Insecurity isn’t attractive.
At my Panera “office” yesterday, a couple on their first date sat behind me. Yes, I listened in. Come on, you know you would have too.
Her voice trembled with nervousness, as she admitted this was her first date after the divorce – raw, young, vulnerable, and scared to open her gaping wound. It all showed in her tone.
He was quiet. My first thought: he’s a good listener. “Check” in the positive column. I felt warm and fuzzy inside.
She rattled on about loving literature and art, trying to reveal little bits of her true spirit. I liked her. My kind of girl. Finally, her nervous chattering paused.
Oh. My. God. The grammar of a 6-year-old. I heard a grave disappointment in her voice. The first red flag. My heart sank for her. This was not the man to read by a fire with.
Her tone shifted. Cold. Turned off. But she was determined to keep trying.
I rose to get coffee. Okay, I admit, I wanted to see their faces. She wore glasses, hair up, and a bit nerdy but in a very attractive way. He had massive, bulging muscles and a perfectly shaved crew cut and large, clumsy hands. Such an odd couple.
His eye contact wasn’t engaged. As she spoke, he looked around the room, and even caught my eye and smiled at me. I quickly averted my attention, but she saw. I could feel her glare.
Embarrassed, though I’m not sure if it was for me or for her, I went to the ladies room. When I returned, she was giggling like a schoolgirl, forgetting the red flags. I wonder how he saved himself.
She anxiously shared she had a date to go dancing with her girlfriends that weekend – a first for her since the big D. I knew she was fishing for him to ask where.
Instead, he said he hated dancing. Again, a sigh of disappointment, but instead of accepting what he said as the truth, she pushed him, asking if he’d dance with her. He said no. She pushed the subject again, “Not even with me?” Again, he declined and said he’d be happy to sit at the bar while she danced. Red flag number… I lost track, and he lost her.
But then he pulled out the ultimate weapon – his iPad. She giggled and asked to touch it. Another red flag dismissed. Apparently, iPads have magical dating powers. Hear that boys?
Now I’m the one sighing. Time for lunch.
I came back to my seat, started eating my salad and almost gagged when he asked if she liked to get spanked. This time I could hear her blush, even though she was behind me.
I know I haven’t been on a first date in years, but if spanking is on the menu on date one, I’m locking my daughter in her room until she’s 30. DANGER, DANGER, Will Robinson! MAJOR red flag! Not that there’s anything wrong with a little playful spank, mind you, but still. On date one? Sorry, no judgment here. Just a voyeur.
I braced myself for the sound of a slap, or a confident “get lost,” before she gathered her belongings and left. Instead, she coyly declared she had nothing to do the rest of the day, and couldn’t imagine how she’d occupy her time. I’m thinking she’d like to spend it over his knee.
As a hot-blooded, 20-something man, I expected him to grab her hand and race out the door to the nearest paddle market, but instead, he almost instantly declined, saying he had to go lift weights.
Really? HAD to lift weights? This girl was ready to throw herself over his spanking-fetish knee, but he’d rather pump iron?
Within five minutes, he left. But as he did, he coldly said, “You really should think more of yourself.”
I watched her sit alone in her car and cry. She wiped her tears, put on lipstick and drove off.
I felt her pain. Years ago, I was that girl. Eager to please, ignoring all the signs, trying desperately to morph myself into what people wanted me to be, instead of accepting that who I was, was indeed good enough.
Take note, young ladies. Believe in yourself. Don’t compromise. Notice the red flags. Don’t push them under the rug. You deserve the best.
While it seems cold, what that young man said was the best advice she could ever have gotten. I hope she heard it.
Don’t ever settle. That’s not attractive either.
Poor girl. 🙁
Really, I want to believe she’ll be grateful someday. Sometimes you have to get hit over the head a thousand times until you learn the lesson. Maybe her tears were a sign that the lesson is sinking in. I hope I see her again to talk with her.
Do you believe that a person’s happiness should not be dependent on a mate? It sounds like a good thing, but I am beginning to wonder if men and women are meant to join and are therefore not able to be happy and healthy until they do.
I do not think happiness is dependent about finding a mate. If you’re lucky enough to find the right person, that’s the icing on the cake. Honestly, Jason, I truly believe people have to love themselves long before they ever find “the love of their life”… if there even is such a thing.
The ending of this story breaks my heart and if I had been you I probably would have knocked on her car window and asked to give her a hug. I was in college when the first man I ever fell in love with told me, “to stop acting like a 2 year old.” Those were the hardest words I had ever heard; they truly broke my heart. But… I grew up that night and the next day past by him in the hall. Our paths never crossed again. I hope she hears his advice and *knows* she can be and do better.
We’ve all had our hearts ripped out at some point, but ignoring the red flags out of desperation is never good either. While so many people reading this are saying he’s a “tool,” to me, he was just being who he is, albeit unattractive. He was honest about his true character. She was choosing to grasp and straws to try to force it to work. If he had rolled with it, it would only have hurt her more later. While it was painful to watch her cry, inside, I was happy for her that he didn’t take advantage of her vulnerability.
Ah the twitter feed makes more sense now. Sadly no amount of rewriting will make this guy not be a tool.
Agg Shame… Got teary eyed at the end there.
“Never EVER forget GTL. Those abs aren’t going to work themselves … oh wait a second… They’re ALREADY workin’! ”
“Hey baby … wanna see my pad … my iPad!”
I feel slimy writing those. I can’t imagine ever acting or saying anything like that.
Great slice of life you caught here. I mean, it sucks for her. Let’s hope she wakes up soon. Should she not and continue to meet at Chez Panera, that’s got to be a sitcom for ya.
My gods, that’s like a Penthouse Letter as penned by Woody Allen.
Favorite comment ever 🙂
Your telling was remarkable. A writer not only listens but hears… not only looks but sees. Your powers of voyeurism are well utilized. Thanks.
Thank you, Vince. I have a stock pile of Panera tales waiting to be told 😉
Well, thankfully this was just a first date and though she did shed some tears, they should be of happiness that she isn’t going to spend too much time in her life on him. Lifting weights, indeed.
He thinks TOO much of himself.
Thanks for the post. Insecurity is entirely unattractive.
It can also be addiction: I’m at a halfway point where I’ll “act out” — do something confident — and then retreat into comforting insecurity so I can second-guess myself in private and dissect my behaviour and the reaction it gets.
My worst fear is that I’ll end up being one of those awful people who are unbearable and awkward but whose confidence is an unbreakable wall. But what the hell, right? If I were one of those people at least I’d be happy. So it’s irrational; I’d like to toss it out with the rubbish.
Also: it’s fairly obvious that the biggest thing holding me back is my insecurity…and, well, the fact that I’m a hypocrite. If we’re friends and you’re boring or you’re maliciously stupid or you’re a cow to me without rhyme nor reason I will cease to care about you very, very quickly. Especially if you’re boring.
I just have to decide: do I want everyone to love me, or do I want to be picky about the people I have closest to me? The decision is already made, but sometimes I behave exactly like a drug addict when it comes to insecurity: “Just a little bit is good for me. Makes me sharp. On my toes.”
Yeah, right. Self-improvement does not result from insecurity.
I’m sure she’ll find someone to spank her who’ll spank her for the person she is…
Man, that parting line of his was really something. What a story. Now I feel a little like a voyeur too….