In the datingverse, there’s a fine line between marketing yourself smartly and over-selling yourself. A lack of confidence means potential dates have a harder time seeing your value* so some self-appreciation is required. However, promising that you are the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, the panther’s tail and the koala’s cupcake all rolled into one builds up crazy expectation and if you fail to deliver…no bueno.**
My date billed himself as the most fun man to date in Hawaii – a lot to live up to. But he did recommend we go surfing as part of our date, which hooked me instantly, and made me believe his own hype. A guy willing to take a neophyte surfer girl with an overactive imagination out into the ocean sounded pretty good. Normally, I have stomachy-butterflies about going into the sea, especially with large apparatuses. Visions of surfboards conking me in the head, knocking me out and helping me drown while sharks circle aren’t uncommon, except that whole flying thing meant I was loopy from anxiety pills, and thus a ball of willing energy when it came to getting my Pacific Ocean on.
One thing even Xanax can’t cure is a fear of wearing a bikini in public, and, let’s face it…on camera. Gosh this is mortifying, but though I worry about my size and shape, I am ten times more freaked out about my “happy trail.” Indeed, the amount of hair I have meandering from navel to bikini is nearly minuscule, but sing-song taunts of gorilla girl rang through my inner monologue and before I left the hotel I first trimmed and then shaved the area.*** Which meant there was a slightly weird stubble on my belly as I went to meet my date. Provided he didn’t pet me and discover I felt like a budding Chia Pet, I hoped I wouldn’t get caught.
Alex and I met on a corner, the bustling tourists to our left, sand and ocean to our right, and in what felt like a little too soon we were stripping down to our bathing suits and pulling boards out into the water. With Alex giving me tips as to how to catch waves and the crash of the surf constantly pounding two things were certain: conversation was nearly impossible and darn it, I was in love with surfing. Alex was a darn good teacher, and within a few waves I was trying to stand-up and even rode a wave for a hot second before tumbling into the water.
When our hour was up, I rather unwillingly returned my board and toweled off. Alex, Megs and I ambled to our rental car, where I politely asked my date to close his eyes while I shimmied from wet bikini to dry dress – awkward, but I wasn’t sure how else to go about the changearoo. (No really, if a wardrobe change is a must, when and where should that take place? Back in Idaho I definitely changed outside my car after our run while my date drove by me.) Once settled, we putted off to have dinner overlooking the sunset.
Alex and I got along famously. Enthusiastic banter about parakeets and pets (amongst other topics) settled in from the moment we sat down, and from drinks through dinner conversation was easy-cheesy. Everything was great. Except…well, one thing. I don’t tend to be a spark person — in other words, I don’t rule out a date right away if I don’t feel buzz between us. Some people are slow burns, and sometimes immediately clicking with someone means you’re immediately able to unclick with them.
Though we were having a lovely time, Alex definitely fell immediately into the friend zone. He was a great example of sparkless first date that made a great date, but probably wouldn’t be a relationship. During dinner, we even talked about how “the spark” was important and about dates we’d been on where sparking was missing. Neither of us acknowledged a lack of spark. It wasn’t a pink elephant in the room. A sense of “You’re terrific but I’m just not feeling it” merely was just what was happening and didn’t need to be noted.
Only goodness can guess why this was. Maybe one, or both of us, were not in a place to need or want more from another person than good conversation, a little fun, and eventual friendship.
Dating in Hawaii, thus far, felt a lot like dating across the rest of the country.
*(though yes, I’d encourage people to go on dates with slightly self-deprecating people anyway because our cultural sense of humor leans toward that.)
**Add to the the fact that “delivery” means complete different things to different people and shazam – you’ve got yourself quite a quandary.
***A long commentary on cultural beauty standards could go here. Insert your own.