November 30, 2006
The so-called ‘perfect date’
"Have you ever been to Azumi Sushi?" I asked.
He smiled, secretly, a half smile.
"What is it?" I asked him.
"I was just about to say that," he replied.
Not that going to the same sushi restaurant meant that we were soul mates, but we had a number of issues we agreed on beyond the superficial. Religion, family, politics, even our lifestyle goals -- retire early, travel much -- seemed to be in sync. Clearly, the person who set us up wasn't high on crack -- he's a Jewish boy and you're a Jewish girl -- because we had a lot more in common beyond the nature of our religion, age and geographic location.
I could tell he was excited by these things. The way he paused when I said something he agreed with, like wanting to do Friday night meals for the camaraderie, and his eyes lit up like a Vegas jackpot if I happened upon a subject we had the same feelings about.
These are the kinds of dates I hear about all the time, usually from women. The dates where (finally!) everything is simpatico and natural, almost as if you're not on a date at all. And then he doesn't call.
"How could he not call?" these women complain. "You don't understand, he told me that ___________," they say, pointing out all the intimate details the guy shared, and all witty repartee they both shared, and all the lack of awkwardness that for sure meant the date was going superbly.
"How could he not call?" they say. "I thought it was going so well."
I can tell you why he didn't call. I can tell you why he didn't call, because I was just on one of those dates where everything seemed to be going perfectly, but it didn't work out.
It didn't work out because I wasn't interested. I know it started even before we met. On the phone we spoke for about an hour, maybe even longer, and it was like talking to someone who was really interesting, but who I wasn't interested in. I don't know why.
Not that I'd given it much thought. After our conversation, I didn't analyze it, or him. To be honest, I didn't think about him much, and that's because I didn't have that heart-pounding anticipation that can, yes, come even from just talking to a faceless person on the phone. But, I reasoned, all that heart-pounding anticipation has never exactly steered me in the right direction, so perhaps apathy isn't the wrong emotion to have before a blind date either.
But when I met him, everything became clear. He was exactly as described: An average looking guy, not freakishly short or tall, somewhat of the teddy bear type and, well, just not my type. He was one of those guys I was neither dying for nor repulsed by -- he just wasn't for me.
"Why don't you go out with him again and give it another shot?" my friends would say, if I would ever tell them this story, which I wouldn't because then I'd have to hear yet again how they hated their husbands for the first X months before they married them. (If you ask me, they are all too readily connected to that initial animosity, which is why, except in the first grade and in Shakespeare, love should never begin with hate.) In any case, I didn't hate this guy, and I'd never hate him. I knew this, just as I knew I'd never like him any more than as a ... friend.
By friend I didn't mean that I never wanted to see him again either romantically or platonically, or that I wouldn't mind inviting him to my parties and introducing him to others in my circle who were really my friends.
I knew this from the moment I saw him, but what was I supposed to do? Was I to tell him this in the beginning? Was I to allude to a long and complicated dating history so as to dissuade him from liking me? Not that everyone likes me, but when someone does, and it's one-sided -- what is the proper etiquette?
I decided to be myself. I wasn't overly flirtatious in a way I might have once been in order to entertain or to fulfill some ego-need to be liked by all; I just answered his questions, asked a few of my own (hopefully, although maybe I didn't manage to get in too many) the way I would when I am out with a friend.
Which is the unfortunate answer to all those people who thought they had the perfect date and never heard from the other person again and are wondering "why?"
Why? Because it might have been a perfectly nice date, but it's not a perfect date unless the people are right for each other.
Both of them.