These are the last words a guy wants to hear from his brand-new female interest.
But if you are a Casual Dater, chances are that youâ€™re going to run into one of your own sooner or later.
Corporate Kitten was nuzzling me on her white couch. She didnâ€™t even break skin contact. Perhaps her preternatural feminine instincts told her that this was the least convenient time for me to deal with it, and the touch of her face against my chest would somehow soften the impact. It didnâ€™t.
Iâ€™d planned a very big date for the following evening. Babysitters had been arranged. Tickets to Actorâ€™s Theatre were purchased. Outfits selected. Dinner reservations at Vincenzoâ€™s. Things were in motion. What now? I had to say something.
â€œHowâ€™s that going for you?â€
â€œNot so well.â€
â€œGood. Iâ€™ll pick you up at 7:30.â€
There are people who might ask why Iâ€™d want to date a woman who is already in a relationship, but those people havenâ€™t seen this woman naked.
My ego, however, was taking a severe bruising. If sheâ€™d kicked me in the crotch, it mightâ€™ve hurt less. If I wasnâ€™t the only man in her world, I wanted to be completely ignorant of the fact.Â Honesty is only the best policy if youâ€™re not gambling, and whatâ€™s dating but a giant gamble?
I was intent on not letting it bother me. Iâ€™d spent some time and effort getting that date together. I was invested. We hadnâ€™t had a real date since our first, which turned out pretty well for me (and the couch).
Our last three dates had been squeezed into the only time a single mom could accommodate â€“ 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. I shouldnâ€™t complain, but I was getting tired of sneaking in and out of her condo with two hours of sleep and a wicked hangover. Forcing a man to cross hardwood floors barefoot in the dead of winter was plain sadistic.
But her â€œotherâ€ relationship was troubling. Who was this guy? Why was she seeing me as well? Should I care? Does being on a date with another woman two weeks ago make me a hypocrite? Perhaps.
The point is if youâ€™re going to be a Casual Dater, you canâ€™t expect anybody else to be different. Men like to labor under the illusion that weâ€™re the center of a girlâ€™s universe.
We usually arenâ€™t.
Itâ€™s a big world. You canâ€™t cry about a woman keeping her options open. Your job as a man is to be her best option. This requires a lot more work than being her only option. Winning by attrition is just mediocrity.
She came to the door, wearing a pencil skirt and knee-high boots.Â Iâ€™m always a sucker for a woman in boots. Mr. Ego was immediately replaced by his less uptight cousin; Mr. Eager. I resolved to stand tall like a man and take on the competition.
I lost to the competition.
But you canâ€™t complain about the competition if you donâ€™t compete.
As I crept out of her bedroom before the kids woke up, I had few regrets.Â This time, at least, I kept my shoes by the bed so my feet would stay warm.Â I glanced back at her, twisted up in the sheets, still wearing her boots.
It was a good date.
Just because I wasnâ€™t the only man in her life didnâ€™t mean that I couldnâ€™t enjoy the experience. In the end, a little ego bruising is good for character. It stings, but so did that bee I stepped on at Camp Piomingo when I was 12, and I survived that just fine.
The bee, however, did not.Â Ceâ€™st La Vie.
Contact R. Chase at YourVoice@voice-tribune.com.