The Tinder Chronicles: My Date Wouldn’t Talk About His Stutter
By definition, first dates are awkward. Both parties are filled with nerves over impressing the other and hoping the individual they’ve gotten to know over the phone or computer lives up to the hype in person. But sometimes there are other elements that can make a first encounter even more uncomfortable.
Take, for instance, my date last Friday. After work, I met up with a guy I’d right-swiped on Soul Swipe a little over a month or so prior. We’d been having good convo on the app for a bit and one night he’d asked what I was doing and said he was thinking about getting a drink at a spot not far from either of us. I said I’d join him and we decided we’d arrive around 10 pm. After showering, putting on new makeup and almost stepping into my clothes, I got another message. He said he was feeling kind of tired and didn’t think he was going to make it out, but acknowledged he owed me a drink in the future.
It was a drink I never expected to come, especially since we only chatted on the app maybe one or two times after the meetup that never happened. But a couple of weeks ago, he reached out to me, said he’d been swamped with work but hadn’t forgot that he owed me a drink and asked if we could meet up last Friday night. I decided to cancel my plans with Olivia Benson and the rest of the Law & Order: SVU crew and take him up on his offer.
I arrived at the bar before he did, which gave me time to settle in and think of miscellaneous topics to randomly bring up in case the conversation got dry. My date was about 15 minutes behind but he apologetically texted me several times, letting me know he was walking but was nearby. I didn’t mind. More time to calm my nerves. When he arrived, I stood and gave him a hug it was obvious he wasn’t expecting. Awkward moment number 1. And as he sat down I ushered in the second awkward moment of the night. Making icebreaker small talk, I asked, “So you walked here all the way from your house?” Maintain eye contact, show you’re engaged. But as I looked at my date, his mouth was open but words weren’t coming out; his eyes were kind of wandering. I was nervous for a second because I thought he might’ve been having a spasm of some sort. Eventually, a few attempts at the word “yes” came out but my date couldn’t get much further than that so I just said “Oh, OK,” as if my question was answered/I could read his mind/he wouldn’t know that he never answered my question and we could move on. Yes, if you haven’t already determined, I’m awkward as hell as well. That’s why I didn’t know what to do when my date couldn’t find his words, except try to find somewhere else to turn my gaze and pray it would be over soon. What else could I do?
Thankfully, the stutter didn’t last always. There were actually moments in the night when my date’s speech was quite quick — and clear — but every so often he would get hung up on a word for what seemed like forever and I truly didn’t know what to do with those gaps in time, or why we weren’t talking about the elephant in the room. After a while, I began to feel guilty for making him talk so much. Is he frustrated that I’m asking so many questions and forcing him to deal with this stutter? But the thing is, when I decided to be quiet for a bit, he didn’t fill the time with any questions about me and sitting in the presence of a stranger with dead space is far worse than waiting for a stutter to pass so I proceeded to keep the questions flowing and wait for the answers in the least awkward way possible.
About four hours later the subject was never breached, but I started to realize that even though I wasn’t having a bad time, I wasn’t exactly having a good one either and I could be at home right now. #StaInTheHouseGameStrong So, home is where I went. My date made sure I got in a cab, texted me that he had a good time and suggested we do it again, which I agreed to, and then the next morning we carried on customary follow-up text talk. That’s the last time we communicated, and I’m cool with that. But I might need to start making pre-date phone calls a first date prerequisite just so I know what I’m getting into. But sometimes I feel like those convos can be even more painful than first dates. Ah well, the chronicles continue…