“Call me before you go to the party,” Solomon said. We had just met for coffee (tea for me) and realized we were heading to the same holiday club party that Saturday night.
But I was annoyed. Why did I have to call him before I went to the party? I was going with my friends, a group of us in our forties, single and having fun. And now this guy, who I just met, was being clingy.
Be nice, a little voice in my head warned. Be nice.
I know it sounds silly, but I’d recently made a pledge to myself that I wasn’t going to start behaving nicer to the men who were nice to me. Sure, I’d like to think that I was nice to everyone, but I’d recently taken stock of my dating life and saw that I tended to avoid the nice guys: the ones who tended to call the next day and tell me what a wonderful time they had on the date, the ones who told me I was pretty, who bought me presents, who were eager to make plans to see me soon.
“He’s too intense,” I would tell my friends, after avoiding his fourth call. Instead, I tended to wait for a call from the cool guy, the one who went out with me on the weekend and I wouldn’t hear from again till Thursday or Friday. I was never the type of woman who chased guys who weren’t into me. No, I preferred guys who were into me but not too into me.
But lately, I was noticing the same pattern. I would date these guys for three weeks, three months and all would be going well, until, well, one day it wasn’t. One day, I wouldn’t hear from them again. And I’d be the one calling them for the fourth unanswered time. Actually, it had been that way for the last twenty years. Some guy I was really into — whom I thought was into me as well, would give me the “Listen, Amy,” speech. As in, listen, I like you, but I don’t want to date you exclusively/don’t like you that way/don’t want to ever see you again,” or something along those lines. Which was fine when I was 25, but not when I was 40. No wonder why I was still single.
After my last breakup — different guy, same story — I wondered what a husband looked like. I didn’t mean literally what my theoretical husband looked like (I was sure he was tall, buff and blond!). I meant what the type of guy who would be good husband material would look like on a first or second date. I was starting to realize he looked nothing like the men I dated. A husband type wouldn’t call you once a week, or give you that speech after a few months. No, a husband-type would be nice. Effusive. Complimentary. Intense. He would be too into me at the start. If he weren’t — well, how would he be into me as time went on?
I vowed not to run away from these type of guys, to actually be nice to them, no matter how uncomfortable they made me feel.
It wasn’t easy: I felt myself getting annoyed at Solomon, for asking me to call him before the party. He was just being nice, so I had to be nice back. I didn’t call him, though, I texted him: “Leaving now, see you soon?”
I was dancing away with my friends at the club and got a text from him. “Party closed, too crowded, waiting outside.”
Again, I felt frustrated. Why should I have to leave the party because he was so late?
Besides, it was freezing cold outside, and crowded too, with people clamoring to get inside.
Be nice!, the angel on my shoulder said. So I forced myself to head out of the party. I told my friends “some guy I just met is waiting outside.”
I headed outside into the cold wind, plastering a smile on my frigid face.
There he was, standing in the back of the crowd, holding a carton from Starbucks. “I got you a mint tea, no sugar, just like you like it,” he said, the steam of the drinks mixing with the smoke of the icy air. He’d remembered which tea I had that day. And went and got one for me. In the very recent past, that might have made me cringe, but that night, before we found a bar to sit in, I was glad I had something to warm me up.
That holiday party was four years ago. I’m glad I left it — and even happier I finally learned to be nice, especially to Solomon, the man who would become my husband. He’s nice to me every single day. And I don’t even mind.