September 25, 2006

Dating Epiphany: It's all about your Story

Dating epiphany: The importance of the "how we met" story is the aspect of dating that is undeniably most underestimated by men.

Yes, physical attraction is important. Chemistry, religion, and how much she likes sports: all critical. But honestly, probably one of the three most important things to any woman you're dating that she'll never admit to your face is the story of how you met.


The wedding toast. A proper wedding toast must be sugary and prophetic -- about how you first met, you knew instantly you'd be together forever. Love at first sight, butterflies, 12 straight hours of holding hands and talking about God and music, yadda yadda. Nobody wants to hear this:

"Yeah, Rob was wasted one night, as usual, and he saw this chick -- well, actually, he was about to call her a bitch because she cut in front of him in the drink line, but then he noticed she had a nice ass. You should have heard the pickup line... and then she threw up on his new Pumas, but he wasn't even mad, because he knew he was gonna score. Anyway, one thing led to another, and when they woke up the next morning, they realized they had more in common than a mutual love of tequila..."

And even before the nuptuals, there's the introduction to friends. Nobody in their right minds is going to admit they met their new man in a chatroom, or in a tanning salon, or the day he got out on parole. And no guy wants to bring a girl home for Thanksgiving and tell his folks he met his new lover at Rick's, when she suddenly stopped dancing on poles and instead, in one magical moment, picked up his $20 with her butt cheeks.

I once briefly dated a man I met in real life after a series of email exchanges inspired by the wonderful Web (no, not a dating site, which I actually think seems like a good idea, should I ever be in the market again for a real relationship with a qualified man who is seeking the same). Anyway, in my case, initial contact was made via a nerdy email encounter. In my defense, it was the first time I'd met someone this way, and I had no idea romance would blossom as a result of said email (and, later, in-person) encounter -- at best I thought it would result in a good party story.

But then one thing led to another (no, not like that) and he was eventually (poor, dear, terrified man) introduced to the parents.

"Mom, Dad, this is Rob."

Enter "How did you meet?" question, which I knew was coming, but was just hoping I could will away. No such luck.

After weighing the options, while frantically looking at each other in silent "You go." "No, you go." conversation, one of us settled on "Uh, we met... at... a... bar?" before quickly changing the subject.

Good one. The only thing my parents wanted to hear more than "I met him on the Internet" was "I met him at a bar". It wasn't a total lie -- we did, in fact, meet for the first real time at a bar, but if a truth, it was an amended one. The "On the Internet" explanation is a bit more... complicated, inevitably resulting in a bizarre rehash of email exchanges, all of which we would have remembered as far more clever than they, in acutality, were. It all would have seemed very weird, and desperate, and nerdy, no matter how we delivered it.

So we fibbed... sorta.

With his family, it was the same sort of scenario, only he prepped me before with a full-on "appropriate" Story. It went something like this: We met at a bar when he was in town. First time we ever communicated. Like at first sight. First date the next day. A fated, happy coincidence.

He made me swear to stick to this story, and I gladly obliged.

But in situations like this, some of your friends know, right? You gotta tell them. And ultimately, you tell your parents the real story once they start liking him, and all.

But you both consider ever so often the painful truth: you will have to negotiate this awkward exchange -- your Story -- FOREVER, should the relationship last. Oy.

Then comes the aforementioned wedding toast. Brutal. And later you have to tell your kids when they ask. And grandchildren. I mean, in the end, it doesn't matter if she watches football or he opens doors. And yeah, she's hot, but you get used to it, right? Stay married to Jessica Alba for long enough, and eventually, no matter what, she just becomes your wife. But you can never escape your Story. It's permanent. Like a tattoo.

So guys, just a thought: if you're at the stage where you're ready to meet "the one", don't even bother with strip clubs, which will dissapoint you (well, in the light of day, anyway) or bars/the Internet (which will dissapoint her).

Instead, try picking up girls at the park, or coffee shops, or comment on the book she's reading on the bus. Or "accidentally" run into her on the street and pick up all her stuff after it flies out of her arms.

Or light her cigarette, or commisserate about the traffic, or slip her a note at a book reading.

Or take a hint from Hollywood, who created this whole fascination with the "How we met" story in the first place. They practically relase step-by-step guides on a quarterly basis. On their list of suggestions: rescue her from Nazis, or terrorists, or wild animals, preferably all on a bus rigged with a bomb that will explode, should it go less than 60 miles per hour. Or send her gloves and an invitation to dinner.

But watch out for traps: Pretty Woman never works out in real life. In real life, the hooker robs you on the third night after that bubble bath and you just end up broke with an STD, a story you can never tell, a huge, ridiculous-looking cell phone and a humiliating nickname that, should you be lucky enough to eventually get married to some non-hooker, will inevitably be explained on your wedding night when your best man stands up to give a toast about you and your lovely bride which digresses from the "how you met" story into something entirely more damning.

Consider yourself warned.

Now get out there and woo, already! The single women of the world are waiting, with baited breat and unrealistic expectations, for you to sweep them off their feet (with nicely toned pecs and a decent job, mind you).

(Oh, and don't thank us women for the honor of this incredible challenge. Thank Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Barbie and Danielle Steele.)


missy&chrissy said...

awesome post - its so true!

i had such a good story with one of my exes...its such a shame that good stories don't always translate into good relationships.

Anonymous said...

I hope your examples weren't all drawn from your life! (Although it would be interesting to know if you could actually pick up a $20 with your butt cheeks LOL).

The story of my meeting my hubby is all nerdy and cutesy, which is, of course, no fun at all!

Still, the story of how a couple met is always surpassed in the end by "the proposal story", and it better be a good one, guys!

missy&chrissy: Come on, what's the story? We wanna know!

Trebuchet said...

M&C -- I've also had a few great stories with ex's -- from the classic highschool sweetheart to the first guy I met on the first day of my first year of college... to the guy who sent me flowers every day for a week after we met... and I didn't even know his name.

But yes, it is a shame that a good story isn't ultimately a predictor of a good relationship. But that doesn't mean men shouldn't be aware that the story is important -- I mean, might as well make sure at least that's solid when you meet women. One less battle.

And c'mon -- tell your story!

Shadow -- no, unfortunately my limited marketable skills do not include pole dancing or tricks with dollar bills.

And nerdy and cutesy doesn't sound so bad, really... share!!

Kevin said...

Trebuchet: I finally posted the release you sent our way.
Hope you like it.

Nattie said...

Sooooo true....

I actually met my boyfriend online...and we've run into that same problem when people ask, 'so, how did you two meet?'

it's not the best story but it'll be our story none the less. We've fallen madly in love with each other and plan to marry in the near future.

jali said...

I've made great friends online, but have always turned my nose up at meeting a love connection the same way - until this summer.

One of my forum groups decided to meet in RL in July after being friends on the 'net for the past couple of years - we travelled to Wash., D.C. and stayed at the home of our hostess. These are some of the dearest friends I have in the world now. I can imagine a true love happening in the same way.

Trebuchet said...

Kevin -- Why, yes you did! Thanks for the heads-up. It's hilarious.

I plan to link here for Legwarmers readers to enjoy, as well, if you don't mind.

nico said...

interesting. I haven't thought of it that way. My friend knows a couple that met in a chatroom. The worst part is: the woman's job was to bait paedophiles on internet chatrooms.

I'm not making this up.

auntiegrav said...

Personal ads are the greatest. In Milwaukee, the Shepherd Express (alternative paper) personals are king of dating. The key to making it decent and serious is to not use the phone first. Make them write letters.
Bars are only ok if you are in a foreign country, because everyone knows automatically that you are an American, but they come up to you and ask if they want to talk.
My brother says (and he was an expert on Charisma, and not the skanky kind)"The first thing you know about someone you meet in a bar is they drink too much to be married to them."
I've got a couple of great stories for some other time about ex's.
When my family met my present wife, they just said, "So, what makes you different from his other wives?"

minijonb said...

You mean I shouldn't be trying to meet a future partner by commenting on her blog!?! AAARGGHHH!!! I've doing this all wrong.

Anonymous said...