The first fire-red flag with Jack should have come across loud and clear when he asked me — in our very first email exchange – to “rate” his online dating profile picture. This is Match.com, I thought, not one of those sort-of-creepy hot-or-not sites. I wanted a guy to take me out for dinner, a beer, maybe even have a little make-out action; I didn’t want to be a judge on an episode of “America’s Next Top Model: Males of Match.com Edition.”
“So, scale from one to 10 – what would you give me?” he asked.
I figured he was joking, this coming from a man over the age of 12 and all, so I brushed it off, giving him a flirty “Oh, you’re definitely a 10.5 – pushing a solid 11 with that smile of yours!” (though I have to admit, he was more like a 5 drooping down toward a 4).
Sure, maybe we all want to know what our “number” is, how other people would “rate” us against others – but is this something you should ask a potential first date? I mean, really – what if I’d given him the truth: “Well, Jack, you’re kind of a 4-ish, tops – but I’m getting over a big breakup and kind of desperately need a guy who is at the very least not a convict to buy me a few vodka-tonics and call my eyes ‘gorgeous’…”
But in the desperation that comes with the break-up of a long-term relationship, I accepted his offer for dinner and drinks at a local ocean-side restaurant. And, after all, I told myself, the man crunches numbers for a living as a research analyst; maybe I shouldn’t dock him so much for this one so soon.
And, then again … maybe I should have. Fast forward to date night, the first time I saw Jack’s car, an admittedly pretty bad-ass black-and-chrome Escalade. It was nice – definitely a 10 – but Lord knows I didn’t want him to ask.
Alas: “So, whatya think?” he asked.
“It’s nice,” I said with a shrug, hoping we could now have conversation not involving my rating of him and his things.
Jack seemed momentarily satisfied with this response, but immediately after I slid into the passenger seat, he broached the subject once more. “So, is this the nicest car you’ve ever ridden in on a date? Like, a 10?”
Um, he couldn’t be serious, right? Why wasn’t he concerned with being the nicest, I don’t know, date I’d ever had?
But the real clincher came later. The dinner initially went better than I expected, honestly, with no rate-me requests from across the candle-lit table. In fact, a bottle of wine and a few pounds of crab legs later, I’d all but forgotten about Jack’s little constant need for approval in the form of numbers.
After dinner, Jack lead me to the beach just behind the restaurant, where he’d prepared a small picnic comprised of a bottle of champagne, two blue Dixie cups, and a requisite blanket under the stars. Sweet, I thought. The sweetest.
But was I going to tell him this was a top-rated date move? Certainly not. I mean, isn’t part of the fun going home and torturing yourself over what your date thought of you and your actions? Not in Jack’s book, apparently.
After talking for a while, champagne buzz in full effect, Jack leaned in for our first kiss. While I tried desperately to ignore the fact that kissing him felt a little like I imagined kissing a jellyfish might, Jack leaned back, gave me a coy smile, and said: “So? One to 10? Ten being best kiss ever.”
With that, I told my “rate-me” guy that the only person I’d be giving a 10 was the cab driver I was calling that very second to pick me up. A 10 in the form of cash. In fact, I told the driver, right there with Jack beside me, I’d bump him up to a solid 11 if he got me out of there now.