Yesterday I pulled out a box of pasta and realized it was past its best before date. One thing led to another and I found myself looking at the dates on all the packages on my pantry shelves. It’s embarrassing how many items were outdated. In fact, some were so old I can’t believe I actually brought them to this house when I moved last year. I even paid someone to pack them and move them!
Anyway, as I was sorting through the old rice flour, curry, and custard powder it occurred to me that most of the men I’ve met through dating sites were best before dates, too. They were charming and engaging online, but in person they didn’t quite live up to their former promise.
The clever university professor came to the coffee shop with a copy of my profile and a daunting list of questions. The jovial house builder talked for fifty-five of the sixty minutes we were together. The flirtatious city worker arranged to meet me where his coworkers were having lunch so they could check me out. The successful businessman treated me like a slightly stupid child. Each of them, in their own way, was much more likable before I met them.
But then, I’m best before dates, too. When I first started dating a few years ago it was quite an exciting enterprise. I liked the online searching for a suitable match and the tentative getting-to-know you chats and emails. With online communication I had time to think about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I could be wise, witty, and clear. The anticipation of a date was energizing, and getting dressed for the occasion meant I actually cared about my appearance.
After doing this for a few years, though, the thrill had gone. When I meet someone for the first time now I am probably a bit dull. I am slightly weary of retelling my life story and trying to summarize six decades in six minutes, and my lack of optimism probably shows on my face. I stopped dating when I realized what I was doing. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t fun anymore. Neither was I.
At least, not when going on dates. I’m loads of fun when I’m on my own reading best before dates. I stand at the top of the kitchen step stool and gleefully throw dry goods into the trash bin. You’d laugh to see me. We could take bets on whether or not I would sink the shot, or if the package would burst open before it hit the bin. In fact, why don’t we make it a date?