The men I write about, by and large, enjoy reading about themselves. Some wrote thank-you notes. Others pasted this column to their Facebook pages. One young man sent a copy to his parents. Only two argued for a higher grade.
Dating is hard. I try to be generous. I wanted to assuage the Piano Man, so I let him read a draft of our first date.
He did not respond.
It had been such a nice date too.
After a week, he told me he would deliver edits at our next meeting.
Dearest Piano Man, advance reader copies are a courtesy and a weekly deadline waits for no Piano Man. Had I needed edits (I did not) the column was scheduled to run.
I was packing to go to the airport for a work trip when he wrote again.
Piano Man: My issues linger because you shared your piece with me without mention of a deadline. If trust is to take root, I can’t be the last to know things. I’m a big fan of your writing and of your company, but I don’t want to have to choose between the two as that would be no fun at all.
I was on my way out the door. Passport. Shoes. Sleeping pills. Notebooks. Panties. Toiletries. Did I bring my passport? My plane was waiting. Skirts. Socks. Dresses. Other shoes.
I did not pack shirts.
I left 50 percent of my daily wardrobe in Manhattan.
Wheels up. The sleeping pill kicked in. I drifted to sleep thinking it would all be fine. London has shirts.
I landed and realized I had forgotten something far more essential than blouses. My library card for the national archives was on my coffee table in New York. In the fluster and worry of a controlling note, I left an irreplaceable document behind. I would not accomplish the research for which I had crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
When I returned to New York, there was a puzzling email from my editor.
Piano Man had called my boss for a chat. He voiced objections to an anonymous column loosely based on two dates he had once briefly attended.
Dear Men of New York, it is never appropriate to call a woman’s employer after a date.
Dear Women of the Universe, use this powerful incantation wisely: It was a lovely date, but I am not going to pursue this.
It is always important to be kind. It is unnecessary to tell a man what you really think of him as you head for the door, no, not even when he is grandiose, slightly stalky, and more than a little terrifying.
That’s what dating columns are for.