There comes a time in every woman’s dating life where we have to step back and re-evaluate our choices. A few years ago, it was my turn. At dinner, some good friends and I were discussing dating and our different approaches to meeting men. Two of them approached dating as a numbers game; the more guys you date, the higher your likelihood of finding one you actually want to date will increase.
At first, I brushed off their theory, in my head it went the way of inspiration boards, meeting someone at the grocery store, and waiting until I least expect it. But their insistence got me thinking, what if I’ve been doing it wrong all this time? My approach had always been that being selective would increase my chances without wasting my time, and that hadn’t worked so well for me in the past.
Since only insane people do the same thing the same way and expect different results, I wondered if they were on to something.
Deciding I am not insane, I set out to try the new dating strategy.
This is how I have a $88.00 story about:
- The need for maintaining a semblance of guidelines for people you let into your life
- How sometimes all a person can do is dance
- I’ll do anything for a good story, especially one that will entertain my friends
To begin my new experiment, I signed up for a few dating sites instead of just one. I reduced the filters both on the site and in my mind, and mentally prepared and practiced non-sarcastic responses to the emails that inevitably arrived, “UR real tall”, “Are you really 6’ tall?” “Do you have big feet? You must have big feet, I really like feet…” and so on. Also, all of those are real emails I have received at least several times.
How did it go? It went like this:
- From that picture on your profile, jungle cats painted on black velvet is how you decorated your living room. Fantastic.
- You watch TV and video games in all of your free time? I’m not sure what we have in common, but who knows? …let’s go out…
- You’re married and you guys think it would be fun to bring me on as a sister-wife? Hell no.
Even when I try not to have no filters, it turns out I still do. Sister-wife? I drew the line. I freaking tried my best to be open-minded, but no.
After more than enough emails and several short disastrous dates, I received a somewhat normal-ish email from a seemingly active, good-looking guy who was 6’5”. In a numbers game, apparently, I’ll forgive a lot of things for cute and 6’5”.
He lived north of me, but was going to be in San Diego for work the following week, and wanted to know if I wanted to go out? His emails, while a little disjointed, clearly showed how active he was, and how hard he worked for a large…clothing company.* He called the night before he would be in town and insisted we would have a great time, he may have even used “unforgettable” to describe how amazing our date would be.
He wasn’t wrong about the “unforgettable” part.
The next night we connected and I suggested a restaurant along the harbor since he preferred “healthy” and “seafood”. Unable to understand my directions as to the restaurant along the harbor next to the Midway (a large aircraft carrier museum), he insisted on coming to my house instead.
His smile lit up his face when we met in front of my building. He was really 6’5” with blond curly hair and dimples when he smiled. He presented me with a rose wrapped in cellophane, a bottle of wine, and an expensive candle, that weirdly looked like the wick had been lit before. He also had a DVD for us to watch, “to break the ice”.
Since no guy I haven’t met before was coming into my place after barely a “hello”, we carried the gifts to my car and I drove us to the restaurant. The third time he mentioned he was starving from working all day, it registered that it wasn’t idle chit-chat and I took the bait.
“What do you do for work?” I asked.
“I’m the Acme Clothing Store’s superhero,” he said proudly.
“I’m the Acme Clothing Store’s superhero.”
“How…What… What does that mean exactly?”
“I wear a custom superhero costume and dance on street corners to attract people inside.”
“Like… the Statue of Liberty tax people? Or sign twirlers?” What had I gotten myself into? This can’t be real. It just can’t be.
“No, no, no. It’s nothing like that,” he said, then continued,
“I am the ACS Superhero, from my boots to my hat.
People drive around the block, turning their car around,
to watch me dance, leap, and bound.
I’ve always been a dancer,
almost as long as I’ve been a romancer.”
There was a pause as I let it sink in before asking, “Why are you rhyming?”
“I’m really good at rhyming. Dr. Seuss has nothing on me and my timing.”
I parked the car and closed my eyes for a second, fortifying myself with new resolve. How does someone become a 35-year-old rhyming superhero? And how did I possibly end up on a date with him? Is it terrible if I just drove us home now? But how would I find out how he became a street corner dance? So many questions and zero answers! I decided to go through with it, what did I have to lose at this point?
At the restaurant, he sat in the chair next to me, opened the menu quickly, ordered a salad and beer, then sent the waiter away. It wasn’t until the waiter delivered his first course, and then returned with clean silverware to replace what the Superhero had dropped in his excitement, that I managed to order a glass of wine. I watched silently trying not to say anything as he scooped his salad with a fork and used his other hand to hold more on the fork before shoving it all into his mouth. From the looks of it, a fork doesn’t hold enough lettuce when you’re really hungry. His legs never stopped moving and when he finished eating, his hands joined in the movement. Table dancing to no music I could hear.
I watched silently trying not to say anything as he scooped his salad with a fork and used his other hand to hold more on the fork before shoving it all into his mouth. From the looks of it, a fork doesn’t hold enough lettuce when you’re really hungry. His legs never stopped moving and when he finished eating, his hands joined in the movement. Table dancing to no music I could hear.
I felt the waiters watching us, they had already noticed when he hadn’t given me a chance to order before sending them away, twice.
Soup, another beer, and our entrees later, I learned a little more about the psychology and history of a street corner superhero. He talked about his parents not being able to handle him and his energy, his younger sister who looked up to him, and his remaining grandparents who were old and wanted to see him settled down.
“That’s what I want too,” he said, glancing sideways at me with a light smile. “Well that, and to keep dancing.”
Then the bill came.
I reached slowly for my wallet. Even more slowly I opened it, fully expecting that this superhero was going to stop me and insist on paying.
Instead, he flipped the billfold open and closed, open, and closed, open and closed. It was a loop he couldn’t stop. I covered it with my hand, “What do you want to do here?”
“I ordered the least expensive fish on the menu, but you didn’t. You ordered something really expensive,” He looked straight ahead.
I pulled the check away from him and looked at it. With his salad, beer, soup, and meal, it was actually more than my entrée and wine, but I offered to split it with him.
He took it back and went back to flipping the billfold open and closed.
I tried again, stilling his hands, “What do you want to do here?”
He looked down, then glanced at me, “I didn’t realize you were so expensive. Why don’t you get it this time, and I’ll get it next time.”
I stilled, ignoring the part about my being expensive, “Is that really what you want to do?”
“If you’re completely sure,” I said evenly, “I’ll pay.” Knowing full well I’d never see him again, I put my credit card in the billfold and got the waiter’s attention.
“Yes, yes, that’s best.” His legs jiggled under the table and his body couldn’t stop moving while we waited for the check to come back so we could leave. He did a little jig to get his jacket on as we walked outside.
Outside, I paused and took a few steps towards the water to regroup and figure out how to end this date but still keep the wine, etc. At this point, I felt I’d earned them.
The harbor looked gorgeous, with lights from the city reflected on the water.
My Caped Crusader for the evening followed me over, surprising me by taking my hand. “It’s a beautiful night! I wrote a song about a night like this!”
And with that, he began to sing. Loudly.
As his voice echoed through the night sky and off the side of the Midway, I looked around expecting friends to jump out and laugh at the joke they played on me. Instead, there was just the two of us and a few giggling girls somewhere in the distance. The Caped Crusader belted out his song about the moon and the sky above, and how he was searching high and low for love.
At the end of the song, I managed to pull my hand back and walked towards the car.
“I bet you’ve never been serenaded like that before,” he practically skipped like a proud little boy.
“No, no I haven’t,” I didn’t know what else to say.
“Good,” he nodded and climbed into my car.
At my house, I greedily decided to keep the things he had brought, since I’d essentially just paid for them by paying the entire check. I won’t lie, I totally wanted to see the DVD and his street-corner dancing. We went upstairs where he insisted I opened the wine, lit the candle, and put the rose in a vase before we could watch the DVD.
The DVD, or his “audition reel” was filled with him dancing in his superhero costume, interviews on the news, a music video with him as the romantic lead, and a segment of him on one of the late-night talk shows. I glanced over to see if he realized the host had been making fun of him. He smiled, laughing back at me, happy to have danced on TV. Pity suddenly swept over me as I watched his excitement.
No, no, no, no! I did not want to feel pity for this guy.
Luckily that pity lasted only until a few minutes later when he hushed me for trying to ask him about his career in music videos. What I mistook for credits and his headshots, was a rap song he wrote and produced for the clothing company.
After the song ended and it was safe to talk, I asked him a few questions before making an elaborate show of yawning. It was late and time for him to leave. He put on his jacket while I went to the bathroom. When I came out, the candle was blown out and the bottle of wine corked. Perhaps he was helping me clean up.
Or that’s what I thought until he picked both items up on his way out. He took the half-filled bottle of wine and candle with him.
I realized in shock as I followed him down the stairs to make sure he left, that was why the candle looked like it had been used before. Because it was, possibly on his last date.
He left me the DVD though, “because it seemed to make me happy.”
As we said goodbye outside, he asked, “if you could describe this date in one word, what would it be?”
I ran through the options in my head and settled on, “Surprising.”
“Surprising,” he said as if he had never said the word before. “Cool. Like my Facebook page, and share my DVD with your friends if you think it will make them as happy as it made you.” And he was off.
I walked upstairs in shock over the whirlwind of it all, pausing to open a new bottle of wine and text my friends, “you are never going to believe what just happened.”
Without taking down my filters and opening my mind to possibilities, I would have missed this $88 gem of an experience. Friends would have missed the years of texting me whenever they spotted him on street corners during their travels. It reminded me that some filters are important to have in dating, and in life, but if I’m not careful, I can miss meeting people who aren’t jaded, who live their lives with gusto, happy just to dance, people who rhyme when they get nervous.
Was he the Caped Crusader who swept me off my feet? Not even close. Did I walk right back into my house and shut down my dating profiles? Absolutely. A date with a superhero is a hard act to follow and I needed some time to rethink my strategy.
*Details were changed so they don’t resemble the real person.