Smiling on the outside; hoping for a quick death on the inside.
Photo: Getty Images/Cultura/Frank and Helena
Courtesy of: Cultura/Frank and Helena
Dear readers, I come to you with a confession and a request. My confession: I have experienced approximately 750 coffee dates. My request: Kill me now.
Remember the controversy the U.S. endured over its practice of waterboarding political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to force confessions out of them? How it was said to be cruel and unusual punishment? Well, as a result of that controversy, waterboarding has been discontinued. Instead, political prisoners are now forced to go on coffee dates. Which I personally believe constitutes even crueler and more unusual punishment. But the Obama Administration didn't check with me before instituting that policy.
As a result now, often when political prisoners are informed that they will be made to go on a coffee date, their typical response is, "No, please! For the love of Allah, I'll talk! I'll tell you everything! Here's a map indicating where the weapons of mass destruction are hidden! Here are the home addresses of the most powerful al-Qaeda leaders! Just, please, no coffee dates! I beg you!"
Before proceeding, perhaps I should define coffee dates for those of you unfamiliar with them. And why would you be unfamiliar with coffee dates? Perhaps you've never had to go on one. Damn you! Perhaps you met your soul mate in high school or college and have been in a committed relationship ever since. Damn you! Perhaps you're a member of a religious order where you're in a committed relationship to God, who apparently requires no coffee dates. Damn you!
But back to the definition. A coffee date is simply a first-time, in-person meeting with a potential romantic partner (PRP), usually over coffee, usually resulting from initial online contact over one of the online dating sites such as Match.com, and usually resulting in the Three D's: disappointment, depression and despair. A coffee date is not unlike a job interview, except your date doesn't validate your parking and usually doesn't ask for an example of how you prioritize and deal with multiple deadlines.
As you might imagine, having logged 750 coffee dates, I have consumed what scientists refer to in technical terminology as "a buttload of caffeine." Consequently, I've been unable to fall asleep for the past nine years. I am exhausted.
In addition, because I live in Los Angeles, one encounters a number of women desirous of money, fame and power. Since I have none of those, I've been forced to rely upon the poor substitutes of intelligence, personality and charm -- which for some L.A. women, clearly marks me as handicapped. But I'm not bitter.
Of course, you may be wondering, especially those of you who've never been on a coffee date, "Mark, these coffee dates of which you speak -- frankly don't sound so bad. After all, they're just a half hour to an hour meeting with someone who could very well turn out to be your LRP (Lifelong Romantic Partner), your soul mate. Sounds exciting and romantic, Mark, so why are you asking us to kill you now?"
"Exciting and romantic"? Oh, you poor, misguided creatures. A typical coffee date is exciting and romantic in the same way that a colonoscopy is soothing and carefree. But allow me to preface my complaints by saying that obviously they're coming from a person who has experienced the entire gamut of coffee dates -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. In terms of dating, I've seen fire and I've seen rain. I've seen coffee dates that I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times where I could not find a friend without paying Match.com $27.50 per month.
Okay, I can see it in your eyes. You want specifics. You want the specifics? You can't handle the specifics! But I'll give 'em to you anyway. I've had dates who've never even showed up. They forget the day or time, or something or someone better comes up. Or she shows up looking more like the mother of the woman in her posted photo. Some spend the entire coffee date talking solely about themselves without asking me one thing about myself. Please explain that one to me.
One woman actually took out a small digital food scale and proceeded to weigh each item of her lunch. When I expressed surprise, she assured me that all of her girlfriends do it. Even when they go out to eat in a group with their various boyfriends and husbands, she told me, the guys'll be at one end of the table talking their guy stuff and the gals at the other end, just chatting away and weighing their food.
Granted, some of my dates have been considerate enough to present their red flags right from the start. One of them lived with her mother, had no car, and suffered from about five unusual medical conditions. Another admitted she was fifteen years older than the age she'd stated on her dating profile. When she saw that that bothered me, she accused me of being superficial.
One date showed up in her forest ranger uniform and appeared stocky enough to bench press me and 500 pounds extra. Another woman made out with me for half an hour and the next day emailed me that she wasn't interested in meeting again because she didn't feel the chemistry was there. Another woman with deadly food allergies carried a hypodermic needle filled with adrenaline for me to inject into her should she go into anaphylactic shock.
I don't want to give you the idea that all the weird and negative stuff came exclusively from the women I dated. Because I'm equally guilty and would like to confess to a number of sins:
- I've had sex way too soon, before really getting to know them
- I've given up on relationships way too soon
- I've stayed in relationships way too long
- I've coveted my neighbor's wife (And that's one of the Ten Commandments, so I'm not counting on getting into Heaven)
- I've also coveted my friend's wife, my neighbor's daughter, my friend's daughter, my first cousin, my second cousin, my third cousin, and a woman in the Macy's catalog bra ad who was definitely one half to one-third of my age and I should be ashamed of myself
You'd think with all the dating experience I've had on these sites, I'd get better at it, show steady improvement; at least not repeat the same mistakes. You'd be wrong. The only conclusion I've come to in matters of the heart is that you just never know. Every person is different. Every relationship is different. And if you're lucky, you'll meet someone with whom you'll just click. And that will make all the rejection, all the chase, all the disappointment, effort and heartbreak of the past worthwhile. The romantic payoff.
So, on second thought, if I may, I'm changing my mind. Don't kill me now. Give me some encouragement. Tell me a love story of your own -- or about someone you know. Give me the push and the strength and the inspiration to continue the quest.
That way, the next time I'm seated across the table from my Match.com coffee date whom I've already realized in the first 10 minutes is completely wrong for me, I'll smile, realizing I'm one person closer to finding my soul mate. I will be patient. So, even if she turns out to be a forest ranger with a broccoli allergy who weighs her food and lives with her mother -- so be it. I won't complain. She can even bench press me. As long as she likes the Beatles and chocolate. I mean, a man has to have some standards.