Dating is Pretty Overrated

I have a very talented friend who is back on the dating scene.  She is a fabulous writer and is currently running a blog that mostly focuses on the quirks of online dating and/or dates gone wrong.  Pretty entertaining-did-this-really-happen? reads (check it out on htpp://goodlookingwomen.com).  Some of the stories are hers and some from friends.  I never posted, because I’ve never tried online dating.  No judgement to those who have/are, just not for me.  Recently my friend posted on Facebook that she wanted to read a positive story. It’s my non-dating history that I think is much more interesting than my dating history…mainly because my dating history is practically nonexistent.

I have a great story that I could share about my first date-that-wasn’t-intended-to-be-a-date with my husband,  but honestly, how do you type that up and send it to your friend, who is recovering from a break up, without sounding like a stuck-up-my-life-is-so-perfect-la-la-la-jerk-wad?  So, I’m not going to have the focus of this post be about how I lucked out and married a great guy who is actually attracted to weird, dorky, goofy me.  I’m going to try to make anyone who is actually taking the time to read this, laugh over all the weird crap I had to go through before I met and married my awesome husband.

I’ll start with high school.  There was an almost non-existent dating life for me during those four years. I attended two homecomings, because I asked the guys myself.  I think they both said, “yes” reluctantly at first.  At least that’s how it sounded on the phone, like they were hoping someone else had called or wondering if they should gamble and say yes to me knowing that maybe someone better might ring them up after my phone call (yep, too chicken to ask to their faces).  I had fun at both dances with the two guys, but I have a lame memory of my senior year date hitting on one of my best friends, and it being reciprocated at the after party.  Yes, we were just friends, but common courtesy, wait until the next day to make your move and ask the friend of your date out, fellas.  Also, shame on my friend for not having restraint.  Needless to say; it was humbling, but sadly I wasn’t all that surprised, so I will admit, not heart crushing either.

Proms. My buddy junior year asked me two weeks before the event.  There was probably five dresses left on the rack by the time I realized I wasn’t going to be staying home, watching movies with my parents that night.  I managed to find something, had a great time with friends, and can say it was more fun than my original plans with the ‘rents.  Senior year? Once again, I had to do the asking. It was a buddy, again, but someone I could trust who was fun-loving.  It was a pretty hilarious evening.  On the way to the dance, he did some weird leap into his car and exclaimed,”Yeah, I just ripped my pants.”  We drove to his house and his mom assessed the “situation”.  Decided the best option was to call Mrs. ______ to patch up the pants…..Mrs._______was the mother of his ex-girlfriend.  Now, we weren’t dating,  but I was his “date” to a dance that he just attended last year with their daughter so I remember thinking, “This could be awkward.”  I had no idea.  When we knocked on their door, Mrs. _________was happy to help and took my date downstairs to her sewing room to get to work.  I was left in the living room with ex-girlfriend’s dad, chilling in his pajamas and robe watching the Cub’s game in his living room (which he has every right to do).  We didn’t say much to each other. The longest 15 minutes of my life.  I may have even said, “Sooooo….those Cubs, eh?” and gotten a polite grunt in return.  By the time we got to the dance, the story of the pants had gotten around and we were welcomed with boisterous woots and applause from our peers, which was actually pretty hilarious.

Looking back on it now, I THINK (I was too immature and lame to really conceptualize “dating” anyway) guys may have shown interest towards me in high school, but I was too goofy and weird to even detect the signs most of the time.  One guy delivered a Christmas present to my front door out of the blue, one was constantly holding doors for me and sitting by me, and  another wrote me a freaking poem attached to a necklace and I think I was so convinced that I wasn’t much for girlfriend material (and I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t because of low self-esteem, it was just a philosophy that I was pretty comfortable with) that I honestly thought, “Oh they’re being really nice and funny towards me….and that’s it.”  Yep, I was a total idiot.  The one time I did acknowledge I was going on a double date with a guy I had liked for two solid years and my very outgoing, and vocal friend pretty much set us up, I froze and didn’t say hardly anything during the whole date….you can accurately assume there was never a second date.  I remember walking into debate class once and a male classmate had drawn a picture of me looking like a female Tarzan with “Femi-Natzi” written above it.  Everyone got a great laugh, but it sent the message to me that, “High school guys don’t care for high school girls that are strong, opinionated women that could easily kick them in the junk if the girl ever felt she was being objectified or degraded by a guy, like my dad raised me” so I kind of just assumed the “dating thing” probably wasn’t going to happen anytime soon and I wouldn’t worry about it.  The new mantra? Make friends and have a good time with a wide variety of personalities in my school.  And I did just that and loved it.   Yes, I did “date” a nice guy for a month my senior year, but I think I was again so weirded out by playing this role as “girlfriend” I ended it as soon as it started, and that was that for an actual relationship beyond being friends.

I teach high school students now who tell me about the drama of dating and I simply tell them, “It’s overrated.”  Every once in awhile in high school, I used to wonder if I was missing out on something.  Now the answer, I know, is: absolutely not.  There is the minority that marry their high school sweetheart and they’re a perfect match, but I’m convinced, even with rejection, disinterest, and invisibility with most of the males at my school–I missed out on nothing.  The friendships were so much more in terms of quality and content.

In college, it was pathetic.  If I walked into a social scene with friends, they were typically drawn to my cuter, more flirty, or tinier/thinner friends.  I was the “buddy”, “funny/weird/goofy” girl, or big-boned side-kick that may have received a friendly arm punch or chin up “Hey” from a guy in the group….but that’s about it.  It was safe though and I got really comfortable in that role.  There was zero awkwardness, pressure, etc.  when you’re just pals with everyone.  College guys weren’t hitting on me, and this time it wasn’t because I was oblivious to the signs, like in high school.  They REALLY were not hitting on me. That’s not to say I wasn’t getting hit on by non-college men.  For some reason the middle-aged to silver foxes thought I was quite a catch at 18-23.  That was super awkward.  They really went out of their way to try to make it seem like hitting on someone they could have fathered was socially acceptable.  From a man with a fake accent buying me a flower at a country dance hall, to a homeless man professing his love for me at the Wendy’s ketchup counter, to MANY MANY MORE odd ducks that made me feel so objectified, it’s hard for me to feel bad about finally meeting a great guy my last year of college, that I might add, was NOT my dad’s age.

For those of you single ladies reading this that want to tell me to go fly a kite, because you think I’m being braggish, trust me, the road I took to get to the place I am now had it’s clumsy and typical “Laura moments” too.  For one, the first time I met my husband I was intrigued.  Good looking guy.  Nice.  He does NOT remember meeting me the first time.  I think I’m more of a “Once you get to know her, you’ll like her a lot more” kind of a gal.  We were friends for several months before we even thought about evolving into a couple.  And when we did, I froze and tried to back out of it.  I was so used to being that dorky girl/pal that I didn’t even think I was in a position to be anyone’s girlfriend.  Luckily my now-husband was patient enough to explain to me that there wasn’t some criteria list I had to live up to.  I was going to continue being me, because “being me” was what brought us together in the first place right?

Of course my friends were always so accepting with me “being me” that when I did get engaged, their reactions were “different”.  That’s about the nicest adjective I can come up with.  College is usually the time when you start reading about classmates’ engagements in the local paper, and as more names and photos of familiar faces kept popping up in the Saturday announcements section, I truly believe a lot of my friends calmly thought, “Well I won’t ever be the last one to get married out of our circle if friends.  My good buddy Laura will always be my fall back when I don’t have a date on a Saturday night.”  That didn’t happen.  I don’t know if that’s because when my husband came into my life I wasn’t actively looking for a boyfriend (I was actively looking for my first teaching job so I wouldn’t be unemployed after graduation) or because I never had a mental deadline of reaching the marriage milestone (meaning if I never got married or found “the one” I knew I would still be happy, just in a different way) that it caused my friends to say things to me without any type of filter what so ever. Yes, I called them to share the news after my husband proposed, but it honestly was not to brag or one-up them.  I just assumed they would want to know from me rather than second-hand.  Yes, there were some genuine “Congratulations!”, but I also had to endure the following crap comments:

PRESENTING THE WORST THINGS YOU CAN SAY TO A FRIEND WHO GETS ENGAGED TO A VERY NORMAL AND NICE GUY WHO’S NOT A DANGER TO SOCIETY AT ALL, BUT YOU’RE TOO SOMETHING OR OTHER TO BE HAPPY FOR YOUR NERDY FRIEND TO SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING, SLIGHTLY SUPPORTIVE:

5. “When you hung up the phone after you told me, I got really depressed and cried (not happy tears).  Then I called up our mutual friend _________ who was also depressed (about me being engaged and not them) and then we cried together.” (What the heck are you supposed to say to that?)

4. “Can I just say that you are the last person I’d expect to be married before the rest of us.  Seriously…..didn’t expect this. “(Again, more awkward silence)

3. “You were dating someone?” (Thanks for paying attention)

2. “Already? “(Yes, that was the FIRST thing they said to me in response to the news)

1. “What is the cut of the diamond?” (I tell them, and don’t actually remember now, because I know zilch about diamonds) “Ooooohhhhhh, that’s the cut jewelers use to make diamonds look bigger than they actually are.” (Cue The Price is Right loser sound effect here).

Do I have any dating advice?  No.  If what I experienced can actually be called “dating” I was horrible at it.  All I can assure you is that quality is worth the wait.  You might be thinking, You got married at 25, that wasn’t really much of a wait.  Trust me, I had to endure a lot of weird crap before a freak blizzard on April 6th 2003 forced my now husband and I to go from attending an eventually canceled campus-sponsored movie we were planning to attend as “buddies” to sitting in a downtown coffee shop with nothing but our drinks and conversation to finally get the courage to admit to each other that we both wanted to be more than just pals.  I can’t thank friends for bringing us together, an online dating service, or love at first sight.  It was rather a matter of letting things naturally (literally, thanks to Mother Nature) fall into place.

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