A few days ago, I was milling around my house, agonizing over a recent spate of terrible dates and wondering if any of the ditzy bachelors deserved a second helping of my bubbly joie de vivre. In my search for a suitable answer, I dug up a prophetic passage from the esteemed works of Maya Angelou, which read:
“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
I gasped. It felt like she had read the small print on my soul and found the root cause of my pain.
At heart, I realized that I was a non-believer with short term memory — a lame combo platter of neurosis for the chronically-eligible. Also, I was the king of compromises. What’s worse, if a guy said something that made me nauseated — I hope you’re rich, I hate senior citizens, or I hate to read — instead of listening to my gut and excusing myself, (like Maya A. suggested) I stayed, inflicting unneeded self-flagellation on my psyche. But, fortunately, all that was Pre-Angelou, there’s a new me in town. Taking her words into consideration, I’m rehashing my brief encounters, First-Dates-From-Hades, so this time, fingers crossed, I don’t forget — again.
1. “I don’t usually go for Blacks or Asians.”
People who pause and compare the skins of one race over another, weighing the worthiness of chins and noses, are not welcome in my life. It’s a close-minded front porch attitude that’s out of step with today’s world. Mr. Misguided needs to broaden his horizons. Basically, the intelligent designer made each person distinct — whether Mr. M wants to see them like that or not. Above all, why any sane person would exclude two perfectly gorgeous ethnic groups from their phonebook is beyond me. As far as dating material, Mr. M is not ready. Admitting you’re a weekend Neo Nazi out loud makes everyone around you feel stupid for being in your presence, and that’s the worse feeling in the world, to be mistaken for a Neo Nazi Conspirator. What was he thinking, anyway? I’m a dark skinned Indian guy, Asian and African combined! Even if he insisted, fingers crossed, his desire for the features of one race over another was a preference, sort of like me wanting Lorenzo Lamas over Zac Braff, it was still a messed up racist thing to say on a first date.
2. “You eat like a poor person.”
Yikes, where was my invisibility cloak when I needed it? As Mr. Haute-or-Not, the white gloved defender of trickle-down-goodness poked his curried beef tips with a silver spoon, I quietly munched on my affordably priced dal-for-one, planning my escape. If he had been nice enough to ask, I would have told him that red meat was my gateway food to thunder thighs—and dal, a perfect protein, kept me slim and trim. It’s because I’m a vegetarian. I get this any time I reach for the legumes instead of the short ribs. Take it from me, splitting a menu into upstairs and downstairs selections is bad behavior in any dwelling, manor house, or double wide trailer. For the record, any person who makes another person feel like a big nothing for being themselves is going home alone. This man is unpredictable. Dangerous. What’s he going to say next? You throw like a girl. You smell like my grandmother. You live in a ghetto. Doesn’t not sound like the language of love to me.
3. “I’m not really gay. I go out with men because I can’t get the girls.”
That comment was messed up in so many ways, I almost had a Three Mile Island meltdown. First of all, I didn’t even ask. It isn’t anyone’s business why he prefers Oscar Meyer or Tuna Casserole, but admitting he’d struck out with women before he turned to men made me feel like a warm bowl of vomit. I want to be someone’s first choice, not last resort. When he tried to apologize; he predictably overdid it: he told me he could love me. Normally, profound romantic comedy riffs like his made me all giddy inside. Still, because his blank-eyed I-love-you’s happened before the first course, which is way too early, even for the perpetually desperate, I had to bust a move. Who was he fooling? Love takes time.
4. “You look like Gargamel.”
No human being over 12 years of age wants to be told they’re serving “evil cartoon sorcerer,” even if it’s really the uber sexy, Hank Azaria, eternally working, always sizzling, no fuss thespian and talented voiceover artist loved the world over underneath the menacing Saturday morning movie getup. I am not a monster, except on Sunday mornings if I run out of Red Label tea bags. About his acid tongue, I’m guessing he had an icky childhood. A badly trained mother, annoyed father, or hateful sibling, must have told him he was no good and now he wanted to pass it forward, drown my joy with his cartoon crabbiness—don’t want that. He can stuff the humiliation games. From experience, I know what comes next: shoving matches and fists of fury.
5. “You smell like a goat. That’s a goat thing.”
I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one.
6. “If it wasn’t for Jesus, I’d be a racist.”
One thing I’ll never get: why it take threats from the invisible man in the sky for some folk to behave? I also pray (or was it bartered?) with God, but to a less fiery deity, usually before finals. I’ll say stuff like, “God, let me pass and I’ll study harder next time, I promise.” If I failed, I didn’t run wild in the streets. Similarly, I wonder what promises this guy made. “Sorry, God, I won’t run over any [insert racist insult here] this week, if you give me the winning lotto numbers.” And by his own calculation, if God didn’t deliver, he became Charles Manson Jr. Nope, don’t want to be part of that family. I was like, “So you want a medal? Bigotry is so 1877. And, I’m nice because I want to be, not because I want brownies to fall from the sky.”
7. “After we get to the like each other part, how soon before we go to the mall and buy stuff? I’m out of lube.”
Okay, at first, I was like, aw, Mr. Insufficient-Funds is out of love-juice. If only he had a corporate sponsor-like Johnson + Johnson, maybe then he could score a tub of KY. Regardless, I’m no snob. In this Bearish Economy, everyone’s holding back. I’ve been there too. If “broke” happens, it’s best to be brutally honest with your date. Clipping coupons in their presence does not count. Sometimes you have to just say, “I haven’t eaten in a week.” Yeah, so, take it from me, match making on a dime is tough. Still, I’ll never take scratch from a new recruit. This is what I would do if I was Mr. Insufficient-Funds: I’d probably put off the cupid stuff until I had something to share other than my woes. Unless, of course, you meet Mr. Right, and for some reason, Mr. Right’s okay with the 99 cent menu at McDonalds. If that guy does not come riding into your life riding a unicorn, hit the help wanted ads. If you insist on playing musical bachelors, you can’t be obvious about the need for green. That makes the other guy feel used.
8. “I’m Super Doctor. You should bow down to me.”
Sometimes people want to be worshiped — have people gushing and scattering rose petals, genuflecting every time they float in and out of the room. Unless it’s part of some role playing bit where we both get into character, idol worship is not my scene. As much as I wanted to be a hunky doctor’s wife and sip on Frangelico-scented fondue for life, I’m no groupie. Yet, because of our country of origin, I recognized his unique madness, and was tempted to make excuses. In my youth, my parents worshipped anyone slinging a stethoscope and dressed in loose fitting scrubs. In fact, Dr. Detroit was only asking for what he believed was his birthright: everything. Lucky for me, I wasn’t in the market for a persnickety doctor trolling for love slaves.
9. “Do you want to have my babies?”
Sometimes, it’s semantics pulling two people apart like taffy and not compatibility issues. Basically, I didn’t get this guy. Unless medical science took a rocket ship to the moon between courses, unfortunately, I could not carry a baby to term. That’s when I started to freak. Maybe he was making fun. Did I look like my mother from behind? Was I a man with birthing hips? Hope not. Maybe, fingers crossed, he wanted us to adopt. When I flat out asked him about it, he said the baby thing had something to do with going “sans condom.” Whoa. I finally got it. He didn’t want me to nurture his clan of cave bears, he literally wanted to release his seminal fluid (babies) inside me. “Um, I’m not into that,” I quickly informed him before things got out of hand. “I don’t want to be fertilized. And if we ever do get down, which is probably not going to happen, I want my sex vacuum-sealed.”
10. “I’m only going out with you because I’m bored.”
I get this all the time—the yawner, Mr. Bored Silly, wishing he was somewhere else. Go home, dude! I should have screened his Netflix history. Sometimes, pressed for time, I wrongly assume all the gays have seen the classics — Dying Young, Mystic Pizza, anything starring Julia R. In fact, if my date had seen the Godfather of gay movies — My Best Friend’s Wedding — he would have known better, like how the world does not run on Dunkin Donuts. Instead, the world runs on good deeds. Favors that include but are not limited to faking straight for a gal’s parents so her mother doesn’t call her a spinster, especially round bridal season. Like a good Julia Roberts Drone, I’ve done my part: planted friendly lies, dug holes for Arbor Day, dodged friendly fire, and gone out with my fair share of fixer-uppers. It’s what good people do on the see-saw of life — everyone gets a turn going up and down. All Mr. Bored had to do was be diplomatic, remain in his seat with his seatbelt fastened until the captain parked us at the gate and turned off the seatbelt sign. How hard is that?
11. “You’re cute but not that cute.”
Normally, I’m not good with adulation. This is why: my parents raised a shy Indian girl who happens to be a boy. I wilt when people say, “Oh, you’re handsome,” “Oh, you’re cool,” and “Oh, your back is hairy.” As far as he was concerned, this guy didn’t want to pump me full off hot air, he’d only have to bring me down. Silly man. I was not a birthday balloon bouquet, about to float away. Didn’t he know we could both be on top? Still, I wasn’t prepared for the demented dig he was trying to pass off as neighborly. I mean, what’s up with that? Do the welcome mats at his front door say, “You’re welcome — NOT”? Back-handed flattery (Eat up, but don’t get fat) is best left to drama queen mothers and I already had one, thank you. Someone needs to inform people that in love, there is no middle: it’s all or nothing. 12.
12. “I can’t help myself. I’m a real man — hot blooded — and I’m going to check out other men.”
Basically, Mr. Dude-de-Jour was explaining why he was smitten by the twinkish waiter’s floppy backside. “But don’t over-think this,” he assured me when I flashed him my lopsided I-think-I’m-done grin. “I’ll forget his accessories the instant we’re outta here.” I caught my breath. I’ve always prided myself on being an evolved guy. I shop at Trader Joe’s. I know that guys need to gawk. If only he hadn’t added bug eyes and, “Man, I want to slobber on his butt cheeks,” to his lusty behavior, we could have been making out on a loveseat from Restoration Hardware. And why, pray tell, wasn’t he going bonkers over my accessories?