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Indiana

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Finding a date in Muncie was not easy.

I chose Muncie because of the movie Valentine’s Day. (Topher Grace’s character gets freaked out that his quasi-girlfriend, Anne Hathaway, is a phone sex operator and partially blames his hysteria on his hometown, the one and only Muncie.) Why not pick a city this way? Hollywood described it as a backwards small town, so we might as well find out if that was the heart of the matter (pun so intended). And I chose Bob because, well…he said yes.

Half an hour before our date, I realized we hold wildly different beliefs on religion, politics, fiscal responsibility and social matters. As I scatteredly began making sloppy mental lists of “okay” topics and “off the table” topics, I started to really make myself a little batty and decided I’d just be myself and talk. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t supremely anxious and thus fiddling with the red die leftover from Dateopoly.

Over mugs of hot chai latte — the beverage with the aroma of warmed Cinnamon Toast Crunch — Bob and I began typical first date chatter: where do you live, what do you do. But pretty quickly I found out Bob was on a quest of his own: to go on six dates before the end of the year. I felt for a hot minute that the tables were turned on me. I was suddenly part of someone else’s personal experiment on love and life. And interestingly, despite not agreeing on God, the White House or marriage equality, we did agree that the best way to live is to go after what you want and to change your tactics when you’re not seeing expected results. Common ground much?

Like so many men I’ve talked to, Bob found dating a sincere challenge. Girls, as he put it, are the gatekeepers to the date. They decide yes or no. Bob said he has tried all kinds of messages to get a ladybird interested in talking to him, but has had very few results.

But what’s interesting about this date was not Bob’s personal history, or even my own. It’s something that happened in the moment: as we were wrapping up, we both mentioned to one another that we seemed like a catch. And Bob went on to say he wouldn’t want to date me ever but that I was a fun person to talk to.

Which was so fascinating to me. How many people do you know who would up and address this? (I can think of one person — Will  — and I know he’s done it in the past and it hasn’t gone super-duper well.) And would you appreciate or not appreciate it?

Honestly, I appreciated it. We knew where we stood. Nothing was ambiguous. Dating can suck an egg (or eleven) mostly due to the nature of not knowing. Here at least was a human being willing to blatantly note Heyo. Here’s what is up. Which is more than I can say for most people I’ve been in full-blown relationships with. Here was a human being who trusted me with the truth. I rather liked it.

Though, as Megan just pointed out (weeks after the fact) — maybe I should have asked him why he didn’t want to date me. Just to like…know.

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