I like a good-looking guy just as much as the next woman — a guy who’s got some muscles, maybe a good head of hair (which, at my age, is fairly rare), most of his teeth. These things are high on the list, to be sure, but I’m also keen on a guy who’s intelligent and can participate in conversations.
I’ve never considered myself a “brainiac,” and I never would’ve said I only want to date smart guys. I am, however, skeptical about anyone who doesn’t read — and no, the sports page doesn’t count! — but I’ve learned to relax my standards. I understand that not everyone has five books going on at one time and that reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
I’ve also come to understand that there’s dumb, and then there’s dumb.
Matt brought me a flower on our first date. How sweet! He was adorable, had broad shoulders, a full head of thick hair, a nice smile and was shy in a quaint, cute way.
The date was uneventful — nice, ordinary. No rockets, but no warning bells, either.
We continued to talk on the phone, occasionally at first, then several times a day. Matt really liked talking on the phone. He’d text, “Can I call you?” At first, I found it appealing that he would ask — and that he wanted to talk to me so often. Except that Matt answered the phone every time I called as if he had no idea who was on the other end.
This might play if it was 1975 and I was using the rotary-dial phone in my parent’s house. However, since we were both using cell phones, I’m positive it displays the number — and a name, if you program it to do so — every time a call comes in.
Also, he wanted to talk but had nothing to say. Whether I called him or he called me, it was up to me to ask all the questions and sometimes answer them, too. Matt went to work — at the factory, where he’d been forever — came home, fed his kids and then had nothing to do. He’d tell me he was bored — and, quite often, mad, because I had previous plans and couldn’t see him.
Whenever he’d tell me how bored he was, I’d suggest he read a book. His response: “I don’t read.” So I’d tell him to get a hobby. Any hobby. “I just want to see you,” he’d reply.
We’d been out a couple times, and he wanted to do whatever I wanted to do. This was nice for about 2.5 seconds — and then I found myself wanting a guy who could think for himself. A guy who had opinions, thoughts, goals, concerns. Something. Anything.
I began to stop answering every single text. I called him less frequently. And one week I was really busy and didn’t see him at all. At the end of that week, he asked me to stop over.
When I got to his house, Matt was standing over the sink, bleeding — a pile of bloody napkins on the counter. He explained that he’d gouged the roof of his mouth with a tortilla chip.
As I watched him jam more paper napkins into his mouth, I asked how long he’d been bleeding. “A while,” he said, through the napkins.
“I think you need ice,” I said, also suggesting that he Google it, in case there was something else he should do. I sat down at his kitchen table. He nodded, jammed another wad of paper towels in his mouth and walked to his computer. He came back 10 minutes later, tossed the bloody paper towels into the trash and told me I was right.
I told him to get a washcloth. He walked into his bathroom and brought one into the kitchen. “Now get some ice,” I instructed, “and put a handful into the middle of the washcloth.” He did. “Now smash the cubes,” which he did. “Now put some of them back in the freezer, and the rest into the washcloth and then into your mouth.” Matt jammed the washcloth, now full of ice chips, into his mouth, and sat down across from me at his kitchen table.
His mouth didn’t stop bleeding for an hour and a half. He put new ice into the washcloth several times, while I essentially talked at him. At one point, I asked why he didn’t tell me about his tortilla injury over the phone, so I wouldn’t have driven all the way out there (after all, we’d only gone on a couple dates at this point).
“I don’t know,” he said, his eyes as blank as an unused VCR tape.
I talked to Matt once or twice after that, but in the end, I just stopped returning his texts. It was easier that way. I’ve considered sending him a jar of salsa and some chips, along with a note, telling him to watch out for sharp edges — but I’m afraid he’ll get the wrong idea.