For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone on dates with pretty much one standard rule: Three Strikes and He’s Out.
A lot of people will tell you there are certain topics to avoid on first dates, such as politics or religion; that you shouldn’t kiss on a first date; or talk about your exes. I don’t know that I believe in any of those- I think you should talk about what you want and do what you feel comfortable with. However, that doesn’t mean I ignore red flags as they appear-I keep a mental list. My simple approach has always been: three strikes, and I’m calling it- the date is over.
When I was in my early twenties, I was going to switch banks, so one day on my lunch break I went to the Bank of America branch around the corner from my office. The cute guy who helped me open my account asked me out. Even though he was a complete stranger and I normally would have been wary, he worked at a bank so I figured he had to pass some pretty strict background checks… so, why not? Meet Mr. 2003, ya’ll.
He wanted to come pick me up, but I talked him into meeting me and then walking over the pedestrian bridge into downtown. I don’t like to risk being stuck with someone on a first date- always have an escape route! So we met up and walked over to the restaurant to have dinner. During dinner, he casually mentioned his previous (hard) drug use. STRIKE ONE. Later in the conversation, something came up- I don’t remember exactly what- but it either began or ended with “those damn Mexicans.” Regardless of your feelings on immigration, I won’t date a racist. STRIKE TWO. So while I was less than enamored with the guy’s personality at this point, I couldn’t write him off just yet. After all, we all make mistakes in our youth, and perhaps I could educate him on the benefits of diversity in our society. But then, as he was paying the bill, I noticed STRIKE THREE. On our $30-ish bill, he’d left $1 as a tip. One.Single.Dollar. And he was in banking, so I know the issue wasn’t the math. As a general rule, I tend to over-tip. I’d be a terrible waitress, because I’m slightly clumsy and a questionable short-term memory. (During my brief stint in food service, someone could come to my counter and order a cinnamon roll and a Mountain Dew, and by the time I got ice in the cup I was asking him again what kind of drink he ordered. Then, I’d realize I cut myself…on the ice. True story.) So, for someone to be that cheap- and a bad tipper, especially- is a definite deal-breaker.
After dinner, he suggested a horse and buggy ride around downtown (gag). I declined this offer, probably claiming I had to be at work early the next day or something. We walked back over the bridge to our cars. “So, we should do this again sometime,” he said hopefully. “Maybe,” I squeaked out unenthusiastically (I didn’t want him to botch my bank records or anything-this guy had access to my Social Security number!). At that point, I think he realized I was not interested in a second date. “Maybe? Uh…OK then,” he said, sounding a little irritated. Gee buddy, I’m sorry you wasted $31 dollars on dinner for me, but at least I didn’t just use you for the buggy ride. We uncomfortably parted ways. I went home to my little apartment I shared with Miss November and while I don’t exactly remember what happened, I’m sure we sat on one of our beds or the kitchen floor and debriefed over ice cream or Big Macs or something. I then spent the rest of the year avoiding going inside the bank and keeping my head down whenever I sat at the drive through. Mercifully, I changed jobs after a few months and never had to avoid Mr. 2003 again.