I arrive a few minutes early to the coffee shop, feeling sick with anxiety. It’s pouring with rain outside and I’ve made a breathless sprint for shelter, mostly to preserve my hair, which I’ve painstakingly straightened. The clothes will dry. The make-up can be retouched. But the hair? Once it’s wet, all hope is lost. Really, I should have waited until May to start dating again.
I’ve spent hours agonizing over what to wear for this half-hour coffee date. I’ve decided on polished and professional, given that I’m meeting Adam after work, and so I’m wearing a cute blouse, a pencil skirt, and high-heeled boots. The plan is to look good in an effortless sort of way. Adam does not need to know about the agonizing. Nor does he need to know on this first date how truly vain I really am. I’m running my fingers through my still-dry locks when Adam walks in.
In person, he’s good looking, with a great smile, and a rugged build. He is not a tall man, but he has the most impressive set of biceps I’ve encountered in a while. He displays these biceps when he pulls up his sleeve to show me the tattoos on his arms: a Canadian flag, a set of stylized Hawaiian turtles, and a ’66 Mustang, just like the one in his garage. His arms are beautiful: in fact, he might be worth a second date just for his body. He’s funny too, and wealthy and adventurous. Really, what’s not to like?
I’m a little uncomfortable when he places his Porsche key fob on the table between us. It’s clear he wants me to notice it, to ask him about his car. I don’t. And then throughout the conversation, he drops multiple references to his wealth, describing his frequent holidays to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, places he escapes to when the island starts to feel too small for him. He even tells me how much he paid for the franchises he operates. He is under the impression that money is the way to a woman’s heart. And though I joke about being a trophy wife, the truth is that money just isn’t that important to me. The last man in my life had lots of money and at first I loved the way he showered me with gifts and drove me around in his expensive little convertible. But eventually, his preoccupation with accumulating more wealth became a source of tension between us.
Adam, of course, is unaware of this, and rattles on nervously, telling me about his expensive hobbies and many investments.
“So, yeah, that’s it, really. That’s me in a nutshell.” He looks uncomfortable. He’s fidgeting and having trouble keeping eye contact. I don’t know if it’s something about me that’s making him anxious or whether it’s just the whole first coffee date thing he’s struggling with. On paper, he’s a man with everything going for him. I’m not sure why he isn’t more relaxed and confident.
And I wonder how I’m coming across to him. I’m nervous too and seriously out of dating practice. I’ve forgotten how prepared I need to be, how ready I need to be to pick up the conversation. But even as I’m processing all this, I’m focussing on one key thing: he is not for me.
I know this with absolute certainty, and within fifteen minutes of meeting him. But I’m not disappointed. I’m relieved. It is so good to know that I haven’t lost my judgement, that I can trust my instincts, and trust I’m not going to end up in a relationship unless it’s just right.
And so in early March, I find myself penning my first Thanks but no thanks email:
Thank you so much for coffee today. I enjoyed your sense of humour and appreciated your honesty. And – I have to say – those are impressive biceps. Honestly, I’m surprised you’re still single. But I don’t think it’s going to work out for us. I’m an island girl, and I need someone who wants to be here, who isn’t trying to escape this place.
I wish you well, Adam.