The Nondating Life

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Part Fifteen: Always on time

(Previous post)

A typical dating situation. Our guy, after suffering through 999 rejections has found the 1 out of 1,000 to say yes to a phone number exchange. After that, he defies the odds yet again by not calling so early as to seem over-eager or so late that he seems like he's not all that interested. He even manages not to say something entirely stupid during the phone conversation and now we find him, 7:00 p.m. on a weekday evening sitting at a bar, waiting on his date.

He's struggled against his own case of the nerves all day, arrived at the bar at 6:50 in order to scope out the place, find a seat and, perhaps, get half a drink down to settle his racing heart, his churning gut. He was secretly relieved to find his date not there and didn't so much care as 7 swung around to 7:05. He's finished that first drink. It's been removed. Not only can he order another one and nurse it slowly, he'll seem naturally confident and at ease thanks to the first--or as close to those things as he can be considering this woman could very well end up being his wife (or at least the next person he sleeps with).

So there he sits, trying not to pop up his head like an over-excited child every time someone walks through the door. It's 7:15 now and perhaps he's wishing he brought a newspaper, a book, something. But, hey, traffic, mass transit. Fifteen minutes is no big deal. Besides, he can go through the list of all the things he's supposed to remember on the first date. Don't talk too much about yourself. Ask open-ended questions that can allow her to run with the conversation. Don't be a pig. Don't talk about your ex. Don't ask about hers. Try to be interested. Draw her out. Be funny, but not overly crass. Ask about her family. Ask. Ask. Ask. Don't be a typical guy.

Don't drink too much.

But now it's 7:30. He's had two drinks and a glass of water and he just knows that everyone else in the bar, bartender included, is sort of looking at him, sitting there alone, drinking alone. Poor bastard, probably got stood up.

At 7:45, his cellphone rings. It's her.

"Hello," he says, playing it cool.

"Hey," she says. "Where are you?" As if he'd be out running errands, perhaps fighting crime instead of sitting at the bar waiting on her.

"I'm at the place."

"Already? You been waiting long?"

"No, not too long." Lies. And there it is. The first lie in the relationship.

"Good. Good. I'm running a little late. I'll be there in, like, fifteen minutes."

She rolls in at 8:15. He's on his fourth drink and has been cursing almost audibly for the last ten minutes. But she looks stunning, smiles, apologizes profusely and kisses him on the cheek. All is forgotten. Which is just as well, because it's his duty to pretend that such things don't bother him, that he's not some overbearing control freak who'll flip out over nothing at all.

Even if he is dealing with what, for all intents and purpses, is a self-absorbed, inconsiderate little twit.

But Ken! What if ...

But Ken, nothing. Ladies, you know I'm almost always on your side, but we've arrived at a point where all of you have some serious explaining to do. You whine about guys not approaching you. You whine about guys being scared off by you. You whine about guys calling too early. You whine about guys not calling soon enough.

The fact of the matter is, that for any first date, a guy has gone through hoop after hoop after fucking hoop. And this is before he even negotiates the date itself and deals with your silly insistence on paying the check.

And the only thing that is asked of you--the one thing--is to show up on time.

And can you do that? Hell no. Of course not. And then you're going to bitch if the guy seems a little surly, a little drunk.

And let's not hear the excuses. Let's not hear the silly reasons. "It's genetic." "I can't help it." "It's part of the game to make him wait." "I had to get my own drink down before the date."

Bullshit to all of it. It's not genetic. If Larry Summers at Harvard can't say things like that, neither can you. And you can too help it. You show up for work on time, don't you? Part of a waiting game? Five minutes, tops, is acceptable. You need to get a drink down before hand? Fine. Use some basic math and go to some other bar down the block BEFORE you're supposed to meet. Don't show up at the OTHER bar at 7 p.m. and belt back a few. And don't meet up with your friends before hand. Because if there's one thing more selfish and inconsiderate about time than a single woman, it's a group of women.

Obviously, this is a sore point with me. It is. I can't stand late people of either gender. But if it's a friend of mine and, over the years, I've learned that he or she will always be late, I can make adjustments accordingly. But on a first date? A second or third date? When already the nerves are a jangle and I'm trying not to puke on my shoes or imagine the whole thing going to hell? I had to sack up and deal with the fear of rejection when I approached you. Same when I called the first time. Same when I asked you out. And then, I have to sit there and wonder if I'm being stood up? (And this only gets worse if this date is the result of an online hookup and I have to wonder if you're a one-legged dwarf who's posted a cousin's photo on the web).

Homie don't play dat.

Short of death or a major traffic accident, there's no excuse for it. (And this goes for guys, too, but this is one case where I've rarely heard of a guy being in violation.)

Story from my own life. A few years ago, I'd convinced this gorgeous young woman to go out with me. She was late for the first date. She was late for the second date. By the third, I was sick of it. Also, by this point, she'd proved to be about as sharp as a bag of wet mice and the sort who wanted me to unpack her luggage from previous relationships (in other words, after years of putting out for every Tom, Dick and Harry, she decided she wanted to take things slow with me).
But she was nice. And had a great smile. And called me every night. And was super hot.

But always late. And not so bright. And called me every fricking night.

So the third date rolls around. And I specifically said, "Do not be late for this one." I'm sitting in the restaurant. Let's say we were supposed to meet at 6. She calls at 6:15, "I'm on my way. I'll be there shortly." By the time 6:30 rolled around, I'd made up my mind: I would have another beer, I would have the Lamb Combination platter and I would, indeed, be dumping this girl--and for once I could do such a thing without a single bit of guilt on my part.

I had my dinner. I drank my beer, slowly--it wouldn't do to be drunk and surly when she showed up. And show up, she did, over an hour later.

All apologies and big doe eyes and that pretty smile.

She was confronted with the patented Ken Wheaton Blank Stare. She was met with the Ken Wheaton monotone of reasoned argument. She was greeted by the waitress.

"Would you like something to drink?" the waitress asked.

I stared directly at my date, gave the slightest twist of a smile and said to the waitress: "She won't be staying."

At which point, the date grew very confused. It should be pointed out that she was the pretty sort who'd surrounded herself with guy friends and had long grown accustomed to riding roughshod over every male in her life, from daddy to ex-boyfriends, and getting away with everything as long as she apologized.

Ah, yes, the sickness eating at America. It doesn't matter WHAT you do, as long as you say you're sorry afterwards. But suddenly her years of experience and years of learning from sitcoms were failing her.

To be perfectly honest, I am typicallly a big pushover when faced with a woman like this, but that day, I reached deep down into my pockets and found my balls.

I cut off her apologizing and told her that she might as well save it because I wasn't having it, that she could turn right around, climb back in her car and go back to Jersey and cry her pretty eyes out. I was done. All without raising my voice.

Predictably, this worked wonders. A girl who'd been playing coy about going anywhere beyond second base was now suddenly offering to spend the night at my house to make it up to me.

But, for once, I didn't crack. Close. Really close. Because it's one thing to say no to sex, another entirely to say no to sex with a gorgeous girl you haven't had sex with yet. But I held my ground.

She teared up. She apologized. She tried. And tried.

"Look," I finally said. "If you're looking for some sort of resolution or forgiveness or closure, you're not going to get it. I have absolutely nothing left to say to you at this point."

So she left. I paid my bill. I left.

And the phone calls started. All day for two days. Work. Home. Cellphone. Until finally, I answered on a Friday morning before work. She was already at her job. Again, I assumed the monotone voice and explained, again, there would be no happy ending. I even told her my theory that she was a pretty girl who'd grown used to heaping abuse on guys and apologizing after the fact.

"Saying 'I'm always late' and saying 'I'm sorry' does not make it okay," I said. "And the fact of the matter is I don't have time for this kind of shit in my life," I added. Yes. I swear. I was talking like this. These were not things I thought of saying. These were not things I'd wished I'd said. I said them. I used the phrase "fact of the matter" in actual conversation. (Hey, it's not every day you get a chance to stone-cold breakup with someone when you're 100% in the right.)

And I closed with "Look, I don't want to make myself angry here and start yelling at you. I'm trying to be cool about this, but you're already crying at work, so I'm just going to hang up now."

"But."

"Bye."

And that was it--well, the calls didn't stop for another few days, but from my end that was it.

And that, ladies, is one of many, many reasons, why you should have the common damn decency to be on time for dates.

(Next post)

20 Comments:

  • wait, I'm still stuck on you turning down sex with a hot girl you had not had sex with and you were attracted to...physically, if not mentally. I'm impressed. I'm not sure I buy it, but I'm impressed.

    of course this story also illustrates beautifully how women (or men) want you even more when they think they can't have you.

    By Blogger citygurl, at 11:29 PM  

  • Ok I have been reading from the beginning
    for once I don't agree one bit!I know this is based on your experance but....
    Not all girls leave you hanging
    leaving the guy waiting way to long for her to show up
    Not all dates are summed up with all about me conversation
    Ken honestly first dates are not all equal!
    where are you finding these girls? NY is big enough there has to be a lady some where!

    By Blogger lola, at 12:14 AM  

  • I'm appalled that there are that many women out there who don't worry about making a good impression. Is this an age thing, maybe? (As in young and immature?) Maybe you keep going after these gorgeous spoiled types who have a history of getting away with it?

    If I had to wait more than half-an-hour for someone who already has my cell number, I would just leave. These days there is no excuse for not letting someone know you're running late WITHIN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES.

    I say this as someone who is almost always late (but usually 15 min. or less).

    You did good.

    By Blogger Judith, at 1:22 AM  

  • Citygurl,
    I know. I know. Hard to believe isn't it.

    Lola,
    I'm not saying ALL women are like this. Just a fair number. And while this is based on my experience, I'll be curious to see what the guys have to say.

    Judith,
    Hmmm, ur, maybe we shouldn't go looking TOO hard at the type of women on the old dating resume. Heh.
    Seriously, though, my first impulse is to say, "Yes, it may be an age thing," but when I think about it ... it isn't. It definitely SEEMS like a young thing to do, so maybe it's subconsciously part of that whole trying to appear younger thing.
    Then again, by your own admission, you're almost always late. You SAY less than fifteen minutes, but is that fifteen minutes in woman time* (i.e. half an hour to an hour) or fifteen minutes in real time?

    *Woman time, strangely, is remarkably similar to football and basketball time. "How much time left in the game, honey." "Oh, about five minutes."

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 6:05 AM  

  • My father used to say - saying sorry means never doing it again. I've been trying to live by that motto - but it's pretty hard. Nevertheless, managing my time has been a struggle and not because i'm being an evil girl who likes to see guys squirm but it just comes down to - i think i do things faster than i actually do. As for dates specifically when it comes to first dates i make a point of never being late. And there have been plenty of times where my nerves have been streched to a limit by a man's inconsiderate behavior - guys play the game too.

    By Blogger PetiteDov, at 9:08 AM  

  • I know no one drives there, but don't you pick up your dates anymore? That would solve them being late. If they're not at home, then just leave....no money involved.

    By Anonymous nik, at 11:54 AM  

  • Nik,
    I think the Threat of Stalkers dictates that you typically don't ask for a girl's exact address too soon here in the city.
    Something about them walking home alone late at night ... as opposed to them pulling a car into the driveway and dashing into the house.

    But, yes, in other places, pulling up in a car and leaning on the horn might hurry her ass out of the house :)

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 12:00 PM  

  • Yo, kid...be real with it. It's the city, kid...everyone is late once in a while, yo. I'm a freak about not being late...don't like showing disrespect, but it happens.
    I remember a comic once saying, "the comic that says repect the ladies is just working his angle. I like the angle you work on this site. Get yours, kid. Much love and no hater-aid from me.
    The next post should read how you were doing the da' freak nasty and quit in the middle because you didn't feel a bond with the girl...word.

    By Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa, at 3:55 PM  

  • I don't know who these people are who think it's ok to be over an hour late. However, I have met some of them and they were MEN. The last one to be so late was calling me before he arrived to tell me he might be late, calling me to tell me when he thought he would get there, etc. (it was a bit of overkill, actually). Still, there is no excuse in the age of cell phones to be that late without notification. I do agree though, that no call is needed if you will be 15 minutes late or less (by the clock).

    I am usually right on time, but I have been late. And I have been early. I am totally sympathetic to your complaint. I even think men and women are different--but I think you are going too far lumping all women together like that.

    Still, I feel your pain. It's just basic courtesy here, nothing more. It's the least we owe each other as human beings.

    By Blogger Jamy, at 4:09 PM  

  • i'm with jamy. it's basic courtesy. i tend to believe that being consistently late is a sign of selfishness and self-absorption. totally ticks me off, as well.

    By Blogger PN, at 6:04 PM  

  • um... never that late? not on time, per se, but those first fifteen minutes don't sound like they were too bad.

    By Anonymous candace, at 10:43 PM  

  • Based on what I see everybody has cells phones today so if you're not going to be on time why not call BEFORE the appointed time to say you're running late?

    Or, here's a novel idea, make the date for a time you know you can meet. Be honest enough to say 7:30 because I'm not sure I can make it by 7:00. Or is basic respect optional?

    Retread

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:12 AM  

  • Ken

    I agree with you about punctuality. She was a loser. And many "he's" are like that too. People who make others wait on them are supremely arrogant and selfish, not an iota of consideration for others. That kind of selfishness is not good long-term relationship material. Everyone should be given a chance to reform though ... and I think you did that by asking her not to be late. Do you think she was smart enough to learn anything from that experience?

    >But, yes, in other places, pulling up in a car and leaning on the horn might hurry her ass out of the house :)

    If some guy pulled up in his car and leaned on the horn, he'd be waiting out there in the driveway for a very long time ... :-)

    He has to come to the door, ring the bell, say a word or two to the parents, walk her to the car, open the car door...YEP, all of the above.

    Same thing when he drives her home ... he doesn't just drop her off. She doesn't need anyone to help her out of the car, but he walks her to the door and (after a goodnight kiss on the doorstep), waits until she's safe inside the house.

    That's the way it used to be ... and still should be. Magic.

    By Blogger Snowy, at 10:48 AM  

  • Ken: you are so full of shit that only girls do this. It's not gender specific, and let me tell you, it's especially irritating when the guy has asked you to reserve this time for him, then shows up late.

    One guy in particular, I remember I waited 45 minutes, then called a friend and made plans to go bar hopping instead. The guy called as I was on my way out, and I said "don't bother coming; I'm heading to O'Malley's" and he had the gall to say, "I'm not sure I'm up for going to a bar." I responded, "that's good, 'cause you're not invited." He was just amazed that I was calling it off over such a teeny thing as him having wasted an hour of my time.

    Otherwise, great post, you hit the nail on the head that that kind of behavior should be nipped, and nipped early.

    By Blogger pearatty, at 1:54 PM  

  • Pearatty, great comeback to the assclown who showed up late.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 4:14 PM  

  • Thanks, Ken. It was particularly satisfying. I must admit I'm not always so pithy on my feet -- it's rare that one has an entire hour to think up one's comeback in advance.

    By Blogger pearatty, at 2:24 PM  

  • Ken,
    From reading your other posts, I think your anger was potentially magnified by your stressing for the first few dates. She didn't purposefully inflict all of that stress onto you but her inconsideration on top of your own pattern of stressing for 1st, 2nd, 3rd dates was unbearable to you.
    Just a thought so lets move onto a possible remedy for future such situations. Years ago I read or heard of the "half hour rule". Say you had an appointment to meet someone and they were 30 minutes late, and they had not contacted you to let you know their ETA and reason for delay. After 30 minutes you can justly consider the date or appointment annulled and move on to other locations or make plans with others and leave the place of meeting. It's a whole lot better than sitting there feeling like an idjit.

    You think it's only women who do this to men, but I have had some really lax and self absorbed boyfriends who took offense at me not waiting around an hour or more after we had agreed to meet. And these guys were repeat offenders. It really helped me to use the half hour rule rather than sit around getting furious. The beauty of the half hour rule is that you can neutrally respond to their indignation with, "Look, I had waited 30 minutes and hadn't heard anything so I figured something came up and I went on to . . .(fill in the blank here with rent a video, pick up chinese food, visit other friends in the neighborhood etc)"
    The situations this doesn't work for is when he/she is supposed to meet you at your place and they have keys. The half hour rule depends on them being caught flat footed because when they finally show up and no one is there they are confronted with their own poor planning and lack of consideration -- a perfect karmic justice thing. However if they can let themselves into your apartment, while you are out, it screws up this eye for an eye equation. Then if they keep doing it, they shouldn't have keys to your place and you may want to reconsider being with them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:24 PM  

  • While that was quite entertaining, I hope you either embellished to please your readers or find someone soon...that anal attitude will get you nowhere in life. what happenes when someone speaks too loudly on the train three times? do you stab them??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:31 PM  

  • Interesting subject to say the list. The bitch I was dating for 4 years was always late. I show up at her door ring the bell. She opens the door then says " I will be out in 5 minutes" the shuts the door while leaving me standing in there without inviting me in.

    I was just too frikkin' nice to her and she took me for granted Of course she thought that I will always be there no matter what.

    Man, it pisses me off that I let a bitch like that get away with it.

    Now, she does not know what happened to me. I did not respond to her last phone call. I will never ever contact the bitch again.

    I was wondering if it would be nasty of me if I ever saw a car in her drive way of her next vixtim if I should leave him a note that says" WATCH YOUR WALLET. SHE WILL TAKE YOU TO THE CLEANERS AND YOU WILL NEVER GET ANWHERE WITH HER"

    Just wondering. Any advice if it is bad of me to do that?

    Thank you.

    By Anonymous Rich, at 2:52 PM  

  • Your story was extremely touching. Your expressiveness demonstrates what an incredible connection you had with this other person and I can sympathize and relate to every word.

    By Blogger cameronsharpe, at 3:31 AM  

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