"Hey, Doc! What should a woman do if a guy tells her something that turns her off in the first five minutes of a first date, something really scary?"He had told her that he had mother issues, that his mother had screwed him up.
"Like what," I ask, "Like he's got a gun? Pass the nuts."
"And you don't find that interesting? Why is that scary?"For me this is confusing. Most of my conversations start with, My mother screwed me up. In my defense, this time I did not crack, Come on, the guy's Jewish, right?
Contrary to popular belief, Jews do not have a corner on mother stories.
And truth be told, I can certainly see why a person would hesitate getting involved with someone who divulges a personal issue before his first diet coke.
She might have had good reasons to want to run before ordering her sushi, reasons like:
So I buttered a roll, gave her the benefit of the doubt, and was about to explain the facts of life, when she challenged me further.
thinking he should have cleared up his issues by the ripe old age of forty, either by watching Oprah, going to therapy, or successfully banishing negative memories to the recesses of his mind, hoping never to have to deal with them. Like the rest of us.
thinking the polite thing for him to do would be to ask her about her issues, perhaps not talk much about himself at all
thinking he could have showed his mother more respect than to diss her in the first five minutes of a date
"Well wouldn't you see problems with a mother as a red flag?"What's with the flags? Are all issues red flags? Is everyone a potential serial rapist? Does this mean he'll be obsessed with navel lint? How's one to know? Must there be a tragic flaw? Things are culturally synchronous (I know they are with her dates), you share the same values and yiddish nuances. You can work the rest out.
But I wipe my mouth and say,
"Why look for reasons not to like this guy? You only had one date. Anyway, isn't it INTERESTING that his mother screwed him up? Do you think there's someone out there who ISN'T screwed up? I'll bet he's been in therapy."I'm thinking therapy is a good thing, see.
But I'd rather not get into any of this, not over salad, not across a table, and I've just been asked to emcee the shower (n = 70) and to introduce the next speaker, and I'm not a hundred percent sure I know her name.
"Well, yeah, he's been in therapy," she says, frowning and shaking her head fromMore than a sigh, not quite a groan. A sroan.
side to side, as in, therapy's a bad thing.
"Don't you want to know what happened to him in his childhood?"Blank look and decent enough pause.
"Not sure."I'm a patient person. This is my friend, after all, and I love her and I want her happy. So I decide to wait before introducing the speaker, to postpone the opening of the presents.
She tells me she still can't see past the red flags.
"Would you really rather talk politics and religion on a first date? Do you really care? Everyone has something going on upstairs. I'd want to define that something, maybe talk about the person who's had the most tremendous influence upon his psyche, behavior, relationships, attitudes, and habits. Don't you want to know about those kinds of things? Here's a guy who wants to talk about this stuff. Geshmacht. Delicious. And the quiche isn't bad, either."
I suggest she try to weed out violent tendencies, substance dependency and abuse. But rather than use the filtering method for dating she might consider something else, something much less popular yet very sophisticated. She needs to look for something other than flags.
You need to look for the wonderful.
"What?! What do I need to look for?!"
The point of dating is projecting into the future, seeing what it is that you'll see twenty, forty, perhaps even sixty years from now. You're looking for things that will make you smile, that will make you happy. There's something truly wonderful in everyone, and your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find it. If you decide to spend the rest of your life with this person, you'll want to absorb, love, enjoy and build on the wonderful. It's the wonderful that you need.
Way too simple, is it?
"The wonderful," she repeats.
Pass the dressing.