I didn’t make a lot of sense, but I was dating someone with whom I had precious little in common. Anyone could see that.
My ex-husband was one of the skeptics. “What are you doing with an Irish cop?”
I didn’t even know what that meant. I’d never known an Irish cop, so no meaningful stereotype came to mind. I did realize that Dale and I were worlds apart, though. The one thing we had in common was that we had graduated high school together. That’s why we were in touch; we were working on a class reunion.
The match-up was odd, but what was odder was that I asked him out. Even Dale understood the weirdness in that. After we’d been dating for a while, I asked him what had gone through his mind when I called him that day.
He started giggling—a macho giggle, mind you, wheezy from his cigarette habit. “I thought, ‘What the fuck?’”
So what prompted me to nervously punch in his cell phone number, give a lame excuse for the call, and ask him if he wanted to meet for a drink?
To answer that, I have to back up a few weeks. At that time, it had been forever since I’d gone out with anyone at all. My heart had been broken, and that kept me out of the dating pool for three years.
But I was finally ready, maybe. My friend Tammy wanted to fix me up with someone she described as smart, funny, a nice guy, a good father, intense—my type. She invited both of us to a cookout at her house.
Tammy threw a nice little party, and the guests enjoyed easy conversation over dinner. After we finished eating, Mark and I were still talking at the table, and we got on the topic of my writing “career.” I had written a novel and tried to market it, without success. Maybe I could have pushed it harder, but I had reservations about it, so I didn’t.
Mark started to become aggressive, his voice getting loud and emphatic. “Why aren’t you marketing yourself better?”
Not that anyone really likes to be yelled at, but I have a particular aversion to it. I answered calmly. “It’s hard to find the right venue for my pieces.”
He shook his head and took another gulp of wine, which I really think he could have done without at that point. “That’s just an excuse. You’re a good writer; you know you’re a good writer. You should be out there, getting yourself published.”
“You don’t know if I’m a good writer.”
He hit the table hard with his hand. “You are, and you know it. You’re wasting your talent.”
He proceeded to lecture me in this vein. I’m thinking, “I have a father; I don’t need to listen to this shit.” Tammy looked over, concerned. But he began winding down, finishing his diatribe—his voice still at parental volume—with this:
“Listen, do you want to go out sometime and talk about it over a glass of wine?”
Who could turn down an offer like that? When I think of all the times I’ve been asked out and the difficulty I’ve had saying no…well, I wish it had always been this easy.
“Um, no,” I said, without any hesitation, but with more than a little incredulity.
The party soon ended; no phone numbers were exchanged.
The next week, I met with Dale for reunion business. He was a good guy, and the reunion gave us something to talk about, even if the Venn diagram of our friends barely overlapped. We’d actually gone on something like a date a few years before, but I wasn’t attracted to him then.
A few days after my meeting with Dale, I was thinking about my miserable love life. It occurred to me: if Mark, who was supposedly my type, was such a jerk, maybe I was going for the wrong type. I thought about Dale, who was sweet (in a tough cop way), generous, and polite. He suddenly seemed very appealing.
And that’s why I called Dale. I liked him a lot, but we dated only a short while. I guess my ex was right about the Irish bit, because I found what Freud said about the Irish to be true about Dale: “This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” He turned out to be just too impenetrable for me.
So maybe that wasn’t the right type for me either, but at least I never had to listen to a lecture.
Have you ever gone out with someone who was a complete departure from your usual type? Tell me your story; I’ll publish my favorites on Friday.
You may recognize the line about Freud’s view of the Irish from The Departed. I wrote this post, Boston Movies, which starts off talking about that line and goes a whole bunch of different places.