November 2, 2009
DANCES WITH WOLVES… AND OTHER BEASTS
Dating is just like the movies.
I used to study screen writing, and it seems to me that every one of my dates follows the template of a grade B script.
Like any writer, the date knows he has about 5 minutes to grip (not physically) his audience and leave her begging for more. If he’s successful, she’ll be riveted (not physically) to her seat and for the next couple of hours he’ll get the applause he deserves. If he’s boring, too talkative, spaced out, or takes himself too seriously, then he’ll lose his audience and any chance to really touch (sometimes-but-rarely physically) me. In short, like any movie-goer, if I paid for a ticket (or even if my date paid for it) and the movie’s lousy I’ll force myself to stay until the end—but you can bet your bottom dollar wild horses (flowers, candy, even an apology) won’t get me back for the sequel.
But I’m moving ahead of myself. Let’s analyze for a moment the dating script.
Mr. (wannabe) Right starts with his introduction (the story of his life), moving on to the main characters and supporting roles, (his friends and family) who reappear (disjointedly) throughout the plot. Then there is the first turning point, where I will be (sometimes) pleasantly surprised to learn there is more to him than meets the eye (ears, nose and…). If I’m lucky, I find he has personality, maybe even aims, ambitions, goals, and (rarely) a method for reaching his objective. It looks like clear sailing.
At this point, as with any basic no-brainer movie plot, I let myself relax, realizing that this could be enjoyable. There’s even moments when I think “He’s sweet, a real gentleman (so far) and actually listening to me almost as much as he is to himself.” But then the next sequence begins:
The Revelation, (or second turning point).
In a movie, this is the part where, after following the cop who’s hot on the trail of a serial murderer and seems to be ready to crack the case wide open, we’re suddenly confronted with “the revelation” that the killer is actually his partner, and now the stakes have just gone up, and everyone has a lot more to lose.
Well, on a date “the revelation” itself can often murder any chance you have of finding out if Mr. (wannabe) Right is the “one”. On a date, those “surprises” that bring you to the edge of your seat in the movies, are rarely exciting and never fun. Because on a first date (even the first couple of dates) who wants to know what “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” you’re date has suffered or if he’s just plain weird?!
Take the really great date I had with this guy who was “a few” years older than me. I’m just coasting along as he glibly checks off the successes he’s had in his life. I’m so enjoying his clever banter that I almost miss “the revelation.”
“I was only twenty-one when my uncle sent me a ticket to the Academy Awards. Don’t ask how he got it, but he knew that Kevin Costner was my favorite actor. He even sent a plane ticket. Do you know how many Oscars his movie won?”
“Seven,” I answered nonchalantly. You can’t be a serious actress and not know the Oscar Winners.
My date was impressed. I was appalled by “the revelation”. Dances With Wolves won the Oscars in 1990. I was no math whiz but if he was twenty-one in 1990 (when I was turning seven) then he was FORTY years old!
Kudos to his plastic surgeon.
Of course, not every revelation is so dramatic. Take my knight in shining armor – great body, full head of hair, piercing blue eyes, and a Jewish background that mirrored my own – who just had to admit that he’s very into me… but that he’s also very into men.
How about cutie who took me to dinner and while ordering the main, informed me that he had an enviable track-record of three failed suicide attempts after being dumped by previous girlfriends (I left before dessert).
Or Mr. nice-guy who “forgot” to mention he has a girlfriend who he’s currently living with and would I mind if he checked in with her – she gets lonely without him.
And my personal favorite – the 30 year old datemeister who suddenly excuses himself as he answers an “emergency” call from his mother. Emergencies are emergencies, but then I actually get to “hear” the revelation as his speaker-phone turns on in the middle of his conversation.
“And sweetheart,” his mother says, with a wonderful Hungarian accent, “don’t be shy. If you need an advance on your allowance, just ask. I know how pricey these restaurants can be. Is she worth it? Oh and did you take the key? Should I wait up? Don’t eat dessert. I baked your favorite cookies. I’ll leave you a few to munch on before you go to sleep.”
As all eyes focused on the both of us, I sheepishly smiled, wanting to shout out “I WAS FIXED UP! THIS IS A BLIND DATE! PLEASE BELIEVE ME!”
Just once I would like “the revelation” to be “Oh, and besides being head over heels in love with you, I’m a millionaire and my plane is even now being warmed up to take us to Paris.”
Or how about, “Yes, Tiferet, I’m bald, but that’s because I donated my long, blond hair to Locks of Life.
So, last Friday, when I met my blind date I was glad I had experienced the above scenarios. I thought I was prepared for anything.
But Murphy’s Law saw fit to trip me again.
After a lovely dinner, with a wonderful bottle of wine, just as we were having our dessert and I truly believed everything would be at least okay, “the revelation” arrives.
“And this is my dog, and this is my nephew,” he moves closer to show me the pictures on his cell phone. “And… oh man, I must have forgot it. I was sure I brought a picture of my baby.” He shrugs and places the phone on the table.
“Who’s your baby?” I ask warily. “A sports car? Harley Davidson?”
He looks at me, confused.
I cringe, choking on my ice-cream dessert. He gets up to gives me the Heimlich Maneuver. I cringe again. “No thanks,” I say under my breath, “I’d rather die.”
“Pardon?” he says.
“I’m sorry, I thought I heard you say you have a kid,” I answer out-loud.
“I do,” he looks at me, as though I had said something strange. “Didn’t Liza tell you that when she set us up?”
“No. She told me that she had a great guy for me… who was everything I was looking for – and more…” I smirk. “I don’t suppose More is the name of your son?”
“Well, didn’t you catch my hints along the way?”
“If by hints you mean when I told you I babysit in my spare time, and you said that was good to know – No. I didn’t realize I was being interviewed for an actual position.”
“What about when I said that I was sure you could teach me a few things?” The image of me teaching him how to use Wipe n’ Dipes honestly never crossed my mind.
“Sorry to catch you off-guard,” he tells me as I desperately try to catch the waiter’s attention for the check. “This must have come as a total shock to you.”
“Oh no, me?” I reply a little too quickly, in a shrill voice that projects anything but calm. “Nah, I’m used to this sort of stuff…. Guys I date have kids, kids I watch have dates…and then there are those kids who eat dates and the dates who eat kids….” I suddenly stop when I realize he isn’t blinking. “But I digress. Enough about me, let’s talk more about your dynasty. Is it one boy or a gaggle of guys? ”
“I’m sorry,” he says gently. “This must have come as a total surprise.”
“Don’t worry,” I reply in a far-away voice I don’t recognize. “I live for surprises… In fact, nothing would make me happier than to learn that you haven’t even finalized the divorce yet.”
Where is that waiter?
I hold back the tears and the screaming person inside me. “See, I love this stuff. Is your son in the car?”
“No, I mean. I never got married. It was… um…. Unexpected.”
“Do you mean you didn’t know whether it would be a boy or girl?” I ask naively.
“No…uhh….. we just went on a few dates…. We didn’t mean to make a kid. It was uh…. An accident.”
There is a strange silence as I finally understand what he’s saying. “Well… I’m sure you learned your lesson….” I say, waving my finger at him. “You’re a naughty boy,” I add, wondering if I could make him sit in the corner (until I make my getaway).
He collects the pieces of cloth napkin that I have apparently torn apart, into his outstretched palms. But in my mind I see him holding a bottle and squirting drops of milk onto his wrist. Then, looking up at me, I think I hear him say,
“Uh…I’m not sure, let’s test it on you” as he squeezes milk onto my wrist.
“Too hot!” I cry suddenly.
“I mean… too much.” Then I quietly add, “I think this is too much for me.” I get up and leave.
But dates, like movies, sometimes have unexpected endings. Later that night, he sends me an email with pictures of his baby. I grab my microwave popcorn, and sit down to read his email. What could he possibly have to write? I thought I had made it pretty clear we were over.
But again, endings have a funny way about them. Sometimes the movie finishes an hour after it should have. And sometimes you find the credits are rolling up the screen way before you were ready for them.
I scroll down the pictures to the text, and read:
“At least let me tell you what I WOULD have wanted to hear—I promise it’s not yours! ;-)
You aren’t gonna’ let a small thing – 7 pounds, 2 ounces—stop us, are you?”
As I crunch down on a kernel of popcorn, I grin. Because the truth is, as much as I love movies, I have to admit that sometimes, even after viewing a good one, I come out of the theater a little confused, wondering… could it be I missed the point entirely?