LAST week marked the beginning of a glorious journey for a friend of mine as finally, she joined me on the quest for the all-American man and set out on her first “first date.”
She had sent me several texts throughout the day remarking on her nerves, buckets of sweat, frantic anxiety and general hatred of the world in which this had become a normal activity, but decided to brave the storm.
“Once you get the first one over with, it’s a walk in the park,” I assured her.
This morning, I discovered that she was stood up.
After waiting for 45 minutes alone at a bar that we regularly frequent -- but is now tarnished by the dashed hopes of a vulnerable, beautiful female -- she finally received a message from him explaining that he had “gotten off work late” and “had to work early tomorrow.”
So that extra 45 minutes was going to cost you enough beauty sleep to merit standing somebody up? What is this, a bad ‘90s rom-com? Please, do yourself a favor and come up with a better excuse.
Considering my mind has been slowly swayed to the American way, I felt embarrassed having encouraged her to join me and could come up with no consolation other than the usual routine of cursing him to a love life of failure, insecurity and venomous women who would suck his soul dry of any love and joy that he may have ever hoped to experience. And that he be fired from this all-important job. Promptly.
What is the etiquette of standing people up, and when it comes to dating sites like Tinder and OkCupid, is there any etiquette at all?
After all, these are just total strangers that mean nothing to you in these preliminary stages of what might be one date, several dates or some semblance of a relationship. With no personal ties and no mutual friends involved, there is little face to be saved, and who cares if the girl had to have a drink alone at the bar before making the lonesome journey home – chances are, you never have to see her again.
I decided to ask some friends of mine - both Irish and American, both male and female -- their thoughts on first date etiquette and what it really means to stand somebody up. Here’s what they had to say.
David, bartender, 24 (Irish): “I wouldn’t bother setting it up if I was just going to back out at the last minute – what’s the point in that? You get talking to so many freaks on these sites, if you find someone decent you’d be mad not to follow through.”
Jeff, sailing instructor, 32 (American): “On a Saturday night? The only way I could see that happening is if I was already having a blast with my buddies and decided I didn’t want to leave. I wouldn’t be proud of it, but chances are I’d be pretty drunk so I’d be saving her the trouble anyway.”
Aoife, editor, 26 (Irish): “I’ve done it before, but purely because I was so terrified I couldn’t actually leave the house. I could barely decide what to wear – I was a total wreck. He was my older brother’s friend too so that didn’t go down too well. I ran into him the following weekend and was absolutely mortified. I won’t be doing it again. A lesson learned...”
Callie, advertising, 28 (American): “I was stood up one time by a guy I worked with. He said he’d gotten tied up in a meeting downtown and couldn’t get out of it. I could feel it in my gut that he was lying, so called a couple co-workers to track him down. Last they’d heard, he was headed to a dive bar on the corner of our office building with a bunch of girls from an account we were trying to hook.
“I called up my gorgeous gay best friend and walked into said dive bar with him on my arm and walked right by my so-called date with his posse of pencil skirts. I like to remember his jaw hitting the floor before I skulled a martini and got out of there ASAP.” (This particular transcript was edited to allow for Callie’s colorful language. Thank you, Callie.)
Eli, bar owner, 42 (American): “I stood my wife up on our first date. We had met a few times through friends – we were all musicians working in Brooklyn and there was constantly new groupies coming in on the scene. But Jessica was somethin’ else. Tall, blonde, killer legs …
“Anyway, I finally got her to agree to go on a date with me on a Friday night, dinner and a movie, nothing special. But I was a bit... forgetful. I got the days mixed up and that Friday we had to play...and this was before the days of cell phones. I ran to the movie theater straight after the concert and found her there waiting outside. She stood there with one hand on her hips, chain smoking like a demon. But I knew there and then that I loved her. We’ve been together ever since.”
Alas, I regale my friend with the story of Eli in the comfort that perhaps she’ll end up marrying this shmuck. Bottom line is, it was okay to do this in the ‘90s if you played in a very cool band in Brooklyn and described beautiful women as “somethin’ else” with a wistful look in your eye.
As for the rest of us, this is completely inexcusable. Irish, American, drunk, sober, scared, rude - whatever you are, get over it.