Unlike I expected, Charlie did not offer to pick me up. I had sent him two Afghan restaurant recommendations late on Friday night and I intimated (Note to self: You should have known not to be subtle with Charlie) that the one closest to my apartment would probably be better, considering the distance he had to drive to get to Virginia.
Well, surprise! Charlie said he liked the menu of the other one better and asked if I would mind meeting him there. I didn’t see his message until 5 p.m. yesterday, by which time he would have already left Maryland. I texted him that I would see him at 6:30 p.m. and got ready to go.
Before dates, I usually think of at least a few go-to topics to reasonably fall back on, just in case. I’m fairly gregarious and social, but I fear the awkward silences! So, as soon as we sat down, I started with one of my fail safe topics.
“Did you go to church today? Where? How was it?”
We talked a little bit about this, but strangely, Charlie shifted the conversation to his past dating experiences almost immediately.
Reason #1: He then spent most of the date talking about various women he had dated in the past.
Not only is talking about past dating experiences a no-no in my book, but I would never think of discussing multiple women so openly in front of…another woman (or man).
Perhaps Charlie did this intentionally, though, since the last time we saw each other, Derrick was with me. In a moment of horror, the three of us realized that this nice man I had met on a dating website was also the childhood BFF of Charlie. The afternoon was beyond awkward and Charlie passive-aggressively said something to me about how for someone not seeking a serious relationship, it was surprising that I was on a dating website. (For the record, I wasn’t trying to find true love on the website. I was looking for a quick and dirty ego boost after calling off my wedding. And, it worked.)
Anyway, Charlie’s litany of women stories started with one he had met on eHarmony.com. She was living in Texas and he had visited her there, but then she got a job in Maryland and moved only a couple of miles away from Charlie. He said that she didn’t do this for him.
Reason #2: He is lacking in emotional intelligence.
I couldn’t believe that Charlie seriously believed that it was all coincidence and just some miracle in the universe that a woman he was starting to fall for just “happened” to find a job in Maryland. Why are men so stupid?
He said that the woman wasn’t Adventist (a big turn-off for him, apparently), but that she started coming to church, again he said, not for him. (Please refer to Reason #2.)
Apparently, Texas woman came to visit Charlie's church one day when he was a greeter (a person who stands at the entrance of the church shaking hands and handing out bulletins). Since he wouldn’t enter the sanctuary until after the service started, she had found seats for them somewhere in the middle of the sanctuary.
Charlie said that by the time he was done greeting, the sermon was about to start (Since when do greeters spend half the service standing in the lobby? Just saying.). He said that where the woman was sitting was inaccessible, lest he actually walk in front of the stage, so he first stood at the back of the sanctuary and then eventually, saw a seat in the last row near some friends. He went and sat with them and was talking to them afterwards. It wasn’t until much later that he decided to look for his womanfriend. She was gone by then and when he texted her, she said something like, “I left because you were clearly busy.” He thought she was overreacting.
Reason #3: He doesn’t show women the interest they deserve and is clueless about it.
I believe it’s poor social protocol to call a man out on being a douchebag on a first date, but I was also a relationship advisor for a number of years and old habits die hard. I tried not to be rude as I tactfully told Charlie that I could understand why the woman was upset. She had come to the church for him and whether or not he intended it, not texting her to say where he was or immediately finding her after the service sent the message that there were other people more important than her. His face reddened slightly in front of me as I told him this, and he proceeded to explain how the next day he was supposed to help her move, but she never called. When he texted her again, she said something about how she didn’t need his help. He was attempting, I think, to show his efforts at ameloriation, but now is a good time to mention Reason #4.
Reason #4: Is this man not acquainted with the phone? Charlie texts and emails constantly, in lieu of actual communication. He is 35, not 15. Someone please help him.
I have no idea how long this conversation about Texas woman went on, but Charlie managed to tell me about how they got together again at some point and in the car on the way to dinner, she tried to hold his hand. He said that he pulled away and said softly, “We’re not there yet.”
I nearly had to suppress laughter at this one, you guys. I had a flashback to my first boyfriend, when I was a freshman in college, who also used to pull away when I tried to hold his hand, telling me emphatically that, “We need to resist sinful urges!” I don’t need to tell you that this partly explains my many years of dating non-Adventists.
I gently explained to Charlie that in the non-Adventist world, people do umm… a lot more…than holding hands on a first date. And, this wasn’t their first date! They had known each other for a while and the woman moved from Texas to Maryland for him.
Charlie said that Texas woman started crying after he pulled away, that he was dumbfounded (and obviously, just dumb), and that the date was ruined. She tried the hand holding thing again on the next date (Dude, why did she go out with him again?), he responded the same way, and eventually, the woman stopped talking to him. (Shocking.)
Reason #5: Charlie fears both emotional and physical intimacy.
I understand that a lot of Christian men delay physical intimacy, but I don’t agree that holding hands is “moving too fast.” Also, I feel that he should have explained his reasons for not wanting to hold her hand instead of just rejecting her advance like a jerk. It’s not like she tried to feel him up in church or something. She reached out to hold his hand, in the car, when they were alone, on the way to dinner. Geez.
Perhaps sensing my allegiance with the phantom women characters of these stories, Charlie started to explain to me that he is very “cautious” when starting relationships and that he is often accused to being too picky. In his book though, he said, so many relationships go wrong. Why proceed with something you’re not sure of?
Reason #6: Charlie is a commitment-phobe.
I’m not really sure what more a woman would need to do, besides moving halfway across the country, coming to his church, initiating things physically, and generally putting up with nonsense for Charlie to want to commit.
But, Charlie was not finished explaining to me why he is still single.
Charlie had mentioned to me before that he doesn’t intend to work at his office job forever. I (falsely) assumed that this was because office jobs aren’t generally that challenging or that it’s hard to become passionate about paper-pushing. This was, presuming, that Charlie wasn't lazy. As it turns out, Charlie finds his four day a week office job to be overwhelming and taxing.
Reason #7: Charlie is lazy and lacks ambition.
Charlie told me that once upon a time, he was a substitute teacher and loved it. It was so great, he said, to just be able to show up and not do a lesson plan. Then, when the kids asked him questions, he would just tell them to wait and ask their regular teacher. It was all so fabulous, he said, the no planning and no responsibility! He lamented about how the one year that he was a full-time teacher, it was so hard. He had to work on lesson plans and grade papers on Sundays and it was just so much. After that year, he started substituting.
Considering that Charlie (apparently) wants to get married, though, I asked,
“How would you support yourself financially, as a substitute teacher?”
“Well, when I was subbing, I’d make about $60/day,” Charlie said. “And then, you know I have the condo (an investment property) with tenants and I have roommates.”
“But your wife isn’t going to want to have three roommates,” I pointed out. (And, since when is $60/day enough to live on?)
He laughed before saying that he hoped that eventually, he could move to the south, where selling his house in Maryland would allow him to buy a house cash down there.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. His life ambition is to have a job that requires no planning and no responsibility because his office job is too stressful and he sometimes has to work until 6 p.m. The indignity of it all!
I didn’t bother to open my mouth about how when I’m tired at 5 p.m., I have roughly seven more hours of my day to go, not one. Or, how planning and responsibility are sort of the hallmarks of most other careers, including medicine. Or, how a four day work week is a coveted fantasy for most of the working world.
It wouldn’t have been relevant anyway, since I didn’t get a word in edgewise the entire dinner.
Reason #8: Charlie doesn’t let his dates contribute to the
Who knew that Charlie could actually make my ex-fiance Rich look better? I'm as shocked as you, but at least Rich had a decent job and feigned interest when I talked about medical school.
So anyway, Charlie picked up the check and I went home and watched TV. As we were leaving, Charlie hugged me and said, “We’ll have to do this again sometime.” Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, lest I offend him by talking about my day or accidentally brush his elbow and elicit a sexual desire. Besides, it’s only fair that Charlie regale some other poor woman with stories about me on his next date. Oh wait, he may not have any, since he didn't ask me anything about myself.
Like I said, he is single for a reason. Several of them, actually.