So, my dating life has become much less hilarious since I met an actually good guy – which blows. What am I supposed to write about now? Luckily there’s one dating story I’ve held back on – in fact, this was the last guy I went out with back in November before deciding that if this is what my options are, I’d rather live alone with cats.
His name was Adam. Well, his name is still Adam – he doesn’t die at the end of this story. I was doing payroll for my Dad’s company (girl can not live by blog alone) – an engineering firm located in an austere one-story building in an industrial park – the equivalent of Hell to a writer – and at lunch time, I walked around the corner to buy a sandwich. Sitting at a shaded table, enjoying a turkey and swiss on rye was Adam. He looked an awful lot like a guy I once dated – I did a double-take – he was a guy I once dated. We were Resident Advisors together in college.
Of all the industrial park sandwich shops in all the world, he had to walk into mine.
“Adam?” I said, stopping in my tracks – my mind already racing to the hope of, “what if this is some type of fate? Wouldn’t this be an adorable meet-cute? We weren’t right for each other then but we’re right for each other now…” Yes, welcome to the pathetic insights into how a single woman thinks.
We met during RA Training Camp seven years ago; he was a cute Mechanical Engineering major in the international dorms and after some shy flirting over the course of the week, he asked me out. Since it was in the heat of summer, I suggested we go jet skiing at Pyramid Lake. He loved the idea and I brought a basket full of goodies to have a picnic after. He paid for his half of the jet ski rental – granted, not the most gentlemanly of moves for a first date but I gave him the benefit of the doubt since I had been the one to suggest the activity – but then he nickel and dimed the dutch to the point that he was having me pay extra for my water bottle. “Oh, you owe a dollar more than me…” It was weird – it’s not like I was seeking reimbursement for his half of my grocery bill for the sandwiches and desserts I brought – but I filed the thought away and other than this, we had a fun time. He said it was the best first date he ever went on. When he asked me out again, I made sure to let him pick the activity.
He took me out to lunch – well I shouldn’t say “took me out” since that suggests he actually paid this time. Rather, he divided the bill according to what we ordered (not even halfing it). So I guess you’d say, we took ourselves out to lunch and happened to sit across from each other.
On what would infamously become our third and final date, he invited me to his dorm to watch a movie. My interest was already on the slippery scale towards nullsville. Not just because of his cheapness, although that certainly wasn’t helping my libido, but because I was realizing he was a major snoozeapalooza. A Screenwriting major and Mechanical Engineering major are probably not the best match up.
I brought snacks and unsurprisingly, he provided nothing. I also brought Connect-Four. Not sure why except that it’s awesome. It’s worth noting that I’m a savant gamesman at Connect-Four, unbeat in the great state of California. By the end of the night, I’d determined he was sub-par at both board games AND boyfriendship. I was officially over it.
He left a voicemail the next day on my dorm phone telling me that he’d found my red checker between his couch cushion. I didn’t respond, chalking it up as a necessary loss in my vanishing act. A few days later he left another message, asking me out again and reminding me he still had my Connect Four piece. Nothing. Not worth it. Again, the week after, the month after, on and on the voicemails went all semester. “Not sure if you got my last message but I still have your red Connect Four checker.” Forget the checker, guy, I’m not calling you back!
Since the dorms didn’t have Caller ID, I’m pretty sure I didn’t answer my phone my entire junior year. So now seven years later, here we stood. I wondered if he still had my checker. I also wondered if I’d been too quick to dismiss him back then. I watched him wipe any remnants of the sandwich from his face, immediately recognizing me with this big grin of hopefulness – as if he was thinking the same thing as me: Maybe our great romance finally started now. Okay, that’s probably not what he was thinking. But nonetheless, I was hoping things might be different this time.
He told me he was now working as a Mechanical Engineer at Boeing and confided his job discontent. He said that he and his colleagues were like potted plants over there, rotting away without any real motivators to keep their brains stimulated. And I could tell it was true, his shoulders had become curved into a permanent hunch and his skin was an unhealthy pale from far too many hours sitting under fluorescent lights. He was wearing beige pants and a wrinkled button-up to match – something I could imagine my grandfather wearing to putter around a retirement home. He had become an engineer. He was no longer the cute, tan sprightly 23-year-old I flirted with at RA Camp.
But what the hell, after the year I’ve had, my standards were at an all-time low. He accompanied me into the sandwich shop as we chatted and then walked me back to my office. He ended by saying we should catch up more sometime. Since I had been the one to reject him years before, I figured it was up to me to make it clear I was actually interested so I offered, “maybe we could get a drink somewhere after work?”
He suggested we meet at Main Street in Huntington Beach. It was a surprising choice since the area caters to binge-drinking 22-year-olds but I was game. It was dinner-time when we got there and we both were hungry so I pointed out the first place we walked past – a sushi restaurant. He seemed to mathematically calculate the cost and then said, “No.” So, we kept walking. And walking. Finally, we reached the end of Main St. and hadn’t picked anywhere. Good God, it was happening again. Apparently, once a cheap ass, always a cheap ass. I saw a sign outside a pizza place that said, “$4.99 For A Slice of Pizza and Beer.” I suggested we go there and said it was my treat – I was too hungry to canvass all of Orange County while I waited for him to become un-cheap. He quickly said yes. Over our Pepperoni and Mushrooms, he was rambling on about some — blah, blah, blah, design analysis physics, blah blah blah – but I was still rationalizing, “Maybe he’s not that bad? He might be funny once he warms up?” He offered for us to get another drink somewhere else and I agreed. We wound up at that sushi restaurant I’d originally pointed out and we had sake and a couple rolls. I thought, see, maybe he’s not so stingy after all. As he loosened up with the drinks, he told me more about his life outside of Boeing. He said he went out most nights of the week to Sharkeez and the like – not with friends – just by himself. Alone. I felt more and more sick as I listened to this 30-year-old tell me how he was trolling Main Street every night, picking up the low hanging fruit of blacked-out community-college girls. It sounded so lecherous. He said many nights he’d come home to find drunk chicks passed out in the grass outside his complex – an apartment he’s lived in since he graduated and apparently, hasn’t seen the need to move out of – and why should he? He described the highlight of last week when some girl flashed him. Apparently, I grew up past 23 and he hadn’t. The bill finally came and…
Can you guess what he did?
He actually paid. But it was too late. Seven years and way too many reveals too late. My instincts had been right the first time. He was not my guy. This potted plant was best left to the drunk 22-year-old girls too incoherent to know any better. At least until they woke up in his yard the next morning and ran home.