First dates can be incredibly troublesome and anxiety inducing. Thankfully through the implementation of a strong vetting process, the majority of my first dates have been pleasant. Unfortunately, my success rate isn’t 100% and there have been a few occurrences where I honestly wished I faked a phone call, went home and went Real Housewives.
Shorty on the run
Context: I knew this guy wasn’t tall, but I didn’t realise how short he was. His profile height had no indication that we’d be the same size – just under 5ft6.
Let me start by introducing the fact that he was half an hour late for picking me up which was frustrating yet understandable. He was driving, I know traffic can be troublesome and I’m most definitely partial to being late, so I didn’t want to make any rash inferences on his personality. When he first informed me of his lateness, I offered to take public transport because the location was midway between the both of us. I thought it would save time, however he was insistent that he picked me up from my house – it was mid-January weather, so I obliged. I admired the chivalry but was perturbed at having to wait with my hunger growing. When he finally arrived, I was polite and courteous, trying to not reflect my impatience and my ‘hangriness’ into my demeanour. Almost 2 years later I still regret not taking public transport; he was an atrocious driver. He informed me after several stalling sessions that he had only recently purchased the car and was not accustomed to driving. The fact that he was so insistent to pick me up with a lack of experience – his decision to flaunt his prize possession while being ill equipped to manoeuvre the vehicle made me doubt his judgement and this was the first of many red flags. We were almost sideswiped by another car at a junction because he couldn’t understand the road markings and what traffic light applied to his lane.
I tried to hide my embarrassment and annoyance as he proceeded to parallel park on a hill. Naturally empathetic in nature I tried to be sympathetic acknowledging the fact that parallel parking is notoriously temperamental and difficult to execute, however the more he began to delay traffic the more my social anxiety grew. Once we got to the venue, we discovered that we had arrived so late, they had shut the inside, they were no longer serving food and we could only purchase shisha and some drinks. In typical Maria fashion, I had neglected to take a jacket in winter in favour of showcasing my carefully curated outfit – I thought I would be okay because I was getting picked up and dropped – but I flinched with each lash of the wind down my crop top. My meticulously planned outfit received no compliments, but he politely offered me his puffer jacket as the shivers from being on the outside patio punctuated our conversation. Both of us had agreed we were hungry and decided to go somewhere else on the main road. To my surprise, he employed his low centre of gravity and darted down the road without a care in the world – failing to look back and forgetting he was on a date. He was literally at the end of the road while I was hobbling in my heels alone at night. When I finally caught up with him and exclaimed, “you walk so fast”, his response was “I’m cold” I didn’t understand there was a trade-off between wearing his puffer jacket and being abandoned on the road in heels. Although this was the third red flag, I persevered, entered the Bodeans restaurant and ordered food.
I cringed as he tilted his face sideways to yank meat off the bone before devouring his meal absurdly loud. I’m used to this at African family dinners, but this was the first time I had seen this behaviour exhibited on a date. This was another red flag I wrote it off, hoping he was just extremely hungry. I stared at the barbeque sauce on his face and remembered all the times I forgot to tie back my hair during, making me feel bad for internally cringing – there’s only so many occurrences you can tell someone there’s something on your face. The conversations we had amid picking food in between his teeth, was pleasant. We bonded over the fact that he was a graphic designer, I did graphic design before I went into marketing and despite not being a ‘socaholic’ he was Trinidadian and attended Trini Carnival the year before – something I had. We decided to go somewhere else for drinks and I gave him back his jacket. I believed that since he had his jacket, he would not high tail it to the end of the street… this was a lie and was almost comical the way he resembled Sonic the hedgehog as he sped down the street. At the third location, he exclaimed how much he had already spent, and I bought us a round of drinks, to even up the score and appease any assumptions that I was a gold digger. The rest of the date was nice enough and the libations helped me forget the series of red flags. The date was Saturday, by Monday evening, he had complained about how much money he had spent on 3 different occasions.
Even though I knew there was a lack of connection, out of politeness and craving company I agreed to a second date with Mr Shorty Speed. The plan was to watch a screen of Dave Chapelle’s ‘Block party’, which after days of being subjected to a financial breakdown of our previous date, was purchased with my card. I regret spending my money and ignoring the plethora of red flags. He was more than an hour late to our second date – with a flimsy excuse that he needed to pick up a game controller. I was highly offended. Out of all the days to pick up a game controller, he chose our date day. For me it showed a complete lack of respect and misplaced priorities. His piss poor punctuality meant we missed our dinner reservations. I realised I’m never seeing him again when he tried to convince me to risk oil staining my bag so he could sneak the KFC into the cinema. I ordered wine, watched the film and didn’t speak to him until the film finished and it was time to be dropped home. I let the situation fizzle out but I’m ashamed to say I entertained this individual for longer than I should’ve out of loneliness. Despite his poor table manners and overall lack of etiquette, he was ‘nice’ enough. There was nothing objectionable about him; I didn’t feel unsafe with him, he wasn’t explicitly misogynistic or rude to staff. As black women we’re indoctrinated to believe that compromise within a relationship is compulsory. This rhetoric, along with the belief we can change a man has to be dispelled.
The Pretentious Prick
Context: It was a spur of the moment date instigated by the fact that it was my birthday month and I looked cute. I had only been speaking to for a brief amount of time
It was a casual cinema date – nothing too fancy. I had just completed a catch up/ belated birthday dinner around the corner. He was on time and looked well kept. From our few texting conversations, I knew he was an intellectual and polite. We had an incredibly awkward moment when it came to paying but I have no problems paying for myself especially when its towards the end of the month. We sat down to wait for the film to start – this is where the problem started. He spoke with a disconcerting, reductive manner about several socio-political situations -. feminism and poverty – with a level of arrogance that indicated the fact that he believed he was spitting monumental irrefutable facts. When I provided him with a response based on statistical evidence and academic references, he seemed surprised and intrigued that I knew so much about the topic but also slightly annoyed that I knew more than him and he hadn’t out smarted me. He literally stated he was surprised I knew so much and echoed a statement that inferred ‘I’m not like other females’. The spirit of ‘Pickmeisha’ is not in me, that was the first red flag – any male who thinks that demeaning other women in order to clearly compliment an individual who revels in the benefits of patriarchy. This was the only red flag I needed, mentally I checked out of this date. Fortunately, he was invested in self-promotion and regurgitating simplistic ‘hoetep’ propaganda, he didn’t realise that my body language and tone relayed ‘I don’t like you’. Confidence and intelligence is sexy, arrogance and pretentions is disconcerting and repulsive – his fondness of his own voice drained me of all energy. So convinced of his perfection, he was genuinely surprised by the fact that I did not want to see him again and my conclusion that we were incompatible. He was clearly used to females fawning over him due to his well-paid job in the engineering and couldn’t compute why I wasn’t pandering. I thought it was rude to relay the fact that I think he enjoyed the sound of his voice and tried to pass it off as a lack of connection. When that didn’t work I was more honest and said you didn’t seem that interested in me and seemed more interested in himself which then triggered the hurt ego alpha male response to which I quickly blocked. I’m not the one to try to exert your superiority complex over.
Advice for Girls Going on First Dates
I know we’ve just entered a national lockdown meaning no first dates are happening anytime soon, but for when we do start dating again my one piece of advice is to not ignore red flags or feel compelled to complete the date. My decision to complete the dates with Pretentious Prick and Mr. Shorty Speed was a product of my social anxiety which I’ve since rectified. Also, do not feel like the guy is entitled to anything more whether it be sexual or an additional date because just because money left his account. Any money expended was a decision they made meaning the only transaction is between you guys and the establishment. Make sure you have enough money to pay for the entire meal. When some petty boys realise there won’t be a second date or sex, disgustingly they dine and dash – hurt egos do hurtful things. As a principle I would also pay for my own meals with individuals who I knew I had no intention of seeing them again so the bitter individual can’t proclaim I used them as a meal ticket.