“How many more first dates are you going to go on?” my dad asks. “And when do you move on to Round Two?”
We’re driving to the gym, and if it isn’t weird enough that I work out with my dad, I also discuss my relationships with my dad (and even if I didn’t, he reads my blog and on occasion, he even serves as my chauffeur).
I don’t know how to answer my dad’s question because the truth is I’m making the rules up as I go. How many more first dates should I go on? And what exactly should “Round Two” comprise? In some ways, Round Two has already begun. I’ve been on repeat dates with Dates #3 and #4 and even though #3 has decided to opt out of my “anthropological experiment,” Date #4 is, for whatever reason, still putting up with me.
Date #2, despite the lovely dinner we shared two weeks ago, has somehow slipped by the wayside. He called on my birthday but we haven’t spoken since and it’s only just now occurred to me that perhaps it was incumbent upon me to organize our second date. Of course, I was too busy setting up first dates with Date #5 and Date #6 to figure this out (which is, in and of itself something of a problem) and now I’m not sure if I should just let it go or if I should give Date #2 a call.
The problem with dating multiple men, aside from the obvious issues of emotional entanglement and the equally grave danger of wearing the same dress twice, is that all of the associated “Whom-should-call-whom?” drama is multiplied to the tenth power. Or to the sixth power, as it were. Or by the sixth power perhaps (do you multiply “by” or “to?” And can you even multiply by a power of six? I don’t know. Math has never really been my thing so feel free to weigh in on this, all of you mathematically gifted types. Lucky for me its still summer and I’m wearing open-toed shoes most of the time so at least I can count to ten on my feet).
In addition to stalking handsome American grad students during my time in London (including he of the “sort of girlfriend” infamy), I conducted a little experiment with my flat mates. It was all very scientific—a line graph and all—and we collected data for an entire term.
Like most well funded, university-sanctioned experiments (not that ours was), our data and its careful analysis proved what most people already know: if a guy hasn’t called you by the third day, he’s not going to call.
We arrived at this conclusion after a series of dates (and luckily, I had several “colleagues” to work with on this particular endeavor so I was spared the trouble of the prolific dating that has since become my modus operandi). For the sake of our so-called research, we dutifully plotted points on our graph and performed various calculations which bore, I’d like to think, some resemblance to calculus (yeah I know, dream on, Kat).
And yet no matter how we manipulated our data, the results remained the same: the third day is Judgment Day.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Some guys will call on the first day. Some guys will even call or send a text on the same day and while conventional wisdom would suggest that this makes them lame or overeager, I quite appreciate the man who’s confident enough to know what he wants and intelligent enough to know how to get it.
Of course, some guys will also call on the seventh day, especially if they’re just out of a long term relationship and a bit scared of getting back into the game. And I have this on good authority because it happened to me once when I first arrived in Philadelphia three years ago. Being that I was new in town and utterly friendless at the time, I knew exactly who was calling when my caller ID revealed an unknown number. It was him. But still, I had to pretend that I had forgotten all about him and that I hadn’t been anxiously checking my messages for the past week. Why do we feel compelled to do such things?
And if you think I was making up the part about the line graph, I’m not. I still have the chart and I would post it online if not for my desire to protect the identities of my fellow researchers. I might be making up the rules as I go, and I might be headed for a crash landing (make that a crash landing to the sixth power, actually) I am trying to do the right thing. Anthropology, after all, is a fickle mistress and despite the very best of intentions, the ethnographer often ends up destroying that which she has come to love.