Handicaps and Other IcebreakersbyAmerican_Knowbody©
Normally I avoid blind dates with the same conviction a gay man avoids becoming a gynecologist. Why waste your time examining someone you didn't have an interest in to begin with? My friends, Brad and Kim, however, had spent weeks trying to convince me to go out with a friend of theirs and I finally relented if for no other reason than to shut them up. Besides, truth be told their friend was attractive and, having been in a bit of a dating slump, I decided that a blind date in this case was, on the whole, slightly better than no date.
Her name was Patricia. She was an accountant at the medical supply company where Kim worked, a mother of two and some sixteen months removed from a divorce. She was on the tall side, slender and attractive in that simple, understated way that too often goes unappreciated in our surgically perfected pop culture society.
We agreed to meet on a Friday night at a quiet little French-American restaurant in the heart of downtown. Such places are always a good choice for first dates. The food and drink is generally good enough that even if your date doesn't impress you at least walk away still feeling the evening was somewhat worthwhile.
We started off with the usual pleasantries, tried-and-true icebreakers like 'where are you from' and 'what's your retirement plan look like'. Patricia was charming enough and clearly intelligent. She even had a decent sense of humor and an easy smile to go with it. All the same, though, by the time the appetizers had arrived I knew she had sorted me out and placed me in the 'not potential love monkey' bin.
I had a pretty good idea why I was so easily and summarily dismissed. Patricia's subtle double-take when I had stood to greet her at the table was a clue. I had assumed that Kim had told her all about me or at least mentioned the obvious things. I figured she would have slipped in any potentially problematic factoid between a couple of minor exaggerations to the positive in order to balance things out, something like, "He's ridiculously rich, has a little bit of a handicap, and can pick a lock with his tongue." Judging from Patricia's initial reaction, however, I gathered Kim hadn't mentioned any of those things. Then again, maybe she had. There can be a big difference between knowing something and actually seeing it.
In any event, I could see throughout dinner that Patricia was wanting to ask the inevitable question. To her credit, though, she managed to refrain from doing so until the third glass of wine had arrived, which as anyone versed in social decorum knows is the acceptable moment for bluntness.
"What happened to you?" she asked setting her glass down.
Now, the interesting thing about having a noticeable handicap is how people feel it's completely within their right to ask you about it. It irritates me, to be honest. And it down right pisses me off that in asking they obviously feel I am somehow obligated to answer. I mean, no one—no one in their right mind at least—walks up to a pregnant women on the street and asks, "So, tell me how you got fucked?"
How I handle the situation in large part depends on my mood. When I'm feeling nice I'll respond with something like, "Why don't you tell me what's wrong with you and I'll tell you what's wrong with me." When I'm feeling a little less forgiving I lie. I make up some total fabrication of a story, something so tragic, so heroic, or so astounding and improbable as to leave the person dumbstruck for the better part of a week.
War stories are a popular way to explain away a physical disability. They're full of drama and heroics and manliness and everything that makes a girl moist. However, I shy away from them out of general principal as I don't think it's right to use the backdrop of war to get laid ... unless the girl is really, really, really hot.
Childhood trauma stories can also be a very effective genre but require a nuanced performance in order to come across sympathetic without being pitiful. For me, the risk of provoking a woman's mothering instinct is too great. There's just too much of a chance you'll become a salvage project instead of a fuck buddy.
No, I much prefer tales of high adventure like mountain climbing or race car driving, stories where you laughed in the face of danger and gritted your teeth through painful recovery after surviving through sheer will and determination an accident that would have killed any other mere mortal. Yes, those are the stories I prefer. If you pull it off, it will leave your date weak in the knees, and leave any other man within hearing distance feeling like a limp-dicked wonder.
So I sat across from Patricia and carefully considered the situation. Clearly there wasn't going to be a second date or, for that matter, any after dinner activity requiring a pair of velvet lined handcuffs. In the absence of sufficient motivation, then, I decided that I wasn't inclined to discuss something so personal just to satisfy her curiosity. I decided that if she wasn't going to fuck me, then I would simply have to fuck with her.
I have to admit, I out did myself on the story I told her. I know absolutely nothing about sailing yet managed to convince her that I had attempted to sail around the world on my own only to be capsized in a storm off the Cape of Good Hope. I honestly don't know if Great White sharks roam the waters off South Africa, but I can tell you I fought off several in the three and a half days I waited for rescue using nothing but a ballpoint pen and a condom. I'm actually thinking about hiring an agent and selling the movie rights.
The story was so effective, in fact, that as we were leaving the restaurant Patricia actually invited me to her place for a drink. I graciously declined explaining that I had an early morning haircut appointment and needed to finish watering my plants before going to bed. I shook her hand, thanked her for a wonderful evening and walked back to my car.
Honestly, even if the opportunity was there, I had no desire to take advantage of Patricia, or more to the point I had no desire for her, period. Call it a personality flaw, but I have trouble sleeping with someone when the me they're sleeping with isn't actually me. Besides, I knew that Patricia would be talking to Kim at work come Monday and my somewhat little white lie would be revealed. Yeah, Kim would be duly pissed. But I was righteously peeved. I figured this made us square.
Back in my car, I pulled up to the parking garage attendant's booth and handed the young man inside my ticket. "That'll be seven dollars," he said.
As I fished through my pockets for the money, he added, "I noticed you walking up to the garage. Looks like you've lead an interesting life, too. Can I ask what happened?"
I looked up at him and for the first time noticed his one arm.
"You want the truth or good war story?" I asked.
He laughed. "The truth. I've got a enough stories of my own."
"Really?" I replied. "I should set you up with this girl I know."