I wasn’t intending on you being that awkward. Sure, you seemed like you were “playing the game.” Someone must have told you once that responding too quickly meant you had “no chill”, that you would seem too needy and desperate. But there is also a length of time where that response lag is blatantly obvious. And you were blatantly obvious….
I ought to give some point of reference here… My profile is filled with adjectives. These adjectives on this particular site happen to start with the letter “p.” Passionate, perceptive, etc. His initial interaction was totally fine. Nothing like the communications I’ve received from others. So, I responded. Granted, if you’ll look at the first point of contact, it was almost 2am. That’s ridiculous. Even then… I responded with nothing but favorable reactions to his message and profile. All was going well.
I even followed up after this message. I did my part and invested into a person that seemed like we had similar values.
His profile seemed genuine. He seemed sweet, caring and completely open to beginning a relationship. Perhaps too much thought went into his profile for me to really buy-into the idealism he was selling. But, I allowed myself to be hopeful. If I lost my hope, what was the point of searching anyway?
But he waited… five days to be exact.
I’ll give him credit, he did ask for my phone number. And I gave it to him. I responded within 24 hours and gave him my phone number. How did he proceed? Oh with another app message of course… He definitely didn’t use my phone number. Instead, he used the app to tell me his own. I’m not the most *subtle* so I took some initiative and messaged him first.
Maybe I should have called it quits there… perhaps I should have read the signs that awkwardness was inevitable. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to text anyway. The average time between responses from him was about 36 hours. Finally, I was able to get him to nail down a time to meet. It would be later at night, at 9:30 pm. It worked out for him because he had athletic activities and it worked for me because I would be leaving out-of-town the next day.
I am obnoxiously time cognizant (a fact I had told him prior to setting this date), and was 15 minutes early to our date at Dave and Busters. He, however, was not as aware of the time. He preempted his late arrival with a text letting me know he was running behind schedule. I waited until 10pm before he showed up…
Alright, he was late. But he had volleyball prior. Perhaps that’s what held him up? Either way, he had promised to make it up to me. Who was I to write him off already before he even had a chance to make good on that promise?
We went into Dave and Busters after a quick hug. For those that don’t know, Dave and Busters is like an adult arcade. Games, drinks, and prizes galore. He led me to the machines that fill the tokens onto a play card. After a couple of swipes, it was quite obvious the magnetic strip on his card was not being read by the machine. Not a problem. I took my card out and loaded the money he had originally intended to buy onto his play card and we headed to the game floor.
Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against paying for a date. I am 100% equal opportunity buy-in as far as first dates are concerned. But this interaction just added to the overall awkwardness of the evening.
We played some games. We had a decent time.
I do have some issues with sensory processing, though. Too much light or noise or stimuli will trigger for me the mightiest of migraines. Dave and Busters is like a mini version of Vegas. Step inside and be throttled into an arena of lights, sound and casino-esque adventures. I mentioned a few times that the sounds were too much for me, but he didn’t seem to understand I would have preferred to talk elsewhere. Maybe I was being too sensitive? So I continued on as planned through the date.
We sat down at a trivia machine. My domain. I love trivia. We even found a set of tickets printed and left behind by another trivia player. Unfortunate for them, but definitely our gain. I won several rounds before we decided to move to another location.
Up until this point, each of his shortcomings were not deal breakers in and of themselves. Initially he tried to play it cool with delayed responses. Then he was late to the date. His card wouldn’t work. And his communication skills were less than adequate. All of these small things could be chalked up to circumstance or coincidence.
But then it got awkward…
I followed him towards the back of the building to the prize area. We had plenty of tickets compiled from the games of the evening and we even had the paper tickets left behind at the trivia game. Perfect. We can pick something out to commemorate the evening. But then he stopped. He did not enter the prize room. We just stood on the outside looking in. I was waiting for his cue since we would be using his play card. Though I technically paid for the date, and subsequently the tickets, I didn’t want to presume we would use the tickets. Maybe he saved all of his tickets to get a grand prize. So we waited…
Then a girl around the age of 12 walked up to a machine near us to check the balance on her own card. Totally normal. He walked up to the girl and the following interaction took place:
“Hi little girl. Want these?” He then threw the tickets at her and ran away. Literally. He walked faster than he had the entire evening in the opposite direction towards the front of the building.
At this point I could not keep my thoughts to myself.
“That was weird,” I said.
“What?” he replied.
“‘Hi little girl. Want these?’ That was weird.”
He attempted to justify his wording by saying he was a being precise. She is a little girl. To which I informed him that just saying “Hey, want these?” and waiting for a response would have been 100% less awkward. There was no need to address her as “little girl” nor was there a need to throw them at her and run away.
Alas, he conceded. I think they longer he argued the more ridiculous he realized he sounded. Or at least I hope that was the case.
Quickly he changed the topic to divert from the awkward interaction. Instead he pivoted the conversation towards me. Asking about me was a good strategy: change the subject, focus on her.
I proceeded to tell him about my job. I am a teacher and one of the classes I teach is an inclusion class. This means that half of my students are general education students and half are special education. Each special education student has an Individual Education Plan to help them access the curriculum to the same degree as everyone else. For reference, this class still learns grade-level content. The class is not any slower or lesser than any other general education class. I just have the support of a special education teacher and we co-teach the material.
To further clarify, these students are ones who can access the curriculum when given supports. These are not students who need intensely modified materials or who are not as capable of learning the same amount of material. Students who have higher needs for my content, or academic content in general, would typically be placed in other settings. One such setting is a resource class. This is highly modified material of grade-level standards. In this class, students probably wouldn’t be exposed to the same volume of material either. Another setting is called self-contained. This would be an environment where students are placed for the entire day in all academic areas. These are lower cognitive functioning students than the ones that would be placed in an inclusion classroom.
Nick asked, “Is it difficult teaching retarded students?”
I almost lost my mind. Seriously? Although I explained to him, in-depth, how the classroom works he still had the audacity to use that word. I called him out, of course. But just like defending his use of “little girl” he explained why using “retarded” was appropriate.
All the rationalizing and justifying I had done for him throughout the night was gone. The “maybes” or “buts” or “perhaps” flew right out the window. I looked at my watch and mentioned the time.
“It’s late. It’s already 11 and you have work tomorrow.” I was on break from school and traveling to see a friend. But I made it clear that the date was ending because of him, not for my own personal convenience.
After walking me to my car, he told me that the next date would be on him since I paid for this one. All I had to do was text him when I got back in town if I was still interested in hanging out.
Moments after I got in my car I received a picture message from him. It was a photo of the Red Bull he apparently had brought me to “make up for the fact that he was late.” Where he got the idea I like Red Bull is beyond me. Perhaps he got a deal at the gas station on the way to the date, potentially the cause of his late arrival, and decided to give me one. I never did get that Red Bull… And I never messaged him for another date. To his credit, he never messaged me again either.
He really was just as awkward as he seemed.