I recently changed my Tinder age range to be ages 28-49. I know. I’m 27. That’s absurd. But we all know I have a major thing for older men, so I thought I’d indulge it.

So when I got a message from a guy who was 46 (yes, that’s 19 years older than me, and 11 years younger than my parents, but who’s counting?), I responded.

My Tinder profile says, “I’ll never turn down an oyster.” Which is true. I love oysters. This guy messaged me saying, “Now you have me wanting oysters. When can we get some?”

If you want to buy me oysters, I am always on board. Plus he was pretty cute. Plus he had a beard. And it was gray. So I was in the bag.

We talked for a while. He seemed into the sassy Jewish American Princess type (aka, my brand). It was going well. But then I ran into an issue.

The number one problem with older men is that they often come along with kids. This guy was no exception.

“You don’t have kids, do you?” I asked.

“I do,” he responded. “One. He’s ten. He’s great. Is that a problem?”

It was a problem. But I didn’t say so. After all, it would be kind of fun to be the obscenely young step-mom that no one wants to mention at Thanksgiving. I could try to get the kid to call me “mom,” and then, one day, his father and I would have our own kids, and he’d feel alienated and like his dad had replaced him for a new, younger family. That sounds pretty fun. So maybe I do want to take on a ten-year-old.

Anyway, the Dad suggested we get oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar (yes, please) and make use of his Yankees season tickets. That sounded like a major time commitment for a first date, but both of those activities were so tempting. I agreed.

And then I had second thoughts.

“How about we do something more casual first?” I suggested. The game wasn’t until Monday, and it was Friday. “I usually take the dog on a walk through the park on Saturdays. How about you join us?”

“Can I bring my camera?” he asked.

I forgot to mention that he was a photographer. Well, a lawyer who primarily identified as a photographer, which is one of my pet peeves – no, you’re not a photographer. You’re a lawyer. Own it. But he had sold photos, and did have a show coming up, which really made him as legitimate a photographer as I am a writer.

I told him he could bring his camera. We made plans to meet at 1 pm the next day.

“This sounds fun,” he said. “I’ll see you then.”

We met up, and he was perfectly good-looking. He was tall, which was a nice surprise – the men of online dating are usually really short. But then he talked, and he had a really annoying voice. I immediately had doubts about our future together.

We walked, we talked. I brought up the full-sour pickles I had been experimenting with for weeks, he mentioned that he really liked pickling okra. It was fine. Whatever. We went into the park. It was a nice day in the shade, although really, really hot in the sun.

Here’s the thing about taking a walk with the dog as a first date. There is literally nothing to do other than talk. Like, not even the quick respite that comes with sipping on your drink, or taking a bite of food, or going to the bathroom. It’s just all talk, all the time.

And he was the worst when he talked.

“I hate when parents reprimand their children in public,” he said.

“Really?” I replied. “So, like, what do you do when your child is kicking an elderly woman on the subway?”

Great, I thought. Another one of those awful parents who doesn’t say no to their child. Or take them out of restaurants when they’re screaming. Lovely. Ten points for this guy.

He insisted on showing me his photographs. Like, over and over and over. And sure, they were fine. A sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge. Some artsy silhouettes of people walking through a tunnel in Central Park.

Throughout our walk (which was a long, long walk, as I got lost in the park), he kept making really, really not-funny jokes. Soon, I wasn’t even trying to laugh, or smile. I just pretended I hadn’t heard him. Because I didn’t know how to respond to his erudite commentary on people who dipped their fries into ketchup instead of putting the ketchup all over them, or people who ate M&Ms one by one instead of by the handful. It was excruciating.

“I like that we can just be here, and be quiet, and not have to talk,” he said, at one point. We had been walking and I had been ignoring him for a while, by then.

“Yeah,” I said. “I like silence.”

I was starving, and getting cranky. Or, as he said several times, “hangry.” Which wasn’t cute or funny the first time he said it. Don’t worry, though. He repeated it at least twice.

So we dropped the dog off at home and went to get food.

Why, you might ask, didn’t I just ditch him and go home by myself?

Fair question. I guess I was hoping to get a free meal out of it. I mean, the date had been so bad, didn’t I deserve some recompense?

As we were walking to get food, it started raining. Not just raining. Monsooning. It was a serious July-in-New-York thunderstorm, and those don’t mess around. By the time we got to the taco place (the closest food I could think of), I was soaked and very, very cranky. I do not like being wet. I do not like being uncomfortable.

I mentioned that to him. He said, “What? I would never have guessed,” with a clever little smile, as if he knew me inside and out and understood all my little quirks. It was annoying. I ignored it.

The only seats were outside – so rain kept blowing under the awning onto me. It took forever for my food to come. And I was already with an incredibly annoying man. I was not happy. Not. Happy. I didn’t even want to drink, and that’s a major, major red flag, for me.

While we were waiting for our food, he told me several times how much he had enjoyed himself that day, how much he liked me, blah blah. He showed me a few more photographs. I tried to smile. It was difficult.

Finally, after we’d eaten, I extricated myself. I gave him a quick awkward hug good-bye. Then I ran to buy cigarettes and go home to my dog, who never, ever says annoying things.

I sent the guy a nice text message:

“Hey,” I said. “It was nice to meet you, but I think I’m gonna cancel on Monday. I wish you the best.”

A minute later, he responded.

“Yeah, it was cool meeting you and the dog, but I didn’t really feel anything.”

Cute defensive text, dude. Especially after you had just spent half an hour telling me how great of a time you’d just had and how much you liked me.

But whatever. If defensive gets him off, that’s fine with me. As long as I didn’t have to sit through oysters and nine (or ten, or twelve, or fourteen) innings of a baseball game with that annoying ass motherfucker. Be well, dude. Be well.

I’m still kind of sad I won’t get to be the shitty stepmom to ruin his ten-year-old’s life, though. But I’m sure another lucky woman will fill the role almost as well.

 

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