I went on a date last week that was truly, truly terrible.
I met this dude online, as most of us are doing now.
I saw a few pictures of him and a small profile. After exchanging a few messages online, that neither wowed me or frightened me, I requested a phone call to chat and feel it out.
I’m in this new city, I want to get out, meet people, and feel easy about it all.
On the call together, I felt a stop and start. Like riding the brakes and the gas at the same time. A stutter. It didn’t flow like I desire. So, I just chalked it up to nerves and awkwardness.
He invited me to dinner. I told him I like sushi. He chose the place. Sent me a text picture of the reservation time and location. I liked that. It was straightforward, easy, quick.
The day arrives; we text to confirm. He messages me when he’s leaving his place. I text to tell him I’m running late.
We arrive in the driveway at the exact same time. He sends his BMW away with the valet. I say goodbye to my Lyft driver.
We’re at a swank place. Soaring ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, open kitchen, all the tables are set with wine glasses and plates, staff dressed in slick uniformity.
In my typical black on black on black wardrobe choice, I sit at a table with a white linen napkin. The moment I lift it from the table, a server arrives to offer me a black napkin to ensure I don’t get any white fuzz on my clothes.
I’m feeling good about this spot, hopeful about this meal and this human.
I am smiling and curious. What is going to happen here? What can we create here? Who is this person? I’m excited.
Within minutes, he says, “You’re the first woman I’ve met in person,” off the internet.
I think, “UGH.” My stomach sinks. My eyes roll inside my head. I wish I would have known this before I changed my pants 3 times then got back in the ones I had originally put on.
We order sake and sushi.
He gives me a compliment on my looks while making a low-key diss on other women. He asks a few questions about me, then checks his phone (which is face up on the table, notifications on display).
He tells me that he’s interested in me because I wrote in my profile that I’m into politics; he says he is upset that there is such a “lack of civility” in politics right now. He says he’s a “live and let live” kind of guy; he says he doesn’t ascribe to any kind of ideology.
He keeps asking me questions I can knowledgeably speak at length on. I know its dangerous territory, but clearly, I can’t help myself.
“What is Antifa all about?”
“To literally resist fascism, like the US did when we entered and won WWII.”
“Why do trans people have to have special protections?”
“Because they human beings and deserve basic human rights. And they experience suicide, housing, job, medical, and social discrimination at much higher rates than virtually any other group in the country. And trans women of color are murdered at something like 5 times the national average of any demographic in the country.”
I sip my sake and enjoy my yellowtail, looking in his eyes and thinking, “I’m totally not going to have sex with you. Ever!”
I try to steer the conversation away from politics because it is clear he and I live in really different educational universes.
And then, almost without warning, things escalate and spiral out of dialogue and into a diatribe.
He starts defending Confederate statues, getting pissed people who do are called racist. He’s asking if we have to hate Robert E. Lee, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson now. He gives me the “heritage not hate” line.
I took a breath and just witnessed his loneliness and confusion.
Until he went even further.
“It all started in Ferguson….that kid was 6’2”, 200 lbs and fighting the officer… Did you see the officer’s face? … If I was stupid enough to confront a police officer, I should be shot.”
I’m sure I said something about human dignity, but it didn’t matter because at this point, this dude was interrupting me and talking over me.
I could only feel my heart pounding and my skin burning.
I thought of this recent tweet.
His next comment was “Just look at the prison population! They’re criminals!” He was leaning over the table, eyes were wide and wild, hands gesticulating left and right.
I lost my cool. I couldn’t handle this white nonsense anymore.
So, I stand up, grab my purse and coat and say, “I’m leaving.”
Before that moment, I had never just walked out of a date before. I’ve been direct to say, “This isn’t really working for me. I don’t think we’re a good fit. I’m not feeling it.”
But I didn’t say any of that. I just turned and walked away with my cheeks on fire and my stomach aching. I wasn’t angry in that moment. I was scared.
I was scared of breaking the rule of politeness and compliance with white men and then being punished for it.
In the same week that 2 white men each shot and killed 5 people. And like so many of these mass shootings by white men, they took deadly action because they couldn’t handle a woman telling them NO, refusing to comply with their expectations or demands.
Outside in the cold, wrapping my coat around me, tying it tight, I order a car. I watched the door, half expecting this businessman to migrate his rage outside.
As I settle into the back seat, I say, “I’m leaving a terrible date.” He says, “Girl, let’s get you out of here, then.” I feel safe and alone.
I look at my phone again. I’ve got two rage-hate texts from the “live and let live” guy bitching about how “progressive” I am to leave on my “half of the bill” and being “and intolerant liberal unwilling or unable” to listen to other people’s point of view.
And, he is right. I am progressive and unwilling to hold space for a grown adult advocating that police execute black and brown teenagers for resisting arrest. I think the kindest thing I did was to only leave him with the check.
At home, I blow off steam by stomping around and peeling off my clothes, then submerge into a 90-minute bath with salt and vinegar to extract the slime from my pores.
Dating is a game show sometimes. We don’t know what is really behind door #3 until we open it.
But, look, I don’t have time or energy for the kind of shit show that was this dude’s seething white supremacy.
And neither do you.
I haven’t had such a terrible mismatched experience with anyone like this in years and years and years.
There are a few things I usually do to prevent these kinds of meetings, some of which I did and some I didn’t. (I’ll write about that soon.)
I’d love to hear from you about what you would have done, either in the early stages of messaging, on the phone call, in person.
How would you have handled yourself at any point along the way? Let’s crowdsource some solutions or alternative actions to this madness.
Please comment below and tell me.