Dbags come in all shapes and sizes. Some reveal their true colors right away, letting the freak flag fly on date one and leaving almost nothing to the imagination. Others, the more dangerous kind, parade around pretending to be manicorns, reavealing their true nature only later on in the game. Such is the story of Dan, the Dbag in Disguise who stole about 4 months of my life earlier this year. (I figured this might be a nice cathartic post to step into 2015, not to mention an excellent contender to our upcoming Dbag of the Year Awards!)
This story dates back to the end of February, when I had just finished dating Cyrano de Bergerac and was perusing Tinder on a regular basis in order to find him a worthwhile replacement. On one hungover Sunday morning, I swiped right on a guy who looked like a happy teddy bear in a checkered shirt, which I must have found comforting, given my troubled mental state. The minute after Tinder had declared our match, I received a hyper message proclaiming how excited he was to meet me. We chatted on and off all day, until he finally suggested that we expedite the process and meet up that evening.
I knew I liked him the minute I walked into le Sans Soucis in the 9th and saw him sitting in the corner. He was cute in a refreshingly non-French way – not skinny, not effeminate, just a nice, funny, normal guy who reminded me of what men should look like. Born and raised in Paris, he had skipped the university path in favor of starting a career in the restaurant industry, which is what he did to that day. (The child of entrepreneurial Jewish immigrants , I loved it.) We stayed for two hours talking, me running late to my dinner and him canceling his. Ten minutes after saying good night, he texted me to tell me how excited he was to see me again. He kept texting me all the way until 1am, then promptly all over again starting 7am. At some point, we were WhatsApping (is this a verb?) all day, and I started thinking that I would get fired for the amount of time I was starting at my phone with a giddy smile on my face. Keep in mind that if I didn’t respond for an hour, it would drive him mental, and I would come back to 40 mildly hysterical WhatsApp notifications. Still, it made me laugh, and while It would have been creepy if I wouldn’t have liked me, but was pretty cute since I did. We lined up a dinner date for Tuesday.
On Tuesday evening, I came downstairs to find him sitting in the passengers seat of a Smart car, the drivers seat next to him empty. “You told me you wanted to try driving in Paris”, he told me. I tried to explain the danger of placing me behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, but he insisted that I try. I somehow managed to get us there in one piece, not an easy trajectory given that I live in Le Marais and the restaurant was all the way across the city in the 7th, a classic Italian place right underneath the Eiffel Tower. He knew exactly what to order (there is definitely something to be said about dating a restaurant guy) and I slowly sunk into a delectable food coma, topped off by a rich foie gras pasta that was prepared right in front of us. It was somewhere over that pasta that he dropped the bomb on me: he was divorced with a child. I wasn’t too surprised (you really can’t date guys in their mid 30s and expect them to be perfectly baggage-free), but I wasn’t sure that I liked his particular scenario. It appeared that he had left his ex-wife after eight years together, yet just one year after the birth of their son. He had left her a woman he had met while dabbling in real estate, who had also been married at the time. Two broken marriages later, he seemed to feel absolutely no guilt or regret over the situation. “C’est la vie” he said, leaning in to stroke my face, as though him leaving his wife was completely validated by this romantic moment. (I later learned that he had often come to this very restaurant with his ex-wife.) The warning bells went off in my brain, but I just squelched them with Sancerre and penne cota.
We saw each other again a couple of times that week, and on Saturday evening he called me to announce that he didn’t want me seeing other people. I’m a lazy creature by nature and am happy to see as few people as possible, so I agreed. After all, he was French and they are all into the fast-track path to love, so why not just go with it? The day after pronouncing our official relationship, Dan picked me up and took me to brunch. At some point over sorbet at Petit Palais, I mentioned that I was planning my friend’s bachelorette party in Paris, complete with a male stripper, and was looking for a place to organize this classy event. He announced me he had a surprise for me and we drove to Rue Saint Honoré, by Colette, where he took out a pair of keys and opened up one of the coolest apartment I had ever seen, which had apparently once belonged to Robespierre. I could use it for the bachelorette party and anything else I pleased. Considering the level of men I was used to dating in Paris, I felt like a diabetic suddenly gorging on cake – this guy was nice, I could certainly get used to this!
That night, he invited me to come over and meet his son. It seemed way too premature, but I have to admit that part of me was flattered, not to mention the fact that I love kids. The little boy was amazing and Dan was a great dad – in fact, watching him with his son made him sexier in my mind. I imagined us all hanging out together, me bonding with the little one while his dad worked. (Yes, I have a weird stepmommy pull in me.) It is at this point that my friends started voicing their concerns – was it smart of him to bring a new girl around his son just one week into it? I come from a crazy family and I can’t assess these things reasonably, so I just brushed them off. In my head, we were moving fast because we really liked each other and because it was something real – who were they to know what was right?
Despite our expedited pace, there was still one thing we had left to do, which was have sex. Impatient to the point of being capricious, Dan was actively hinting at the fact that I had to start spending the night. On one evening, we went to a hibachi place in the 8th, after which we headed back to his place in anticipation of the grand event. I was excited – he was a good kisser, and I was pretty sure the rest of it would be fantastic as well. Well, not exactly. While I wont get into the details, lets just say that, when I told my friends the story, all of them collectively sighed and proclaimed: “Oh, that’s why he’s so nice.”
However, the far more worrisome part that I discovered on our very first night together was that Dan snored. It wasn’t regular snoozing, but a completely different type of noise that once caused me to go loco and actually note this as an article ideas:
The Thundersnore – an eardrum-breaking snoring pattern that can be easily confused with the recital of a symphonic orchestra, a garbage truck, the apocalypse. At first, its a light, barely audible snort, followed by another one of slightly higher caliber.. Before you know it, the entire room is vibrating to a sound so oppressive, it could be used to interrogate war prisoners. You stare at the man, mentally begging for him to stop and preserve whatever is left of your sanity. The performance reaches its peak and, with a final snort, he suddenly stops. For thirty blessed seconds, the room is silent, and you thank God for hearing your prayers. Until, suddenly, it begins again, louder and stronger than ever. You look at the clock and realize that there are still hours left ahead, each one of them filled with minutes, sixty excruciating minutes of that wretched sound..
I think this effectively showcases the level of psychosis this was driving me to. On one night, I came armed with sleeping pills and ended up passing out until noon the next day, completely missing work. On another, after spending hours freezing under a Zara comforter on the living room couch, I snapped and told him that there was a problem that he needed to take care of. He looked at me in a way you look at a common nuisance and told me I could sleep in his kid’s bed if I wanted to. Yes, you can officially say that things were starting to go to shit then. The previously attentive guy was replaced by a cold, withdrawn person who didn’t want to communicate about anything other than logistical issues. He also started showing a slightly nihilist side, often saying things like “Yeah, most men cheat”, topped off with the obligatory “C’est la vie”.
Yet, I stuck around. I gave him space, I made my own plans, I suggested getaway weekends, putting absolutely no pressure on him to comply, I acted calm even when I knew I had the right to be angry. Perhaps, this was my mistake, however, I had truly started falling for the guy and it was hard to turn back now. I willed myself to be patient and figured it would be worth it in the end, when his issues with the restaurants were settled and everything would calm down. Ah, the restaurant.. Previously a side factor, it starting taking on the main role in the relationship, as apparently it was a crucial time for the business. Since Dan was always working (we’re talking 10am – 2am shifts with occasional breaks here), I was welcome to come there with my friends, after which I would stick around while his business partners ignored me and the pretty waitress gave me weird looks. After this, we would go home and have mediocre sex, and he would pass out while I lay there, listening to the thundersnore.
In April, I went to Russia for a week. On the night before I was supposed to come back, Dan didn’t make any mention of wanting to see me. And so, I said something to him about it. In very direct terms, he informed me that “he didn’t have time for somebody who complained.” BAM. This is when I snapped. All the hurt I had been feeling in the past few weeks came crashing down and I stopped speaking to him entirely, ignoring all of his messages for three days. After thinking it over, I met up with him for a drink and informed him that it was over. He seemed genuinely upset and kept asking if there was a chance I would reconsider. I suppose I was still holding on to something, because I told him that we would see when I got back from New York.
For the two weeks that I was in NYC, he kept calling, texting, WhatsApping, sending me photos of his kid and asking me if he could come to New York to see me. Crazy Dan was back in business! I decided not to complicate things and told him I would see him in Paris. Of course, in my mind I was resolved to try again when I come back.. I even dragged my poor mother to the Disney store in Times Square to get his kid a Spider Man t-shirt! (Spoiler alert – the Spider man shirt is still in the back of my closet, waiting for one of my friends’ sons to get to 5 years old.)
A few days after I came back, we went to dinner. Everything was going pretty well until the moment that he mentioned that his ex wife had a new boyfriend, and that the idea of this guy being around his kid was killing him. Oh, really? So when you were divorcing your wife, you were simply assuming that she would stay celibate forever while you bring along a series of girlfriends? I tried to be as diplomatic about it as possible, but my desire to smack him grew. I realized that I simply no longer liked him as a person and had very little respect for him. And still, I kept my mouth shut, kissed him, and agreed to see him again on Sunday.
It turned out, I didn’t have to, because over the course of that weekend, Dan progressively disappeared. In an effort to retain whatever was left of my pride, I didn’t answer his text on Monday and began dating, traveling, and doing my own independent thing all over again. A month later, after a ridiculous Tinder date with a borderline-gay designer who made me wait in line for beer while he partied with underage American Apparel models, I cracked and texted Dan. He responded right away, asking me if I was happy with my friend Antoine. Quoi?? This was literally my guy friend – nothing but – and certainly nothing to be remotely jealous about. He proceeded to display photo evidence in which Antoine and I were depicted together, laughing amicably. Although I felt zero remorse, it was Antoine who tried to convince me that he was a nice guy and that I had to fix things.
And so, I made one last effort, asking Dan if we could talk. As much as I hate to admit it, I chased after him for two weeks, first going to his restaurant for a party, where he mostly ignored me, then coming over with a bottle of wine and attempting to talk it over. We spoke, we hooked up, and then a few days later, he was MIA again, blaming it all on his kid being sick. This time, I was practically expecting it, so I simply cut his contact info from all platforms, once and for all. I can fix a lot of things – a bad job, bad French, a visa situation (hopefully) , but I certainly can’t fix a relationship that the other person is not invested in. Which brings me to my latest New Years resolution – in 2015, I am only fighting for people who fight for me back.
As for Dan, I never heard from him again. However, through intensive Instagram stalking I have learned that he has a new girlfriend. Like him, she has multiple trashy tattoos and a poor way with hashtags. (I’m bitter, she’s hot.) The kicker? For Christmas, he got her a t-shirt with HER NAME & THE NAME OF HIS SON EMBROIDRED ON IT. Together. For a girlfriend of 4 months.
If I were that ex-wife, I would ax murder the guy.
Another bullet, dodged. Amen.