There are some rules—some terms of engagement, if you will—that simply cannot be broken. These rules pertain to dating of both the online and offline varieties, and as such, they are universal. And timeless. And simply must be obeyed.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning, and the beginning in this case (like so many others) involves my mother. My mom taught me the basics early on (don’t wear plaid with stripes, don’t run with scissors, don’t play with knives and don’t have sex until you’re married). As I grew older, she added to this list (don’t leave your glass unattended, don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking, don’t neglect your girlfriends just because you’ve found a boyfriend and of course, don’t have sex until you’re married).
I imagine she would have advised against several of my European escapades had she known (don’t date boys you’ve met on Craigslist, don’t spend all night carousing with Norwegian bachelors when you have an 8:00am lecture the next morning, don’t cut class and go shopping if you shop at the same stores as your professor, and finally don’t have sex until you’re married) but I suppose there comes a time when you just have to trust that your offspring won’t end up drunk, drugged or impregnated while wearing plaid with stripes.
The one rule that has remained constant, no matter how old or how far from home I find myself, is this:
If a man asks you to dance, and you refuse, you cannot say “yes” to the next man who asks you.
I have no problem with this rule. It’s polite. It’s fair. It’s honest, or at the very least, it’s meant to encourage honesty (if, for example, you tell would-be-dance-partner #1, “No thanks, I’m too tired,” and then turn around and tell would-be-dance-partner #2, “Sure, let’s foxtrot!” then you’re a lying, churlish little coquette who doesn’t deserve to dance with anyone).
Well folks, I broke this rule earlier this month during my night out with Date #1, but not without good reason. We were salsa dancing, and Brasil’s nightclub in Old City draws a wide variety of clientele ranging from the super suave to the super sketchy. When one of the latter offered me his hand, I declined with a polite “No, thank you.” When he followed me across the floor, hip bumped me and again offered me his hand (Seriously? The hip bump? ) I said, “Sorry, my feet hurt.” Then, so as to avoid sending mixed signals, I sat down.
It’s not my fault that one of the super suave types came along three seconds later. Nor is it my fault that the DJ was playing a bachata, and there’s nothing sexier than dancing the bachata with a good looking man who actually knows how to dance.
Naturally, I said “Si, gracias.” And from there it was a slippery slope.
When I found myself in a similar situation a few minutes later, I decided to go for it (in for a penny, in for a pound). First: “No, would-be-dance-partner #1, I’m thirsty and I’m off to the bar to get a drink.” Next: “Why yes, would-be-dance-partner #2, I’d love to salsa with you!”
In this case, would-be-dance-partner #2 was actually my date for the evening (aka Date #1) so it seemed only polite to dance with him. But for my latest offence there’s no excuse. After blogging earlier this week about my recognizance mission to the Chart House (and all of the associated “What does Date #5 do for a living? I have no idea” business) I got to feeling guilty. And after hitting it off with Date #3 a bit more than I had expected to, I got to feeling really guilty.
There’s a fine line between casting a wide net and completely overfishing (or in my case, between accidentally fancying several men at once and purposely attempting to schedule as many first dates as possible). And as much as I would have loved to dine at the Chart House (our recognizance mission had revealed the Penn’s Landing restaurant to be tres chic) I have no business dating a man whose name I cannot pronounce and whose occupation I cannot recall.
I realized, with some regret, that the only noble course of action would be to cancel my rendezvous with Date #5. And so I did, four days ahead of time (politely and thoroughly via both email and text message). I planned to sit the next dance out, so to speak—to spend Tuesday night at home in a penitent, monk-like state, reflecting upon the consequences of my online dating frenzy. But then I got an email from one of my Match.com “pen pals.” And he’s one of the ones I’ve been dying to meet.
“Any chance you’re free Tuesday night? It would be great to finally meet you!”
Now I ask you: what’s a poor girl to do?