Despite my resolution to move away from the quiet guy sphere after a few less than stellar dates, one of those meh dates came back for seconds and I figured maybe it was worth another try.
It was the second date guy from the Friday evening, and he asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. Even before we got to the date it was all pretty bizarre, to the point where I did wonder why I was going, more than once. He insisted we go to a specific pizza place, which was fine as their pizzas are great, and he suggested 5.30pm. Now, I’m hardly a late night rager but even that was early for me to be going out for dinner. I was going to ask if we could make it later but I realised it could work in my favour if he was still not lighting my fire I could escape without my entire night ruined. Though as one of my girlfriends queried “How old are you? What is this? Some Early Bird special?” She had a point.
One thing I didn’t mention about my first date with this guy was how it ended once I cut it short.
As is always the case when you’re wanting to get out of somewhere quickly, the server took an age to come over (one of the reasons I disliked the place he’d picked for the first date so much is the service) but when she did I was expecting the normal exchange of “can we get the bill?”, “sure, together or separate?” One thing I love about Vancouver is that splitting a bill between all parties, either in equal portions or based on what each person had, is something almost every food and drink establishment offers and it’s great for when you’re out in a big group of friends. However, it causes a little more awkwardness when you’re on a date, especially a first date, and one of you actually has to basically out loud determine who’s paying. It’s always a fun cliff hanger!
In this instance however, he cut the exchange in half by declaring “can we get the bill and we’ll pay separately”. Well alrighty then.
The ‘paying on a first date’ debate is lengthy and controversial and seemingly culturally influenced – my North American friends have a different take than us Brits – and really there’s no right answer. For me, I will always offer to pay for myself on a first date and if he declines my offer I’ll happily let him pay. After that, while you’re still in the early dating stages, I prefer taking it in turns to pay rather than splitting bills.
However, while I’m comfortable paying for my own, there is always something attractive about a guy picking up the bill, it’s not so much about the money for me but more about them taking charge, making a decision, wanting to show their values. To make it so blatantly clear he had no intention of paying the $12.60 for my two gins, it was more than a little off-putting.
For some of my friends, that would have been enough to never reply to another of his texts, never mind not even consider a second date, and meant they were openly sceptical that I was giving it another chance. I believe the phrase “By Felicia” may have been used more than once about him. I apparently love a red flag though, so happily went on a second date with a guy who was financially ungenerous and wanted to eat dinner at 5.30pm. Who says I make poor choices?
If there was ever a second date to give my friends an “I told you so” opportunity, this was it. I can genuinely say the best thing about the date was the pizza. The chat was stilted, I realised quickly just how different we were (and not in a good way), he was awkward with the server, and I always think how someone interacts with a server says a lot about them as a person. So it was less than ideal and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I made up a story about needing to go and see a friend who was in crisis afterwards. I hate lying and I was going to see a friend after but the crisis part and urgency with which I needed to get there were maybe slightly / definitely completely embellished.
Rather than have to endure a similar wait as we did on date number one, as our plates were being cleared away I quickly asked for the bill at the same time. It caught him off guard but he got himself together quick enough to shout after the waitress “she had the dipping sauce, you can put that on her bill!” Wow.
As I picked my jaw up off the floor, the waitress looked over at me as if to say “sorry if that’s your date” and when we were doing the card machine dance she pointedly said to me with a smile “ok and yours is $33.29, including the dipping sauce”. Love a bit of server collusion on a date. Before the receipt was even printed I was putting on my coat to leave. I felt rude asking for the bill so quickly and being in such a blatant rush to get out of there. I felt rude despite him really not displaying any manners of his own, I couldn’t help it. I’ve realised sometimes I’m too nice. It’s not something I ever thought I’d say about myself, but in dating I realised sometimes I needed to be a little more assertive.
To quell my (misplaced) feeling of being rude, I said yes when he asked if he could walk me to my friend’s. I’d tried to be vague about where I was going but when I pointed in a general direction he said that’s where he was going too. Well, great. We walked in awkward conversation while I was preoccupied with trying to decide how I was going to give him the brushoff, knowing I was likely going to need to do it in person, here and now.
I intimated that we were getting close to my girlfriend’s place and as I suspected he said “so can we hang out again?” (“for you to not pay again?” I finished in my head). At that point I bit the bullet and launched into the story I decided I was going to go with. I know I said I hate lying and I really do, but I had also learnt the value in knowing when it was just easier all round and he seemed like the sort who wouldn’t take “I’m not feeling it” very well.
I explained that an ex had recently got back in touch which was confusing things for me and I didn’t want to string him along (an actual event which has since taken place – I must have brought it on myself). He looked questioningly at me and said “so why did you even come on the date? When did this happen?” I said it had been over the weekend and I’d thought about cancelling but didn’t want to be rude and I know realised it would be too difficult to keep dating other people. He started asking when I’d dated this guy, what he wanted, why we’d split up, what I was going to do and finished with “so how long should I give you?”
Wait, what? No, no, this isn’t a temporary (albeit fake) situation. This is me telling you we’re done. I told him I wasn’t sure and thought it might be best for us not to see each other again. We’d come to a standstill now outside my friend’s place and as he turned to go he said “ok, I’ll check in again in a week”. Um, what? No! I said we shouldn’t see each other again. And what was this? A business meeting that has follow up tasks?!
I fell into my friend’s apartment, already spilling the story as she opened the door and Unbelieving Cheapskate, as he was now known, was talked about at length. For some reason, his questioning of my story had really shaken me. I don’t think I should be able to get away with lying, I really do hate it as a practice and yet I was affronted that he’d even dared question it. And was annoyed he’d made me lie even more with all his damn questions. Jeez, I’d built up an entire fake ex in my head by the time we were done.
My girlfriends laughed and took the opportunity to throw their “Bye Felicia” advice in my face, which I had to take. Though I still argue that knowing when something is not worth pursuing and when something maybe just needs a little bit of time is a tricky balance. They say fireworks are bad, they’ll just fizzle. They say you should be able to tell right away if there’s something there. But presumably based on that first piece of advice, it shouldn’t be with fireworks? Well I don’t bloody know what the happy medium looks like. Yet.
What I do know though is that Unbelieving Cheapskate is true to his word. 8 days after our date, I got a text “it’s been a week, is there any update?” Genuinely could have been the content of an email from my boss. For once, I did the unthinkable for me and didn’t reply. Bye Felicia.