It was a date. But it wasn’t.
I had this sort of “network-ey” work thing with a colleague–my account manager at the ad agency we hired to create our new print campaign. Party of four: she and her guest, me and mine. Dinner and a Jazz game. Which was apparently a big-deal game, as it determined whether or not we were going to the playoffs. And truthfully, I didn’t even know that going into it–he was the one who told me.
He had actually flown up from Arizona on a whim to try and go to the game and I needed a +1. And so he came with me. This friend of mine whom I respect and admire. Because I needed a date. And he needed a ticket. And we’re friends.
From start to finish, it was a perfect night. Delicious dinner. Easy conversation. Sweet seats. Great game (we won). Gorgeous weather. Breezy night. Totally fun.
And today, I continued to think about it. No, not because I’m “interested.” But because … because it was just so nice to go out with someone who knew how to go on a date. To spend an evening with a man who was … aware of me.
I told him we could meet at the restaurant–I really didn’t mind. But he chose to pick me up at my house instead, which meant he had to go out of his way to come get me and then backtrack to the City. And when I walked to the passenger’s side, he opened the door for me. But it wasn’t like he was going out of his way to do so. It was more like … that’s just what he does.
At dinner, he was perfect. He knew where to sit and how to handle the situation. He was funny, but not too funny that it seemed like he needed all the attention. And conversational, without dominating. And when asked what he does, he didn’t grandstand about his awesome job and professional success–which, he certainly could have done, seeing as how he does have an awesome job and has achieved crazy success. And when the check came, and my account manager reached for her credit card, he casually noted that he’d take care of “us.” And when she said, no, that it was on her, he offered one last “are you sure?”, and then let it go.
(Those situations always stress me out. I never know what to do. And it was just so nice to defer to him and have him handle it so casually and gracefully.)
Later, as we walked from the restaurant to the arena, it was as though his radar was tuned to me. He was always aware of where I was walking. Making sure I wasn’t behind him. Making sure that if we had to walk around something, I went first. Making sure that I went through doors before him. Always matching my pace–which was slow because I wore the wrong shoes (like always) and my heels were a blistery mess. And when we had to deviate from the sidewalk into the street, he casually repositioned himself so that he was walking on my left, where the traffic was.
At the game, I had a couple of questions about what was going on (I’m not exactly sporty-spice, you know), and then I apologized and promised to not be annoying and ask a bunch more. To which he responded that I should “always ask questions” and actually seemed sincere about that, and didn’t seem the least bit put out that I was interrupting the game for him.
At the end of the night, on the way home, we were, at one point, talking about life and culture and faith and where to find truth, and he shared an opinion about something and then turned and asked, “What do you think?” And then he listened to what I had to say. Which, for the record, is like the best thing a guy could ever do with, or for, me. Ask me what I think and then listen to my ideas or opinions and you will forever be a favorite.
And then he walked me to the door.
Even though it wasn’t a date-date.
And I know that these all seem like little things, but they’re not. They’re huge. And I may have cried about it today. A happy, grateful cry, of course. (You know, my good-zone is between a 4 and a 5.) Because it just felt so. nice. to go out with a good guy. A successful guy who has a job and works hard. Who carries maturity in his posture and a quick smile on his face. Who respects me and my ideas. Who is friendly and can talk to anyone. Who knows the value of a firm handshake and can handle a work dinner. Who knows what matters most and is dedicated to what’s right and doing good. Who is kind and humble, but certain and pointed. Who was aware of me. Who didn’t look through me or beyond me. But was focused. Who made me feel safe and important.
Being 33 and single and female isn’t easy. You have to take care of everything. There’s no “equal-yokage” going on for you. You make your life decisions, by yourself. You pay the bills, by yourself. You choose your apartment or your house, your neighborhood and your city, by yourself. You find the answers to your questions, by yourself. You change the smoke detectors, by yourself. You go to Church, to the grocery store, to the bank, by yourself. You weed, and clean, and mow, and cook, and eat, by yourself.
And certainly there are friends around you (thank the Lord in Heaven above for Frit) and there’s always God, too. But essentially, from day to day, you’re alone in a way that your married counterparts will never understand.
So you have to build up a certain amount of strength to do it. A certain level of independence. Because there is no one to share the hard stuff with. Or the happiness with, for that matter. No one to stand in for you while you catch your breath. You have to be strong. Or you would crumble daily under the weight of it all.
And so sometimes? … Sometimes it’s nice to defer to someone else and let them take care of you.
Last night, I didn’t have to be charming all by myself. I didn’t have to keep the conversation going all by myself. I didn’t have to read the who’s-going-to-take-the-check signals all by myself. I didn’t have to think about walking into traffic. I didn’t have to think about opening my door. I didn’t have to stare blankly at the court because I didn’t know why the ref blew his whistle. I didn’t have to wonder whether or not my opinions are worth listening to or if I’m interesting enough.
And it was just. so. nice.
And today I felt good and grateful and clear in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.
All because I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening with a good man. And it’s nice to know that combination of variables actually exists.