When it comes to dating, children do not always present new challenges. One great thing about dating as a parent is that children open up new avenues of conversation. Talking about your kids can keep an awkward date moving until you can finally bow out graciously by saying something like, "I would love to hear more about your son's National Honor Society induction, but unfortunately I have to go home and walk my cat."
Take my date with Dr. G. for instance. Dr. G was my first real date after my divorce — real in the sense that he actually showed up. True, he was not quite what I expected. The Dr. G I saw online was about 50, had blonde hair and was wearing a Polo shirt — a flaw I excused because, well, did I mention he was a fucking doctor!
The Dr. G that actually showed up was closer to 60, had white hair, and he wore a tucked in short sleeved plaid shirt that made him look eerily similar to my lesbian science teacher in 7th grade. All of this was accented by a pair of fake denim jeans that were ironed and fastened right below his nipples. Not good.
We sat down to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant and he immediately downed two Chardonnays. Dude! With Italian food? Who does that? Conversation was painfully awkward but it started to flow easier after his third Chardonnay. This is when he told me about his sort of girlfriend and his incredibly large penis, which was so large that it scared most women away (as opposed to his propensity to talk about his incredibly large penis on a first date).
It was time to pull out the kid-card and bring him back to fucking reality.
"So, I saw on your profile you have four kids? Do they live near by?" I asked, though what I really wanted to ask was, "Can I call them to come get your drunk, perverted ass, so I can get home to watch Real Housewives of NYC?"
"No, they are all in medical school in the east. All four of them, isn't that crazy? What are your kids into?"
Should I have been honest and told him my kids were into pot and South Park reruns? Here I had been judging this man just because he had described his penis as though it were some sort of mythological beast. Meanwhile he raised four almost-doctors while my family was still celebrating the completion of my son's community service hours for repeatedly driving with expired tags — tags I kept forgetting to renew online. (Yes I made my son take the rap for my crimes. Ever since I saw Midnight Express in college, I've had a serious phobia of cops, strip searches, and pooping in jail.) Needless to say, I did not spend much time talking about my kids. I turned the conversation back around to Dr. G and his semi-girlfriend with the wrecked vagina, paid my half of the bill when it came, and headed home.
A few weeks later I had a date with a man I truly liked and was looking forward to spending time with. The coffee date had been a huge success in that neither one of us left saying, "I have a lot going on this week, but I'll call you." We instead made plans to meet for a second date.
The night of the date I was so amped with anticipation that I failed to realize I had an entire conversation with Jose the lawn guy while wearing mustache bleach on my upper lip. Dinner went so well that neither one of us were ready to call it a night. We decided to head to a new locale for drinks. Rather than follow in my car like a paranoid freak, I decided to go in his. It felt both nice and exciting sitting in a car beside a man. Would he reach for my hand, my knee, my thigh? Did he have Sirius radio? Was his car clean or did it look like the inside of a giant purse like mine?
All went well. He did have Sirius. We were listening to the Bridge when his phone rang. Thanks to blue tooth technology, I was privy to the following phone call:
"Hi Daddy," said a sweet lilting voice.
"Hi honey, how are you?"
"Good, I just hadn't talked to you today so I wanted to check in."
"That's so nice sweetie, how did you do on your calculus test?"
"Oh dad it was so hard."
In the midst of his conversation, my phone rang. Seeing it was my 17-year-old son J, I looked at my date as if to say, "I know how it is. My son likes to check in too. He is such a dear."
This is how my conversation went.
"Hi J, how is my big boy doing?"
"Hi mom. Hold on, this cop wants to talk to you."
Instead of heading to a romantic spot for a nightcap, we raced over to Jannus Landing where my son was being informed by two cops that smoking pot at an indoor concert — that's right, an indoor concert — had not, in fact, been decriminalized. Thankfully they found J to be the polite young man I raised him to be. They eventually let him go with a warning and a handshake.
Surprisingly, my date was very understanding and acted as if he regularly ended dates early to help dissuade the police from arresting his date's son. However, the night left both J and I with some unanswered questions.
J wondered why his mother was out with a strange man in a strange car listening to golden oldies. I was left wondering, who lights up at an indoor concert? I had taught my son better than that. He must have gotten that from his father, or his father's new girlfriend.
There was surely a lesson or two to take from all of this. Maybe something about not judging your date for all of his flaws, as you surely have more than a few of your own. Or perhaps the lesson was a bit more practical. Like, just because you are not worried about your date kidnapping you, it might still be a good idea to take your own car for a nightcap.