I’m going to call this date Reggie after the Archie comic books, which were a formative part of my childhood. I always thought Reggie got kind of a bad rep, but I also wanted to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan (I got cast as Smee), so take it with a grain of salt.
Archie Andrews: Redhead. Universally adored. Perpetually fought over by Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.
Reggie Mantle: Rival to Archie. Good looking. Drives a cool car. Confident to the point of brash. Particularly interested in Veronica, but also interested in Betty, when she seems to be taken.
Betty Cooper: Blond. Girl next door. Faithful and kind to a fault.
Veronica Lodge: Brunette. Rich. Always gets what she wants—including Archie. Frenemies with Betty.
I don’t know whether I’m Betty or Veronica in this scenario, and besides, binaries that set up the virgin and the vixen to compete are harmful enactments of a patriarchal society that doesn’t know how to allow women to be full characters in fiction and real, complicated people with agency, wants, and desires in real life.
Let’s just focus on what’s important here: the use of known cultural duos, pairings, or rivals as pseudonyms for men I’ve gone on dates with for the purpose of your entertainment.
I met Reggie IRL over the weekend when I was hanging out in the sunshine with my friend Laurel. In real life, you guys! It too could happen to you!
Also, he lives in my building. “Don’t date people who live in your building,” I always say, “unless he lives in the other wing and you’ve both been there for at least a year, yet you’ve never before seen each other in your life, so you’ll likely not ever seen him again if things go south, and he’s rocking that cute thick-plastic-glasses look, in which case, what can one date hurt?”
I have a routine for Tinder dates: I meet them at 8 on a weeknight at a bar up the street from me. It’s strategically chosen: the bar is always busy enough to feel full and offer people watching, never so busy that you can’t find a seat. The drinks are good and if the company isn’t, there’s always the warm fudge brownie topped with ice cream.
But I’m a little more flexible with second dates and with IRL dates. I’ve presumably met the person, so I’ve scoped out their general creepiness from a scale of 1 to 10. I’ve looked them in the eye and generally exchanged at least a few words, which helps me verify whether or not I’m interested in spending an hour or two talking to this person. So Reggie and I were going on an early Friday date. And we didn’t go to my bar of choice—we went to a restaurant across the street and down the block.
I’m a risk-taker, folks. You should know that about me.
Here’s what you need to know about my date with Reggie: we had a long, tipsy dinner. We split a bottle of wine and ate paella while it poured outside. Reggie flirted with me outrageously, to the point where I couldn’t quite get a read on him. Constantly touching my arm, my hand, my hip? Check. Focusing intently on me whenever I talked? Check.
He said he’d guessed I had some native Hawaiian in me and followed it up by saying, “You probably get Jewish a lot. With those curls and voice—very sexy, foxy New York Jewish.”
When was the last time someone guessed at something that happens to you a lot, and called you sexy and foxy in the same sentence?
He also compared shamans to bloggers and called them both useless to society. Now, I’ll give you that bloggers are useless, but shamans are healers and I’m of the mind that Western medicine is a short, small subset of a much longer history of knowledge in the world.
But as my best friend pointed out later, “On the plus side, you blog. So…you are basically a shaman.”
Have I told you that the best part of dating is talking about it with your friends?
I’d just written this blog post about not having a sense of smell and my realization that I’ve perhaps replaced smell with attraction to people’s voices. I told Reggie that I don’t have a very good sense of smell anymore—and he immediately asked how that worked with pheromones. I didn’t answer. Just then our server said something to us that Reggie didn’t hear and I did.
Me: My hearing’s just fine, however.
Reggie: So…how’s my voice?
Me: Excuse me?
Reggie: How’s my voice? If you can’t smell but you can hear…how’s my voice? Is it turning you on?
I stared at him, paranoid that he’d already found and read this blog. Then I lost my goddamn mind. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my bar stool. I’m impressed he asked it with a straight face. When I came up for air he was just sitting there, blinking at me from behind those ubiquitous black plastic-rimmed glasses. I still half-think he was just f***ing with me.
Me: He doesn’t watch TV. He only listens to NPR. And he only shops at the Farmer’s Market.
Mom: Don’t judge, honey, he could be perfectly nice anyway.
When we walked outside into the cold rain, the cocoon from the meal and wine fell away. We walked home and he thanked me for hanging out, then practically ran off and ghosted hard.
Grade: I saw him two weeks later in front of my building and he told me I looked nice and asked if I was going out, so I told him—truthfully—I had a date. The next day I saw him in the laundry room, which means he literally saw my dirty laundry. Three days after that I saw him in the garden when I took my compost out. And the next day. Two days after that.
My theory that you will never see him again is shot.
How to behave when you run into a date who chose never to text you again: Like a human being. Say hi. Ask how he is. Look sympathetic when he says he’s exhausted. Stand in the sun for a few minutes. Make conversation. When you mention you went to see that museum he was interested in, and he asks why you didn’t text him to go, stare at him blankly. When this blog comes up and he says, “I can only assume the writing must be of the highest caliber,” say, “thank you,” and mean it. It’s the only proper response to a compliment. Smile. People are mysterious and unknowable.