In dating, flattery really gets you nowhere

SCOTT SAALMAN

Six years ago I logged in more years divorced than married. Somehow, the teeter-totter of time tipped that way.

How can this be? Sixteen years since the Big D? — the withdrawal of the wedding band? Sixteen years, never remarried? — nowhere near. Jaded, perhaps, about matrimony. I hesitate buying wedding gifts for newlyweds. I’m a believer in divorce gifts; that’s when one of the two parties will really need the toaster. 

I’ve dated — but I’ve not dated more than I have dated. Second dates are hard to come by — my true genius apparently goes under the radar with those who have shared a restaurant with me (I blame it on the awesome appetizers). 

Never mind the second date. It’s the first date that’s the toughest to nail down, this despite having personally “flattered” many females in the past 16 years. Flattered. There’s nothing I hate more than hearing that word come from female lips or seeing it typed by feminine flailing fiery fingers.

Example. The oft-repeated scenario:

Me: So, could I take you out for dinner?

Female: Scott, I am flattered that you have asked me out —

Me (instinctively butting in to gain a foothold): Great! I’ll pick you up at 6. Oh — and do you have a passport?!!!

Sounds promising, right? Au contraire mon ami (French for … well … something French), for this woman has more to say on the subject.

Female: Scott, I am flattered that you have asked me out, but …

Henceforth comes the dreaded big but. But? But what? It doesn’t matter. None of the addendums are to my favor.

Exactly 100 percent (but who’s counting?) of the women who said they were “flattered” upon being asked out by me never ended up going out with me.

“Flattered” is the kiss of dating death. Women reading my words right now are knowingly nodding like bobble-heads on speed and likely thinking, “My God, Scott cracked the code. He’s on to us. We need a new word. Must send memo.”

My suggested replacement for flattered: sickened. “Scott, I am sickened that you have asked me out.” Perfect. Why beat around the bush before beating the man down?

I suspect women use “flattered” as a nice way to set the stage for rejection, a humane way to hurt (in essence, making the woman feel better about the turndown, not the guy), a softening of the beaches before the big blow to male ego, leaving a guy feeling like a turd in a tin cup. 

An online dating woman I met did agree to meet for a drink. At our rendezvous, she informed me that she had spent most of that day at the funeral home where her mother was being shown — visiting hours weren’t even over yet — with the burial slated for the following day. Deal breaker! Hey, I’m a sensitive guy, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a Debbie Downer type. And no, I didn’t ask if she needed a date for the funeral (even though maybe she did). I’m not that desperate (not that it’s beneath me to scan the obituaries for Fresh Widow Meat, which as my hero Dave Barry might point out, would be a great name for a rock band).

I’ve learned a few other things about dating in the middle ages.

Do not buy your girlfriend Mace. I did this once, worried about her safety when alone. Then, during a walk, I suggested we break up. Out came the Mace. The Mace hit my face. She obviously didn’t take the news as well as I’d hoped. It wasn’t the eye burn that surprised me, it was the throat burn. The gagging. Best thing though was she sprayed against the wind, which meant much of the spray went back into her eyes and throat. So, together we gagged and cried, and somewhere in the insanity that lovers share, I thought: she Maced me, she must love me. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t buy her a handgun. 

If your date is excited to go to Barnes and Noble not to look at books but to ride the escalator, she is 1) way too young for you (she was 15 years younger…but legal), or 2) she really needs to get out of Dubois County more. We lasted one trip to Barnes and Noble (or 20 rides on the escalator). 

Long distance dating works until it doesn’t. On several occasions, thanks to the joys of online dating (which in Jasper means driving two to three hours for a date), I have driven very far for first dates to only hear my date tell me at the restaurant table that she really isn’t interested in pursuing a long-distance relationship (but not until after she finishes her steak, lobster and million dollar martinis).

Trying to make out on a first date at a Weird Al concert is wrong on so many levels. Guilty. No second date.
Enough on my guide to dating in the middle ages. I’m sure there’ll be more to report from the trenches. I’m a hopeless romantic with a punching bag heart. Now then, if I can only figure out how not to flatter someone when I ask them out.

Will Read and Sing For Food’s next public benefit show is at 7 p.m. on Monday at Klubhaus 61 to benefit Cops And Kids, an annual event sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police during which officers take TRI-CAP Head Start children Christmas shopping.