His smile is what caught my attention in the bar on that rainy Friday night in Boston. Luckily for me, a mutual friend introduced us so striking up a conversation was not difficult. We hit it off instantly and chatted throughout the evening like old friends. Before the night was over, we exchanged numbers and he promised to take me out to breakfast the following morning.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a vibrating cell phone. There was a text message from him proposing details for our breakfast date. The breakfast date was nice and in fact, has gone down in history as one of my favorite dates. (I’ll share the details with you in my next post.) For our second date, we went to a Caribbean restaurant and to a mutual friend’s birthday party. For our third date, the worst date, we went to dinner and a movie.
Boy had been a mystery throughout our 3 months of talking. If we went on a date on Saturday, he’d call afterwards to say he had a good time. He might even call the following day to see how I was doing. But as soon as the workweek opened up again, he disappeared. He wouldn’t respond to my text messages or phone calls from Monday through Friday. In the rare occasion that he would respond, they were one-word responses to my questions. He traveled a lot and blamed his non-responsiveness on his frequent travel trips. When he was in town and available, he’d call and ask me out on a date. Although it bothered me that he was a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” type of guy, I overlooked it because I wanted a boyfriend. He had a promising career in front of him and with a gorgeous smile and a great personality, I wanted him to be The One.
One Saturday afternoon as I was riding home from Target on the T (Bostonians’ affectionate name for the public transportation system), my phone chimed. I rolled my eyes because I thought it was my bug-a-boo at the time (another guy who was pursuing me relentlessly) but it was the Boy. My heart skipped a beat when I saw his name on my phone’s screen. His message read, “Would you like to go out for a dinner and movie this evening?” That’s it. There was no explanation as to where he’d been in the past 3 weeks and no acknowledgement of the text messages that I previously sent. I almost didn’t respond but loneliness is a dangerous companion. It’ll make you do things you’ll later regret. I waited about an hour after the text message was sent to respond.
We text messaged back and forth for the remainder of the afternoon until around 5pm when he called to finalize the details of our date. We were going to meet at a shopping center near my apartment and “wing it.”
I was a little nervous about seeing him after 3 weeks. I was also a little self-conscious because I had cut off all my hair since the last time I saw him and was rocking a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). I wasn’t quite sure how he’d react.
“I love your hair!” he exclaimed when he approached me outside the shopping mall. I was happily surprised. He gave me a bear hug as if he’d missed me. And all my anger from not hearing from him disappeared.
He held the door as we walked into the restaurant. He chose the table, pulled out my chair, and I was pleased that he was acting like a gentleman. The waitress took our order and our menus and that’s when the date turned sour.
As we were waiting for our food, Boy started fiddling with his Blackberry. I didn’t say anything because I thought he was replying to an urgent e-mail from his employer. When he finished with his Blackberry, he looked up at me and yawned and stretched as if he were bored. I asked him a question about his workweek and he replied, “busy.” That was it and silence crept over the table. I didn’t know what else to say so I started talking about my week. I was a graduate student at the time, so I talked about exams, papers, and upcoming school events. About a minute into my rant, he started looking back down at his Blackberry. I paused for a second to let him finish his task. When he looked up, I continued.
The server came with our appetizer a few moments later. While I was cutting myself a slice of bread with a butter knife, I fumbled. (The server failed to give us a proper knife.)
“What are you doing?!” He snaps. “There are other ways of doing that!”
I was shocked. Did he just yell at me? I thought to myself. He snatched the knife from me and cut the bread himself. Then, he resumed eating and playing with his phone as if nothing happened.
A few moments later, he inquires, “What type of initiatives is Boston University engaging in to tackle the African malaria epidemic?”
I struggled to find my words initially because I was taken aback by his outburst. Since he appeared normal again, I brushed off his antics and answered his question. He replied to my responses with follow-up questions and comments and for a moment, I felt like I was on a real date with someone who was treating me with respect.
Fifteen minutes had past and our server came with the main course. My appetite was waning by now because my date was being erratic. I barely ate my food. He asked me another question about my life as a graduate student and when I attempted to answer it, his phone started ringing. He answered the phone and put his pointer finger over his lips and whispers to me, “shhh…”
Him: What panties are you wearing?
Him: Oh no, not you. (He points to the phone.)
At that moment, I should have walked out the restaurant, leaving him at the table to finish his food alone. But for some strange reason, I didn’t. I actually sat there and continued the date.
This isn’t a story I share with a lot of people and this is not one of my best moments; I actually sat at a dinner table and allowed someone to treat me badly. Why and how I could have allowed this to happen is something I often ask myself. Perhaps I was lonely. Perhaps I was so desperate to be on a date I was willing to take anything.
Men feed off women who are desperate and lonely. There are too many women who are in relationships with men who consistently treat them poorly. Maybe these women are like how I was – lonely and desperate and willing to take anything from a man in order to have one. Since my worst date ever, I have matured. The relationship I have with myself is the second most important thing in my life after God. I make sure that I treat myself with respect and demand that others do also. I let men know up front what I require and if they don’t meet the expectations, then I bounce. While this is an area that I still struggle in, I will speak up when I am being mistreated. I rather be alone and lonely than with someone who treats me anywhere near how Boy treated me.