Dear Chris (age 28),
It’s okay to say no to a second date.
I was a bit of a late bloomer in dating…and a slow learner once I started to bloom. (“Bit” and “slow” might be understatements.) In my late 20s, I ventured into online dating because I had never had success finding men that wanted to date me…though I was quite the queen of best friend status/pseudo-dating relationships.
Around this time I read a really good book about dating by Dr. Henry Cloud called How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. This book – no lie – is full of great advice that really helped me as I started to wade into the sea of fishes.
Chapter 16 is called Go Out With Almost Anyone Once, and Maybe Again. I’m actually having a hearty laugh at myself right now because I haven’t really looked at the book since I read it over 10 years ago and I’ve always thought that the name of that chapter was “Everyone Deserves a Second Date” and because of that I went through quite a long period where I decided everyone deserved a second chance. Sometimes I feel like I stink on a first date, so why not give the men the same benefit of the doubt, right? Well…
One guy from eHarmony (let’s call him Eric…because his name was Eric) was tall, had a really cute face, a great smile, a seemingly athletic build and an interesting job. Swoon. He was a camera department assistant and was looking for new career opportunities, and I assumed this meant that he was interested in becoming a director of photography. As I am a film girl, I was intrigued.
We had already had a conversation or two before meeting face to face and our rapport was really good over the phone, so going into the date, I was nervous and excited. When we set the date to meet I asked him where we were going and what we were doing and he said, “It’s a surprise.” In order for it to stay a surprise, however, he would have to pick me up.
I hate getting picked up for first dates for the following reasons: 1 – Safety; 2 – No way for a stealth or fast getaway if necessary.
Against my better judgment, I agreed to his terms giving my brain additional scenarios to consider: 1 – He could be the one; 2 – He could drive me off into the mountains, never to be heard from again.
No matter. I had a date! And I realized not too long after we set the day that it happened to coincide with the reopening of Griffith Observatory.
Let me take a pause from my story to explain my relationship with this iconic Hollywood landmark.
As a kid, I loved stars. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin so I could always see a lot of them. The night is inky black there when you’re out on country roads. Sometimes you can’t see your hand in front of your face. I owned a star gazer that I used to shine on the ceiling of my closet in the times that I needed an escape from whatever chaos might be brewing in my childhood home…my own little closet planetarium. I have loved planetariums from the first time I ever sat down in one. As a college sophomore I took an astronomy class only to have to withdraw because I got a role in the campus musical and decided to take a journey towards another kind of stardom instead.
Orion was and is still my favorite constellation because of a love song my roommies and I used to listen to in our college days. When I see it in the night sky, it’s a reminder to me that God exists and that He sees me. Stars have always made me feel significant even though the vastness of them should make me feel small.
I discovered the existence of and a love for Griffith Observatory while sitting in my first college film class watching Rebel Without a Cause. So it was on list of things to do when I moved to Los Angeles. Just prior to my move, however, it was closed for renovations and not scheduled to reopen until at least a year after I arrived.
My first year in LA was awful. I hated it every day. I felt like I couldn’t find work, didn’t know what I was doing here, felt abandoned by God, was depressed and wondered if I had made a grave mistake in trying to follow my dreams. But I felt like I was supposed to be here anyway. So I made a little bargain with the good Lord above. I promised that I would sit still in Los Angeles until the Observatory opened, but after that I’d be gone.
Right around the time it was supposed to reopen, I decided to go on a hike up the trail that starts at the Observatory. There was a sign on the fence, so I ventured towards it with the hope that the reopening date was being announced. Instead I was met with the news that the reopening was being postponed.
For another two years.
I wanted to run away from LA but I had made a promise that I felt I needed to keep, so I stayed another two years (in which I found a job that I loved and many good friends). The reopening got pushed another year. This time I laughed as I surrendered to the knowledge that I was here to stay.
So…the reopening of the Griffith Observatory was a very big deal to me. And when I realized that this date was set for that weekend, I figured out the surprise.
This was either going to be the most romantic story to tell our grandchildren or he was going to ruin it for me.
When he knocked on my door, reality began it’s slow seep into the cracks of my imagination. He was tall and he had a handsome face. But he was significantly overweight. This is, of course, not the criteria by which I want to judge a person’s character, but it was a bit shocking. I suddenly realized that I had only seen him from the shoulders up in his profile pictures. And he was overweight from the shoulders down.
“This will not thwart our fun,” I thought. “We had chemistry over email and on the phone. Surely we will have a wonderful time.”
So we got in his car and were on our way. He still wouldn’t tell me where we were going and I didn’t let him know I had guessed.
When we arrived, there were hordes of people eager to share in our experience and it was necessary to wait in line for a bus that would take us to the entrance at the top of the hill.
I’d say that by the time we got in line, we were about 20-30 minutes in to the date and I had already learned a couple of significant truths: 1 – This guy was jovial but he had one volume…and his volume was loud; 2 – He liked to tell jokes which he thought were very funny but if memory serves, they were not.
I was already feeling like this wasn’t going to go well.
When we got in line he pulled out his camera…and started taking pictures of me.
If you have never experienced a virtual stranger taking a bunch of photos of you on a first date, it is extremely uncomfortable.
When we got on the bus, it was very crowded so he offered (did I mention he was loud?) to let me sit in his lap.
When we got into the museum portion of the building we got a break from each other and could look at things and have comments to make about what we were seeing. (Museums are good first date spots for this very reason.) At some point we found ourselves sitting on a bench surrounded by facts about astronomy.
Me: “So, you’re an AC?”
Him: “Yup. But I’m looking to change career paths.”
Me: “Oh yeah?
Him: “I’m studying to be a masseuse.”
(Not a bad occupation for a potential mate.)
Him: “I just really want to do something that will help people.”
I asked him about the type of massage therapy he was studying and he told me all about chakras and auras.
Him: “I’m really good at seeing people’s auras.”
(Here we go.)
Him: “Like the apartment next to yours? It’s got a really negative energy. Really dark. You should probably stay away from there.”
Me: “Oh really? Huh. That’s interesting because there’s a cute little Christian grandma named Lala who lives there and she’s pretty sweet”
Him: “Well, it’s just really negative.”
Me: “What’s my aura telling you?”
Him: “You’re super open and positive.”
I remember taking a second to notice my body language. My arms were crossed, my legs were crossed, my body was turned away from him. I was on a date with a weirdo. I was feeling neither open nor positive.
Me: “Huh. That’s interesting.”
I was uncomfortable, but we weren’t nearly done exploring, so my date, my aura and I traveled on.
If you haven’t been to the Observatory, you’ll need a little context for this next part. The outside of the building has multiple stories and overlooks, so you often find yourself standing almost directly above and looking down at another group of people. There are also lots of nooks and crannies and doorways.
Our next stop landed us right in the middle of both a nook with a door and a short wall to lean on that overlooked a large group of people standing on the rotunda below. I stood, elbows on the wall, overlooking the lights of LA (that remind me of stars). I tried to have a moment of peace, salvaging whatever moments I could. My fear had come true. This was a place of significance for me and he was ruining it.
I stood, elbows on the wall, willing myself not to allow the moment to pass by and be tarnished.
I stood, elbows on the wall, overlooking the lights of LA (that remind me of stars) while my date shoved himself into the little doorway and intermittently jumped out into the passing line of people yelling “Boo!” and receiving either cries of shock or looks of confusion from his victims.
I stood, elbows on the wall, not knowing if I should laugh or cry.
When he got bored, he sidled up next to me.
He took another picture of me. And then another one. And then…
Me: “Um, could you not take any more pictures of me please?”
Him: “Why not?”
Me: “Well, you could be some weird ass stalker and I just met you two hours ago and it’s weird and I want to go home.”
(JUST KIDDING! I didn’t say that!)
Me: “I’d just prefer that you not.”
He put his camera away and the pointed to a man standing on the rotunda below us.
Him: “Does my body look like that guy’s?”
He was pointing to a pear shaped gentleman who was at least 100 pounds heavier than he was. What was I supposed to say?!
Me: “No. Not really.”
Two things happened in that moment: 1 – He sealed the deal on my disinterest; 2 – I learned how unattractive insecurity is and vowed never to ask a man to compare my body to someone else’s.
The rest of the date is a blur. Until the end. Which went something like this…
We were sitting in his car in my driveway and my roommate was walking towards us on the sidewalk.
Me: “Oh. That’s my roommate! She just moved in. I didn’t know she was here.”
Him: “She’s pretty.”
Me: “Yeah. I guess she is. She’s a good friend.”
Him: “Maybe I should go out with her next time.”
(I stared…my mouth was probably hanging open too.)
Me: “Yeah. Maybe.”
Him: “I’m making a joke.”
I got of out of the car.
Now we must pause and recall how this blog post started…because it was a really long time ago that you started reading and you may have forgotten…Chapter 16 – Go Out With Almost Anyone Once, and Maybe Again. Or my interpretation “Everyone Deserves a Second Date.”
Yes, people. Yes, I did.
We went to see a movie.
There was not a third date.
Dear Chris (age 28),
Just say no.