was when his phone rang. And he took it. He took a phone call from his MOTHER in the middle of our date.
It was not an emergency. He was not expecting her call. She just calls him, apparently. To check in. To say hi.
HE TALKED TO HER FOR TEN GODDAMN MINUTES.
He proceeded to justify this in a very blasé way, telling me about his relationship with his mother (too soon, dude).
Then, to top it all off, he went on to tell me about the ‘affair’ we were going to have that summer. Which… what is that impulse even about. It’s also not the only time a man has done that, by the way. That is a thing I’ve experienced between 5 and 10 times during the years I’ve dated. I’m not sure if they think they can impose their desire? Or maybe it gives them a sense of control? Or they’ve seen too many rom coms? Or they are idealizing how dating works? I don’t even know. I’m not sure there IS an explanation, or a narrative that would make sense of this.
What I do know is that it erases my agency, my say in how this will play out. It doesn’t even acknowledge that I need to agree to it. Where does my interest, my agency, my desire fit into a narrative in which he explains to me how our relationship will play out? Ugh. No thanks.
At this point some voice in my head started saying ‘ok look this date is going to make a good story someday, but maybe it’s time to hightail it?’
Because I mean, dude. That’s not how this works. That’s not how desire works. That’s not how dating works. That’s not how relationships (or ‘affairs’) work. That’s not how consent works. You don’t TELL me how it’s going to be. Things figure themselves out.