July 7, 2005
My blind date, Scott, likes college hoops, '80s TV and helping others. I like his cute tuchus. I'm thinkin' we'd make a fine pair of Jews. We stray from the first date playbook and follow a Santa Monica dinner with a Main Street stroll. As we walk past yet a third unique boutique on our way to get dessert (that we don't want) and more time together (which we do), Scott says those three little words that can rock a girl's world. "There's my car."
It's a PT Cruiser -- washed and waxed today, valid registration, parked less than 12 inches from the curb. No fuzzy dice, high school tassel or pine-scented Playmate air freshener. The car doesn't scream "show-off" or "shady," Speed Racer or gas guzzler. What it screams is middle-aged dad. More specifically -- my dad.
Yup, Mr. Davis, father of four, head of the Davis tribe, the abba figure, my partner at the Brownie father-daughter square dance, drives a PT Cruiser. My dad and my date sport the same ride. That throws my night in reverse.
Not that there's anything wrong with a Cruiser. It's no Barbie Dream Corvette, but it's a reliable car, fun design, decent gas mileage. An acceptable set of wheels for Scott, the San Francisco transplant who triumphed in the face of parallel parking. An unacceptable drive for Scott, the guy I'm crushing on. 'Cuz it's my dad's car. The one he drives to work. The one he drives to shul. The one he motors to Home Depot in. The one he cruises for bagels in. Not exactly Hot Wheels.
I try to get over it. Think lovely thoughts. Picture a happy place. Separate the two. My dad's car is eggplant; Scott's car is black. My dad's has a no-spill coffee cup; Scott hates coffee. My dad sits in the driver's seat; Scott and I will make out in the backseat. Gulp. I can't get down in the back of my father's car. Someone call a tow, this date just ran out of gas.
I'm serious. We are stalled. I like my date, I love my dad, but this can't work. I know it's not nice to judge a man by his stick shift, but I can't do a second date with Scott. Steering the same wheels as my Dad is a first date dealbreaker.
Don't shake your head at me. Everyone's got a catalog of relationship red flags. My dealbreakers include, but are not limited to (suitors read the fine print): men who wear jewelry and man sandals or call our waiter "chief." Guys who don't watch sports, walk me to my car or get my writing. Dates who check their cell phone, Blackberry or hair during dinner. Boys who dip or smoke, or aren't smoking hot.
I'm not talking about what shampoo to buy, what thread count to sleep on or whether to go with red or white maror. We're talking about a date, a possible relationship, a potential life partner, hello -- a Saturday night. I don't have time to waste on a mismatch. Dealbreakers are dating shorthand; they tell us when a potential is a pass.
It's like last fall -- my Brentwood hairdresser set me up with her client. We met at Barney's Beanery to grab a beer and catch a game. Our date was over before the kickoff was returned. I barely opened the menu when he said "What are you gonna get? My ex and I used to come here and get pizza. Half green pepper, half pineapple. Let's get that. I'm sure you're up for it."
I'm not up for it, down with it or into it. Why would I care what you ate with your ex? Why would you bring it up? Do you still like her? Do you plan to woo her back with our leftovers? It's bad enough that this joker pays $50 for a haircut. But asking me to order his ex's favorite dish is a blatant first-date dealbreaker. Go directly to date jail, buddy, do not collect $200. His request was self-centered, thoughtless and rude, just like Scott driving my dad's car. Huh ... actually those two things are nothing alike. One is a character flaw, the other a coincidence. One is inexcusable, the other just not-so-sexy. And by not-so-sexy I mean not sexy at all. But still, my hang-up is not drawn to scale.
So Scott drives my dad's car, it's not like I'm perfect. I talk loudly. I talk too much. I interrupt. I ask the waiter what I should order. I have a story for everything. I tell stories twice. I always get cold. I bite my nails. And I'm still talking.
I want someone to take my first date flaws with a grain of kosher salt -- Scott seems like the kind of guy who might. Actually, Scott seems like the kind of guy who's great. Maybe I should give him a second chance. Maybe I should say yes to that second date. Maybe dealbreakers were meant to be broken.
But if he wears white pants has hand hair or uses the phrase "irregardless," I'm so out of there.
Freelance writer Carin Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org