Every Thursday this past June, Brian Lehrer‘s show on WNYC featured online dating advice from Charles J. Orlando, who launched a Facebook page called The Problem with Women…is Men in 2008 and has also published a book with the same title. SInce I’d recently ventured onto a dating site myself, I was interested in the series and made a point to listen every week. I found the shows fairly interesting, particularly the caller segments, but like several listeners was a bit put off by the concept that men are to blame for all relationship difficulties.
Then tonight happened.
I’ve known this guy for several years. We had a couple of “dates” during a hurricane evacuation when we both stayed in the city, and although the relationship didn’t evolve further, it was clear we never lost the genuine regard for and mutual crush on each other we’d had since we met. We are often in touch on Facebook and run into each other periodically, always promising to get together.
Yesterday I sent him a Facebook message congratulating him on an award he’d received and asking after his well-being.
Him: I’m well. How are you? Let’s have a drink soon.
Exactly what I’d hoped he would say.
I waited a few hours, then responded.
Me: Let’s definitely have a drink. Would love to catch up with you. What’s your schedule like the next couple of weeks?
He waited too, responding this morning.
Him: busy, but [for] you I can always make time. I’m going to dinner later tonight, what are you up to later tonight? You in town?
Me: I am–doing the boat thing on the Bayou. Would love to catch you if I’m still awake when you free up. Shoot me a text and we’ll see if I am!
Him: Will do.
I should mention that I hear from this guy on a semi-frequent basis. He’ll “like” a comment or a picture I post on Facebook. He’ll message me out of the blue with a sentiment like “How is my lovely friend?” And frankly, I like him a lot; he’s fun to hang out with and I’d like to spend more time with him. But there’s never been much follow-through, for either of us, and in the past several months, “let’s get together” has never materialized.
But this time felt different, like it might actually happen, so I came home from my early-evening plans, cleaned my house, and drank some coffee to gear up for what I assumed would be a late night. Thinking the earliest I’d hear from him would be 10-ish, I jumped in the shower around 9:10. Just as I turned off the water, my phone chimed with a text.
9:19 Him: Where u at?
Yikes! I was in my bathroom, dripping wet, but I certainly didn’t want him to know that. So I sprayed my hair with volumizer, then responded.
9:22 Me: Hey, on Bayou. Leaving to take care of my dogs. Where u?
As soon as I hit Send I dropped the phone and went into hyperdrive. I managed to blow dry my hair, make up my face, and outfit my body in the kind of casually pulled-together look that normally takes hours. Twenty-one minutes after I’d sent the text I was ready.
Then I realized: he hadn’t responded.
I changed clothes twice, then went back to the original outfit. Finally I caved.
9:55 Me: Done w dogs, ready when u r.
9:59 Him: Where u wanna meet?
Hmm. I’d never met him out–in our past encounters he’s always picked me up, and that’s what I assumed was happening tonight. I didn’t want to “meet.”
10:00 Me: Wherever u say. I’m at my house, where r u? Meet somewhere in between?
This was getting stupid; I was getting tired. A glass of wine later…
10:20 Me: Ball still in my court? How’s Mondo?
10:22 Him: Shit Graham, I may not be able to make it. Stuck in [French Quarter]…can we do tomorrow or fri?
Wow. Seriously. And funny, because just before I got the text I was looking in the mirror thinking, wow, I can’t believe how great I look after killing myself to get ready so fast….
I thought about what I wanted to say. “Tomorrow doesn’t work but maybe Friday” was quickly replaced by “Dude, let’s just put a fork in this.” I don’t think I really knew what I was going to say till I hit Send.
10:31 Me: Sorry ur stuck. Raincheck for sure.
Oh wait. There was no Him. Nothing. And as I write this three hours later, still no response.
It’s hard to describe the feeling a woman has when she looks in the mirror at the carefully made-up face, styled hair, and curated outfit and realizes: no one will see this tonight. It seems like such a waste of pretty that she lingers, long past the time the text or the phone call could still come–saying, I’m sorry, I can make it after all, can we meet?
As tempted as I am tonight to say the problem with women is men, the truth, I think, is more complicated. It seems to me the problem with all relationships is that we’re afraid to say what we want. If we would own our needs we could reasonably hold people accountable for not meeting them. If not, the problem with all of us is…us.