Bad With Men: He Actually Kept Score

This originally appeared at In Our Words: A Salon for Queers & Co. Republished here with permission.

Dana Norris went on 71 Internet dates in the space of two years. These were dates 10-11. (We posted her previous dates here, here, here, here, and here.)

So I reactivated my account on I receive a wave of emails from men, but I’m dismayed to see that this is the same group of men who warmly welcomed me onto the site last time I joined. Oh. It’s not so much that they think I’m cute as this is what they do. Stalk the fresh meat.

I sit back and wait for the non-creepy emails to start rolling in. But they don’t. I feel shy this time around—without the fire of jealousy/spite fueling my online dating search I’m not bold enough to just email men willy nilly. I look at some profiles, send some coy “winks” (’s way of letting people who are chicken shit pretend that they’re being bold) but nothing comes of it. Maybe it’s my profile picture? Me, dressed for Halloween as Scarlett from GI Joe, my hair spray painted red, holding a crossbow that shoots marshmallows. I mean, what’s not appealing about that? Other than the fact that my hair isn’t actually bright red and maybe cross bows that shoot marshmallows shouldn’t be held by 29-year-old women? I pick a new photo, one with me in a nice dress, smiling. Boring, but the emails start rolling in.

Jason is a lawyer and wants to meet me for coffee. We meet at Café Descartes, a tiny coffee shop that closes at 6pm. Jason is wearing a long coat, the kind of coat that important men in movies wear. We’re the same age, but the coat makes me feel as though he’s older than me. He probably has a 401(k) and his life together.

The coffee goes well—we advance to beer and then to Thai food. Jason continually calls himself “boring” but he seems to have a sense of humor about it. He tells me about this Robert Burns party he and his friends throw every year—they wear kilts and eat haggis and hold poetry readings where they use terrible Scottish accents. These same friends also are working on building their own trebuchet, a French siege engine used in the Middle Ages and the Lord of the Rings movies. He may be boring, but his friends seem fun as hell.

At the end of the evening, Jason walks me home, kisses me lightly, and asks if we can set up our next date. I agree. He seems to like me, I enjoy his coat, and I’m digging this whole polite vibe he’s throwing around.

For our second date he rents a car and, like it’s 1942, picks me up at my house. We drive to the The Putting Edge, a glow-in-the-dark indoor miniature golf course just west of the city. It’s a great date idea and he’s very proud of himself. I pretend that I’ve never been there before to help make him feel special. Golf is OK, but he’s taking it a bit seriously, actually keeping score. I find that to be mildly offensive because I suck at golf and will totally lose. I tell him not to keep score and propose that we just start out agreeing that he’s won. He keeps score anyway.

Afterward we drive up to Devon Avenue for Indian food. There’s this one restaurant that he says I have to try. But it’s Saturday evening on Devon and there’s no parking anywhere. I’m hungry, I’ve been on this date for four hours already, and Jason drives so slowly, investigating every possible spot—no, fire hydrant. No—too small. No—that’s a sidewalk ramp. I want to demand that he pull over, get out, and let me shove this god-forsaken Zip car somewhere. We circle and circle and circle, finally finding a spot five blocks away from the restaurant. We walk down the icy February streets toward the restaurant and at this point I don’t feel like I’m on my second date—I feel like we’ve been married for 30 years and I want a divorce. I tell myself I’m just hungry and impatient and I need to relax. Jason tells me how great this restaurant is going to be, that it’s worth all of this walking. We get to the restaurant and there’s an hour wait. He asks me, “You want to wait?” but I’m already leaving the restaurant. We go to a different Indian restaurant, “Not as good as the other one would have been.” Sure. I sit down and order all of the naan.

I get my pillowy bread, eat some, and begin to feel less impatient. We talk and he goes on a bit about the law he practices, boring financial law, and this gets us on the subject of economics. And the geek in me has always found macro economics to be fascinating. I mean, I hate math the most, but the sociology behind how markets work is quite interesting. I tell Jason about how my dad used economics to explain world events to me—the Holocaust happened partially because of the way the German economy was shattered after WWI. Germany experienced hyper-inflation, the cost of a meal doubling in the time between when a person placed their order and they received their bill. The people were receptive to listening to anyone who told them that life didn’t have to stay this way, that it wasn’t their fault. Desperate for a solution, they elected a man who was desperate for something else. Jason listens, sits back and says, “You know I’m not Jewish, right?”

My mind sputters to a stop. What? He thinks I’m mentioning the Holocaust because I think he’s Jewish? Do I think he’s Jewish? I don’t think I did. Why the hell did I even mention the Holocaust?

I turn bright red. “I didn’t think you were Jewish.”

He gazes at me, eyes narrowed. “Oh, because lots of people do, and you were talking about Jewish history, so I figured.”

“I didn’t.”

“OK then.”

And—silence. We eat in silence after that. I’m mortified but not sure why. And he seems, just, uninterested. I guess I shouldn’t mention the Holocaust while on a date, regardless of how interesting the economic theories may be. We pay for dinner, walk back to his car, and he drives me home. We exchange a few words, “It’s cold,” “My aunt used to live over there,” but it’s done. Time of date death: 9:23 pm.

Jason drives me home and I expect to just get out of the car, but he leans over for a kiss. And it is the most…polite kiss. It says, “I don’t really want to kiss you, but I kissed you last time, so I guess I’ll kiss you this time, but I’m going to keep my tongue as far away from you as possible the entire time and I’m not going to call you again.” Which is fine with me. I get out of the car and he quickly drives away.

Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories. She has served as the Nonfiction Editor and Managing Editor of TriQuarterly Online. She performs around Chicago with Mortified!The KatesEssay Fiesta, Stories at the Store, This Much is TrueBeast Women, Waiting for the Bus and Cafe Cabaret. Her stories have been published in Tampa Review, Partner Dance Press, and been featured on (89.5 FM). Dana received a Bachelors in Creative Writing and Religion and from Wittenberg University and a Masters in Religious Studies from The University of Chicago. She has a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University.

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