My dad has this buddy named Jack. Jack has never been married and is a confirmed bachelor. Basically, Jack has been alone too long to ever be anybody’s partner. He’s too set in his ways. And I’m not even kidding – he and my dad took a road trip once and Jack cleaned his side of the windshield, but not my dad’s.
He’s not malicious, he’s just completely unaccustomed to considering other people or making concessions around what other folks might want.
I live in fear of getting All Jacked Up. Right now, I’m taking a lot of joy from doing what I want, when I want, mostly because I was so focused on what other people wanted for a good while. But I’m scared that at some point, I’ll pass the point of no return and completely lose the ability to play well with others.
Maybe this is why I have a tendency to be a little too forgiving in the early stages of dating. I look at weird actions and habits and think, “Well, maybe that’s normal. Maybe he’s nervous. Maybe I’m PMSing.” Maybe, maybe, maybe.
So, this means that I have had mental wars with myself over weird dates, the rational part of my brain knowing a red flag when she sees it and the I-don’t-want-to-be-Jack part of my brain thinking, “Well, maybe …”
This means that I have dated men who sucked phlegm down their throats in the midst of talking, assumed that I didn’t want dessert and, as I mentioned earlier, peeled callouses off their hands and ate them.
Now, with the callouses. We were sitting on my couch, watching TV. He was already on thin ice because he’d turned off the light without asking, saying he preferred the dark. I was so ready with my self-defense moves. But, instead, we just sat watching Working Girl. It was sort of our second date.
So, we were watching the movie, and I realized that he was doing something with his hands in his lap. At first, I was afraid he was getting ready to put the moves on me, if you know what I mean. But then, I noticed that he was pulling with one hand, and then bringing that hand to his mouth. He was pulling skin off his hand … and then putting that skin in his mouth.
I was flabbergasted.
And then, I realized that I had glaucoma. Because no human being outside of that one remote aboriginal tribe would pull callouses off his or her hands and then eat the skin. Especially not in the presence of a member of the opposite sex that they were trying to woo. No, clearly, my eyesight was at serious fault.
I started planning my glaucoma treatment plan. Obviously, I’d need to eat a lot of carrots, and learn to smoke pot. Because my glaucoma was really, really bad, because it looked like he ate more callouses.
Now, the next day, I sent my girlfriends this very long, detailed “WTF?” e-mail, explaining the entire episode.
And they didn’t respond.
I started to think that it was just me. Maybe my standards were just too high. Maybe I was being a prissy little Episcopalian and should just shut up and realize that the entire world was not a Laura Ashley store.
The Callous Eater asked me out again. I said yes. Because I was young and spineless and figured at the very least, I’d get a really good story out of it.
And then, I happened to ask my girlfriends about The Callous Eater and they were all, “WTF? We didn’t get any e-mail! He did what? What?”
And I was vindicated and realized that I didn’t have glaucoma and that I should darn well trust my own judgment moving forward.
And then I went on one last date with The Callous Eater and he introduced me to a hooker.
But that’s a story for another time.