Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Anti-Valentine's Day Post: 10 Signs That Your Date Is Bombing

Another year, another dateless Valentine's Day. No problem. At least I won't have to worry about having a bad date tonight. I've had so many of those -- enough to fill several lifetimes worth of Valentine's Days -- that when I'm on one, I can now spot it several glasses of wine away. Some tell-tale signs:

1) You're overthinking -- and overdrinking. A good date is like a well-constructed pop song, building slowly but surely to an unforgettable climax, which should be the goodnight kiss, which, on a great date, might lead to "Repeat." A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc enhances the unchained melody (and turns down the brain), adding a splash of sexy rhythm to romance, but if you need shots of tequila to rush through the verses and get to the chorus, the thrill, sort of like that of a throwaway pop song, is destined not to last. And you'll probably hate yourself in the morning, especially if you don't wake up alone.

2) He keeps talking about his ex(es). I move to strike the word "ex" from the dating lexicon entirely. Every time I hear it, it's like nails mauling a chalkboard. And is there anything more annoying than a date who won't stop yapping about his ex(es)? Or an ex who won't stop talking about his ex, to another ex: you?! (As I learned from experience one year ago, that's one of the many dangers of reuniting with an ex one ex later.) If you're learning more (as much) about the exes than (as) you are about the person sitting across from you, save yourself the trouble of becoming the next in a long line of exes.

3) He brings up past conquests. Why would anyone even mention such a thing on a date? I recently had to sit through two stories (the same one told twice) about how the guy I was going out with came and conquered (not necessarily in that order) someone else. It actually wasn't such a bad story, but I wouldn't file it under "bears repeating." I wasn't sure if he was trying to impress me -- just in case his desirability wasn't obvious from looking at him -- or if he tells that story so often that he's lost track of who has heard it already. I'd be surprised if anyone he knows hasn't.

4) He calls you by your brother's name. I don't know what it is about the name Jeffrey. It happens to belong to my big brother, and though nobody has ever called me my brother's keeper, people have been calling me by his name all my life, from our mom to former colleagues to people I just met to the last guy I went out on a date with. He did it twice (apparently, he does everything in twos -- he's the one from No. 3!), thankfully, never during an intimate moment. I have a good friend named Jeffrey, and we used to spend so much time together when we both lived in Buenos Aires that people started calling us by each other's names. Fair enough, but if you're up all night to get lucky, and you feel the urge to say my name, say my name, if it's worth remembering, it had better be worth remembering right.

5) You look forward to his trips to the bathroom. Ah, yes! Perfect time to check your messages.

6) You're relieved when he starts texting in front of you. I have a steadfast rule: No texting at the dinner table. I now dismiss guys who can't wait until I go to the bathroom. Or ones who take calls when they're in the bathroom and take forever to return to the table. (I won't be there when he returns, as this date once found out.) But if I find myself wishing someone would break my own cell phone-etiquette rules, clearly the evening is a bust.

7) He takes the seat facing the action. The least he could do is ask if you'd rather be forced to sit there and stare at the wall when he starts answering incoming messages.

8) He sticks his fork in it (your meal) without permission. I'm with Joey Tribbiani on this. When it comes to eating out, I'm not into sharing. But if you must have some of what I'm having, the polite thing to do is to ask -- and use a fork. Several months ago, I went on a first (and final) date with someone who announced that he was going to try my spring roll as he was picking it up and then proceeded to take a bite out of it. That's even worse than double-dipping!

9) 10pm feels like three hours later. Time will crawl, as David Bowie once sang. But times are best when it travels by air. As Janet Jackson once suggested, time should always fly when you're having fun.

10) He's already planning your future dates together. If there's anything I've learned during more than two decades of dating, it this: The first date who casually mentions that great restaurant that he has to take you to sometime is the one you're most likely to never go out with again.
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