Marrs Attacks: 40 minutes to freedom

Dating is dangerous.

            I’m not afraid for my life. I’m six-foot-five and weigh over 200 pounds, so I figure any guy who wants to end up on the “wanted” side of America’s Most Wanted is probably not going to lure me home from the bar so he can make Christmas ornaments out of my tonsils. I imagine he’ll take someone smaller.

            No, of that man I’m not scared. Serial killers and petty thugs I can handle. It’s the time-wasters I run from.

            I had lunch with one of them yesterday. We met online, were both killing time and learned that we lived only a few blocks from one another. Why not meet for a quick bite? Our stats lined up, and we were both free. The serendipity was pretty cool.

            As soon as we shook hands it was apparent: we weren’t each other’s type. Oh, brother. I didn’t mean to be so quick to judge, but I was going more on his reaction to me than on my reaction to him. That was the first thing I noticed: his nonplussed face, forced smile and half-spoken greeting. Yowza, I thought. Do I not look like my pictures? He seems disappointed.

            But I do look like my pictures. I know because my mom said so.

            Then it was my turn. Now that my insecurity had spoken and a few minutes had gone by, it was time for me to wonder what I thought of him. Screw his opinion of me. I put on my psychic goggles: yup, this aura is dull.

            Sure, it all sounds very judgmental, but chemistry is a telling thing. You know when you’re face to face with someone at a diner booth if your molecules want to be there. Besides, we were both playing the eye contact game. Have you played it? It’s not the one where you leer drunkenly across the bar to see if the guy leers back. No, no, we’ve all played that, and we’ve all had it end in free drinks, sex and a restraining order.

This game is kind of the opposite. In this version, both parties want to make as little eye contact as possible to get the signal across that they are not interested in the other person. The challenge is in maintaining enough eye contact to be civil and prevent you from coming off as a total dick. (The reason you don’t want to be a total dick is either your strong moral code or your strong fear that he’ll tell people you might mutually know.)

Indeed, the challenge of the date itself at that point is in trying to be civil. No one deserves rude treatment, whether you believe in karma or not. Even if they did deserve rude treatment, they wouldn’t deserve it from a stranger they obviously liked enough online to meet for dinner. Let God and their ex-boyfriends handle that.

Still, trying to be civil can be quite trying. This guy was smart enough, and we could both carry a conversation, but his closed body language and yawning manner of speech were getting to me. “Forgive me,” he sighed, looking out the window. “I have a terrible headache.”

I lunged across the table, grabbed him by the hair and slammed his face down into his stuffed chicken, yelling, “I get it! You’re not into me! I’m not into you either, so can you chill?”

OK, that only happened in my mind. Still.

Dinner was quick, we both had to go, and forty minutes of my life had been taken. There was no “let’s do this again” or “give me a call.” We left it at “thanks for eating with me,” and the subtext was delicious.

Because I knew it could have been worse—and so many times, it has been, much—I didn’t mind losing those forty minutes. It’s taken me much longer to write this piece, so I’ll chalk them up to research. That doesn’t sound so dangerous.


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