Saturday, July 23, 2011

Role-playing (Part 6)

Bad dates are a fact of life for singles looking for love. You've got to look at them as a stepping stone to something better. And in the meantime, all you do is keep your head up, remain positive and hope that these bad dates at least make for good stories. Good stories that I'm happy to share with you all.



Matt Shafeek The Insecure Suitor
Sunset Terrace & Coffee Shop Bar / New York, NY / May 2010

I'm at a Time Out New York singles event at Sunset Terrace in the Chelsea, overlooking the Hudson River. The venue is appropriately named - there’s a gorgeous view overlooking the water as the sun disappears over the horizon. My friend Marcy and I were both "featured" in the Singles Isses that week, with pictures in the magazine and full profiles of us on their website, which could be seen as bold or desperate depending on your point of view.

As soon as I arrive I find Marcy, and together we survey the scene and start to gravitate towards a corner of the bar for the best of the room with the fewest eyes on us. After a few minutes I force myself to pull away, in an effort to prevent an evening of the two of us keeping each other safe from our insecurities. I turn and notice a good looking, tall, red-headed gentleman that Marcy clearly has her eyes on. I make some small talk, introduce the two of them, and I step away, mouthing “you’re welcome” at her from behind the red-head’s back.

I know that what I lack in height, hair, and wealth I have to make up for with confidence, so I walk around determinedly approaching as many women as I can attempting to fake it. I introduce myself as "Matt, page 18," which seems silly enough to be disarming and hopefully not too creepy. The first few women I meet tolerate my presence for a few minutes before making it clear with body language and eye contact that I can make them laugh all I want, but they're never going to sleep with me. A lot of the subtleties of courtship and sexual attraction are lost on me, but I've got a PhD in this one particular sentiment.

I notice Leia as I'm grabbing my second drink. She's short, seemingly of mixed racial descent (a mix, like me!), and she has really sexy lips, something I never really notice on a woman. I make up excuses for about a minute then finally sidle up alongside her. I use with my corny 'page 18' opener, which I've decided to stick with, despite its lack of effectiveness thus far (like Cinderella’s glass slipper, I‘m sure my line will eventually woo my one true love). As it turns out, most of the people at the party aren't actually in the magazine, Leia included. She doesn't know what I’m talking about at first, but despite the initial stumble we manage to hit it off:

"You know, I was self-conscious about coming to this event, but looking around there's actually a lot of really ugly dudes here." I say, doing my best to mix truth with fantasy. In reality, I'd felt inferior since I started talking with the tall red-head, but now I was staring right at him, shaking my head and wondering how anyone could ever be attracted to a man with such a well-defined chin, whose clothes all fit him just right.

"Yeah, heh, you're not wrong. There's also a lot more women than men here, in general." Leia replies.

"Yeah you're right. I guess I should just wait for all the attractive men to get paired off, then sit back and let the rest come to me."

“That would be smart!” she smiles, “but before you do that, let's get another drink."

After investing $15 into our conversation, Leia and I make our way to the terrace overlooking the water. The fact that she's stuck around this long indicates to me that we're either hitting it off, or she thinks she’s getting another free drink out of me. I ask for her number before the conversation and her current drink are totally exhausted. She gives it to me, and I immediately start looking for an escape before she has a chance to change her mind.

“Anyway, I should probably get going,” I tell her, “I’ve got a ridiculous commute home from here.”

“That sucks. I live like a five minute walk from here,” she brags.

“I see what you’re doing right now, but sorry, I’m not going home with you tonight.”

She puts her hand to her mouth, ever so-slightly embarrassed. I fight the urge to follow this line up with “but seriously, if you wanted me to come over right now, I definitely would.” Instead, I sense this a moment is as good an out as I'm going to get, so I thank my audience and wish her good night.

A week and a half later we find ourselves at Coffee Shop Bar in Union Square. I show up promptly at our prescribed meeting time of 7:30pm. She arrives twenty-two minutes late, which, given her unapologetic demeanor, seems right on time for her. She sits down, and starts drinking twice as fast as me, pausing every two minutes to answer her blackberry, which she has no problem clarifying: "gets more love from me than any man." Awesome.

Struggling to compete with her clear love of alcohol and electronic messaging, I bring up some of my favorite, super sexy subjects: long-form improv, video games and blogging (more ill-fitting glass slippers I can't help but force women to try on), hoping any of them will strike a chord. Unfortunately, even popular date topics like travel only seem to make her to drink and text more. I feel like I'm on a really shitty game show with bizarre rules I don't really understand, but a very clear view of my score, which is currently well into the negative.

The only subject that seems to get a reaction out of her is sex, which initially I’m more than happy to discuss. However, when she asks her first question of genuine interest to me, I quickly realize I'm in over my head :

"So where's the craziest place you've ever had sex?"

She finally turns away from the bar, giving me the most attention she's given me all night. But now I’ve got nothing to say. My honest answer to her question is: "someone else's bed?" but I know that's not what's she's looking for, so I imagine what a more sexually experienced version of myself would say:

"Craziest place? I guess probably a bar bathroom..." I shrug, casually. I figure I can make this story up on the fly, if need be. It would start with a seat liner and end with a flush.

"Ah, cool," she replies, entirely unimpressed, "You see these scratches on my knees? They’re from getting fucked in Central Park last week. What a dumb idea. They still hurt."

“Oh, wow,” I say, trying my best to react as if I was being told about her running her first half marathon, or that everything she was wearing was made of hemp. In reality, I'm sure I sounded more like she just told me she bites the heads off of small dogs. Or that she has casual sex with people in public parks with little regard for one of her most important joints, and has no problem humble-bragging about it.

A lot of thoughts race through my head at this moment, some of them prudish, most of them simply logistical: "Why would anyone choose to fuck in a park? How is that an improvement over a nice comfy bed, surrounded by four walls? What time of the day was this – doesn't the park close at night? Are you one of the culprits behind one of those awful used condoms I see on the street sometimes, wondering who the hell just HAD to have sex right here?" None of these comments would be met with anything but disdain, so I try to make up for what I lack in hair, height, wealth and adventurous sexual experience with a little bit of topical humor:

"See, that's too bad. If I was going to fuck you in the middle of the park, I'd make sure we were on a nice, grassy area. You know, so your knees wouldn't suffer."

Leia giggles and goes back to her blackberry, making it clear how she feels about me with her body language and lack of eye contact. The welfare of any part of her body is apparently not something I’ll ever have to worry about. I am unable to regain her interest again.

We decide to close out the tab a short time later, and as a fitting coup de grĂ¢ce, my credit card is rejected. Not due to insufficient funds/credit, but for some reason the card is just unreadable by their machine. The bartender tries to make it clear to Leia that I wasn't being a bum, but by this point nothing short of thanking me profusely for her recent sexual reawakening would have saved me. Leia begrudgingly pays the tab and refuses what little cash I had on me. We make our way outside and the two of us exchange a delightfully platonic hug. I then wave goodbye to another girl I know I will never see again.

Every bad date I go on – even the ones that are obviously bad matches like Leia and I – feels like it leaves an inevitable emotional scar. One that makes me that much less of the hopeless romantic, like I was when I was 12 years old, hoping to swoop a beautiful princess off her feet like the hapless rogue Aladdin did, with a song, a dance (and of course, a magic genie to solve some of those tricky socioeconomic discrepancies). Over time I start to feel more like a bitter, jaded Aladdin, who’d rather just use his wishes on a lifetime supply of pizza, peanut butter cups and some kind of high-tech sexbot.

There is a side of me though, that's optimistic, who knows that no matter what happens, I’ll be fine. Because what I may lack in height, hair, wealth, sexual experience and sheer determination, I more than make up for with…a pretty funny blog, which will soon have this story posted on it. And nothing turns the ladies on more than pretty funny blogs with stories of bad dates with other women.

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