What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

I just got home from one of the most awkward dates I’ve ever been on in my life.  We met up for a coffee at Essential Bakery this morning.  I was excited to meet this guy.  He is a nursing student, runner, climber and sounded smart in his emails.  He looked absolutely adorable in his photos.   There were a couple of small red flags in his profile, for example the fact that he recently moved home to his parents.  There was a good explanation though (he is in transition between careers and relocated from another city) so I didn’t make too much out of it.

We met up, and his photos did do him justice.  He was just as good looking in person:  tall, amazingly clear blue eyes, great smile, the cutest dimples you’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately, he was wearing a lime green polo shirt and a poncho (yes you read that right – PONCHO) that he bought while serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala. 

He politely bought me a coffee and offered to buy me some food and then we sat down with our coffee.  To say that the conversation got off to a slow start is an understatement.  He sat next to me, very stiffly, starting straight ahead.  He was a low talker and I continually had to ask him to repeat himself.  He politely asked me questions about myself, but never turned to look at me when I answered him.   He turned to look at me a couple of times, but it felt forced and he avoided direct eye contact at all costs.  The conversation never picked up and I became more and more uncomfortable with him staring away or staring awkwardly at my forehead with a pained expression on his face.

By about halfway through the conversation, it occured to me that maybe he has a developmental delay, social anxiety disorder or even aspergers or autism.  He is a bright man with a master’s degree, fluent in three languages, but at some points in the conversation he sounded like a 9-year old boy.  He also had a couple of strange ticks like sticking out his tongue.   It made me a little sad because this poor guy was sweet and polite, but so socially awkward.

After about an hour, I let him know that I was ready to go home.  He told me he’d had a great time and wondered if I wanted to have happy hour later this week.  I agreed awkwardly, because I have trouble rejecting people to their faces.  Now I feel horrible, because I have to email him and tell him that I don’t want to go out with him after all.   I was thinking I should give him a second chance, but it’s only because I feel bad for him and I certainly wouldn’t want a guy to go out with me out of pity.   I feel guilty and awkward and bad about the whole thing.

Anyhow – I will update again about my other dates this weekend.  This current batch may have actually produced some second date potential!

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~ by cleanslate2010 on January 24, 2010.

6 Responses to “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”

  1. wow. awkward indeed.

    one thing i learned, or tried to learn, is always, always, to sit opposite the guy. after my first sitting-on-adjacent-bar-stools date, i said, Never again! bad idea! then i allowed that to happen a second time, and i said to myself, Hey, didn’t you remember? don’t, don’t do this a third time.
    and i never did.

    so you should Never sit side by side — always opposite one another so you can make direct eye contact. that’s why i dislike (and never accepted) “walking in the park” dates for a first date. you absolutely need to be able to look directly, frontally at one another.

    now for what you should do: just email him and say it’s turning out to be a busier week than you thought and you won’t be able to meet him for drinks, but you’ll get in touch with him if you find time. — by putting the burden on yourself to get in touch with him, you relieve him (if he gets it) and then you can just not….

    my 2 cents.

  2. I only disagree with Mimi on one thing: rather than give the guy hope that you *might* be able to get together with him if you have time — wait to see if he contacts you, then simply write and say that while he’s a very nice person, you just didn’t feel the kind of chemistry you’re looking for.

    This way he’s not left hoping you might still get together — he might not get the hint if he’s that socially awkward.

  3. Yes, LV is right. My answer was the chicken one.
    I’d take her advice.

  4. thanks for the input. i had never thought of the issue of sitting side by side together, but it is awkward, ESPECIALLY with an awkward individual.

    i ended up sending him a quick email letting him know that it was nice meeting him, but i didn’t feel a connection. now at least he won’t wonder if i’m interested or not.

  5. OMG. Poncho?! That totally beats not knowing who Judd Apatow is.

    And at least you didn’t let him KISS you after you ’cause you were too afraid to let him down gently in person. I’m all for the polite email let-down, but I’m not sure how much integrity is in that method. It’s cowardly but isn’t it also the kinder thing to do?

    I say don’t go out again unless you would really like to.

  6. […] if someone was going to call or text me.    Except for the worst date ever from last weekend (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) who I decidedly did not want to see again, I have felt completely ambivalent about all the guys I […]

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