I used to be fond of saying, "I don't date." I even wrote a whole blog post about it. Though I dated someone for six months in my mid-20s (which is a significant enough period of time that we were labeled by nearly everyone as "dating"), I refused to call him my boyfriend or to let him call me his girlfriend. For whatever reason, I always felt uncomfortable in relationships & using the terminology that accompanies them. And yes, I recognize that perhaps I need therapy.
Anyway, "I don't date" was mostly a lie. I felt convinced it was true, but in retrospect, I did a fair amount of dating. There was one bad JDate.com outing with someone who reminded me of my pal @MisterDisco but way gayer, & there was a friend with benefits who remains a friend but without the benefits. In fact, there are lots of stories to tell, many of them ending with my being unspeakably awkward. With my lovely boyfriend's blessing, let's recap some of the notables, complete with Tucker Max-style photos!
- The Non-Boyfriend was a friend of a friend who I initially met through work. When I won a free happy hour at a skeevy bar on Valentine's Day of 2007, that mutual friend invited him to join us, & we kissed on the dance floor, which was plenty embarrassing because, hi, you're not in college anymore. Though he had very well-coiffed facial hair & was very nice, he was also very boring, & I stayed with him only because I knew we probably wouldn't ever speak again if we broke up, & I liked spending time with him. When I broke it off, though, he somehow turned the tables & made me feel like I'd been broken up with, telling me I was too distant & that he just wanted someone to, like, hang out in pajamas & watch movies with. The one time I saw him after that, he was with his now-fiancee (who has the same name as him) on the Metro, & he pretended like he'd never seen me before. Also, I later found out that none of my male friends liked him.
- The Stoner-Turned-Soldier worked at my college dining hall & used to wink at me from across the room in our psychology class. We went on a few dates, whatever that really means in college, & then I became too unspeakably awkward for any of it to continue. Like, literally. You know how some people are so cool that they intimidate you such that you become unable to be yourself around them? We tried again when he moved to D.C., where I learned that he'd morphed from a pot-smoking hippie into a suit-wearing Patrick Bateman type, though just as charming as he was before. He wasn't interested in being in a relationship so much as he was interested in being aloof & stringing me along & pretending like he didn't have any idea that I was super into him. When he deployed overseas with the army, I wrote him a long, rambling letter detailing All Of My Feelings, & he never spoke to me again because I was a creeper.
- Johnny Fajitas at a bar after an inauguration party. I was wearing a dress & everything! His friends & mine initially began chatting about a bear-sized man passed out on a barstool between our two groups, & we hit it off from there. He was far too attractive & vain to be interested in the likes of me, but we had similar senses of humor & endless conversational topics because we had just about nothing in common. He was essentially a southern frat boy - tan skin, boat shoes, Nantucket red pants, & all. We never identified as anything but people who hung out together on weekends, & when he learned that I'd been seeing someone else at the same time, he left my apartment in a fit of rage at 4am & never returned. No, really - he moved to Utah the next week, & I never heard from him again. He's now a successful TV news anchor. I told you he was attractive.
- The Bike-Riding Hipster is the only guy I ever met from OKCupid in real life because I am too afraid of being abducted to trust Internet people. We went on The Best First Date Ever, to a bar & then to an impromptu Wheat show, but after a few dates, I did that thing where I became unspeakably awkward thing (see above), & he was like, "OK, no." We tried again one other time, but he was always out of the country for work, & eventually I started dating Nathan & moved away. I also forgot to mention that he looks a lot like my dad did in the '70s, so that's weird.
- I approached The Wise Man at his birthday party, which I attended with our mutual friends, & the next day, he proudly told his friends he'd gotten my number, when really, it was the other way around but he had been too drunk to remember the details. He was way into me, & I was way awkward, & though we literally tried to date for maybe three years, it just never worked out. One time I broke it off in an email because apparently I am a cowardly asshole. The night of my going-away party in D.C., he told me that my inability to accept affection & be in a normal relationship taught him that he is, essentially, capable of better & more. I cried myself into dehydration when I got home that night, & he proposed to his girlfriend the next week.
If you read all of that, congrats: You have a champion attention span & are now an expert on my D.C. dating days. I should note that I still count those last two, The Bike-Riding Hipster & The Wise Man, among my current friends, because I'm a firm believer in hanging onto good people when you find them, even if not in the way you initially thought you might.
And hey, did I mention that I'm really lucky these days?
I believe it was John Mayer who said, "And when I look behind on all my younger times, I'll have to thank the wrongs that led me to a love so strong."