A man and a woman meet on an internet dating site. After communicating for several months, the man asks the woman to meet him “somewhere”; he wants her to pick the place. She suggests a nearby cafe, a place where any number of inexpensive beverages can be had, seating is plentiful, lighting is good, and she can summon back-up if he proves to be a dangerous psychopath.
He agrees. Date and time are set. He has family in her area, and will be with them for the weekend; he lives close to D.C.
She arrives on time, walks through the bookstore in which the cafe is located; she does not see him. She walks to the cafe area, climbs the few steps to the seating area; he is not there. At 6 foot 5 inches, he should be easy to spot.
She waits. Five minutes. Ten, and counting.
Fifteen minutes; her face feels a little warm. She is ready to walk out. She takes out her cell and dials.
Suddenly someone taps her on the shoulder and she turns; it’s him. She closes her phone.
This is the first time they’ve met in person; she thinks he looks both older, and better, than his photos. He also appears to be somewhat heavier, but not in a sloppy way.
His skin tone is richer and warmer in person; his sloe-eyes are sexier. But he’s dressed like he has just come in from baseball practice. A little sweaty. Jeans, grey tee, slightly stained denim shirt hanging, and ball cap.
She is wearing a casual summer dress and sandals. She’d added mascara and a little MAC lip-gloss (Viva GlamV)–nothing too fussy. She doesn’t wear much makeup usually.
“S’up?” he greets her with an up-nod. “Kirk?” she asks. “Yeah—who else?” he answers with a brief half-smile.
She briefly mulls over the fact that this is the fourth date she’s had this year, where she dressed appropriately, and the man arrived ready to clean the garage. She briefly, and unconsciously, laments the days when black men were the sharpest dressers. Is that racial profiling, and does it count when you’re multi-racial? She smiles at him, and notices that it actually takes an effort to do so.
She has no idea what he may be thinking; he’s staring at her with a blank expression. He does that head to toe sweep some men do, but his expression doesn’t change. She is suddenly annoyed, but does not stop to wonder why. His gaze lands on her breasts, several times. No change in expression.
He yawns, takes off the ball cap for a minute to rub his head. The rubbing turns to scratching. Does he have a scalp condition? Is he trying to increase blood flow to his scalp? She doesn’t notice any visible flakes on his fairly low hair cut. She reminds herself to buy some hair oil for her 5 year old son.
Kirk abruptly rubs his eyes, and blinks rapidly. Did he just wake? Is there something in his eye? He alternately stares at her and avoids eye contact. Several times he looks just over her shoulder, staring off into the middle distance.
They are standing, somewhat awkwardly, in front of the cafe counter. She scans the menu, while he shifts his weight from one side to the other a few times. “Did you want to sit?” she finally asks. “Yeah, I was gonna sit. “ he says. He walks over to a small nearby table and sits down.
She and the young, thoroughly pierced barista of indeterminate gender, the one who has been watching them, the one with the bedazzled name-tag that reads Jaye, quickly exchange a look. She turns from the counter and walks over to the table to join him. He gets up, orders a cold drink and sits down again; he gets up again to take his drink from the barista. While he is adding sugar to his drink at the “condiment” counter, she gets up and orders an iced mango green tea.
She reflects that this is the fourth “date” she’s had, in recent memory, during which the man did not have the sense to offer to buy her a drink. She is not some gold-digger. She has been on her own, before and after her divorce, and paid her own ticket for years. Is a cold beverage really too much to ask? I think not, she tells herself.
She’s considers herself feminist, in the sense of being pro-woman and pro-equal rights. Yet, she’s always been able to accept kindness, social deference and chivalry from an attentive man. She genuinely likes men…..she tells herself, thinking about her brothers, and her uncles, blood and non-blood. And her son–not yet a man, but on his way.
Thoughts of her father are best left alone at this moment. Not that she has “daddy” issues–far from it; she’s spent more time and money than she’d like to admit, dealing with the fallout of an abusive father. She knows she’s earned her essential peace of mind the old-fashioned way: she earned it.
She secretly believes the recent crop of hip-hop lyrics celebrating “Independent Women”, who “have their own”, is just propaganda to keep women from expecting too much from post-modern males. Her closest girlfriend, Licia, admits to simply being happy those particular songs don’t reference any hoes and yatches. Licia actually got depressed for a week when Common dropped that gang-bang rap with Kanye.
So much for the conscious rapper with a conscience. Licia got over it by blogging it up with enough footnotes for a dissertation. All her girls left riotous comments, with links.
He sits down again. She watches him stir his drink. Who puts sugar in cola?
She asks him a couple questions about his life, his family. He smiles for the first time that evening, and briefly, she’s hopeful that he may be worth skimming over a rough edge or two. After some hesitation, he launches into what turns out to be a monologue.
On, and on, he rambles, at one point becoming agitated over the misdeeds of one of his grand-daughters—grand-daughters!? Then he becomes quiet. She gazes at him steadily, unsure of how to respond. In the months they’ve been talking, he never mentioned having grown children.
“Why are you staring at me like that?’ he suddenly blurts out. Is he serious?
She begins to speak; he stops her, talking over her to make a comment to the effect that he does not put on airs. He doesn’t front. Take him as he is, he says gesturing to his baseball practice attire. He doesn’t try too hard, he says.
That much is obvious, she thinks. She can’t help it, her expressive left eyebrow has raised itself in spite of her monitoring.
This is a grown-ass man, she thinks. Sitting there, defiant about his play clothes as she sits across from him in an entirely appropriate casual dress, still surprised he’s a grandpa. She knows what is coming next— he will make some inane comment about her being “too dressed up”. Like clockwork, he asks if she is going somewhere later, as she is so “dressed up”. Slowly, she smiles. Not with you, she thinks.
He accuses her of having a “mischievous face”; he says this in a wary tone; further dispelling the notion he may be joking. “This is the face I was born with. “she says. It is difficult for her to hide what she’s thinking, but, for some reason, she makes an effort. She is thinking, what a waste of time. She is thinking, how ironic life can be.
As she takes a sip of her iced mango green tea, she is thinking of how to end this slow-mo rain-drop torture. But then he does her a favor. As she begins to speak again, he stops her. “I’ll walk you out to your car. “ he says.
She is stunned; he’s trying to ditch her? Maybe he is so totally without social graces, so un-schooled in interpersonal niceties, that he does not understand that interrupting the woman you’ve just met to announce you are going to walk her to her car is rude. That is entirely possible. He has given every other indication that he was raised by wolves, she tells herself, and so, she should not be surprised.
That’s ok, she says, I think I’ll stay here and browse a while. Yet, suddenly she starts to feel bad….like there is something wrong with her….Maybe she’s not really pretty enough, or thin enough or thick enough…or black enough or white enough (she usually is not what people expect—whatever that might be) or too tall or…one guy had said her hair was too thick and her teeth too straight…What?! (That was the same one who said he felt women who wore makeup and perfume were dishonest. Presumably he’s now living in all natural bliss with a sweaty balding orthodontically challenged woman.) Maybe she’s been trying too hard….?
But then, she stops herself, shakes her head. Whoa, whoaaaaaaa Nelly……hold up! He had portrayed himself as in shape, polite, Christian—–where in the world was that man? Imposter! , she can hear Licia yelling. She, on the other hand, made no claims to perfection, and shared fairly recent photos before their meeting. Clearly the photos he shared were not recent. Yet, she would have been OK with that.
She thinks his looks are fine and while he is heavier than he claimed, she found him attractive until he opened his mouth. And he is still talking.
Her mind dials back to previous meetings with men who were not what they claimed to be—the working writer who turned out to be blogging (badly) from Grandma’s basement, the sailor who wanted a “timed relationship” of six months with her while separated from his wife—Next! There was the nearly toothless guy with the My Life photo-album and the angry man she nearly ran into traffic from which to escape.
Most memorably, there was the one from the Mid-West, the man she felt was really promising as they wrote, texted, and ran up phone bills for almost a year. Although, in hindsight, there were a couple little red flags (his heavily sarcastic sense of humor, his bitterness towards his ex), she was truly surprised when their much-anticipated weeklong visit in his city turned out to be an epic disappointment.
He was shorter than advertised, a cheap-skate who tallied up each outing to the penny and insisted she pay half, but that wasn’t the worst of it. His selfishness and dishonesty were fully brought to light in the bedroom. He claimed he didn’t like to kiss, thought foreplay was overrated, refused to reciprocate in matters of oral sex, and though he had referred to his genitalia as “Heavy D & The Boys” in an email prior to her visit….it quickly became clear that he was working with a lower case “d” if not in a much smaller font than advertised and expected.
That was over a year ago. She had taken her friends’ advice and “focused on herself”; she took up hot yoga (Nasty Stank A** Yoga, she dubbed it and Licia quickly adopted it.), caught up on her reading and wore out her Hitachi Magic Wand before she was ready to get back out there again. As her work kept her from any meaningful contact with men, and she loathed the club scene, she’d reluctantly decided to give on-line dating another go.
Lord Have Mercy.
Kirk clears his throat again. She brings her attention back to current reality and the fact that he does NOT seem in anyway like the dude who was communicating with her for months. Why is he acting like he is not impressed with her? Why is he acting like he doesn’t give a damn? Like he could take this brief experience, or leave it. Does she look that much different from her photos? No. She is not a diva, by any means, but she’s used to most men finding her attractive in some way. Why is this happening? No….
No, she tells herself—-stop it. Stop it! The questions you should be asking are more like: what is wrong with him, why is he making such a show of not caring, and do you really need to care if this master of jack-assery finds you attractive or not?
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of his voice telling her that he is hungry and will be stopping somewhere to eat. He’s gotta get going. So, he is ending this lame, bizarro version of a date to take his slovenly self somewhere to eat. And he’s telling her about it.
’ll call you, he says, as he walks away.
Uhmmmhmm, she says watching him depart. She’s thinking, Why is he walking like one of his legs is broken? Do his shoes hurt? Does he have gout? Her grandmother had gout, but she didn’t walk like that.
Thinking of her Nana makes her realize how long it’s been since she’s made Nana’s spaghetti sauce for her son; it’s his favorite. The thought of him makes her smile, a real smile, the first one of the evening.
Grandpa Kirk does call, later; he calls to tell her he got a flat tire on the way back to his mama’s house, his dining destination. He is calling her from the side of the road and she’s not really sure why. Moral support? A tire pump? Her AAA number?
He is speaking in a put upon voice; this has not been a good day for him.
As she hangs up, she asks herself—now do you see it’s time to give up on dating? She softly shakes her head. She knows damn well, she’s not ready to give up, just yet.
***If you enjoyed this, please go to my site & comment there: