Ok, in Dave's defense, it could have been the timing. Our ill-fated date took place Sunday evening after a weekend that he spent with his 5 year old daughter. I can imagine that after spending all weekend with your beautiful little princess, you wouldn't be in the best of moods having to bring her back home... to a home that isn't yours.
In my defense, HE PICKED THE TIME! I don't have a crystal ball to know that he was coming to a pizza place on the way back from dropping off his daughter. I don't have a magical mood ring to tell me he isn't feeling up to snuff. I do have a cell phone, though. He could have called me to reschedule (it's a sad, sad fact that I'm used to being stood up. I don't take it personally anymore). He didn't call to reschedule. He arrived on time, right after dropping off his daughter. And that's how I ended up spending Sunday evening defending two people I had never met: his daughter and his ex-wife.
We met at a great little Italian place on the waterfront. It has a great salad, pizza and beer special. It has an outdoor deck that overlooks the harbor. It is quite frankly, the perfect spot for a first date (you know, if you're not into kayaking or rollerblading).
We met, got our seats, exchanged pleasantries, and ordered. So far, so good. I had not been insulted before the waitress arrived. A personal best for the year! I asked him what he did over the weekend. He told me that he had his daughter over.
He showed me a picture of her and told me her name and that she was 5 years old and in kindergarten. I told her how cute she was and how she had his eyes. Then I asked what they did.
He told me about the disastrous dinner they had on Friday night. He had cooked seafood linguine with a light cream sauce and she refused to eat it. Then she said she wanted...
"Wait!" I said, "Let me guess -- chicken nuggets?"
"Yes!" he said, "How did you know?"
" 'Cause she's five. All five year olds like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, frozen pizza, grilled cheese, cereal, and either Danimals or Go-Gurt. And that's pretty much it."
"That's exactly what she eats," Dave said. "Except that she also likes gummy treats. Do you have kids?"
"No, but I have nieces. They've been five."
"Well," Dave continued, "that doesn't excuse the fact that she didn't even take a bite of the meal that I spent so long cooking for her. It's her mother's fault. She spoils her. She doesn't make her try new things. She lets her eat whatever she wants and doesn't care about her nutrition at all."
"Dave, relax. I'm sure the seafood linguine was wonderful. I would have eaten it right up. But I'm not five. Five year olds don't eat things like scallops. It's like a texture thing. She's fine. All five year olds are picky eaters. She's just being five. Seriously, she'll be ok. And the important thing was you two got to spend time together, right?"
"Well, yeah. On Saturday I took her shopping for a birthday present. I was gonna get her a bike. She picked one out that was the same color as her old tricycle. The same color as her room. The same color as half her clothes."
"Let me guess! PINK! or Purple. But probably PINK!"
"How did you know? She wanted the pink and purple bike."
"Because she's five. All five year old like pink. Or purple. But mostly pink."
"And then we went to pick out a Halloween costume. She wanted to be the SAME THING she's been for the past two years. She wanted to be --"
"Yes, a princess. Were you stalking me this weekend?"
"Um, hello? FIVE! Five year old girls and princesses are like peanut butter and jelly."
(At this point, I'm thinking things are going just swimmingly. We are talking and forming a bit of a bond. We have dessert menus and we haven't killed each other. Plus, he thinks I'm some kind a guru with encyclopedic knowledge of the behavior of five-year-old-girls.)
"Well, somebody needs to put their foot down. It's just irresponsible to let our daughter behave like that. She needs to have boundaries. And not letting her eat the same things every day and have everything in the same color and have the same costume year after year after year is the first step in teaching her some boundaries. But does her mother do it? No! I have to be the bad guy and get her upset and have her cry all weekend. And then she goes home and her mother doesn't reinforce anything and she just continues to behave like a spoiled brat!"
Ummm.....what the hell just happened here?
"Umm....I'm sorry you had a bad weekend."
"Did your nieces act that spoiled when they were five?"
"Well, yeah. They were five. That's how five year olds act. She's not spoiled, Dave. She's fine. All five year olds want to be princesses and watch the same DVD over and over and wear their Cinderella dress for days at a time without changing. It's normal. She's doing all the right things for her age. Try not to worry so much."
"Forget it." Dave said. "You finished?" He pointed at my plate.
"Ok. I'm sorry. I just want to go home."
And that was that.
I still see Dave from time to time when I run or bike or blade on the canal. We always smile and wave and say "Hey." But timing is everything, they say. And our timing just wasn't right for something to begin.
Our timing was great, however, for just another BAD DATE.