Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stood up ... again

Spoiler alert!

I know. I haven't even written about 1 of 10 yet and I'm writing about being stood up by someone else. (1 of 10 is on the roster. I sat him on the bench for a few days. Patience!)

Stood up. Ever notice how the word "stood" starts looking like the word "stooge" the longer you look at it?

I guess I should be glad I got the experience out of the way. When I committed to writing about 10 Dates, 10 Men, I knew there would be some negative experiences. How much fun would it be for you if every date was perfect? Not much, right? Even real life has to be seasoned by tension. So, yeah, last Thursday night I got stood up. It was only the second time in my life, which means it's disappointing .... embarrassing as hell ..... but it's certainly not a pattern.

The first time, I was 14 or 15. I was at the one-screen movie theater in our small town on a Friday night. My best friend and I had just finished sharing a Virginia Slim in the bathroom, and when we came out somebody told me a guy was looking for me. He was, she said, from Colorado!

You know how the heroine's heart leaps up in her chest in romance novels? Mine did that. It fucking leaped. I only knew one guy who was from Colorado, Duane K., and I'd had an enormous, obsessive crush on him for several years. His dad was my dad's best friend since high school, and on rare occasions his family came home to visit his uncle in a nearby small town.

Duane K. was really cute -- tall, dark, and broad-shouldered even as a kid -- but more than that, he was the first boy who had ever kissed me, several years before when I was 10 and he was 11. He was the first boy who made me feel horny desirable when he kissed me long and hard, our eyes closed, my arms around his neck, one of his around my waist, and his hand running through my hair like he couldn't get enough of me. It was just like in the movies .... until he asked me if I wanted to French kiss .... and then had to explain what that meant. 

Stick your slimy tongue in my mouth, Duane K? I don't think so. Your tongue has spit on it. There will be no tongues in my virgin mouth. It took me a few more years to wrap my head around that concept, which meant he was far more sophisticated than I was. A man of the world.

Not Iowa.
And he was from Colorado! Which is not Iowa. 

I found him in the back row of the theater with his cousin, George. We sat back there and whispered through the rest of the movie, catching up. I was cool as could be -- happy I'd worn my favorite tight yellow sweater -- but inside I felt like that 10-year-old girl being kissed for the first time. I had been fantasizing about Duane K. for 4 years and here he was, right beside me. And just as gorgeous as he was when he was 11.

When the movie was over, he asked me if I wanted to go out with him the next night. He said he had some pot and he'd get us some beer. I said yes without even asking my parents. No way my dad would say no to my going out with his best friend's son -- who was from Colorado!

The next night my parents were going to his uncle's house to play cards with his parents. Dad had talked to Duane K.'s dad, so everybody had approved of us going out together. Mom said Duane K. told his parents I had really filled out my sweater since last time he saw me. Somehow that wouldn't be something that would make me say, "Aww. You kids go out and have fun now. Buy that girl an ice cream cone!" But my parents thought it was funny.

They had to get a babysitter. Only a date with Duane K. would have gotten me out of babysitting that night, but they hired a girl from my class who didn't have any plans, and I was free to show Duane K. how much more I knew about kissing since last time I'd made out with him. Even French kissing. Especially French kissing. I imagined he had more to teach me too. I was giddy.

I waited at the living room window and chatted with the girl who was babysitting. I felt a little superior to be going on a date with a boy man from Colorado while she was stuck at my house with my little brothers and sisters. OK, I felt way superior. I felt at least 4 years older than her. She couldn't possibly  have been as impressed with me as I was with myself.

I waited. We chatted. I watched for him to pull up on the street, and I watched the hands crawl around the clock face. We hadn't really set a time when we talked at the theater ..... The babysitter and I ran out of things to chat about, and I desperately wanted to run upstairs and smoke a cigarette out the bathroom window. But I couldn't leave the window in case Duane K. finally pulled up to the curb. I tried not to show how anxious I was. I said, "It probably took him a while to find somebody to buy some beer."

"Sure. That's it," the babysitter said. Although I had no reason to, I suspected she was gloating inside. I hope so. I sure as hell didn't want her pity.

Finally about 9:30 I accepted that he wasn't coming. "I'm leaving," I said. "If he shows up, tell him he'll have to find me."

No way I was staying home and hanging out with somebody who didn't even have a date on a Saturday night.

I put on my coat and walked uptown where I knew I would find my friends circling the square. My best friend was riding around with her boyfriend and some other kids. Typical Saturday night. I hopped into the car. Somebody handed me a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. I lit a cigarette and started chugging. Fuck Duane K.

Later I went home and cried into my pillow the rest of the night as quietly as I could, so I wouldn't wake up my little sister sleeping next to me. As far as anybody else knew, I didn't give a shit about that asshole, Duane K. Not one shit.

I never did find out why Duane K. stood me up that night. My parents were surprised when they found out and disgusted with him. I saw him again maybe 6 years later at a picnic. We were both married, and I barely talked to him.

A couple of years after that his parents moved back to Iowa, and on one of my visits home his dad told me I was lucky Duane K. had stood me up that night. He said Duane K. got arrested for beating his wife, and they were getting a divorce. He said he didn't like his own kid any more. I said I hadn't really wanted to marry his son anyway. I just wanted to French kiss him.

I still feel kind of cheated that I never got to French kiss Duane K.

That was the first time. And last Thursday night was the second, when the guy I thought might become 2 of 10 stood me up.

I'd been flirting with Possible 2 of 10 for a while, and recently we'd moved on to texting a little. He asked if I wanted to join him for a glass of wine some time. I said I would like that.

A week or so later he texted and asked if I'd meet him that night for happy hour. I was sick so I couldn't go, but I told him I hoped he would ask again.

A couple of weeks later, he did ask again. This time I had a Shakespeare performance art gig in another town, and I was already on my way there. I said I really hoped we could do it soon though. He said he wished he'd known about the performance. I wished he would ask in advance and get on my calendar.

A week went by. I texted Alex for advice.

Me: How many times would you ask a woman out if she was busy when you asked? 2? 3? More?
Alex: I'd probably stop trying after 2 and let her call me after that. Is there more to the above question?
Me: The question was because [Possible 2 of 10] has asked me to go out twice and I couldn't go. The second time I said I really hoped we could do it soon, so I made it obvious I wanted to. And he really should not wait until the last minute .... but I don't know if the next move is mine. I guess I'll give it a few days.

Alex didn't give me the answer I wanted. Hard as it is to admit, I'm still trying to throw off the chastity belt some of the strict rules for romantic engagement I had shamed into me when I was growing up. I wasn't ever allowed to call a boy. Not even when I was in high school. Not even if I was already dating him. Girls just didn't call boys .... unless their parents weren't home and they were doing it with a girlfriend. Then it was OK to break the rule as long as nobody's parents found out.

Asking a boy to go on a date was out of the question. Social suicide. There were ways to let a boy know you liked him, and then he was supposed to ask you out if he wanted to.

I'd like to say reason has kicked those old-fashioned mores to the curb, but I'd be lying. I was reluctant to ask Possible 2 of 10 out even for a simple glass of wine. I hoped he would try a third time.

I waited almost a week longer. Then on Wednesday night Alex and I were at a pub, sitting at the bar.

Me: Would you even call that a date? If someone texts kind of last minute and asks you to join him for a glass of wine? That's not really even a date, is it? Is that a pre-date?
Alex: Hard to tell. It could be a date. I'd say it's at least a pre-date. Unless you don't want to date him.
Me: I would go on a date with him, but I'm not sure he wants to go on a date with me. So .... yes, it's a pre-date. It's probably not even a date.

I'm telling you, the times they have changed. I didn't even know what a pre-date was until Alex explained it to me last fall. I'm still not sure I grasp all the nuances yet. But I'll try to explain it in another post.

Later we were sitting at karaoke listening to somebody butcher the Eagles. I was on my second salty dog.

Me: It looks I'm going to have to make the next move with Possible 2 of 10. He hasn't texted me again. Should I text him and ask if he wants to go out tomorrow night?
Alex: Only if you want to.
Me: Oh, I definitely want to. I just want him to do the asking.
Alex: That's not really reasonable. If you want to go out with him, it's your turn to ask.
Me: I don't want to ask.
Alex: Then don't go out with him.
Me: He might have changed his mind.
Alex: You'll never know until you ask him.
Me: Fine. I'll text him.
Alex: Only if you want to.

I took my time composing a text. When I was done, I showed Alex the two sentences I'd come up with.

"Do you still want to go out for that glass of wine? Tomorrow night maybe?"

Me: Here's what I'm going to send. Oh, wait. It's probably too late to send this. It's 10:15. I shouldn't send this tonight.
Alex: (rolling his eyes) It's not too late. He's not in kindergarten. Let me see ..... Take out the "maybe." It's weak. "Maybe" is weak writing. I'm surprised at you.
Me: I  know it's weak. I'm a writer. I did it on purpose so he wouldn't think ....
Alex: That you were asking him out? Delete the "maybe." Do it now.
Me: OK. He's probably changed his mind anyway.

I deleted the "maybe," and then I sat with my finger hovering over the send button for at least 2 minutes. Finally I touched the screen and sent my little request out into the night, just inviting rejection.

Less than a minute later I got a reply:

"Sure. Where?"

Me: OMG! Alex, look! He said yes. What should I say? I didn't even think of a place to go.
Alex: Of course he did. Just tell him where you want to go.

I drafted a reply.

"Do you mind coming [downtown]? In that case, [generic wine bar] is nice."

I hit send. It was only 5 minutes after his response.

I waited. I picked up my phone and checked it several times. I ordered another drink.

Me: Looks like he changed his mind.
Alex: How long has it been?
Me: Ten minutes. (And then 20. And then 30.)
Alex: He won't change his mind. He said he wants to go. The hard part is over.
Me: Yeah, maybe he went to bed. You're right. He'll text or call tomorrow.

The next day every time I heard the little guitar riff that announces a text I expected it to be from Possible 2 of 10. It wasn't. By late afternoon, I was starting to feel discouraged, but I thought maybe he thought he'd made a commitment and intended to text me after he got off work to see what time I wanted to meet. That made sense. Sure, that must be it.

I got ready to go. I didn't do much more than I would normally do for a night out with friends. After all, I wasn't really sure if this was a date. Or even a pre-date.

You already know the rest of the story. I gave it away at the beginning. Let me paint you a picture.

He didn't call. He didn't text. It's been 6 days, and he still hasn't. He fucking stood me up.

That night the Hot Italian sent me an email: Did you go out? How did it go?
Me: No. He stood me up.
Hot Italian: What??? Did you call him and ask him what the fuck? Did you yell at him?
Me: No, I'm not going to call him. Obviously he changed his mind. Or .... who knows. Maybe he doesn't even remember saying he'd go. I don't know.

 On her way home from school Elvira called: Did you go out with Possible 2 of 10? How did it go?
Me: No. He stood me up.
Elvira: What the fuck? What an asshole!
Me: He probably just changed his mind. Or forgot.
Elvira: Fuck him!
Me: Probably won't happen. Opportunity lost.

I messaged Alex.

Me: [Possible 2 of 10] still hasn't gotten back to me after I suggested [generic wine bar] ... I think he stood me up.
Alex: Yeah, that's a bad sign. I'd find out for sure ....
Me: The ball is in his court. I suggested a venue...

There's no way I was going to contact a man who had stood me up -- not to yell at him or to find out what happened. It took enough courage for me to ask him to go in the first place. How pathetic would it be to call or text him and ask why he'd stood me up? Wouldn't that just put both of us in an awkward position? Nope. Not happening.

I was just glad I was still at home and not waiting for him at some wine bar alone.

And I was grateful for the impersonal distance of email and Facebook messaging when I confessed I'd been stood up. It was just a casual date after all .... or pre-date ... for a glass of wine. No big deal. But I was still disappointed. And embarrassed. Being stood up has to be one of the top 3 ego deflaters. I will admit, I might have gotten a bit teary for a while.

And then I got this message from Alex: I think the important lesson from this, regardless of outcome, is that you sent the message. Proud of ya!

That message still makes my eyes fill up. I should print it and hang it on my refrigerator with a magnet. Or write it on a Post-It note and stick it to my bathroom mirror. A tattoo would be going too far, I suppose.

I may be a dating disaster, but when it comes to friends, I'm the richest woman I know.

All I can say about being stood up is this: the second time wasn't as bad as the first. At least this time I didn't drink a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. Somewhere along the line I graduated to Chardonnay.

I don't know why Possible 2 of 10 didn't follow through, but it can't be anything I did so my self-esteem is intact. Bruised maybe, but hey, I'm not the one who stood somebody up. Am I still disappointed? Hell, yes. I would never have gathered the courage to send that text if it wasn't important. I wanted to go out with him; I wanted to get to know him better. But if he didn't feel the same way ..... 

I'll live to date another day.

As for Possible 2 of 10, his name, for the purposes of this blog, has changed. From now on he will simply be called -1 of 10.


  1. I'm proud of you too. Keep us posted. I have a feeling you haven't heard the last of -1 of 10, but I agree that you shouldn't contact him. He had his chance.

    1. Oh, I'll run into him again. We share mutual friends. Thanks for the kind words (especially after I just kicked your ass on your blog). I might be able to feel proud if it had turned out better.

    2. Straight talk is always appreciated. I'm not afraid of a good ass-kickin' when I need it.

    3. A tarot ass-kicking. Maybe I should market my readings that way. ;-)

  2. I applaud your courage to do something that caused so much anxiety. I also applaud you for not contacting this guy again. I know that it had to sting a little but I believe that the universe has done you a favor.

    1. Thank you, Vapor. I guess we'll see. I wasn't going to marry him, but I did look forward to going out with him. If it's not as important to him as it is to me though, then it's best to move on.