Megs and I have developed an uncanny ability to occasionally have the exact same reaction to dating stories. It’s not often, and it’s never about our own dating and relationships; nope, it’s only when someone else tells us a situation that we seem to be in perfect advising harmony.
After shooting TakePart Live, we found ourselves at a dive-on-the-outside-great-on-the-inside bar. You know the type: the front door is heavy, there are no windows, and there’s not really anyone coming or going. Its saving grace is we could see twinkly lights behind it, indicating a back patio – that and it had a Zagat rating. In we went, and found ourselves walking into the middle of a beer special: buy the Monday beer, get a free booze glass. Megs already had her knitting needled heart settled on a gin and tonic, but her eyes lit up when she saw the Delirium beer glass. Baby elephants in a goblet? How do you pass that up? As I had to fly and wasn’t about to lug around servingware, I got a beer and gave Megan the glass. Conundrum denied!
We went to the back patio, where long stretches of picnic tables were littered with board games. I’m not sure why we selected Connect Four, but we did, and I won the first round. “Don’t tell me you’re an unexpected savant at this, too,” Megs grumbled as we reset the board. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’m usually reasonably good at Connect Four (probably the only strategy game I can claim that about, as my skills at Risk, chess, and 20 questions are not what anyone would consider “quality”). Besides, I knew that now, Megan would have to try harder.
During our second game, we overheard the group behind us chatting. Two gay men (not dating each other) and a hetero couple (who probably weren’t dating but in my opinion may have been hooking up) were discussing – what else – dating. One gay guy said, “So, I’d been dating this guy and he collects antique electric fans. He’s like, really obsessed with them.” As Megs plopped her piece down a chute, she and I said almost in unison to one another, “Red flag.” The other members of the party didn’t seem to think the fans were a big deal…until what the speaker said next: he went on to talk about this fan-loving date, how he’d brought him home after meeting him on the first night and now was feeling a little stalked by the guy.
The girl in the hetero couple countered on the “weird date” story and mentioned with disdain that a guy she recently went out with “is on a dodgeball league.” Again, Megs and I said in unison, “Not a problem.” As the two continued trying to one up each other I called out to them, giving Megan’s and my two cents. Everyone looked at us, and soon the girl was sitting with us, chatting dating while the guys were talking about…who knows. It was suddenly too loud and too interesting to eavesdrop.
It’s hard to say precisely why dodgeball is okay and fan collection might need to be looked at. But I’ll say this: dodgeball implies a level of social competence. It’s required just to join a team and stay on said team. Fans do not – they require mechanical competence, and an interesting mind…but they also seem to imply someone who realllllly enjoys their alone time, perhaps very much to the detriment of the relationship.
Also to take into account was how these hobbies were discussed when the speaker was discussing them. The gay guy talked about the electric fans, sure, but they sounded like merely one piece of the problem even before divulging his date had gone almost-stalker on him. His tone sounded unsure because he knew better than to judge someone on a hobby alone. The girl, on the other hand, sounded disdainful almost because it seemed like she felt she should. Dodge-ball might not be hip, and it might be just a tad bizarre – but it’s not a reason not to date someone. (Heck, I date someone who plays hockey. I know zip about that sport but hey, he loves it! And he’s a great person to boot!)
Feel free to keep judging or not judging people based on hobbies – there’s no way not to. But I think it’s a good idea to keep your mind open to people with weird hobbies still being normal…or not.