January 6, 2005
Nothing But the Truth
Let's go live to my blind date at a West Hollywood Restaurant. The merlot is great, the gnocchi is inspired and the waiter taught me to say fork in Italian. The guy? Not for me. Marc is a rare blond Jew, but there was no click between us, no fireworks, no cell phone call from the bathroom stall to tell my girls I'd met my husband. Not that I've ever made that call or am looking for a husband. I don't even know how to spell husband. Or say it in Italian.
Having already located my nearest emergency exit, I had one high heel out the door when Marc blurts out, "So what'd ya think? How'd I do? Where do I stand?"
I laugh. Then realize he's serious.
"Are you into me?"
Could he ask more questions?
"Are we going out again?"
Guess he can.
This is a "clean up on aisle four" disaster. After a typical dating mismatch, I dial the next day, say thanks, then let things fade. I don't do direct feedback, customer comment cards or post-date wrap-ups. I'm not comfortable with it, especially when I'm sitting less than a foot away. Yet, inquiring Marc wants to know. He's desperate for a touchy-feely date-end review. I blame daytime television.
I've never been cross-examined by a date before; I don't know how to respond. Should I be honest or polite? Go for truth or tact? Marc's not topping my to-do list, but can I say that? Bad dates have feelings, too. I could lie, say I'm ga ga, and suggest we visit the Little Chuppah of Elvis. I could play coy, suggest he call, then give him the Ma Bell brush off. I could tell the truth, and send him home with Rice-A-Roni and a parting gift. Or I could take the Fifth. Yeah right, like I can remain silent.
So, tonight's dating dilemma features heavyweight champion "honesty -- best policy" vs. mother's favorite "if you don't have something nice to say...."
What does the Torah teach us about lying to a date? Nothing -- who dated back then? But the Talmud does discuss telling little white social lies. Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai argued over how to describe an ugly bride. Should all brides -- shayna punim or not -- be danced before in the same way? Shammai said no -- be honest, say the chick's not hot, and be happy brides wear veils. Hillel said lie -- she has a beautiful personality, you're not in court and better everyone should get along. I say, why marry an ugly bride?
"Just tell me the truth. I don't want to waste my time."
Marc's sentiments sound vaguely familiar. He sounds like, well, um, a girl. Women constantly complain that men can't be honest about how they feel, where things are going, or why things are ending. Take Scott, who I dated for two months last fall. On New Year's Day, he hit me with the ol' "I'm going back to my ex-girlfriend" resolution. What could I do? Who was I to stand in the way of their true love?
True love my shankbone. A week later, Scott contacted my sorority sister through JDate. Not realizing she knew me, he said he liked her profile, liked her picture and would like to meet. Was he going to bring his ex-girlfriend on their date? Did his big plan to woo her back involve meeting other women on the Internet? There was no ex-girlfriend reunion; Scott just didn't have the matzah balls to say he didn't like me. His lack of respect hurt just as much as the breakup. All I wanted was a little honesty.
Guess Marc just wants the same. Gray is the new black, early is the new late and honesty is the new game. Daters don't want Splenda-coated statements and false hopes. We want the truth, no artificial colors or feelings. We want to know where we stand, even if we stand alone.
Which is why I ripped the rejection Band-Aid off quickly. I told Marc he was a good guy, but not the right guy and suggested he tell his story walking. I also suggested he back off on the post-date interrogations. If the date had gone well, we'd be kissing by now. Then I bid him adios, shalom and, as our waiter taught me, ciao!
Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.