My girlfriend calls online dating apps “short man finders.” After meeting Dave on one, I’d like to amend that saying to “small man finders”—not in reference to Dave being Danny Devito-sized, no. In reference to his character.
Let me back up: Dave asked me out a month before the night we actually met. “I would love to go out,” I told him, “but I’ve just started seeing someone.” Dave said to let him know if things changed. And so after things changed, we met for beers.
Now, I should have known then that Dave was a bit full of shit when he took off his black-rimmed glasses. See, it’s been a long-held dream of mine to need a pair, but since I always know which way that elusive E is pointing in eye exams, it remains just a dream. Which is what I was telling Dave as I placed his glasses on my face and discovered their weak prescription.
“Wait,” I asked. “Do you actually need these?” He muttered and let the topic fade before placing the pair back on his face. Not wanting to embarrass him, I quickly changed the subject. Still, I thought the glasses were one felt mustache away from being a bit more practical, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He seemed, at the very least, caring. He was also funny. As he talked about books he’d read, I sensed that he had a genuine passion for life and learning, and I was attracted to him.
That night, he held my hand after insisting on walking me home. When we got there, he kissed me in a way that, for lack of a better term, made me feel a little weak in the knees. Admittedly, I liked him, back-rimmed glasses and all.
The next day Dave went out of town for work and I was happily surprised to find he kept up pretty regularly. Before returning to the city, he asked me out again to dinner and drinks.
Now, here is the worst part of dating that no one ever talks about: the rain check. It pops the inflated hopes that you were already weary of giving in to. What’s worse is that it happens so often in this instant-gratification, ADD nightmare of online dating that you actually grow to expect it, adding a layer of stress to the entire mess. Dave texted to let me know he might have to rain check. His exact words were: “My friend is going into labor and I need to be on call to help out.”
At first I thought: Wow, he’s caring! And then I thought: Or full of shit! What kind of woman wants a friend around while giving birth? Our date was late the next night, so … was she going to be in labor for over 24 hours? I could imagine the child coming out after a days-long labor and the “friend”—wheezing and exhausted—just naming that child “Kid.”
“Fuck it. His name’s Kid!”
These were the thoughts circulating in my brain when I did what any self-respecting girl would do and polled my girlfriends. We toiled over it for a bit until one Googled “excuses to rain check” and screen shotted Reason No. 4: “One of your friends just went into labor!”
“There’s no way a date can get mad about your friend going into labor,” the entry read. “Babies trump dates. Just never tell them your friend’s name because they might bring it up later in conversation. For best results, keep this excuse short and sweet. After all, you have a hospital to get to pronto!”
It was unanimous: This was a bullshit excuse. However, it was my mom who put the nail in the coffin a few days later when she remembered to ask how my date with “black-rimmed glasses” went. Wanting a genuine reaction, I portrayed zero skepticism while telling her why he had to cancel. “Oh, Sweetheart,” she said. “That’s the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard. Either he’s lying or it’s his kid. But those are your only options.”
The next day, wanting to feel out the situation, I texted Dave to see how his baby momma was doing: “Did everything go alright?”
Hours later he replied: “Baby came fine and is healthy and I took off for an impromptu vacation. I’ll be in touch when I get back.”
Of course, I never planned on hearing from Dave again, and I decided that if by some chance I did hear from him, I would take great pleasure in ignoring the host of this self-inflated ego. But to my surprise, when the phone buzzed almost a week later, I changed my mind.
“Sorry for going radio silent on you,” he wrote. “I am in the middle of a crazy season and am out of town now and the majority of the next month. Maybe we can pick this back up when things calm down?”
Surmising that in this particular instance there was more to be gained with a well-crafted response, I began typing: “Hey. Sorry, I’m actually going into labor, but let’s pick this back up in 20 years when things calm down.”