Since Date #17 is still too busy studying (doesn’t he realize I have to go on dates in order to write about dates?) I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the strange and rather bizarre process of transcending the single life, or, becoming somebody’s girlfriend.
As several of my readers across the pond have pointed out, there are major differences between dating in the US and dating in UK—so much so that I spent an entire month dating an undergraduate when I lived in London (or so I thought) come to find out that we weren’t actually dating. We were going out every Friday, and making out every Friday, and as far as I knew, this was an exclusive sort of thing (until I got pissed off at him during our international Thanksgiving potluck and went storming off to Chinawhite in my new cherry red heels for a girls night out with my flat mates) but we were not, according to the Englishman in question, actually dating.
Rather than attempt to untangle these transatlantic differences, I’ll just chalk it up to ethnosemantics (such a great word!) and get back to the question at hand: when does the girl you’re dating become the girl you’re dating?
Obviously I’m referring to my current status—or rather lack of status—with Date #17. If you’ve made it this far in The Experiment, the fact that I am, once again, talking about myself should come as little surprise. It what’s I do, plus it’s my blog (and even when it’s not my blog—even when it’s a family dinner, say, or my brother’s birthday—I still tend to err on the side of egocentricity) but for today, I’m going to attempt to talk more generally about the process of becoming someone’s girlfriend. And so I’m not going to talk about me; I’m going to talk about my ex-boyfriends.
There have been four to date, two serious and two not-so-serious. Rather than dwell on the unfortunate circumstances that comprised the ends of each of these relationships, I’d like to concentrate on the beginnings. In particular, the “Will you be my girlfriend?” question.
In truth, I don’t think the question ever came up with my first boyfriend. We were 17. He lived in Canada (of course I would pick the mysterious foreigner for my first affair) and after several months of 8 hour commutes to see each other, I think I finally forced the issue: Are we a couple or not? Evidently we were, which was a huge relief because I used to listen to a lot of Vanessa Carlton back in the day and whenever “A Thousand Miles” came on the radio I used to bawl my eyes out thinking about my long distance Quebecois boyfriend.
With my second boyfriend, I remember the exact moment he popped the question (not that question—the “Will you be my girlfriend?” question). We met during my senior year of college and owing to the fact that he was living in Florida at the time, he subjected himself to Thanksgiving with my entire family a mere two weeks into our relationship just so he could see me one more time before leaving town. The annual Hooper’s Island Black Friday Martini Bar Soiree had yet to include martinis in those days (we just called it Thanksgiving, actually) and seeing as his initial introduction to the Richter clan included my grandmother (who promptly informed him that she’d been praying for me to find a good Christian husband), I couldn’t help but say yes when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
My third boyfriend and I were friends long before we started dating. I was on the rebound (or rather on the rebound from a prior rebound) and therefore hesitant to jump right into another relationship. Nonetheless, he invited me to meet him for a coffee, confessed that he had feelings for me and launched into a slow but steady campaign to win my affections. This wasn’t particularly difficult (I’d had an on again/off again crush on him for ages) and when he cheekily relayed a conversation with his grandmother in which he’d referred to me as his “novia” I simply raised my eyebrows, rather cheekily myself, before giving my assent.
My most recent boyfriend made the mistake of asking me to be his girlfriend over Facebook. Given that he was Italian, by way of South Africa, by way of London, I had no idea what was considered proper in his culture. But a relationship request of this sort was definitely not proper in mine. “Take me out to dinner and ask me properly,” I replied. And so he did, but we got so caught up in our meals and our discussion of his upbringing in South Africa that he forgot.
When he offered to escort me back to my flat, I decided to take pity on the poor man. “If you’d like to ask me a certain question again,” I hinted, “I’d like to answer it.”
Clearing his throat, he asked, “Would you do me the honor of considering becoming my girlfriend?”
It was at this point that the bus lurched around a turn and sent me crashing into his arms, which was rather convenient all things considered, but even so, I couldn’t resist teasing, “I’ve already considered it.”
“Well will you?” he demanded.
Of course, that conversation took place over a year ago, and I now find myself faced with the prospect of introducing Date #17 to my friends, and being introduced to his, and not quite knowing what to call him.
“This is my friend so-and-so” I said to an old classmate outside the Suzanne Roberts Theatre two weeks ago.
But when Date #17 introduced me to his friends after their comedy show the very next night, he dropped the “my friend” and said simply “This is Kat.” I’m not sure what to make of such an introduction. Surely “This is Kat” is better than “This is my friend Kat,” because it implies that I’ve already been a topic of discussion amongst Date #17’s posse (at least this is what it would imply if I were the one not using the word “friend”) but who can tell? For what it’s worth, his Facebook status still says single (not that I’ve been checking his profile every day or anything crazy like that) so I guess until that changes, I should just stop obsessing.