It took place in a small room that smelled like old people, stewed vegetables, and Ben-Gay. We sat for about an hour drinking vanilla milkshakes together, and although her roommate sat within a few feet of us the whole time, it was probably the most productive interaction I've had with a woman in a while. There was a genuine and intelligent exchange of ideas, and there's no doubt that I love this woman. Truth be told, it wasn't a date per se. It was more like me visiting my grandmother in the hospital, and the milkshakes were a couple of cans of "Ensure" - which are delicious, by the way, and an excellent source of Omega 3 something or other, according to the label.
My grandmother had developed a case of bronchitis, and was diagnosed with emphysema - a result of 60 plus years of a 2 pack a day habit. Luckily, the dingleberry from the post below hasn't been appointed to any positions of governmental authority, so my grandma wound up at Maimonedes Hospital in Brooklyn, and not in a holding facility upstate.
As I walked in and saw her, her eyes lit up. I don't visit her nearly as often as I should, but when I do, it gives her a special thrill. When you're the oldest grandchild, there's just something special about you to them. The announcement of your impending birth, and the way they felt knowing they'd be grandparents for the first time is something they'll always hold dear to their hearts - that and the memory of your penile scalping performed under the guise of religious ceremony. So it was totally appropriate that the 85 year old woman with whom my grandmother was sharing a room said "Congratulations" to her when she introduced me as her grandson. Yes, I thought. That makes total sense. My grandma should be congratulated on the birth of her 37 year old grandson.
After a while of discussion about the family and her condition, the topic of conversation turned to me.
"So how are you? How's work?," she asked.
"Good. Good. Everything's good," I said, fully aware that she knew I'd never tell her things weren't good.
"You're seeing somebody?"
"Your father tells me you go on a lot of dates. Nobody interests you?"
In the past, I would've told her there were some prospects just to make an old lady happy, but I felt guilty feeding her the usual bullshit that she knew was bullshit anyway.
"Nah, no one lately," I told her.
"So why go on all the dates, if you're not meeting someone? Maybe it's enough with the dates for a while, no?"
It was a line I'd heard from plenty of people before, only this time it was delivered with an Eastern European accent, and a smoker's cough that for some reason made it make perfect sense. She could've toed the stereotypical Jewish grandmother party line and tried to convince me to "stop being so picky, and settle down already," but my grandmother didn't go there. She's cool like that. Our "date" ended with a hug and a kiss, and me saying goodbye to her roommate. It was perfect timing because had I stayed five minutes longer, I'd have had the pleasure of seeing the roommate sitting on one of those toilet on wheels - something my brother did have the honor of experiencing when he showed up shortly after I left. I think he's still hiding under his bed, hitting himself in the head, screaming, "Make it go away! I don't wanna see it anymore!"
I thought long and hard about my grandmother's advice on the train ride home, and by the time I stepped out of the subway a few blocks from my apartment, I'd made my decision. I wasn't going to date for a while. But then as this really cute chick walked by me on Lexington, I had a change of heart. My heart changed yet again, as I turned on to my street and saw a couple arguing. Maybe they were married, maybe they were boyfriend and girlfriend, or maybe it was a really bad first date. I wasn't entirely convinced to impose a moratorium on dating, though, until I walked past them, and heard the woman screaming in tears from behind me, "I fuckin' hate you!," followed by the guy's response of "Feeling's mutual!" Though my dates never got quite that ugly (even though some were close), I realized I was bringing that type of energy to my dating life, and it had to stop.
I started to think that maybe I'd gone on all those dates for all the wrong reasons: boredom, blog material, the voice of my mother in my head telling me she doesn't want me to wind up alone and miserable like her Uncle Barry who never got married or had kids - though he did always have a smile on his face, and the occasional broad on his arm that he'd he met at Bingo, or at a Meals On Wheels Mixer, or wherever people in their eighties go to hook up. Either way, I decided my grandma's words were to become my new mantra: "It's enough with the dates for a while."
I thank all of you who've left comments and sent emails of praise and encouragement throughout the last year. Your kindness is most appreciated. To that guy in that forum who called me an "unfunny douchebag," (thanks, Shmegs for sending me that link), and to the chick who posted a link to this blog on another blog, encouraging people to read about how pathetic I am, you can both stop reading now. I know it's been torturous for you, but you can tell the guy who's been holding a gun to your head forcing you to read my blog to put his weapon down. There will be no more bad dates to read about - only the occasional post about various subjects for those who remain interested.
The disillusionment and the dating must come to an end...for now.