“I’m really into redheads,” Stephan* wrote to me.
That kind of turned me off. I don’t know, that phrase never really excites me. It’s almost like, “I’m really into big boobs,” just kind of gross. Keep it to yourself, you know. If you write to me, I assume you like redheads. Don’t get all redhead fetishy on me. (BTW, no one ever wanted to date me because they were into big boobs. I’m a B. It was just a comparison.)
Stephan looked a little like my college boyfriend, and he used a lot of “pot code” in his profile (that I didn’t even really know was pot code) like “I enjoy some 420,” and “I love hanging out, watching a movie with some chronic” and stuff like that. He also talked a lot about money like how he didn’t have any and how he didn’t like to spend any. Stephan persued me quite a bit online and I agreed to meet him for a drink, even though I already thought we may not be a match.
He didn’t have any ideas where we should go so I suggested we meet at a Mexican restaurant I liked, for a drink.
The place was pretty crowded and so we stood at the bar and chatted while he ordered us each a beer. As we talked and drank our beer, I noticed how nervous he was: looking around, shifting his weight, sweating. “I wish we could sit down,” he would interject every few minutes. It was super annoying. Soon, a chair at the bar opened up and he grabbed it and offered it to me. Actually, he almost forced me into it. I didn’t even want to sit. So now I was sitting. He was still a wreck.
“I wonder if another chair will open up,” he kept saying. “I wonder if we can just get a table.”
I tried to distract him by telling him a story about a funny thing a student of mine had done in class (I was a drama teacher to elementary school kids) when he interrupted me, “Hold on a minute,” and went over to the hostess stand. The hostess looked to be about twenty and she wore a huge, fancy Mexican dress.
“Can we get a table?” I heard him ask her.
“There is a wait. Are you eating dinner?” She asked. She spoke English with a very thick Mexican accent.
“No,” he said nervously.
“Tables are for dinner,” she told him.
“Oh,” he seemed like he was going to panic. Then he walked away and came back over to me. “There’s a wait,” he told me.
“OK,” I said.
I tried to finish my story but he wasn’t listening. He was still obsessed with chairs. The woman next to me at the bar got up and he grabbed her chair and sat in it.
“Excuse me,” the woman’s date said to Stephan, “She’s coming right back, she just went to the bathroom.”
Stephan argued back, “But she left!”
“But she’s coming back. Her purse is here!” the date said.
It was kind of crazy. I thought there was going to be a fist fight.
Stephan got out of the chair and ordered another beer. He ordered it with some venom. “You want another?” he asked me, eyeing the still empty chair next to us.
“NO!” I said quickly. We’d only been there about 20 minutes. I wasn’t thinking I wanted to stay much longer.
Stephan drank and sweated and shifted his weight.
I couldn’t stand it anymore. “Take my chair,” I said. “Please.”
He didn’t argue. He switched places with me and I was now standing, which was fine. I didn’t care. “Are you in pain?” I asked him when he was seated.
“What?” he asked.
“Like, back or foot pain?”
“No,” he said, looking at me questioningly.
We talked for a few more minutes and I finished my beer. It seemed like he was calming down a bit. I guess he was just a sitter. But he was still distracted.
“I’m gonna go check on our table,” he jumped up. “Save my seat!”
He walked over to the young hostess. “How soon before our table is ready?” he asked.
“Oh,” she seemed confused, “Did you want a table?”
Stephan turned red, “Yes! I came over here and asked you for a table!”
“Oh,” she said, “You never gave me your name, and I thought you said you weren’t having dinner, so I didn’t put you on the list.”
“You didn’t put me on the list?” He yelled. Lots of drinkers turned around to see what was happening. “I came over here to get a table and you didn’t put me on the list??”
The yelling turned in to a RAGE. He was full on raging at the sweet, young woman who, from my recollection, had done nothing wrong. He actually didn’t ever confirm that he did indeed want a table.
“I asked you for a table fifteen minutes ago – you didn’t put our name in!” He raged at her and I, unfortunately, froze. Something I don’t like about myself is that loud, yelly conflicts make me paralyzed.
The hostess was upset and almost crying. A waiter came over to help and offered him a table in a corner that was being used to hold extra chip baskets and menus. They were cleaning the table up when Stephan came back over to me, victorious.
“OK, we got a table,” he said, as if I hadn’t just seen the whole thing.
“I actually have to go,” I told him.
Stephan was disappointed and tried to get me to stay longer.
I either said I had to get up early or I was exhausted or something lame like that.
As we walked out, I leaned over to the hostess, “Thank you and sorry.”
Stephan walked me to my car and tried to kiss me. I was pretty shocked that he thought I’d want to kiss someone who had just been raging not 6 minutes ago. “This was really great,” he said in my ear. “When can I see you again?”
I normally would say, “Let’s talk soon,” and then just not call him back, but I couldn’t do that this time. I couldn’t think of anything to say. (Maybe I was afraid he’d yell at me.)
So I bolted.
Yep, I just opend my car, jumped in and drove off. Smooth.
But apparently, it didn’t matter because he called the next day and asked me out again. After a week of two of avoiding his calls and emails on the dating site, he finally wrote: Could you please tell me why you don’t want to go out with me again?
Yes. I could tell him. I probably should tell him.
I emailed back “Mostly, it was the way you treated the hostess at the restaurant. If you raged at that young woman on our first date, when most are on best behavior, then what should I expect in the future?”
“OK. That’s fair,” he wrote back. I wondered if he had an anger problem and been told this before.
I will always wonder why sitting down was so important to Stephan. I wish him a future of plentiful chairs.
*Not really named Stephan