Texting and Romance
This has nothing to do with Christmas except that every time I think about this particular incident, it’s like getting a gift from Santa. As we leave this year behind, I realize this is one of my favorite moments from 2011 – not because I particularly enjoyed it, but because it illustrates the rare occasion when someone else makes an ass of himself to me and not the other way around.
Earlier this year, I went on a blind date. He was an older, well-educated university professor who seemed intelligent and kind, if every-so-slightly too taken with instructing me from his vast stores of knowledge about academia and the state of mathematical learning in this country.
Still, it went just fine.
About three minutes into my car ride home, I received this text: “The date ended. She was Ok nothing special, on the dorky side. I have no clue whether or not she liked me. I think I talked too much.”
Yes! The idiot unintentionally sent me a text meant for a friend.
I was actually pretty pleased at the description of myself as dorky. And at least he realized he talked too much.
The friend who set us up later told me that he was likely preemptively trying to save face with his friends in case I later rejected him. And by the flurry of apology text messages and explanatory emails he sent in the hours and days following our date, I’m sure he really did like me and want to see me again. Actually, he wrote me that pretty much verbatim.
I wasn’t sure what to make of his first impulse being to communicate immediately to some other dude my lack of specialness and kind-of dorkiness, observations he evidently didn’t mean in the first place (“I feel awful. I usually bs with my friends and half of what I say means nothing”). But the initial shock and sting of reading unflattering things about myself in something I was never meant to see faded by the end of the night.
If this were a romantic comedy, this would be the part where, after a meet-cute gone awry, we spend the rest of the story bickering Beatrice-and-Benedick-style until the end when we realize we’ve been in love all along.
Did we end up living happily ever after?
No, but not because of that text. How easily that kind of thing can be smoothed over, really, when there’s genuine affection and kindness to overcome the selfish and thoughtless things people do to one another. If he had been Benedick to me, I would have seen his backpedaling as sweet and earnest, and been won over by his embarrassed and flustered apologies. I must admit that, once he was alerted to his mistake, he handled the situation exactly as he should have, but I had known pretty early on that no love connection existed. He actually did me a favor: his gaffe relieved me of any guilt over not giving him a second date.
I accepted his apologies with no hard feelings. Really, the errant texter did give me a gift: the written evidence of someone else’s stupidity, in front of me whenever I choose to see it. I’m going to keep those messages on my phone as long as I can.