One would think, given previous writings, that I would be an authority of what it takes to make a bad date.
While I would love to be considered the foremost authority on something in this world, that I am not. One person’s bad date can be a rockin’ good time to someone else. I will admit to being thrust into more than what would seem an unusually high number of bad dates for a woman who isn't nursing an abnormally large number of self-loathing thoughts. But I’ve also had some dates that I didn’t consider to be too bad but would have other women running for a battalion of therapists.
Case in point, my last date with Wade.
I dated Wade for about a year in the late 80’s. Wade was introduced to me to me by a mutual friend. He was one HELLUVA fun person! He had a great pedigree, was fast-tracking into a promising career in finance, and was one of the most socially skilled people I have or ever will meet. You could plunk yourself in the middle of the Sahara, and I would bet you a hundred bucks you’d come across a nomad who would say ‘You know WADE? How’s he doing.’ The man was undoubtedly the genesis of the 6 degrees of separation theory.
But it wasn’t without good reason. Wade was a helluva fun person. We always had a great time. My parents loved him, friends loved him…but he never eeked out of ‘The Guy I’m Dating Zone.’ I just couldn’t muster anything more than a ‘He’s a great guy’ feeling. I knew he was A great guy, but not MY great guy.
Nonetheless, we had enough mutual merriment that we dated exclusively. And neither one of us had any designs on making the other the permanent day to our night. Try as I might, I just couldn’t ever position him as anything other than ‘The guy I’m dating.’ He was never ‘my boyfriend,’ my ‘special someone’…hell, on gift occasions, I believe we got each other a card…but did manage to trade assorted chocolates on Christmas. No wait…he gave me a box of steaks. Nothin says ‘I have no plans for you in my long term future’ than a box of choice cuts of dead cow flesh.
As we settled into our comfortable routine, we decided one evening to fix up two of our single friends and double. My pick for the evening was my dear friend Rachel. Rachel was one of the most ‘together’ people I have ever been privileged to call my friend. She was a few years younger than I, but MAN did that girl have her shit together. And she had a smile that would light up a room. The only thing I can say negatively about her is the bitch quit working at the dairy store too soon, and thus prematurely cut off my free ice cream fix. Selfish Ho!
Don’t even ask me who Wade brought, because my only memory of him was that he had brown hair and sat up straight. And that’s about as much as will be written about him.
The date seemed to go well, but I noticed that Wade and Rachel spent a lot of the evening engaged in conversation. I, of course, provided plenty of witty quips now and then, but clearly, these two were monopolizing me and brown haired sitting up straight guy’s date time.
The evening ended with Wade taking me home, then asking me a very odd, end of date question. ‘Hey, would you mind if I asked Rachel out? She’s a really great gal.’
WHAT…But Wade…what about our relationship…all we‘ve been through…how we have a bond that only steak can convey? At least he lived and died by the principle ‘Ya never know unless you ask.’ And, as tepid water ran hotter than my passion for Wade, I wasn’t the least bit offended by his question.
‘Wade, that’s fine…but you have to understand something; if you call her tomorrow and ask her, she will hang up on you . Girlfriends don’t do that to another girl’s ‘guy I’m dating.’ So let me tell her you would like to ask her out and that I’m OK with it. At least you won’t get shot down immediately.’
And then I thought ‘Am I really offering to fix up my friend with the guy I’m dating? This is NOT the way to ever get married,’ my 21 year-old mind said to itself.
Nonetheless, I thought it might not be such a bad idea. Rachel had a patience unseen in many people, and it would probably be a necessity for dealing with Wade. And they both had a quiet dignity that just seemed to match. She also possessed a class-blind attitude that could navigate Wade’s upper-crust pedigree in a way I could never find a comfort zone in.
I called Rachel the next day. Poor brown haired guy who could sit up straight wasn’t mentioned, but I did tell Rachel that Wade would really like to ask her out and that if she wanted to accept, I was absolutely fine with that. She seemed a little perplexed, and I actually began running down Wade’s good points to her. I was actively pawning off the guy I was dating! It was probably the cleanest, non-break-up breakup I would ever orchestrate! Rachel seemed to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea, as long as it wouldn’t interfere with her and my relationship.
Not a chance! You don’t let little things like a guy your dating get in the way of your true friendships.
I called Wade with the good news…and he was absolutely giddy! I mean, now…the guy I’m dating is asking me how to impress her on their first date. AND I’M GIVING HIM POINTERS! I do believe the sound barrier was broken that night with the speed we transitioned from mutual daters to legitimate friend zone! What was worse…I was actually hoping Rachel would like him! Isn’t the object of dating someone supposed to be that you hope THEY want to impress you, and not your friends?
But, the big day arrived. Wade called me about 5 times that day to go over details. Man, he was unlike the Wade I knew as the guy I was/had been dating. This was a romantic fool. And I can damned sure betcha he wasn’t making a trip to the butcher’s aisle prior to their date!
Zero hour had come and gone. At two a.m., a frantic knocking at my door awoke me from my slumber. It was Wade in a panic. The date had gone horribly awry, he felt, and he wanted to go over details and have me do damage control. I was in a stupor. One, because I was half asleep, and two, because I was seeing a side of Wade I had no idea existed. He was a man genuinely interested in a woman and was feeling vulnerable. I don’t think I ever found him quite so endearing, and I only wanted to help him.
The next day, I casually phone Rachel for her take on the date, which, was nothing compared to the train wreck Wade had presented. Rachel even wanted to see him again. I was a bit perplexed as I wondered how two people on the same date could possibly have had such a different experience.
Rachel and Wade dated for several years, and they tried in vain to duplicate my success in matchmaking towards my love goals, but fell drastically short of the mark. But we all managed to maintain our deep friendships and watching their relationship grow and prosper was a true joy to be around. They provided me with many good times, and the source of their introduction was always a favorite topic to bring up at many of Wade and Rachel’s now infamous parties in their pre-marital Westport home.
The week before he proposed to Rachel, Wade called me to tell me of his plan. He also wanted to thank me for bringing her into his life. ‘You know, Rachel is the kind of woman I always hoped was out there, but didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to find.’ I laughed, not so much because of the Hallmark-esque nature of his sentiment, but the weekend before during a Christmas shopping trip, Rachel had said almost the exact same thing. It brought tears to my eyes hearing that from Wade. In a world that grows more cynical and jaded as I get older, there was a simplicity to their feelings that made me realize that sometimes the simplest things in life can recharge your faith-based batteries as to what can be possible.
Their inevitable nuptials remains one of the most joyous occasions I have ever been allowed to witness, as well as be a party of. I was privileged to be a member of the wedding party .(Jeeze, had it not been for me, they never woulda met! I sure as hell hoped they’d dress me up like a Barbie doll and have me hold some flowers for God’s sake!) They are still married and have two of the most adorable boys I have ever seen. Rachel and Wade, in short, are the kind of couple most people, myself included, dream of being a part of.
I don’t want to give the impression that two genetically and mentally superior people had crossed one another’s path, which often seems the case when one speaks of ‘perfect couples.‘ I should also mention that neither Wade nor Rachel will ever win a prize as the most generous or kind human being to ever walk the planet. Neither is going to be a finalist on ‘Are you Hot?’ They are normal, average people, fraught with the same flaws, insecurities, and foibles as the rest of us. Their unique quality is they found a mutual affinity that seems to escape the rest of us. They knew that they weren’t going to find a ‘perfect’ partner, but a partner perfect for them. In short, their perfection lies solely in how they compliment one another.
But how did they get so lucky while the rest of us yahoos are out stumbling along the pathway of love, generally falling on our asses. I think it’s a simple matter of the fact they weren’t looking when they found each other, but they knew what they wanted and wouldn’t settle for anything less. Wade and I dated for a fairly good period of time, yet he and I both knew we weren’t the other’s heart and desire. To that end, Wade was always responsible in his display of affection for me. He never once lead me to believe we were or could be anything more than we were…the guy/girl I’m dating. We just liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company.
Rachel, on the other hand, was just not looking to meet the love of her life. She had just started college and was extremely focused on getting her life in order. She didn’t have time for the impracticalities of love or the distraction. That’s a lethal combination when you combine it with a man who knows what he wants and you are it. She never had a chance once Wade knew she was the one.
Being able to be a spectator in the full process of love as I was with them gave me a perspective that I hope I can maintain. Although Wade and I had a ‘relationship’ before Rachel ever crossed his path, I never experience one iota of jealousy. Being around them or hearing one speak of the other gave me a sense of happiness that comes when things are just ‘right,’ even though it doesn’t directly involve you. Everything that I know or feel about love I largely witnessed because of the privilege of their friendship and generosity. It’s a special gift to learn about something of life from those who don’t even know they are your teacher.
So, to this end, I would have to say that I can only hope I am lucky enough to find that someday. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. I can tell you that it’s because of them I have to remind myself not to settle for less than my heart’s desire, whoever that may be. (I still think it’s Ray Liotta, but he hasn’t returned my calls, making it a very difficult process to begin our lifelong love affair) But I find it very reassuring, in this day and age of micro-dating, hits and misses, and jaded recollections of ones that thankfully got away, that I know true, deep, undying love exists. I may not have experienced that for myself yet, but to be in the presence of two fallible people like myself almost 15 years after they met and they still are as perfect a match as peanut butter and chocolate. Believe me when I tell you, to see these two people together, you see that love is alive and well and living right where you’d least expect it.
Other folks might have considered fixing up your current dating partner with your friend at your dating partner’s request a horrid date. But when you are in a position to witness true love taking root, as I did with Rachel and Wade, you don’t mind in the least to step back, add a little water, and wait patiently for your day in the sun.