By Kelly Seal
It was summer and I had just moved to Los Angeles. After a recent break-up with a man I’d dated in San Diego, I left to keep my sanity. I’d also subscribed to a few online dating sites, which is when the trouble really began.
I had a fabulous first date with TennisJoe. As most of us know, fabulous dates are hard to come by when you’re online dating, so you can imagine how excited I was. We’d met for drinks at a local tapas bar, and immediately bonded. We discovered that we’d graduated from the same college, were both new to L.A., and worked in the same industry. Our knees touched, then our hands, and then our lips. It was like fate had brought us together via the Match.com filtering process.
He was tall, smart, funny and really handsome. I envisioned our future relationship, complete with romantic getaways and Sunday mornings spent leisurely in bed. I was smitten within the first hour of meeting him, which is why I readily agreed to a second date two days later. He’d bought tickets to a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and planned to pick me up early so that we could share a picnic dinner and wine before it started. I couldn’t believe my newfound luck. This guy was the real deal. He made concrete plans.
That Saturday night, I was ready with ten extra minutes to spare. I’d tried on five different outfits, and with the help of my roommate, chose one that was casual yet sexy. I hoped he wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off of me. I could barely contain my excitement as I gushed about this new love to my roommate. We debated whether or not I should sleep with him.
He was supposed to pick me up at 6:00, but instead he called. “I’m running late…traffic is terrible,” he said.
“How far away are you?” I asked, my heart sinking.
“I’m leaving Long Beach right now. I was hanging with some friends.”
That was at least an hour away! “You’re all the way in Orange County? I thought we were planning to have dinner before it started,” I said, unable to hide my disappointment.
“I’m on my way,” he said, then hung up.
I was surprised and a little miffed…it felt like he’d hung up on me. But instead of allowing myself to get angry, I brushed my initial hurt aside. I was determined for things to work with TennisJoe. He was the first man in a long time who made my knees weak; the chemistry was undeniable. When we met face-to-face he would apologize and we’d have a nice romantic evening sharing wine under the stars. There was no need to overreact and get angry over an uncontrollable thing like traffic. Instead, I would get dinner for us, to save time. I walked across the street to a little Greek restaurant and ordered some falafel sandwiches and salads to share.
Then I waited. And waited. At 7:50 I got another call from him. He was almost shouting into the phone, clearly frustrated. “I’m around the corner, so why don’t you come down so I don’t have to park?”
Despite all evidence to the contrary, I was still hopeful about our date and our future, because in my mind, chemistry reigned supreme. It didn’t matter to me that he planned his day so poorly, or that he’d been rude on the phone. As soon as we were together, all of these frustrations would be secondary. Attraction would take control. I grabbed the food and wine and made my way downstairs.
He pulled over and opened the passenger door from the driver’s seat. “Hey,” he said gruffly. “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t realize how long it would take to get to your house.”
“It’s okay,” I said, wincing slightly because I knew it wasn’t. I looked at his stern face as he cursed the traffic. I tried to lighten the mood by being playful, but he was having none of it. Was this really the same man I’d been so excited about just a few minutes ago? Had I imagined our first date?
When we finally arrived in time for the intermission, the dinners were congealed and I’d forgotten the wine opener. Then he started complaining about everything. About L.A. traffic, where I lived, the food, and the concert.
My heart sank. Sometimes my eternal optimism seemed like a curse. I was willing to take shit from this guy because I was so infatuated with him. It wasn’t my fault he got stuck in traffic, or that he didn’t account for the long drive. And yet I’d let him treat me disrespectfully, first by waiting for two hours and then by letting him take out his frustration on me. How could I have been so willing to overlook his behavior for the sake of attraction?
We sat in silence the rest of the concert, and then he promptly dropped me back at my apartment once it was over. Not surprisingly, I never heard from him again.
I decided that I’d dodged a bullet with TennisJoe. If he was going to be angry with me for something that wasn’t my fault, and it was only our second date, I didn’t want to imagine what he’d be like in a relationship if things weren’t going his way.
In the end, I was thankful that he showed up two hours late. It gave me a chance to see him for who he was, not for who I imagined him to be.