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A Piece of Cake

May 14, 2009


“Never ask a man out,” a girlfriend recently cautioned. Instead, I ought to gently guide him to pose the question himself. Make him think it was his idea, work things into our conversations, demurely imply that I’d like him to make a move. Really, I can do anything to make it happen, short of asking him on a date.

“Men love it when women ask them out. It shows she knows what she wants, and knowing what you want is sexy.” This from a man with whom I dabbled a few months ago. I think back to how, after skirting our attraction, we went to dinner, then ended up at his place with pants and shirts rumpled on the floor. I’m not certain, but I think I did the asking out…and, I suspect he worked the same game my girlfriend advocates, in reverse…me asking him out, but only after he guided things that way.

Does this count as knowing what I want and sexily expressing it? Or, does it hover somewhere in the liminal zone–he manipulating the situation to get what he wants, while making me think it’s what I want, too? Does the fact that he Jedi Mind Tricked me into making the first move expose me as suggestible, confident, trashy, or cute? So many questions!

I’ve been historically arrogant about dating, presuming I know all there is to know on the subject despite having no direct experience in that culture. I’ve never been a dater, but now that I am indeed dating, I realise I know almost nothing at all. Once, I claimed it was a piece of cake, this dating thing, although it’s a mystery why I thought I was qualified to weigh in.

Last summer, R. and I lounged on my balcony, fixing cocktails for each other, pouring cascades of red wine, grilling massive steaks to rare perfection, and devouring arugula, the meanest of greens. At dusk, bats cruised overhead catching bugs, while our conversation turned to love and its pursuit. R. recounted ceaseless disasters, while I expressed relief that I was all set up with a nice man and didn’t need to seek another.

“If I had to go on a date, I’d probably have a heart attack,” I would say. “I can’t imagine getting to know a stranger, showing him secret parts of myself, letting him into the nooks and crannies of my life.” I would pause for another slug of whatever we were drinking, then continue, “Mercifully, I don’t have to think about such things, and hopefully the day never comes!”

In due course, the day did arrive, quicker than expected. After a few weeks of skulking around my apartment in track pants and a blanket cape, talking too much with my kitten and ranting to my girlfriends about the sorry state of love today, I decided to suck it up and move on. “Dating” had begun to expand like a choking marshmallow, a fog of dread that ate the village in my head. Before things grew more dire and dramatic, I put on some pretty clothes and went out with this guy, then that one. Let friends set me up, accepted invitations from previously distant and quiet admirers, even asked out one man directly.

Nearly a year after ranting with R., I am far more circumspect about dating, and the relative challenge or ease of granting romantic prospects access to my life. I’ve learned a list of unexpected things: men tend to lie about their height on Internet dating sites; it’s tough to find someone who doesn’t smoke even in these enlightened times; a well-written email does not a good conversation make; I have a terrible habit of swearing, which amplifies when I am nervous; I stand 5’7″, not 5’5″ as previously understood, and in heels, I am a “towering” 5’10”.

And, I have learned to trust my gut after years of telling it to pipe down and butt out. My belly knows what’s right and what’s not so much. It trumps any advice about who asks out whom. I am sure there is a dreadful pun in there, waiting to be coaxed out. Something about bellies, the ways to one’s heart, and so on. But, reflections on romance are already so twee, I think I will leave it at that.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Becca permalink
    May 14, 2009 12:33 pm

    Oh my gosh! I’ve been noticing I have a nasty habit of swearing too. I sound like a sailor on my dates and I wonder if the guys I’m with are horrified by the constant stream of swear words coming out of my mouth. I don’t know how to stop it though. I’m hyper-conscious of it and it just makes me more nervous!

  2. looka permalink
    May 14, 2009 12:45 pm

    So right, so right! And well expressed. That relationship stuff is not all THAT transparently wrapped as it comes delivered.

  3. Amanda permalink
    May 14, 2009 1:36 pm

    I know! I actually said the F-word the other day, while walking along with a dude from the cafĂ© I have a crush on. This was before I discovered he’s got a girlfriend, and was trying to decide whether to take the plunge and ask him out. And what do I say? F-*-C-K, oud and clear, at something like 7:45 a.m. Classy lady, that is me!

  4. GMD permalink
    May 14, 2009 3:12 pm

    There’s something about swearing that allows for or indicates a bit more intimacy. You’re being yourself. I’d say it’s a good sign on a date if you can swear.

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