When TB and I were creating the character of Hope in The Love Project, we knew we needed to give her an awkward and embarrassing dating history. Between the two of us, this turned out to be absolutely no problem at all because as soon as we started reminiscing about our own experiences in bygone days, we knew we had enough material to last a lifetime. (You can read about TB’s experiences here).
For example, when I was in college, I agreed to go on a blind double date to an opera because my roommate’s date that night had a buddy pop into town at the last minute, and he didn’t want to leave him all alone. So, I got all dressed up. I mean, it was an opera, and I’d seen Richard Gere take Julia Roberts to an opera in Pretty Woman, so I was basically an expert on how these things were supposed to go, right? Dress, high heels, curling iron, and even makeup. No elbow-length white gloves but, otherwise, I went all out.
Then the gentlemen arrived at our dorm, and my escort for the evening was wearing jeans, a plaid shirt, a pair of cowboy boots, and a belt buckle the size of Texas (which, incidentally, is where I went to college, in case you hadn’t guessed). Apparently, when his friend had told him they were “going out,” he’d simply filled in the blank and assumed his friend meant line dancing.
Have you heard the joke about the Texan who listens to both types of music: country and western? I’m pretty sure it’s based on a true story and also that this guy hadn’t actually known opera existed prior to this night. He suggested, twice, that maybe we could skip the opera and go line dancing instead.
Well, being new to Texas, I innocently asked, “What is line dancing?” I believe that was the precise moment his brain shut down, and he withdrew into an invisible protective cocoon for the rest of the night. And I’m just going to put it out there right now that this was probably my most successful college dating experience.
While I was never insane enough to agree to speed dating, I did do a bit of online dating in my twenties, and all I can say is “Caveat Emptor” should have been the official slogan of Match.com. There was the lunch date with a photographer who only spoke in one-word answers and never asked a follow-up question. There was the philosophy PhD student who confessed at the end of an otherwise nice meetup at Boston’s Quincy Market to never having finished college, let alone a doctoral program, and actually working in a print shop. And who could forget the bona fide philosophy PhD who had recently gone through a nasty breakup and spent a full evening using my good listening skills as a free therapy session? I say free because, of course, I ended up paying for both our meals.
Yeah. Good times.
To all the wonderful readers who have emailed in the past few weeks to say how much they identify with the character of Hope, all I can say is so do I.
So do I.