All I know about him when I agree to meet up is that he went to school in Oregon, he likes pizza, and he plays tennis. It’s innocuous enough to get me out of the apartment on a Wednesday night and put on the exact same outfit I wore on a first date one week prior (as at this point in my life I know which variables make everything go to shit and my clothing choice isn’t usually one of them). When he comes up behind me at the bar I don’t find him repulsive, and thanks to the wonders of alcohol we quickly develop the snarky rapport commonly shared by two late-twenties Tinder trolls hoping to finally stop answering inane messages about why we’re still so starkly single.
I ask a lot of questions on a first date — partially because I like to deflect from talking about my own insecurities, and mostly because I need to know early on what kind of jacked up baggage the other person might expect me to unpack down the line on our ~*special journey*~. After hearing about his family, his hobbies, and a few select anecdotes he obviously reserved for trying to impress someone with a vagina, this dude seemed suspiciously chill. I say this as a decidedly not chill individual. There is nothing about my personality that can be described as “go with the flow,” unless we’re talking about that time once a month where I get to blame my hysterics on the fact that while I was not wooed by his tales I do indeed possess a vagina. Two hours into our conversation and still no signs of riling him up, I got the impression his “levelheadedness” was actually an excuse for apathy, and I knew exactly what my next question had to be.
Did you vote for Trump?
The second it was out his entire demeanor changed. Do you know what kind of mindfuck it is to go from “Oh, this guy’s kinda cute. He likes dogs, he eats Taco Bell, we’re totally gonna name our first Pomeranian ‘Chalupa Supreme,’” to, like, “Nah, homeboy supports gunning down asylum seekers and doesn’t think the pay gap exists but feels emasculated when I insist on paying for my third Lagunitas.” And, let me tell you, three Little Sumpins does A Lot of Sumpins to my rage levels. I have dated problematic men in my time but usually the only damage to come out of those relationships is to my self-esteem, and she’s a fickle bitch to begin with so it’s OK to keep her on her toes just to knock her right back down. But when your personal ineptitude starts to take form in government policies stripping others of their humanity, I see it as less of a compatibility issue and more of an indication you think abstinence only education means you have to abstain from educating yourself on anything, ever.
Everything I find abhorrent about our current administration, he finds admirable, and vice versa. I tell him it’s ridiculous to believe in a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. He smirks and says, “You know I’m darker than you, right?” He tells me he doesn’t support the Green New Deal. I remind him if he would I might be able to rock something lower than SPF 70. I tell him I often feel physically unsafe in the company of self-professed “nice men.” He asks if he can walk me home as if he’s not the fucking threat.
Every time I disagreed with his counter-arguments, instead of really pushing back, he’d end with, “I understand where you’re coming from, but I just don’t take things personally.” It’s worth noting the men who claim they “don’t take things personally” are usually the same men who claim all their exes are crazy but haven’t had an emotionally vulnerable conversation with a woman since that one 2 AM chat on AIM in eighth grade, read: insensitive idiots. Being desensitized to heinous policies that don’t affect you directly is not a commendable quality. It doesn’t make you pragmatic or more worthy of respect. It makes you complicit.
I hear a lot of people touting the need for “understanding both sides” — for rational discussions that allow all parties to walk away thoroughly chuffed with themselves for engaging with someone else’s differing opinions and not totally losing their shit. I don’t believe those people are addressing the issues that matter. I don’t believe they’re looking hard enough at themselves to see where they could do better and correct their own problematic behaviors. And, looking back on my decision to tell this dude to fuck off and leave the bar so I could keep drinking, I don’t believe I’m any less empathetic of a person for knowing when to call a futile situation quits.
I have laughed myself home from many a first date, but I’ve never laugh-cried in a bathroom stall while still on a first date. Needless to say, Conservative Chris did not get in my overly sensitive liberal panties. I can only hope my new bio makes clear what type of guy maybe could.