Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Three Date Rule or “It’s a good thing I’m not single anymore because I was an idiot”

Ask any of my friends that knew me before I got married and they will tell you that I always had a different boyfriend every time they saw me. A big exaggeration, but I did date a lot of different guys in between several long-term boyfriends. A whole lot. Variety is good, right? And I’m one of those people that either we clicked and I was suddenly madly in love/lust, or we didn’t and I changed my phone number or told them I was moving to Saudi Arabia.

So after the disasterous relationship chronicled here, I decided that as a girl in my mid-20’s I needed to be a little more serious about relationships. In the South, most people of my parents’ generation feel like if you’re not married by the age of 22 or 23 that there has got to be something wrong with you and you’re doomed to a life of spinsterhood. I was catching pressure from all sides even though I was in no rush to get married at that point. Hell, after escaping my life with J., I was seriously considering never getting married or having kids at all.

In a moment of brilliance, I came up with the Three Date Rule. The theory behind the Three Date Rule is that your first date can often spell disaster – you’re nervous as hell, you might be having an “off” night, whatever. As the more mature me, I was not going to foolishly cast someone with possible husband potential off because of one bad date, right? Riiiiight. But then the second date would probably be a little better in theory. And by the third date, you truly know if this is something worth persuing or if I was going to spend the next few weekends on the couch with some macaroni and cheese watching Lifetime.

The first victim of the Three Date Rule was this guy named David. He was the cousin of my good friend Cindy that I worked with at the time, and we met at a cookout she was having at her house. (I still believe that she engineered the whole thing, but she denies it to this very day.) He was definitely my rebound guy after J. and I broke things off – and he made it more than three dates. Such a nice, sweet guy – he treated me like a queen, which was something I really needed after being emotionally trashed – but he was one of those relationships that you just know is “nice” and not really going anywhere. We dated about a month and then I gently broke the news that it just wasn’t working. He was very sweet about it, totally characteristic of his personality.

The second victim was a guy named Kit. Yes, Kit. Stop laughing. Really. STOP. He was a salesman for a supplier that provided materials to the company I was working for at the time – and one of J.’s main competitors. Perfect! What better way to seek revenge against J. for being such a jerk than dating his competitor. I rubbed my hands together with wicked glee just thinking about it.

The catch was – I had never actually seen Kit before. He had called me on the phone at the behest of my friend Karen that I worked with (they went to college together) and after a few phone calls he finally got up the nerve to ask me out. The plans were to go to a super-swanky restaurant for dinner and then wherever the night took us. I was impressed already, because at that time our city was not well-known for having good places to eat and this place had been written up in several well-known national magazines. So already he was scoring major points with me in the class department.

What should have tipped me off was that he was friends with Karen. She’s a very nice and funny girl, but a total trainwreck too. We eventually became roommates and I discovered her penchant for firing up a bong immediately every afternoon after work in addition to a bunch of other weird habits she had. But at the time I only knew her from work and she seemed like a really fun person, so I figured Kit would at least be a fun date.

Date night arrived. I had meticulously spent over an hour getting ready – cute teensy dress, sandals, hair and makeup to perfection. I was lookin’ goooood. The doorbell to my apartment rang and I went over to look out the peephole to see who it was. Hmm….no one there. So I went back into my bedroom to preen a little more, and the doorbell rang again. I peeked out again, and no one was there. Finally, at the third ring I was getting pissed, thinking it’s some kids from the building next door playing a prank, and I flung the door open….

It was him. He was so damn short that it’s no wonder that I couldn’t see him through the peephole. And I had dated shorter guys before, but really…this dude was short. A quick once-over revealed a long, curly mullet, beard and moustache, three earrings in one ear (including a blue turquoise thunderbolt, heart be still!), and a very disappointing outfit of slouchy, holy jeans and a wrinkly button-up shirt that looked like he had pulled it straight out of the hamper.

Kit: Wow – hi, I mean, Karen didn’t tell me how beautiful you are! I mean, like WOW.

Me: (to myself) Yeah, there’s a hell of a lot she didn’t tell me about you, either.

We chatted for a few minutes and then he escorted me to his car – he was very excited about me seeing the car because it was a “classic” that he had spent a lot of time working on. The only work I could see was that he had used about half a roll of duct tape to hold the seats together – it was a 1960-something convertible in this horrid mustard and primer-gray color. Oh, and by the way, the top was stuck down, so he hoped I didn’t mind if we rode with the top down? Ugh. But I sucked it up, got into the car, and off we went.

Dinner was lovely. He was a nice guy, albeit a little strange. Later after dinner, we adjourned to a bar where, loosened up by a progression of cocktails, he proceeded to tell me all the industry rumors about J.’s womanizing when he was out of town on business trips. I had some inkling that something rotten had been going on, but to have it all spilled out in front of me in gory detail while I drowned my sorrows in a Lynchburg Lemonade was like being kicked in the stomach. It wasn’t really something I wanted to discuss EVER, let alone on a first date with someone. Mercifully, the date came to an end and he took me home.

For the next week, I would come out to my car in the morning to find flowers and poems on my windshield – all from Kit. It was very sweet, but I was starting to get a little freaked out. He was calling every day wanting to know when we were going to go out again. I was torn between doing the right thing – which was to say hell to the no – and sticking to my principles of the Three Date Rule. So eventually I gave in and said I’d be happy to have dinner with him the following Saturday night.

I drove down to his house that evening and immediately started getting a really bad feeling. For one thing, he lived in a pretty rough area of town and at least four houses on his block had abandoned cars and major appliances decorating the front yard. Not such a good thing. I pulled up in front of his house – which was a disaster. No major appliances in the yard, but it was terribly overgrown and the house was on the verge of falling apart. I mean, the guy had been out of college for five years at that point and was living like a frat boy. The only thing missing out of the yard was an old keggerator. Not a good sign.

Once inside, he offered me some wine and cheese with crackers. I suspect the wine was Mad Dog 20/20, it was the worst wine I think I’d ever had. He had prepared a few trays of hors d’oeuvres to snack on (as I found out later, he was never planning in cooking any actual dinner, just snack-type stuff) and then he offered to give me a tour of his house. It was very dank and depressing – dark paneling on the walls, 1970’s orange and avocado shag carpet…and this was way before 70’s retro was cool. And dirty, Lord was this place just downright filthy. This was way not cool.

So I got the tour and as we go into his bedroom I notice two things – the biggest waterbed I’ve ever seen before (“Where the magic happens”…insert eye rolling here) and these huge sunlamps everywhere.

Me: Um, what are those?

Kit: Sunlamps (blushing)

Me: Oh, do you tan a lot?

Kit: (Starting to get teary-eyed) Well, I have horrible psoriasis all over my body and the sunlamps are my last ditch effort to get it to clear up. I've tried everything...(dissolves into sobs of anguish)...

Oh. My. God.

And it was that night that the Three Date Rule was broken. I mean, come on – skin conditions aside, he had detailed my ex’s infidelity in great detail; was totally not physically attractive to me; lived like a total skanky slob; and don’t forget the fact that I think he served me wine with a screw-on cap. Blech. Even I couldn’t find a reason to torture myself with a third date because I knew it was doomed.

He called me regularly for several months after that. I never had the courage to tell him that I didn’t want to see him again, I just avoided him like a coward. Later on I found out his house burned to the ground and he lost absolutely everything he owned, including his beloved car. I tracked him down and offered him our couch to crash on for a few weeks if he needed a place to stay, but he declined. I have no idea whatever happened to him.

Two months later I got a phone call from one of J.’s female coworkers who had been harassing me for months about this guy she wanted to fix me up with. I had been resisting her with all of my strength, but that one day she caught me in a weak moment and I agreed to meet the prospective date. Her exact words to me were “He is so perfect for you that I feel like you’re meant to be together.” We set up a double-date for the following Thursday, and I braced myself for what was bound to be a disaster of epic proportions.

The man that walked into my life that night was Joey, and after the first date I knew that I would never have to use the Three Date Rule again. Thank God. The torture had ended.

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