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The Dating Project | ‘This Terrible Date Actually Happened, Part 3’

Sarah Rose

Dating with a view to marriage is no other thing than work. I am a writer in New York, but Sex & the City this ain’t. Carrie had friends who weren’t repopulating the planet. She had fancy shoes. I have fuzzy Crocs. I get commuter rail and Brooklyn birthday parties. She got limos and glam soirees. I actually exist.

This is a project and it is a schlep. I used to believe in surgical strikes, now I’m carpet bombing. I’m on three different dating websites. I ask total strangers if they know anyone single because I have dated the pool of my friends’ friends’ friends dry. Somewhere, someone is going to make me laugh and swoon. I haven’t met him yet. I’m trying.

I hope it will end. Happily.

Mr. Terrible got up from his seat, walked to my side of the table and kissed me. I can swallow a lot of pride on two bottles of sake. I let him. It was easier than hurting him. For as revolting as he was, he was fragile.

MR. TERRIBLE: We have so much in common. We’re like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.
ME: They had nothing in common at all. And he’s married to his daughter.
MR. TERRIBLE: I just love pleasuring a woman.

The VC had spoken about her “exit,” how, when she’s evaluating a company, she wonders who will buy it, what’s the end game, where will she find her profit? I had just spied my out.

ME: I actually think we are in really different places. You really want a girlfriend.
MR. TERRIBLE: I really want you to be my girlfriend. You’re exactly the woman I wrote about on my match.com profile. Here, I can read it to you.
ME: Please don’t.

He did.

ME: Look, I’ve been a girlfriend. I’m 38 years old. It feels great. I’ve swooned. I have been around the world in both directions. But if I never get on a plane again, I’m OK with that. I’m ready to move on to the next thing, a partnership.

He took my hand and proposed marriage.

MR. TERRIBLE: So what kind of ring do you want?
ME: I will wear my parent’s engagement ring, someday. But honestly, you don’t want to be married, you just want a girlfriend.
MR. TERRIBLE: Oh. Now I’m sad. It’s like the universe just showed me everything I want and won’t let me have you.

I will admit to understanding this feeling all too well, albeit not with him and not that night. I, too, feel mostly like I stand on one side of a plate glass window looking at the things I want—a loving partnership, a family—and not getting any closer. And though Mr. Terrible was crazy and repellent, it mattered to me that he walk away in tact, no worse off, even as he made me hate my life and resent my spinsterhood and want, desperately, to shower off the evening’s accumulated ick.

Terrible walked me to my door and I took comfort in the fact that the restraining order would be all I ever knew of the content of his pants. Well, that and the vasectomy. He kissed me good-bye and he took it as encouragement.

The next day, I received a text:

That was fun. Again? When?

Poetry. At least someone had fun.

I entered his contact details into my phone: DO NOT PICK UP is his name. He’s the 37th man I’ve met with the same name. Top that, Marie.

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