Hopeful 7 Hopeless 2
I had my first date on Friday. It was not just my first Plenty of Fish date, it was my first date in almost seven years. It was also my first date with someone who has almost a decade on me.
How does one prepare for such an occasion? I hardly know. I suppose I had kind of been psyching myself for a few days. But most of the day I felt indifferent, almost numb.
Usually, when I say I am "psyching myself for something", I mean it in a positive way. On Friday, it was not positive. I was telling myself to not have any expectations (which in itself is not a bad thing). But by expecting nothing this time, I kept thinking that nothing would come of this date. I was bordering on negative expectations, which is unlike me. I was convinced, however, that by the end of an hour or so, one or both of us would find the other a deal breaker. The reason that came most readily to mind was that either he would find me too young or I would find him too old. I would thereby have discharged my duty of having given him the benefit of the doubt and the matter would be settled.
I did my homework until about 4:00, then began to get ready. I still hadn't done my day's exercise, so I did a fifteen minute swim. Then I jumped into the shower to wash off all the sunscreen and chlorine. I shampooed my hair and shaved my legs in order to be presentable. The only thing I couldn't seem to do anything about was this huge zit right in the middle of my cheek. I then packed my purse, had supper with Mom and caught my bus.
On my way, I began to think that I wasn't really giving Brian the benefit of the doubt or a fair chance with my lack of expectations which were turning into negative expectations. I began to see all of these thoughts unravel and realized that I needed an attitude adjustment in order to be fair to him. Anything less, I decided, would be unkind. I don't know how much I was able to adjust in such a small space of time, but as much as possible, I tried to stop the negative thoughts.
We had planned a neutral meeting place: the Mont Royal metro station. I arrived late. You can never plan enough fudge time when taking public transit! I felt nervous, but finally I was only five minutes late, so not too bad on the whole. When I got to the top of the escalator, I saw Brian nearly instantly. I wanted to be sure, so I used his name to verify. Before I knew what was happening, he was exchanging the polite French kiss-on-each-cheek greeting. My Mom had suggested that I prevent this with a handshake when I said that I hoped he wouldn't do that. He beat me to it. It's really not my thing...
As planned, we walked from the metro to find a spot to sit and have coffee. Naturally, we ended up on Saint-Denis. He checked as to whether or not I mightn't prefer a beer, but I re-expressed my preference for coffee, er tea. So we walked into a place called Aux deux Marie. I ordered an Irish breakfast tea: my favourite! Brian had coffee because he said he needed a caffeine boost. It was pretty quiet, which really suited me. The waitress asked if we were taking separate bills or just one. Obviously my brain was operating on slow, because I only had time to open my mouth before Brian was saying "ensemble!" Normally I would argue and insist on paying for mine. But my mouth simply closed and I didn't push for it. All things considered, by the end of the evening, I didn't feel too bad about it. Brian found out over the course of the evening that where he is employed, I am not, so that I'm sure helped. I also had to listen to him for an hour and a half, so that was compensation enough!
Before we had even selected a place to have coffee and settle in, he had already started a lively conversation. I say lively because that is the politest word to describe it. He spoke quite constantly and with a fair amount of rapidity. He had already fired off several questions to me before we had even sat down. On the way there, he had already ascertained things like what program I was in, how long I had until I finished my degree, whether or not I had a summer job and a few other things. By talking about such things, we had already touched on the subject of my illness, so since he kept asking me about it, when we sat down, that is what I opened with. It is not the first thing I want to talk about usually, but that's how it turned out. Unlike most other people, though, Brian wasn't delicate about how he asked; he didn't say anything like "if you don't mind my asking" or something like that. In any case, I explained to him that my problem is neurological, so it affects pretty much all aspects of my life. After all, everything in the body is controlled by the brain. I explained that it mainly affects my energy levels, my heart rate and that I experience a variety of symptoms, such as dizziness, migraines, trembling, etc. His reaction was that he is lucky that he has nothing to complain about like that. Essentially, he meant that he counts his blessings and feels lucky not to have any health problems. However, I noticed the "me" focus in how he expressed it. I filed that for later.
Then we flit across a wide variety of subjects, all brought up by him. We talked about everything from work to video games. He was apparently tired. I can't imagine what he's like when he's NOT tired! For someone who was tired, he spoke energetically and a lot. It was good for me in a way, because it took the pressure off of me. I just had to listen. However, I began to hear some of the most random things ever. Don't get me wrong, Brian is a nice enough guy, but he says some strange things sometimes. I'll give you an example of one of his running monologues. He ended up on the subject of actors and began discussing how Christian Bale has a temper and that you can apparently tell this "just by looking at him". He said that you can still like the actor anyways because of the work they produce; in other words, their defects of character are unimportant because they are actors. Then he started talking about Mel Gibson and how many people think badly of him for his Anti-Semitic comments. Brian then went on to say that he didn't give a ****. He began to say, "Why are the Jews so important? Why do we make such a big deal about it?" I had been monitoring my body language earlier in the evening, making sure not to cross my arms so as to appear as open as possible. But I am sure I leaned back in my chair at that point. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. His perception is that Jews were not the only ones who died during WWII, so they should not receive any special treatment. He is obviously forgetting the part where the Nazis tried to systematically exterminate the Jews... That did not happen to the other victims of the war he talked about (who we do make a big deal of and pay homage to every November for Remembrance Day!). I didn't get much of a word in edgewise, but I did manage to say that it was understandable that the Jews would still feel bad about what happened (because Brian thought that everyone should just "move on"). I also pointed out that our ties with the Islamic world continue to be strained because of something that the Catholic Church stupidly did hundreds of years ago: the Crusades. I explained that Muslims still feel uncomfortable about it and we have not managed to earn their trust back yet. I think it's understandable, but he certainly does not. He thinks that people should be able to make comments about other ethnicities or religious groups without there being consequences, because after all, such observations are "true".
So here, I saw a clear conflict of values. I realized that this was a deal breaker for me. I had thought perhaps that the quick speech might've been because he was nervous. I had even thought that perhaps some of the randomness could be explained by that. But the entire conversation was full of such reflections (oh, and also full of swear words, he who seemed to think he didn't swear...). He was clearly too high energy and had too many fixed ideas for me. The most accurate word to describe him is opinionated. The most uncomfortable moment, however, was when he asked me whether or not I could perform sexually in light of my illness. I was not prepared for that kind of question period, let alone on the first date. I have to come up with a better response for that one. Perhaps Mom's suggestion "Is that a deal breaker for you?" is the best one. But really, how forward can you get? I managed to remain calm, miraculously and not make too big a deal out of it. I could leave being incensed for later. I thanked him a couple of times for taking me out. We both ended up heading back in the same direction by metro; it was good for me to have someone to walk back with at night. When I got off at my stop, he asked about the possibility of seeing me again. I didn't know how to handle that, so I didn't reject him to his face. We kind of both mumbled something about Plenty of Fish. I mean, really, he does know how to reach me. He is most emphatically not second date material. Now I understand why he is 32 and single: the "charm" in his username is certainly absent. Just for Brian, in keeping with how he feels about making such observations: He's Italian. Enough said?
I am glad I had set myself a time limit for the date in case it didn't go all that well. I was grateful to extricate with the excuse that I was meeting a friend for the fireworks. I knew this was also okay because Brian had a show to see at the Just For Laughs Festival around 10:00. I finally didn't have a friend who could make it to the fireworks, but I went. It was my reward for going out on a first date. They were simply glorious! It was Italy who was presenting and I loved it. When I got home, I had some dark chocolate ice cream and went to bed.
Before the date, I was probably at 5 for both the Hopeful and Hopeless scales. After the date, though, I was at Hopeful 6, Hopeless 3. I felt much better, because I had survived my first date! I felt empowered. I can do it. The date, as I told everyone, was okay. It was not horrible. The toughest part was over.
To quote Rodgers: "The dearest love in all the world is waiting somewhere for me..." And I'm going to find it.