Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Failure to Communicate

About 12 years ago, I received a letter (or perhaps it was an e-mail) from a former college roommate. I don't remember a single thing about the letter, except that in the course of it, this friend (who had married a year or two previous to sending me the letter in question) stated the following:

"Do you have any good dating stories to tell me? You probably get tired of that question, but you always have such funny dating stories."

For some reason, yesterday morning as I was out on my morning walk, one of those dating stories popped into my head, and made me laugh at the absurdity of it all. So, I thought I'd share it.

For a little bit of background, in 1995 I moved to northern Utah to attend school at Utah State University. While attending school, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with three other girls. We had a ball together! We laughed and played and fought over boys (a little bit) and had parties and were silly silly silly. We did a little studying as well.

One night, as we were just doing whatever it was that we usually did, our phone (we only had one) rang, and a guy on the other end of the line asked to speak with me. When I came to the phone, he introduced himself as Mark ____ (I wouldn't write his last name here, but it's a moot point, because I don't remember it anyway). He said that he had gotten my name and phone number from a friend of his, and that he wanted to ask me on a date.

Now, this kind of thing didn't happen to me often, and I wasn't all that sure that I wanted to go out with some random guy that I'd never met before or even seen. So, I didn't answer right away. Actually, I kept him on the line for the better part of an hour, and we had a really nice conversation, one that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed it enough that before we hung up the phone, I had agreed to go out with him. We determined that he would come over to my apartment the following Friday. (He already knew where I lived because the friend who had given him my number was my neighbor)

As I hung up the phone, my roommates peppered me with questions, and (as usual) I spilled it all. So, it was with quite a bit of anticipation that we waited for this Mysterious Mark to make his appearance a few days later.

Friday came, and just at about the right time, Mysterious Mark knocked on the door. I opened it, and invited him to sit on the couch. He did so, and I put on my shoes. As I laced them, we did a little bit of small talk, and Mark met my roommates. Soon I finished with my shoes, but Mark made no move to leave the couch. Somewhat confused, but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I continued to sit on the couch as well, and did my best to engage him in sparkling conversation. As is often the case, I found Mark to be a little more witty on the phone than he was in person (probably because of nerves. Dating is not for the faint of heart, you know), and our conversation eventually went from sparking to somewhat strained. Still Mark made no move to leave the couch.

After a while, one of my roommates started setting the table for dinner (We used to take turns making meals for each other, and our kitchen and living room were basically the same room) Mark saw her preparations, and asked me if I was hungry. Thinking he was hinting for an invitation to stay for dinner, and being rather indignant that he would be so mooch-ey on a first date, I replied that I wasn't very hungry at all. We continued our labored conversation while my roommates ate dinner together a mere 10 feet away. What had once been a strained conversation became downright awkward.

The longer this went on, the more irritated I became. I questioned myself what kind of man would ask a girl on a date, merely so he could sit on her couch and hopefully mooch off her food. What was he playing at anyway? The minutes ticked on, and I got more and more steamed. Eventually my roommates left to go to the home of one of our friends, where they had arranged to watch a video. I enviously watched them leave, wondering how much longer it would be before I could get Mark off the couch, on his way home, freeing me to join the girls for some real fun.

About 45 minutes after they had left, Mark suggested that we might go ahead and join my friends and watch the video with them. THE NERVE!!! HOW DARE HE ASK ME ON A DATE, AND THEN SUGGEST THAT WE JOIN MY FRIENDS, FURTHER CEMENTING THE FACT THAT HE HAD NEVER HAD ANY INTENTION OF TAKING ME ANYWHERE! WHAT KIND OF DATE WAS THIS, ANYWAY?

I was absolutely furious!!

In addition to being furious however, I was also deathly tired of sitting on the couch with this man. So, I agreed, and we finally left. By this time I was absolutely seething, and we walked to the home of my friends in cool (stony on my part) silence. It was a relief to us both when we arrived at the front door. My roommates eyes flashed curiosity when they saw us in the doorway, and as I realized that we'd be laughing about the whole experience soon, I was able to calm down a little bit.

We watched the video, which eventually ended, and Mark walked me to my doorstep. We did the obligatory end-of-date conversation, and then Mark got in his car and left. I entered my apartment, and immediately told my roommates the whole story. We analyzed and analyzed, but couldn't think of any justification for Mark's (or, as we re-named him, Couch Mark's) actions. I took comfort in the knowledge that with such a disastrous first date, surely Mark would not try for a second.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, who should call, but Couch Mark! He asked me if I would play racquetball with him the next day. Not being prepared with a suitable answer, and realizing that if we were playing racquetball then we surely wouldn't be sitting on the couch, and being just plain unprepared to do anything else, I agreed.

And now we come to the rest of the story. . .

Couch Mark picked me up, we left the house immediately, and on the way to the racquetball courts we started trading notes on our last adventure together. As it turns out, my suggestion that Mark sit down while I put on my shoes threw him off completely. He misunderstood, thought that I was nervous about going out along with a man that I'd never met before, and decided that he should give me a little bit of time to get up my courage.

When my roommates starting eating dinner, he asked me if I was hungry, thinking that he could then suggest that we go out for dinner, thus getting us both off the couch and out of the house. Of course by this time I was quite steamed, so I misunderstood what he was trying to do, and thwarted his plan.

So, there we were for three hours, Couch Mark wondering when neurotic Charlotte (or "the sitting date" as his roommates later named me) would be ready to leave the house, and me wondering when Couch Mark was going to get off my couch and take me out for the fun evening he had promised me.

And that, my friends, is why you should never let your temper get the best of you.

Mark and I had a good time playing racquetball together and laughing at the silliness of our misunderstanding. As I remember, we went out a few times after that as well, although we never seriously dated.

That's probably a good thing. If we endured such drastic miscommunication on our first date, how would we ever have navigated a relationship? I don't even like to think about it.


Bamamoma said...

As I began this post I wondered which funny dating story you were about to share - that one is a classic! We so need to write that book!

Cramster said...

You do have an array of experiences... I will never forget, though, your habit of "taking time off" from men, boys, dating, whatever.

Charlotte said...

Man, some days those "vacations from men" kept me sane!

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