You know the internet is crazy when an inanimate object slides into your DMs. And it’s even creepier when said inanimate object messages in reply to one of your instagram stories “hey, that’s my view” when you’ve posted a pic from your balcony.
The account was a personification of a bar signage board, the type that has witty, daily comments to entice you in to drink their alcohol, watch their sports and play their games. I’d been at the bar a few weeks before, tagged them in a post and I guess that was how they’d found me. But I allowed the conversation to go on far longer than I should have before requesting some personal information about the writer.
He worked part time at the bar, and wrote the signs, and when I finally got a name I also realised if I scrolled far enough back on the Instagram account there were actually pics of him, and looked fairly normal, which was a relief. But I had to wonder how many times he used the guise of the sandwich board to lure people into convos, far more than if it had just been a personal account I’m guessing.
It was a long weekend when we started chatting and he was away camping with his friends. I presumed it was going to be a rager but he said while he had certainly taken enough alcohol to sink the ferry he was going over on, it would likely be fairly tame considering all of his friends were taking their kids.
He was older, and at 39 it wasn’t surprising that most of his friends were settled down but from comments he made and the lifestyle he lived (he had a professional career but still chose to work part time in the bar (and write the signs)) it was clear he was very far away from that point in his life.
It also turned out we lived across the street from each other. That hadn’t worked out well before but maybe this time would be different. We chatted throughout the weekend and when he was back in the city we made plans to go on a date.
Somehow, and honestly, I’m not sure how it happened, I truly don’t understand how I didn’t see it happening and stop it before it was too late, but our first date ended up being to a Whitecaps football (/soccer) game. Which would have been fine, except I was still seeing The Whitecaps Player.
I could have and should have made an excuse, any excuse!, to get out of it but he had the tickets and I just felt like anything I said would sound sketchy because he knew I liked sports, he knew I was a football fan and I’d already said I was free that night.
It was another “how the fuck did I get myself here” moment as we walked from the concourse out into the open arena to take our seats and there’s The Whitecaps Player warming up on the pitch. I attempted to distract myself from my internal awkwardness but, while Sandwich Board Guy was nice, from a physical attraction standpoint my eyes were much more drawn to the field than the seat to my left. It was only made worse when The Whitecaps Player got sent off during the game and Sandwich Board Guy and I then had to have a long discussion about what an idiot he was. All the while I was thinking, yeah I’ll be messaging that idiot later, no doubt.
God, I’m an awful person. As I write this story and admit to the proximity of these two strings of my dating life, I know if it was the other way around I would be less than happy about the situation. Does it absolve me of guilt because Vancouver is so small? Because it wasn’t as if I orchestrated the situation? Because this is just the way dating is nowadays? Ugh. I hate that excuse!!
But I wanted to try and give Sandwich Board Guy a chance, he seemed like a standup guy, he was super nice and he’d had an interesting life so we had a bit to chat about. But it wasn’t my proudest dating moment.
The date ended with a brief hug after we walked the two minutes back to our joint street corner and discussions of another date. It felt like it would be a slow burn but I was prepared to give it a chance. I just couldn’t work out if his self deprecation was kinda cute or kinda off putting. I mean, I don’t want a guy that can’t get enough of himself but a little bit of confidence doesn’t go amiss.
On our second date we went to a few different bars near where we lived, and with him working in the industry, albeit just one night a week, he knew a lot of people and seemed to get a lot of free drinks, which included shots of tequila, followed by shots of gin. Those were my idea… but there was method to my madness, honestly! I was drinking gin and didn’t your mother ever tell you not to mix your drinks? Actually, my mother told me a lot of things about drinking that I clearly never took heed of, but in this instance it just seemed sensible to do shots of the same alcohol. But shots of gin are not good.
Still, I kept my wits about me and when he made a “jokey” comment about coming home with me as we walked the few blocks home, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to bed alone.
He was nice. Like really nice. Like, one of those guys you can totally see falling into the “last guys finish last” categories, and that turned me off. Because us women just can’t seem to appreciate a good guy, can we? Why is that?! I totally understand men’s frustration when they say we overlook good guys for bad boys. I’m totally guilty of it. Although my retaliation is always that men say they hate drama but will also go for the hot girls despite the drama they bring. Wow, so many generalisations in a paragraph.
When we next met up, after we’d both separately watched the Mayweather MacGregor boxing match, I knew I wasn’t attracted to him. So I’d love for someone to explain to me how he ended up in my apartment kissing me. I’m in no way suggesting he forced that. I’m just suggesting I make the weirdest fucking decisions, that make no actual sense. Was I lonely? Did I just like the attention? Did I hope maybe a kiss would turn things around?
Worse still, the moment that brought me back to my senses was when he suggested he stayed and share my ice cream…. Um. No. Absolutely not. Hard pass. Kiss me? Sure. Share my ice cream? Get outta town.
In the days that followed that night, after I’d swiftly said goodnight and ushered him from my apartment so I could eat my ice cream in private peace, I was as honest as I could be with him and said there were other guys I was dating that I was more interested in. Did it matter that I already knew nothing serious would come of the time with The Whitecaps Player? No. All I knew was that I didn’t feel the same way about Sandwich Board Guy so I had to be honest.
However, despite the honesty, Sandwich Board Guy was persistent. Not in a forceful way, just in that he kind of hung around on the periphery, texting, making jokes about how he was in love with me and I wouldn’t reciprocate, and telling me I’d inspired him to start running prior to his 40th birthday. Well at least I did one thing right!
I often wonder what depth of feeling he did have for me, and if in any way I perpetuated that and led him on. I tried to be aware of it, I told him about other guys I was dating, I even told him about the blog! (His wish is now granted that he’s included in it) I tried to make sure it was clear that I wouldn’t date him, but I’m also not sure if I made it worse by letting him stay on the periphery.
Months later, I’d find myself back in the same stadium with him, this time watching rugby sevens after he invited himself to join my group of friends. This time there was no player I was dating on the field, though I was awkwardly covering lovebites on my neck from the night before courtesy of some over eager Irishman, and randomly Malaysian Persuasion had pitched up and was now sat next to me fondling my thigh. Another story for another time.
To say Sandwich Board Guy was always on the periphery feels pretty apt. I just hope he didn’t stay there because of any false hope I gave him. I’ve been on the receiving end of that and it’s not fun. Knowingly not allowing someone the closure to get over you and move on is one of the most selfish things you can do. To this day, I hope that wasn’t the part I played.