I’ve decided to start dating again. Which means I’ve decided to go on one date and call it a year.
I’ve been out of the game for quite some time, but I understand it still works relatively the same: you meet at a bar, you forget meeting at a bar, you wake up to a mysterious text from “R. Dumbledore Glasses,” you exchange witty messages for weeks on end until finally someone says, “Let’s just get this over with.” So you meet.
Romance may be alive and well. But I will not stand for it.
My prep for this date begins well in advance. I spend an hour trying to make my hair look effortless. Like I totally forgot about the date (because I’m so busy and important!) that when I remembered, I yanked out my ponytail, walked into the wind and let Jesus take the wheel. I do my makeup lightly. I want him to think I’m a natural beauty. That I don’t even care about makeup. That my big, dark eyebrows are such a hassle (“Ugh! Genetics!”) and not in fact an elaborate illusion.
I imagine what I’ll say when he compliments me.
“Stop, I’m a mess!”
But I’m not a mess. I’m a masterpiece.
Next, I call my roommate into my room for the dressing portion of the program. I have no idea what to wear. My black jeans feel too fancy, my boyfriend jeans no longer fit. I’m not mad about it; I’ve always wanted an ass that won’t quit. But not having these jeans really spoils my cool/casual idea.
“What’d you wear last time you saw him?” She asks
“My Slytherin shirt,” I respond.
She nods, and tells me to wear the black jeans, a cotton t-shirt and my leather jacket. I put them on and observe.
“I look like a little dick,” I say.
“No, you don’t,” she says. “But we need to give you a waistline.”
We then attempt to tuck my shirt into my jeans in a haphazard way. Like somehow, I raised my arms, and the front, left edge of my shirt made a miraculous leap into the waist of my jeans, falling **just so**.
15 minutes later, we nail it.
5 minutes later, I have to pee and we have to start all over.
When I’m finally deemed fit for public viewing, we head to the kitchen for shots of tequila. My roommates and I started this ritual my first month in Chicago when, against all odds, all three of us had a slew of dates lined up. Before each date, we all took a shot. None of the men stuck. But the tequila did.
I meet my date at the bar and am pleased with myself for recognizing his face. It’s been over two months since we met, and the last we saw each other, I was so drunk I admitted to being a Hufflepuff.
In spite of this, our conversation flows pretty comfortably. We reintroduce ourselves, talk about work, friends and relationships. He asks if I’m on Bumble.
“I don’t have time. Wait, that’s a lie. I could make time, I just don’t want to. Dating is such a waste of mental space, you know?”
I sip my drink.
“Why? Are you on Bumble?”
Later, we exchange of pick-up line horror stories. I tell him my favorite: the time a man offered to buy me a drink because I looked “vulnerable.”
“I hate it when men offer to buy me drinks. It’s like, ‘Go away! I don’t want to talk to you!'”
We sit in silence for a moment.
“You know I’m going to buy your beers, right?”
“Yeah. Sorry. My bad.”
I sip my drink.
At the end of the date, he asks if I had a good time.
“Honestly, I can’t tell,” he says.
This shocks me. And it is at this point I realize I spent the entire date shitting on romance. I was the dating equivalent of a bad interviewer. Had our conversation actually been a job interview, it would have gone something like this:
“So, what interests you about this job?”
“Nothing really. I don’t even want to work.”
No wonder this man thinks I’m an asshole.
But I’m not an asshole. I just don’t know what I want, and, apparently, that reads loud and clear. I don’t want a boyfriend, but I enjoy the attention of men. I enjoy the attention of men, but I hate the power this gives them. This imbalance of power is a constant struggle in my life. I let everyone else dictate how I feel about myself. So when I say I don’t want to “waste the mental space on dating,” I mean I don’t want to waste time working through the self-loathing that inevitably follows.
Or as I prefer to put it, I’m just too damn busy and important!