I didn’t start Thoughts From Vinton Ave to write about my social life. This is more of a space where I can relate personal insights. But when those two things intersect, a blog post happens.
Perhaps it’s best that I point out two things about myself for people who don’t know me.
One is that I’m a single father. My son is 19 and I’ve had primary physical custody for most of his life. Yes, his mom (my ex-wife) is involved and lives nearby. She’s a great mom, she’s close to him, and I have a solid relationship with her. But I was the one that did the bulk of raising him…a point that I’m fairly proud of.
The second is that being a single parent means sacrifice. I put some aspects of career on hold. Career for me meaning working in marketing, advertising, and public relations. At times, I had to put opportunities aside. That’s life. That’s sacrifice. It was worth it. But it came at a cost, some of it financial. So to help supplement, I waited tables from time to time.
Anyway, when the Great Recession hit, and as companies cut back on marketing, my sources of income inverted. Instead of being a digital marketing guy who waited tables on the side for extra income, I became a waiter who once and a while picks up marketing gigs for extra income. Believe me, it’s not how I want to live. Not at all. But that’s life. And there’s a saying in advertising (actually it’s my saying). Just like many say 50 is the new 40, when it comes to advertising, 35 is the new 60. In other words, it pays to be young. Real young. Being young is now part of my past.
Oh, while I don’t really want to wait tables…I have to say this. I work at what arguably has been the finest restaurant in the Greater Washington Metropolitan area for the past 50 years…and is ranked by Open Table as being one of the Top 100 restaurants in America.
Now that I got all that out of the way, here’s the story…
This past Saturday night, I got home from work and popped open Facebook. Soon there was a new friend request…from someone who will stay unnamed. I accepted. She was obviously perusing my profile and was leaving a couple of comments. I checked out her profile then emailed her and thanked her for the friend request. Soon we were having one of those light but flirtatious conversations that seemingly happens only late at night. Or, more accurately now, early in the morning.
She was local (Alexandria) and divorced with two kids – one who had just graduated from high school. She wasn’t from the US originally but came here in 1989. Her Lithuanian good looks mixed with her Venezuelan upbringing made her all the more interesting. I think she was the one who “made the first move” by asking :
So why are you still chatting with me? Destiny or boredom or loneliness?
Which was soon followed by:
How “single” are you (THINK before you answer. You’re dealing with an extremely smart woman here)
I answered truthfully. Very single, but not stressed about it. I explained my past as she did hers…she was divorced five years and had a hurtful breakup a year earlier. She hated “serial daters”. She mentioned that she felt that men aren’t attracted to women with kids. She acknowledged her age may be held against her…until she found out my age. It was a great little get-to-know-you conversation. She finished it off with:
I’m going nite nite. It was kinda a good nice surprise chatting with you.
You know what? It was kinda a good nice surprise chatting with her as well. I guess I’ve been “single” for so long that I forgot that there’s this whole ‘nuther world out there. Went to bed happy. Woke up the happy as well. And I thought about her the next day while I was working a damn double (meaning a twelve hour shift, both lunch and dinner) at the restaurant. I was looking forward to (and hoping that) we’d be chatting again that very night. To be sure, when I got home, she had playfully written:
So Mr. Trenn, I really thought I was going to hear back from you? What happened? Did I scare you? Or are you playing the stupid hard to get game?
I responded with:
No. I was playing that “I had to work all %÷&#$€× day game. But I did manage to think of you about 37 times today. So there.
Now, it was Sunday and she was confused. Why was I working? Uh-oh. Well, here goes…
I’m a waiter. The recession did that to me a few years ago. My heart is in digital advertising. Trying to get back into that…Don’t want to be a waiter. You asked why I hadn’t dated in a while. That’s part of the reason.
That went over like a lead balloon. Not only did the topic of conversation change…her attitude changed as well. She mentioned that while she was excited for her son as he was to soon leave for college this fall, she was also nervous. I merely pointed out that this was likely the first time he would be away from home for an extended time and got this in response:
Well yeah, duh! He just graduated from high school. So yeah, he’s going AWAY to live in Boston to attend college. Hello??
Hmm…her attitude that once started out as being playfully snarky was now less playful and more snark. And it continued in this manner. Not overtly harsh. But quite cool and distant. And slow to respond. I tried to say something nice…that soon her worry about her son will turn to beaming pride. The response? Silence. And more silence. After about 10 minutes, I asked if she was still there. Nothing. But then:
Was saying good night to my daughter. I’m also going to bed. Good night.
OK…just like that. Conversation over. Confused, I went back to check out her profile. Got the telltale “OOPS This profile either no longer exists or you don’t have access to it”. And looking back to our conversation, I was no longer allowed to reply to it.
I had been blocked.
WTF? She had blocked me. Just like that. I had done nothing wrong. I had been honest. I was flirtatious, but not suggestive. I had praised her as a mother and had complimented her on her son. No matter. I was blocked. Gone. Done. Adios. And her attitude changed right after I told her that I was a waiter.
What makes this insulting – beyond the obvious lack of respect – is how one finds out all of this. While she’s off to bed or perhaps chatting with someone else, you’re left to discover all of this on your very own. You try hopping onto her profile, only to find out that…hey wait a minute…what’s this? At first, you’re befuddled. Where did it go? It was right here a minute ago… It then dawns on you that you were unceremoniously digitally deleted. No recourse. No finding out why. Like getting tossed out like scrap paper. Gone. Done. Adios.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but the lack of respect she seemed to display right after I told her I was a waiter was also displayed in the ease of her decision to do what she did. I have no shame in being a waiter, but I will admit that that attitude does bother me.
It confirmed two things I already knew, although one was partially forgotten. I realize that here in status conscience DC, the fact that I’m a waiter makes me less marketable. That’s not me whining nor does that mean that I have a lack of confidence. It’s just the truth.
The other is that here in DC there can be a certain shallowness and self-centeredness in people when it comes to dating. More so than most places I do think. People not only create such high and narrow standards that they cut many great prospects out…all the while complaining how picky others are. And they can carry on in such a shallow manner that it breeds an overall cynicism in many. This episode reminded me of that. I’ve been out of the loop so long, it probably stung a little.
The reality is that this, truthfully, is not a big deal. It involved two quick conversations within 24 hours. We never met and we’ll likely never meet. And that’s fine. In fact, if this is her attitude, she would have been a waste of time. Time I could spend doing better things. And again, I don’t apologize for being a waiter just as I didn’t feel conscientious for being a single father.
Nevertheless, I take three things with me…
First, ironically, a conversation that started out with her playfully giving me grief for not contacting her ended up with her ending it by completely eliminating me from her life…apparently because I currently wait tables for a living. Her attitude clearly showed that.
Second, she was someone who had pointed out her own dislikes of the dating scene (“serial daters”) and her own experience of having of being “discriminated” against (having kids, age discrimination)…yet she showed no willingness to have the type of open minded tolerance that she likely hoped men would give her. Receiving tolerance is great. Giving tolerance is inconvenient.
Third, and very telling, is that not only did my honesty of my own situation and my acceptance of her situation not, in the end, win me any points…but the fact that I tried to be genuinely nice to her HAD ABSOLUTELY NO POSITIVE EFFECT AS TO HOW SHE ULTIMATELY VIEWED ME OR TREATED THE SITUATION. I was likely viewed to be a loser and therefore I was gone. Digitally deleted. Gone. Done. Adios. The quality of my character – albeit displayed in a very short time period – didn’t mean shit.
Again, that’s DC for you. And while this whole episode reminded me that, yes, there’s another whole world out there…something that I probably needed to be reminded of, it also reminded me of one of the reasons I haven’t been actively looking to date.