Many years ago, my friends and I met a group of girls at a bachelorette party in Montreal. As the glowing bride-to-be reached her tenth kamikaze shot, she decided to volunteer a candid detail behind her love story. “I only started liking him on our fifteenth date”, she informed us, shattering our youthful beliefs about the instantaneousness of true love.
Fifteen dates?! At this point, I was giving up after fifteen minutes if a guy wasn’t piquing my interest. What about love at first sight, the once-in-a-lifetime connection, Cupid soaring through the sky and piercing his bow through two soulmates’ hearts? The story stayed with me, becoming somewhat of a barometer for how bizarre life can be.
Fast-forward two summers later. I was in Montauk with my friends, determined to make my on-and-off boyfriend regret the day he was born via the magical powers of Instagram. One night at Sunset Beach, I met Peter, a 31-year-old financier who asked me out to dinner the following week.
Now, when most guys say dinner, what they really mean is empanadas at their local taco joint. Peter meant dinner at a Michelin restaurant, where grown-up waiters in suits served us amuse-bouches and pulled out my chair every time I had to go to the bathroom. Peter meant business.
Handsome, kind, and successful, with excellent manners and a penchant for travel, Peter was the type of guy every savvy girl should be looking to meet. The only problem was that the guy also happened to me mind-numbingly, groundbreakingly boring. In fact, talking to him brought back the long-lost feeling of high school chemistry – no matter how much I wanted to make it work, it appeared that I was physically incapable of so much as staying awake.
However, when Peter texted me ten minutes after our first date to ask me out again, I agreed. After all, who was I to reject a guy who ticked off every box on my mother’s list? And so, we embarked upon a journey that exists only in New York: the 3-year recycling plan, in which you check back every few months to reevaluate if it may work this time around. (Let me tell you right away – it doesn’t.)
Below are some “highlights” of our dating history.
1. After lunch in Nolita on one hot summer day, I asked Peter to walk with me to Saks Fifth Avenue, where I was meeting my mother. I happened to be wearing a pair of new Rag & Bone booties that were completely inappropriate for the weather. Not only could I not walk, I also couldn’t stop talking about the booties, debating whether they had been a worthwhile investment, considering that my plan to “wear them with everything” clearly wasn’t working out. For 54 blocks, I talked about nothing but the booties and my ex-boyfriend. Saint Peter did not say a single word, except for when he proposed to buy me band-aids, or new shoes.
2. Two days after my ex and I finally broke up for good, I called Peter and met him at 1am at Coffee Shop on Union Square. Always a perfect gentleman, he volunteered to drop me off at home in a taxi. As the cab stopped at a light somewhere around 8th street, he leaned in to kiss me. Three seconds after his lips had touched mine, I pushed him away, screamed “I can’t!” and jumped out of the moving vehicle.
3. Last summer, I invited Peter to come to Gillian’s to celebrate my first night back in New York. At this point, all my friends knew about him, yet none of them had actually met him. I was dying to have him vetted.. Maybe now, after the 15th (or more like the 20th) date, it could somehow work out? By the time Peter came, my friends had finished 5 pitchers of mojitos, at which point they would have been accepting of a one-legged unicorn as my boyfriend. After a warm hello, my girlfriend asked Peter what he did. “I work in the circus”, was his response. The awkward silence that followed was a clear indicator that my doubts had been justified. We then headed to ACME, where I was informed that we could only go in “without the guy”. I turned around and wished Peter good night, fully convinced that I would never see him again.
4. Last month, I came to New York and turned on my phone. There was Peter on What’s App, waiting for his next round of hell! We agreed to meet in the East Village on a Friday night. I arrived accompanied by my friend and my 16-year-old niece, who had recently conducted the classic high-school experiment of consuming hard liquor on an empty stomach. As Peter observed the scantily clad mini-me flash her Maryland ID and saunter into the bar, he had a look on his face that suggested that he finally knew the truth: swapping DNA with me would be a very, very bad idea.
Of course, he still called the next day.
I always feel guilty when I think of Peter. Every time a guy screws me over, stands me up, or just disappears into the abyss, I acknowledge that Karma must be paying me back to for being a bitch to the only relentlessly nice guy I’ve ever known. However, each time I see him, my gut tells me the exact same thing I felt on our very first date at the Michelin restaurant, with the grown-up waiters and the amuse-bouches: this guy is not for me. And no matter how many dates we go on, or how many chances we give it, I will never be that happy girl at the bachelorette party, blubbering about my sudden evolution of feelings. Some of us just need that something special, that extra je ne said quoi, that feeling that makes us want to either love or kill a person, but certainly not run away.