Kyle reaches across the table, gingerly plucks one French fry from my plate and coos “Oh, I really shouldn't eat this; a girl has to watch her figure.” He bats his eyelashes, which I suppose he thinks is adorable and then asks “Am I just horrible?” A mudslide that destroys an entire neighborhood is horrible. A plane that crashes in a terrific fireball is horrible. Stealing a single French fry from your date’s plate is not horrible. Unless you are a forty something year old man who calls himself a girl, while attempting to feign an adorable devil-may-care face. Then yes, this is horrible.
“Why don’t you take the rest?” I offer. My appetite has vanished.
“I couldn’t,” he smiles and then glances sideways at me, “Well, maybe just a few.”
In his profile picture he looked blonde, complex and devilishly impish. On the phone, his personality was a mixture of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Katharine Hepburn. There was a certain “je-ne-sais-quois” quality about him.
“I just arranged a birthday brunch for my friend,” he says rolling his eyes at the word brunch, as if to say it has come to this, then continues “I simply cannot stay out all night like I used to. My friends tell me I’m a bitch. I am!”
In person, he is not a mixture of anything, he IS Katharine Hepburn. In short, he is simply not my type. He is Spencer Tracy’s type. I wish that I could just go ahead and tell him this. But, I am new to the dating scene and have not learned how to be ruthless.
“You know, you should change your profile picture,” he says. Kyle has learned how to be ruthless.
“Oh, what’s wrong with my picture?” I ask
“Well, there is nothing wrong with it per se. It’s just that you’re not smiling. You look so serious in it, well like now,” he says.
That is when it strikes me how deceptive the thumbnail profile photographs are. From a distance many men look really attractive, but when you expand them, you see all of their flaws. The eyes are too close, or the teeth require work, or there is something just not quite right about the way all of the parts are put together. And then there are the photographs that look too good. The lighting is soft and reminiscent of a Parisian sunset in autumn, the skin flawless and the features chiseled like Roman Gods. These men are too beautiful to be in love with anyone other than themselves, or else they have become extremely proficient in Photoshop, in which case they are still in love with the image of themselves.
I chose a photograph of myself that was truthful, yet flattering. It was one that my daughter had taken of me. In it, I am standing in a church parking lot, wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pensive look on my face. In the background, you could see the steeple surrounded by blue skies and billowing clouds. But, the photograph was less about what was behind me and more about what was in front of me. From her angle, my daughter captured someone who appeared solid, tall and ready to move forward.
We finish dinner and Kyle insists on walking me to my car. He pops a breath-mint in his mouth, puts his hand on my waist and offers “Mint?” I am in danger of becoming a human French fry. I do not mask my horror.
“You know Kyle, I just want you to know that I think I'm becoming serious with another guy,” I ruthlessly lie. Time to move forward.
Am I just horrible?