What Makes a Date?

And already, I am faced with a conundrum. How do I define a date?

Some things are obvious. If I’m actually in a place with a person, and both of us would call it a date, it’s a date. If someone on OKCupid sends me a message that “ur sexxy,” that is not a date, and would not be even if he could spell correctly.

But there’s a lot of middle ground here. I’ve already decided that being stood up is a date. Is it a date if we cancel beforehand? What if we have a commitment to doing a date “sometime” and then he turns awful and I back out in a rush?

Speaking of… here’s Pierre.

Pierre sent me a message noticing that I was clearly a book person. He asked me for recommendations for good books, naming a few things he’d read and enjoyed. His profile left me kind of meh, but I replied. He could spell correctly, and he’d clearly read my profile and was still interested.

Pierre asked to meet in his second mail. “Ack!” I said (and wrote). I said it felt really rushed and awkward and nervous, but… hey, it was only lunch. I’d risk it, I said. After all (I did not say), I was looking for bad dates, right?

“No, don’t,” Pierre told me. “If you feel nervous, it’s probably a sign that I’m moving too fast. We can talk more first.”

Suddenly, I liked Pierre a lot better.

He asked about my kids, and I told him a bit. He talked with me about his job; I talked about mine. We chatted about books, about traffic, about television and our writing aspirations. He shared some of his writing with me. I did not do the same, and I… didn’t really comment on his.

I asked him to meet. We had a date scheduled, which he had to postpone for a work event. We were trying to reschedule when he brought out some “third rail” topics, as he called them.

Yeah, you can see where this is going.

Did I want more kids?

What were my politics like?

Did I have any sexual fetishes?

I am not joking.

I stared for a moment, then wrote a response. Kids: no burning desire, but I’m still fertile. Haven’t closed any doors. Politics: liberal. More strongly liberal socially than fiscally. “And I’m not ready to answer the last question yet.”

Then I asked my third rail questions. Thoughts on gay marriage? Thoughts on abortion? City mouse or country mouse?

He answered my questions, then basically said he’d respect my reluctance to answer, but thought it’s sad that we as a society won’t talk about sex.

I informed him that he wasn’t just trying to talk about sex, he was asking about sexual fetishes. I told him there are exactly three people in the world who know the answer to that question, and I’VE HAD SEX WITH ALL OF THEM.

He tried to backpedal. I was done.

Was this a bad date? I think probably not. But it was a story.

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