I suppose at this point in my dating career, I should consider retiring. If this really was a career, I would have already quit–or more likely been fired.
My destined-to-fail dating career started at age 12 when I kissed a boy named Darren Gotter. I feel ok using his real name because I’m sure he’s either dead, in prison, or a serial killer.
Darren Gotter had really greasy hair and smelled like dirt and oil and cigarettes from working on cars. My friends circled round us on the playground and goaded us on. Instead of “fight, fight, fight”, they shouted, “kiss, kiss, kiss.” He put his arm around my shoulders, which felt cold and floppy like the underside of a fish. And when he pressed his lips against mine, his tongue slid inside my mouth like a wet, wiggly worm. I jumped back in shock. My friends couldn’t stop laughing.
Then there was Guy Williams, the most gorgeous guy in the world. At the 7th grade dance, he asked me to dance. Of course, I said yes. He led me onto the dance floor, and I froze.
“Do you know how to dance?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“I’ll show you,” he said and gallantly led me through a series of steps to the pounding beat of “Macho Man” by the Village People.
I stood on the dance floor after the song ended, gaping at him. Now what. It wasn’t like he was going to ask me to marry him. So he did the next natural thing. He found another girl who wouldn’t freeze on the dance floor. Still, I smiled for the next three weeks solid.
Then there was Bobby, a pudgy boy with blonde hair and dull brown eyes who called and asked me to “go with him”.
“Go where?” I asked, confused.
In 12th grade, my first real boyfriend was Andrew Wilson, with blonde hair and blue eyes I would later discover were the exact color of the Aegean Sea. We had nothing to talk about in particular, but we kissed for hours on the floorboards of my aunt and uncle’s camper van, the stubble on his chin rubbing my lips raw.
When he broke up with me three months later, I called up my dad sobbing. My dad, an expert chemical engineer, and most likely on the autistic spectrum, didn’t sugarcoat it. He told me the bitter truth.
“Well, Lisa, it’s just going to get worse from here.”
And he was right. It all went downhill from there.
Recently, I was married to the man of my dreams. I was wildly, crazily (with crazy being the operative word) in love with him. He was smart, creative, and funny—a Wall Street mogul taking a break from his fast-paced stockbroker life—or so he said. We were a bright, happy, shining light wherever we went until we turned into an empty black hole.
One day, after 7 ½ years together, I went to the dentist and didn’t come home. Normally, I’d run home after all that scraping and bloody saliva dribbling down my chin. But that day, I called my husband and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not coming home– ever.”
“What?” he said.
“You’ve been lying to me,” I said. “I don’t know what you’ve been lying about, but I know you’re lying.”
My husband begged me to come home and talk about it.
“I can’t,” I said. “I’m going to play dominoes.”
He called me in the middle of the game in tears, saying, “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me.”
I sympathized with him. I said, “I don’t know why I’m doing this to you either.”
But the little voice that’s guided me—rightly or wrongly—my whole life was booming like a volcano about to explode: Get out now.
He begged me for the next year-and-a-half to get back together with him.
Two years after that, my now ex-husband was living in a bright shiny high-rise condo soaked in Florida sunshine with his ex-wife (the one before me) when the FBI broke down his door and arrested him for being part of a ring of con artists who bilked hundreds of people out of $16 million.
So now I don’t trust men. I don’t trust anybody– not even myself.
But the desire to mate goes on like the desire to eat or sleep or write or take a dump. It never ends.
So, I persist. In my 20s and 30s, the question was always, is he cute, funny, smart, fun. Now the questions are, is he married, a drug addict, a criminal, and if so, what kind of criminal? What kind of drugs?
I wish I could give everyone a lie detector test and run their credit scores before the first date. I want to get to the bottom line right away.
When I was in college in Berkeley, there was a street person called the “Hate man” . He wore lacy bras over his naked hairy chest, mismatched socks and high heeled shoes. He was a genius in human relations. He believed that rather than wooing potential friends and lovers with wit and charm, why not expose the worst side of yourself first so people knew what they were getting into?
I told this story to a guy on a first date recently.
“So, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” I asked.
“Seriously?” he asked.
“Seriously,” I said.
After some hemming and hawing he admitted that once—and only once–when he was a waiter at a fancy café, he spat into a rude customer’s coffee.
We were drinking coffee.
What if he I said something not to his liking and he spat in my coffee when I turned around? It would have been better, I thought, if he admitted to killing a previous girlfriend or wife. That way he would have committed the heinous act only once, and the wife or girlfriend (albeit dead now) would not have to worry about their coffee being spat in.
“Um, what about you? What’s the worst thing you’ve done?” he asked.
“Uh, uh,” I said, searching for something meaningful to say, no longer interested in him.
“Um, I stole a candy bar once,” I stammered, lying through my teeth.
He furrowed his brow at me, unimpressed. He left shortly after that.
I dumped out my coffee and poured myself a fresh cup