Dealbreaker: The Life of the Party

I met Mr. Life of the Party at a bar. I’d spotted him from across the room because he was funnier, taller, and cuter than everyone else. I marched over and told him as much. We talked for what seemed like hours, and before the night was over, he got a kiss and my number.

He called the next day, and we bantered wittily. Finally, he invited me to dinner that evening at his “favorite restaurant.” He gave me the address and asked me to meet him there.

I primped before heading to the designated location … only to learn the “restaurant” was a bar that served buffalo wings and the occasional nacho. Maybe he was trying to see if I was high-maintenance?Once inside, I spotted my date immediately. He was surrounded by a group of guys near the bar. This was not what I’d expected, but I thought about how, when he’d kissed me the night before, I’d felt lightheaded. I fought my way through the admiring throng of beer-guzzlers and breathed my most seductive hello. He didn’t hear me. When I managed to get his attention, he looked surprised at my presence. Eventually, we fell into flirting and, fueled by the raucous atmosphere, my crush grew more and more animated.

Several nights later, we went to an opening at an art gallery. I had a wonderful time — socializing with my date’s friends. As for my date? After kissing me hello, he busied himself working a crowd across the room.

“He sure is good in a group!” remarked the girlfriend of one of his friends.

Soon, I learned that my new flame had an amazing ability to sustain meaningless conversations with strangers (“You dig ditches? That’s fascinating! Do you use a shovel? Wow! Are the ditches mostly dirt? Unbelievable!”). Some might label it insincerity, but I chalked it up to natural charisma.

And did I mention the kissing?

Next, he invited me to a birthday party. He arrived to pick me up (forty minutes late, but I let it slide) and we headed off. We walked to the fête in silence. Was he tired? Under the weather? Unimpressed by my ensemble? I turned on the charm and plied him with questions, but one-on-one he suddenly had little to say. As we neared the party, my date’s phone lit up, and so did he. He stayed on the call for the rest of our walk, finalizing plans for a concert he was attending with friends.

The party was packed, and we procured beverages quickly. One of his buddies complimented my eyes. I thanked him and glanced over at my date to see his reaction, but he was nowhere to be found. His friend and I had a great conversation about his work at a health clinic. I loved that we could have an interesting exchange even in the midst of a crowd. He gave me his full attention. It felt wonderful and, I realized, unfamiliar.

I scanned the room and saw my escort with a bunch of his younger brother’s friends. They were stamping, clapping, and singing a song I couldn’t make out. They all looked drunk. Eventually, my date stumbled over to a wiry redhead. I watched as he leaned in, very close, to catch what she was saying.

I excused myself and walked over to him. “Hey,” I said, tapping his shoulder.

He glanced my way before continuing with the story he was relaying to his captive audience. I waited to see if he’d introduce me. He didn’t. “I’m heading home,” I decided aloud.

Before he could respond, one of his friends raced over: People were heading to a club across town. “Sorry I’ve been a bad date,” my guy announced, hugging me. “Let’s change venues.”

We collected coats and fanned out into cabs. On the ride, my date got another call. From what I could discern, a friend had told him there was a new plan, and we’d be heading to a different bar. My guy hung up hurriedly and, without a word to me, tossed a $20 at the cabbie before instructing him to pull over. He shot out of the taxi, expecting me to follow.

I didn’t.

I closed the door behind him and politely asked the driver to keep going.