Writing left handed

Behind Every Successful Man… is an Unhappy Girlfriend


Image by bitslice via Flickr

Houston, we have another problem.  It’s goes a little something like this (and before you congratulate me on becoming Date #17’s official girlfriend, I should confess that I took a few poetic liberties with the title of today’s post.  “Behind Every Successful Man… is an Unhappy Girl He Met on Match.com” sounded just plain ridiculous so I opted for the more obvious choice of “girlfriend”):

Hey there Date #17, whatcha doin’ tonight?

Date #17: Studying.

Can I tempt you to join me for a little study break?

Date #17: Yes, you could.  Easily.  But please don’t.

Why not?

Date #17: Because I have to study!

But I have a gift certificate to Café Spice that’s burning a hole in my pocket.  I’ll quiz you on your analogies over garlic naan!  We can make flashcards.  I’ll bring some index cards and—

Date #17: Kat?


Date #17: They don’t have analogies on the GMATs.


It’s bad enough the Date #17 cares about his job and regularly works 60-hour weeks.  It’s even worse that he’s a healthy eater, and that when he’s not otherwise occupied with a certain someone (me) he goes to yoga on the weekends and oh yes, I nearly forgot, he’s also training for a marathon.

But worst of all, he’s scheduled to take the GMAT’s later this month.  For the second time.  Not because he did poorly when he took the exam five years ago—quite the opposite— and not because he has any immediate plans to pursue an MBA—he doesn’t— but because he’s almost freakishly sensible about his future (he wants to keep his options open, should the opportunity to pursue his MBA arise).  And because GMAT scores, just like GRE scores, expire after five years.

This is because America’s Educational Testing Service is second to only the military industrial complex in its money-grubbing lunacy: first there are the SATs, and while most students take these during their junior or senior years of high school, some take them as early as seventh grade to qualify for the “Talented Youth” programs at Johns Hopkins University (not that I would know anything about that).  Then, there are the PSATS, or Pre-SATs, followed by the AP or Advanced Placement exams, and finally, once you’ve slaved through four years of college, you’re faced with an array of graduate school entrance exams: the GREs, the MCATs, the LSATs and the current bane of Date #17’s existence (and mine, by extension), the GMATs.

I took the GREs several years ago.  The best that can be said about the entire ordeal, which left me sobbing in Fairmount Park after I failed yet another practice-book quantitative reasoning quiz, is that I wore a great outfit to the testing center, and that my university of choice, being a British university, didn’t give a crap about my GRE scores.

Of course, if I decide to pursue my PhD after my GRE scores expire (a likely scenario) I’ll have to either re-test or simply hop back across the pond, where they don’t pander to the ETS.  Herein lies the great difference between Date #17 and I: whereas he would rather spend his evenings studying for an exam he’s already taken, just in case he decides to pursue his MBA, I’d rather let my scores expire, eat garlic naan and just go back to London.

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly bohemian (I plan my backpacking adventures in Excel for crying out loud!) but in comparison to Date #17’s wardrobe of carefully arranged neckties— and carefully calculated career moves— I’m a freaking gypsy.

This might explain why Date #17 has a lovely apartment, a closet full of business suits and enough disposable income to take a cab whenever he comes to see me, whereas Yours Truly rents from her parents and relies upon SEPTA.

That’s not to say that I don’t understand where Date #17 is coming from.  Even though I didn’t take my GREs very seriously, I worked my ass off in college (when my parents offered to take me to Italy I said, “No thanks, I have a term paper to write”).  I respect Date #17 therefore, because he is working very hard to craft the lifestyle he’d like to lead (as opposed to just complaining about his personal and professional misfortunes as past boyfriends have done).  I also know that I wouldn’t be enjoying the flowers, the concert tickets and the fancy dinners to which Date #17 has treated me if not for his 60-hour work weeks—it’s all part of the same, rather shiny, package—but this particular package is teetering on the brink of disaster: Date #17 is scheduled to take his GMATs the day after the annual Hoopers Island Black Friday Martini Bar Soiree.

Considering that I couldn’t even convince him to join me for dinner, I doubt I’ll be able to convince him to join me (and my family) for a weekend in the middle of nowhere.  And even if I did, he’d probably spend the whole time not snacking.  He’d wind up doing yoga and jogging up and down the length of the island instead, and while I always intend to do these, I never quite manage.  I guess this is why I need a nice goal-oriented boyfriend like Date #17 but in the meantime, his drive is driving me crazy.

22 Responses to “Behind Every Successful Man… is an Unhappy Girlfriend”

  1. cocktailsattiffanys

    I have to disagree completely. While I don’t know you or #17, or the commenters above me…I’ve found myself in your situation many times. A man with goals and suits and a great job looks great on paper, and sounds really impressive at dinner parties, but when he’s working until 9 every night and you’re sitting around like a single girl…it isn;t so much fun.

    There has to be balance.


    • Kat Richter

      Good point, Lucky. He did warn me when we first started going out that these next few weeks were going to be busier than usual for him… I guess I’ll just have to wait and see!

  2. Salome

    This is awesome. You have a boyfriend. Just wait till the end of his exam. Then, you can take out all your coupons, and, munch on all the garlic naans. He better not have any excuse then.

  3. Sam Barnett-Cormack

    Just a gut feeling, but I reckon that, if there is a prospect of anything serious happening (and American terminology for these things seems to so heavily mismatch with British that I have no idea if that’s something you’re even thinking about), you’ll probably both have to change towards each other a little…

    • Kat Richter

      Terminology? Haha- tell me about it! I’ve been discussing “dating” with some mutual friends of ours from YFGM and it would seem that your countrymen and mine are operating on completely different wavelengths 🙂

      • Sam Barnett-Cormack

        I think the area NAmericans cover with ‘dating’ is covered by a series of terms over here, including “seeing”, “gone out with” (but not *going* out with, which implies the initial stages of bf/gf-dom), and more specific terms depending on the *physical* stage of the relationship… the early stages of boyfriend/girlfriend are, I think, more casual here than in the US (that is to say we use those terms at a more casual stage)… but it’s really hard to define. I think, culturally, that people in UK don’t tend to “go out with”/”date” more than one person at a time, excepting people who have “alternative lifestyles”. Of course, you can socialise one-to-one with someone of the relevant sex without it being “going out” or “a date”, in which case you can be doing it with multiple people close in time… and now I think I’ve confused myself.

        • Kat Richter

          Goodness Sam, now you’ve got ME confused! Perhaps I need to conduct a similar experiment on British soil so I can really get back to the bottom of this…

  4. Mary Lynn

    Perhaps you could convince him that Hooper’s Island is an excellent place to study. (I myself grade most of my papers there, and, despite its woeful lack of internet access, it’s a wonderful venue for writing as well — that’s why God made flash drives.) Of course, the Martini Bar Soiree does rather cut into study time (both during the event and, depending on how much you enjoy the soiree, the day after), but still, if you don’t tell him too much about the crazy neighbors, you might be able to sell him on the peace and tranquility of the Eastern Shore in November.

    • Kat Richter

      Brilliant! I think the “it’s such a great place to study!” angle is way better than the “but my family/friends/readers are DYING to meet you!!!”angle, lol 🙂

  5. Debbie Williams

    Well…at least you can call the man and propose a dinner getaway as opposed to my situation where you can’t even reach the man because he is, literally, in the middle of nowhere for 6 – 11 days at a time… just a bit frustrating…

    Anyway…back to you! I would propose finding a location for him to take the test on the Eastern Shore or in Baltimore. That way he could easily come and go from the Soiree… (I am well versed in ETS…I DO work as a college counselor…) But as you know, I also went abroad to avoid the evil that is the standardized test. I took the GRE…to get into Harvard…didn’t even look at my scores…and promptly included a disclaimer on how it would make be a better arts educator by understanding standardized tests…THEY BOUGHT IT! Because I know they must have been REALLY bad… I took the test using the “Yeah that answer looks good” method. I say lets hop the pond for the PhD and forget the whole testing thing altogether. We are Dance Majors after all!

    • Kat Richter

      I’m with you on that! (The hop the pond bit) 🙂 As for YOUR man… I totally owe you a message! I’m intrigued. Keep me posted! xoxo

  6. Greek n Blonde

    Working hard ha? What needs to be pointed is how far is he willing to go for the life we wishes to lead as you said, meaning is this ever going to stop and what is more important in his life, work or family. I had the same issue on the table with my boyfriend when I thought I lost him over his job. I don’t like to come second.

    • Kat Richter

      Nor do I. It’s a tough call. We’re only a few weeks in so I don’t really feel like I have the right to be Number One Priority just yet… (especially because I certainly have no intention of making him the same on my end).

  7. Landlord

    What about Sat after the GMAT’s? I’m sure we’ll have leftovers that won’t resemble ‘snacks’ and plenty of leftover martini makings? This option tests his ability to multitask w/ the best around…

    • Kat Richter

      BRILLIANT! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this… “Come for Thanksgiving dinner with my family the day before your exam” sounds way more daunting than “Join us for a relaxing drink afterward.”


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