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West Virginia

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Having Megan on every date with me can be a blessing, but it can also throw a monkey wrench into the thick of the datingverse. When my closest ally is gearing up to cheer on her favorite baseball team in the playoffs while I’m gearing up to go on a baseball-themed date, what worries me isn’t how my date will go. Rather, my thoughts flick consistently to her frame of mind.

See, another one of those differences that Megs and I have is her unwavering faith that her beloved team will win, versus my inability to get too excited at the prospect so the disappointment of not getting what I want hurts a bit less. (It’s a defense mechanism I’ve built up for most facets of life: expect the worst so when something less than the best happens, I’m still quite happy at the outcome.) And Megan’s faith, admirable as it is, makes me anxious about her being let down. I cannot focus on a date if my friend is sad, doubly so if she’s sitting not more than six feet away from me.

Megs resembled a fanatic girl scout with her light freckles gleaming beneath her A’s cap and her hair pulled into rally pigtails. After a run-in and run-out with a local bar that decidedly did not want a documentary being filmed in their establishment, we sweet-spoke our way into a local pub that both had televisions for watching the A’s-Tigers showdown and gave us permission to film the date. My guy showed, and we chatted while munching on bar food and sipping beers, innings the only way to discern the passing of time. (I’m decidedly against checking my watch or phone during a date unless I desperately want out, and while the guy described his employer as his “sugar-mama,” he wasn’t altogether bad.)

It was when the A’s started losing that the monkey wrench came into play. Megan’s face stormed over like a girl scout whose toes just got stepped on and whose tent got ripped in the same nanosecond. And like all good thunderclouds, eventually there was a crack and a last out, followed by quietly falling rain.  I flashed my date a smile, then leapt up and hugged Megan. When she balked at my public display of affection, I grabbed the guy and pulled him in so we were making a Megan sandwich. And then with a smile I hoped dazzled the dude, I said I was ready to leave.

Most first dates can’t be halted by a friend’s sadness. But darn it, I’m not on most first dates. I’m on fifty first dates with Megs along for the ride, and if she isn’t happy, like heck will I be. (A curse — or blessing — of the empathetic, I suppose.)

To be fair and a bit critical, this all plays into the are these real dates? question. If Megs can influence the course of my date, who is to say that these dates are legit? But all dates are subject to outside influences. Mine lately just have a very real and obvious influencer.

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