I know I vent a lot on here about the awkward, creepy, and sometimes monotonous interactions that I have with men. But I want you guys to know something: I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes it’s my fault. Sometimes, I’m the asshole who screws it up. Well, not so much an asshole as just a guarded, distrustful, woman who has been hurt badly and, as a result, has a somewhat fatalistic attitude towards men despite my otherwise positive and cheerful demeanor. That being said, let me tell you about this time when I was the asshole.
I met Sam on Plenty of Fish. He was very handsome, even in person. (Tall, blue eyes, a little scruff.) He was (probably still is) a couple years older than me, had his shit together, and was just an all-around good catch. I am seriously kicking myself as I’m writing this and recapping how great he was because he’s probably married to a beautiful woman now, living in a house with adorable kids and a golden fucking retriever.
Our first date was a really good first date. We met at a wine bar and stayed for four and a half hours. Whoa. That was a lot of wine. Yeah. That’s a long first date. Usually a good sign, right? We talked about our jobs, our families, living in LA, comedy, traveling, and everything in between. He loved going to comedy shows and we made a pact to go see one together. All was well.
Sam walked me to my car like a gentleman and hugged me goodnight. No kiss, but a very close hug and a sweet, sincere farewell. I remember feeling slightly confused at the end of the night.; I had a wonderful time, this guy had everything going for him, yet I didn’t have any of those butterflies or giddy feelings. But still, I knew I wanted to go out with him again.
We made plans to go for a hike at Runyon Canyon and then grab lunch. The hike went well, which is good because if I’m being honest, hikes can be awkward. (See: my previous entry, Steven.) Even if you go with someone you know really well, there are a lot of factors that go into determining whether or not a hike is a success. First of all, temperature. I don’t want to be sweating profusely on a second date. I’m not the daintiest of them all so this was a legitimate concern for me. There’s also the issue of fitness level; walking the same pace, making sure someone isn’t huffing and puffing. And of course, just long silences and the conversational marathon that comes with trying to fill them.
But you know what? The hike went well too. It was a beautiful day and we had just the right amount of conversation to fill the time. But there were no affectionate moves made, and it seemed like he might have been a little nervous. It was a nice time but felt like more of a friend date than a romantic date. It’s possible I was being female and over analyzing that a bit, but ONWARD.
After the hike we went to Bossa Nova for lunch. We ate, we talked some more, we had a good time. The food was delicious and he was glad for the recommendation. He walked me to my car again and this time he did give me a kiss. Oh, okay… A sweet kiss, nothing aggressive. I didn’t dislike it but I also didn’t expect it, since I had been getting friend vibes from him for most of the date. Again, I was pleased with the date but slightly confused. I didn’t know what I wanted. Or what he wanted.
Sam and I went out on one more date. Since we had talked about comedy shows at great lengths, we decided to go see an Improv show at the Groundlings theater on Melrose. We met there, got our tickets, and headed in to grab our seats. Our plan was to get drinks afterwards too, but something seemed off. Sam seemed tense. I wasn’t sure if he was worried about something else or if he was nervous around me, but whatever it was, it put me on edge.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s flattering when a man seems nervous around you. But it also gets old pretty quickly when you’ve made all attempts to make him feel at ease; including telling cheesy jokes, being self-deprecating (slightly, not fishing for compliments or making him question his judgment), and letting him know that I was happy to see him. This was our third date, and he was acting like we were on a blind date. There was just some sort of tension I felt. Who knows, maybe I fabricated all of it because I’m the asshole!
The show started and it was great. Part sketch, part improv, all hilarious. The cast was amazing and I was cracking up, having a great time. Except for one thing: I felt like Sam was checking to see that I was laughing before he would laugh. It was subtle, but I felt it. I would laugh, and then a beat later he would too. He never laughed first, or at anything that I didn’t laugh at. Once I noticed, I couldn’t un-notice it. I began to see him looking in my direction ever so slightly every time a joke or punchline was made. Just the quickest ninja glance out of his peripheral vision, but I saw it, I felt it, and I didn’t get it.
This might sound ridiculous to you, but it was really starting to bother me. It’s a comedy show, lighten up! I don’t care if you laugh at something that I don’t find funny. And you shouldn’t care if I laugh at something that you don’t find funny. (Obviously there are exceptions, but we’re not going there right now.) During this show I realized that despite our good conversation and Sam being a really amazing guy, we had not laughed much together. And now that we were laughing, he was following my lead? Only laughing when I deemed it appropriate? No no no.
Writing this now, it’s hard to explain why this bothered me so much. But I am a writer, comedian, and lover of all things comedy. Laughter is my calling card, my inspiration, and my savior. I need to be with someone who loves to laugh just as much as I do, and doesn’t feel weird about it.
During the first half of the show, my best friend kept texting me. I cannot remember now what it was about but at the time it was important enough that I felt like I had to respond to her as soon as intermission started. So when it did, I told Sam I was going to the restroom and made a beeline for it. Turns out everything was fine, but I started telling her about the weird vibes I was getting from Sam. She told me to leave after the show if I didn’t want to get drinks with him. I told her I would think about it.
After intermission, it only got worse. I tried to hold his hand and relax while I leaned towards his arm, but he was still so tense. He was nervous, and I couldn’t seem to un-nervous him. Once the show finally ended, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. But we had drinks planned. Oh boy. So what did I do? I lied to Sam. Badly. Like, really badly. Fun fact about the author: She is a terrible liar!
We walked out of the theater and Sam asked me where I wanted to go grab a drink. I froze. Instead of just saying something like, “I’m pretty tired, I think I’m gonna call it a night,” I made up the dumbest lie.
“I don’t know if you noticed my roommate was texting me a lot during the show? She was on a date with this guy and apparently he ditched her in the valley and now I have to go pick her up because she’s stranded.” (In my defense, this was pre-Uber. Yeah, I’m old.)
Sam just stared at me incredulously. Is this really happening right now? I imagine he was thinking…
I started adding details, building a story around this idiot that had strung my friend along for years, saying they went out on a date, had a fight, and he bailed. I could picture it happening, so why not Sam? OH YEAH, BECAUSE I WAS COMPLETELY FULL OF SHIT.
Sam didn’t say anything. He just waited for me to finish my disastrous lie and stop fidgeting. Then, like the fucking class act he is, he said “Well, I hope your friend is okay.” I thanked him. He did not hug me, just turned and walked away. I have never felt smaller in my entire life.
UNTIL, a few weeks later, when I ran into Sam. *Facepalm*
I went to Upright Citizens Brigade for an Improv Jam. This is a very small theater (the original location) and the bathroom is off to the side of the audience seating, right in the walkway. It’s a tight squeeze for all involved and there’s definitely no room to hide. After the jam, I got in line to use the restroom. As the audience from the jam filed out, the audience for the next show filed in. We were all shifting back and forth, letting people by us. When suddenly, I was shoulder to shoulder (well, bicep really) with Sam.
That’s right. Tall, handsome, gentleman Sam came strolling in, and I literally bumped into him while standing in line for the bathroom. I froze, then somehow remembered how to speak and squeaked out a quick “Hi Sam.”
He could have scoffed at me, called me a bitch, a liar, ignored me, cut in line for the bathroom, any number of things. But you know what he did? He said hello back. He smiled at me. He was kind, respectful, and did not throw anything in my face. We had a very brief exchange, and then he walked away to find his seat. I have never regretted my actions more than I did in that moment. It was the perfect fuck you, without him having to say it. And I really don’t think he even meant it that way. He was just a nice, decent guy, so naturally I had to ruin it.
In retrospect, it’s possible that I may have overreacted. Maybe he was a little nervous on our date, and maybe he was just checking to see that I was having a good time. Maybe he just liked the way I laughed, or the fact that I laughed out loud. And maybe I took this and spun it into some weird, abstract reason not to go out with him anymore. Maybe I am actually an asshole. And maybe that’s how I’m still single.