By Greg Price
Went on my first official ‘date’ in I don’t know how long, and the rust on the social skills showed.
Given how disastrously my last long-term relationship ended (a whole other column could be written on that one), I have been understandably gun shy about re-entering the long-term dating world.
No, I’m not one of those people who is going to play the victim card in all my past failed relationships as a man of middle age, as I can recall some very vividly where I played a huge part in their ending in my own behaviours. The classic movie line excuse of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ certainly has applied to me in some past situations.
But I wonder at this point if I am a man simply stuck in his ways which has been part of the reason as well.
Long hours at the office in a profession where news isn’t always 9-to-5, coupled with a dating pool that isn’t exactly deep in a small town for people in my demographic, life has been just life — sans a love partner in crime — and one I have still found very fulfilling.
I’ve shifted my attentions elsewhere as past relationships have been replaced by having a profession I enjoy and a solid circle of family and friends I get to spend time with. Why force something that isn’t there I’ve thought to myself at times.
Friends have tried to be self-appointed matchmakers for me, which I simply acknowledge with a smile and a shrug, thanking them for thinking of me, but have had my back up given past failures and also having seen some of the drama unfold before my eyes of relationships disintegrate with friends.
The Rom-Com culture of movies for the most part depicts that there must be something wrong with a person if they are single, but I could argue there is just as much something wrong with a person who enters into a relationship for all the wrong reasons. I’ve always seen a fulfilling relationship as building on a solid core that is already there, not filling a gap. I’ve seen people in obvious toxic relationships that were more afraid of being alone than they were in a painfully unhappy relationship where 90 per cent of the time they were fighting, and on some pretty serious things. The relationship limped along for far too long until its inevitable end. While I find relationships more disposable nowadays where keeping the toilet seat up is grounds for divorce as people constantly look for greener pastures, there is also a point-of-no-return of a continuously unhappy relationship that has been given the old college try numerous times in trying to fix it. Some people have been blessed finding the ‘one’ early on, while others haven’t. Some simply enjoy the bachelor lifestyle more — each to their own I say in what helps make a person whole and happy.
Having some mutual friends on Facebook, the woman I went out on a date with, we had bantered back and forth on Messenger for awhile. Easy breezy was the conversation which at times got flirty where I finally summoned up the courage to make the first move and read her last messenger post of ‘Where are you taking me for Valentine’s?’
Was she asking me out on a date, or did she just tire of me playing hard to get?
It nevertheless set the stage for a first date on the most commercially-driven, pressure-packed dating day of the year.
A man in his 40s, it was as if I reverted back to my teenager years. What to wear? Do I completely button up the shirt, or leave a button undone, or will that give off the six gold chains, bar star, wispy porn-stache vibe? Which cologne to wear, but don’t spray too much to cause the poor woman’s eyes to water. Do I make some grand gesture or keep it simple?
More on the liberal-minded side like myself, we had things many in common including choice of music, love of the arts etc. But that also meant that my A-list conversation starters of ‘do you like music and stuff?’ was off the table.
All joking aside, there was the no-joking matter of having the request by my date fall only a couple of days before Valentine’s Day.
The likelihood of being able to book a place that did not involve Happy Meals, ball pits and free refills was likely not very high. The first couple of places I checked in Lethbridge were a no-go, with a chuckle from one guy with the remark ‘I sometimes forget it’s Valentine’s Day too.’
The man on the other side of the phone call can be excused for assuming this wasn’t a first date I was trying to book on Valentine’s Day. Whole articles have been dedicated to the potential land mines of having a first date align with Cupid’s arrow.
Nevertheless, I was able to secure an early reservation at an off-the-beaten path place we both voiced we’ve enjoyed in the past. We dined (I made a conscious effort to pick something less messy in consumption), we laughed, we learned about each other for a couple of plus-hours in the time she could be away from motherly duties.
Will I say the earth moved and angels played their harps in the background during the date? No — but in no way, shape or form am I saying that is a bad thing in my grizzled, veteran dating ways. When you’ve acquired the battle scars people like us have in our advanced ages, a natural reaction is to get your back up at least a little bit in tempered expectations while still having a good time with the possibility of a second date. Also, a long, overtime-filled week did not give me a lot of mental prep time either which is also not necessarily a bad thing in keeping things easy breezy at first. And to be honest, if people who are now married or in very long-term committed relationships tell you they had 100 per cent certainty they had that special ‘feeling’ after their first date, I’d say at least some of them are lying.
Although, given my penchant for off the-wall humour, I was going to post ‘Got Engaged’ later that night for my Facebook status for the people who knew I was going on a date, just to get a chuckle.
Maybe that’s been my problem all these years, I have a Peter Pan complex and I don’t want to grow up. Or maybe simply, I need to find someone with as warped sense of humour as I have.