The following is the transcript of this podcast episode.:
Jodi: Hi, Monica. Thank you so much for coming on the show to talk about a memorable first date you’ve been on.
Monica: Well, I’m glad to be here, Jodi.
Jodi: Let’s start out with you sharing a little bit about yourself before we delve into your story.
Monica: Sure. I’m in the 40-something category. I was married for 21 years and I’m divorced. My surgeon husband left me for his nurse. So, I got to become a divorce statistic and a cliché all at one time!
Monica: I have two kids. I have a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. I was a loan officer while my husband was completing his residency, and then when he went into private practice I took over the household. I was a stay-at-home mom and ran everything at our house, and personally, I guess I would describe myself as a kind of an athlete competitive type. I play on three soccer teams and ride a snowboard, scuba dive, do the marine boot camp because I’m a glutton for punishment. I’m a cyclist and then my latest sport is adventure racing.
Jodi: Adventure racing?
Monica: I do the shorter races and they are trail running, kayaking, single track mountain bike racing.
Jodi: And with all these activities, you have had time for dating?
Monica: Yes. I finally realized that it was time to carve out a space for myself.
Jodi: So let’s talk a little bit about how you transitioned into dating because you spoke about the end of your marriage. How was it that you got yourself to get going in the dating world again?
Monica: I can attribute that to two of my very best friends, Jeff and Kelly. They’ve always had my best interest at heart and they’ve been instrumental with a “Hey, it’s time to suck it up and get on with your life,” kind of an attitude. I had a lot going on at the time. I was 10 months into my divorce process and my ex and his divorce attorney were basically just thinking of ways to make my life unbearable.
I was going to counseling. I was going to dust off my transcripts because I was in a position where I had been a stay-at-home mom for several years and I was getting ready to go back to work. So, I had a lot on my plate. Jeff and Kelly, they stayed on me. They would call and ask “What are you doing? What’s going on in your life?” And they finally called and said, “Enough is enough and you need to get back out and have some fun.”
Jodi: Thank goodness for them.
Monica: They said hard truths to me. I remember Jeff calling me one day. I was sobbing on the couch because my husband and his lawyer had done something mean to me again and he said, “I don’t want to be mean to you. Get off of that couch right now and do something. Enough is enough!”
Jodi: What were the first steps you took to get back into the social scene and the dating scene?
Monica: Jeff pretty much orchestrated the first foray into this. He and I, we spoke on the phone pretty much every day. We were on the phone one evening and he suggested that I go out with this really cool guy that he knew. “He won’t be your future. He will just be a tiny step toward healing.” By Jeff phrasing it that way, it made it more palatable. It wasn’t, “Oh, I found this perfect man for you and you’re going to ride off in the sunset.” I didn’t want at that point to ride off in the sunset with anyone. Had he presented it that way, I think I would have said, “Absolutely not. No way.”
But instead of that, it was, “Just get out of your house. Just go meet somebody. He’s a nice guy.” I was tired of sitting around my house and staring at what I considered the remnants of my earlier life. “What could be bad about it?” So I agreed.
Jodi: Is this the date we’re going to talk about today?
Jodi: What is the name of the guy who Jeff introduced you to?
Monica: His name is Scott.
Jodi: How did you and Scott end up meeting? Was Jeff a part of it or did just the two of you out together?
Monica: Jeff set it up. He spoke to Scott, spoke to me. Scott was the one who came up with where and when. Then Jeff just called me and said, “Hey, you know, Scott wants to meet in the bar at a restaurant five blocks from your house.” It’s a nice restaurant. It’s a very vibrant area, lots of people. It was close to my house so I felt very comfortable getting myself there and back without anything scary or weird going on. So, it was a very easy date.
Jodi: You were going somewhere familiar to you. You were going out with somebody who knew someone you knew well. It wasn’t so scary for you.
Jodi: Do you remember how you felt getting ready for the date, the first date you’d had in over 20 years?
Monica: Yes. Because it was framed in my mind as, “You’re not out looking for your next husband,” it took a lot of the heat off of it and a lot of the stress off of it. It was just supposed to be a fun evening out, meeting someone new, and being brave, and stepping out of my comfort zone which is something that I’ve always tried to do. So that aspect of it wasn’t new.
The other thing that meant a lot to me is, I’ve always felt very strongly that we teach our children through our actions and not through what we say. So I felt like that I was teaching my daughter, primarily. Life can throw horrible things at you. You dust yourself off and you move forward. I felt like she was seeing me do that and that was something important to me.
Jodi: How did you get to the date?
Monica: I drove over. I was actually a little bit early, which is not something I can usually claim. I parked in the parking lot, sat in the car for a few minutes and reminded myself that there were no expectations set for the evening. I kind of had that pep talkie thing with myself. I had on a brand-new outfit. I had lost a bunch of weight that I necessarily didn’t really need to lose, but it just kind of came along with the journey. I bought myself a cute little outfit at Anthropologie and got out of the car, straightened up my outfit, and strolled into the restaurant. I was already proud of myself for showing up.
Jodi: Way to go! That is such a healthy way to approach something that could be scary.
Monica: Thank you. If you knew me a little bit better, you’d also know that I also like to tell funny stories. At the back of my mind, there’s always that, “This could just end up being a really funny deal. So let’s just see what happens,” kind of an attitude. There was a very tall, attractive man sitting at the bar and that was Scott.
Jodi: Did you recognize him right away? Had you seen his picture?
Monica: I had not seen a picture. There weren’t a lot of men that fit the description that Jeff had given me. So it was pretty easy and he was obviously kind of watching for somebody to come in the door. We introduced ourselves and he greeted me very nicely and we sat down at the bar and ordered some drinks. The conversation started with, “Well, how do you know Jeff? Well, how do you know Jeff?” That kind of gave a nice introductory with starting point.
Jodi: What sort of vibe did you get from him?
Monica: I got a vibe that he was very self-confident. He obviously had been single for a while. You can get that feel that he was very sure in his role/
Jodi: He knew the dating scene. He knew how to be on a date.
Monica: Right, exactly. I probably didn’t come off that way.
Jodi: With good reason.
Monica: That’s right.
Jodi: So, there you two were. You’re sitting at the bar. Did he order you a drink?
Monica: He ordered drinks for both of us. For me, it felt like I was seated next to someone who I didn’t know at a dinner party. The conversation was fairly comfortable, very harmless topics.
Jodi: What happened next as the evening progressed?
Monica: For me, the evening took a downturn when I began to noticed that Scott was several drinks ahead of me. But he didn’t appear to be getting drunk. So, when I see that happen, I don’t ever think, “Oh, wow! The man can hold his liquor.” I think, “Oh, wow! This man must really drink a lot!” Because all of a sudden, I thought, “Wait a minute, I’m still on my first drink and I think that’s like his third or fourth.”
Jodi: Really? Wow! He was that far ahead of you.
Monica: Oh, yeah. I think it was cranberry and vodka, or something that you can drink fairly quickly if this is what you do all the time. So that was my first red flag. He’s not slurring and he seems like he should be. The second major red flag for me was that he started being rude to the wait staff, leaning over the bar and snapping his fingers at the bartender saying, “Hey! Hey!” That kind of stuff is always a flashpoint for me.
So I’m sitting next to him and I’m feeling really awkward and really pretty embarrassed. I am mouthing “I’m sorry” to the bartender behind Scott’s back whenever he’s looking away. When the bartender is just doing things, like maybe handing me another napkin or something like that, I’m being overly gracious, “Thank you SO much for this napkin.” I’m trying to compensate for what’s happening next to me.
Jodi: Was the bartender going back and giving you nods or eye contact?
Monica: Yes. He was saying, “It’s okay. It’s him!”
Jodi: While Scott was treating the wait staff so poorly, how was he treating you?
Monica: He was not being rude to me. He was not being terribly attentive. He was exuding kind of a self-absorption. Again, I got the feeling that this is something very common to him. He didn’t look like, “Oh my gosh, I’m drinking too much because I’m nervous,” or, “I’m drinking a lot because this woman is such a bore.” I just got the feeling of this was a typical evening for him and I just happen to be the sidekick.
Jodi: Interesting. Was it that he was out on his date with you because he wanted to be drinking and you were someone to be out drinking with, rather than he was out meeting you to potentially have a longer term connection and relationship with you?
Monica: Yes. It felt like he would be doing this same thing the next night with someone else, which at this juncture was fine by me, by the way.
Jodi: Because you are not loving the way he was treating people and you were not loving what you were seeing either.
Monica: No, no, no.
Jodi: Where did the evening go from there?
Monica: The evening took a nosedive for both us when he got around to asking me how long I’ve been divorced. My answer was, “I’m still in the process.” He looked at me and said, “Oh, wow, you’re radioactive!”
Jodi: What did you think when he said that to you?
Monica: I’m sure my mouth just dropped and inside my head, I promise you I thought, “What an ass! I am so glad I’m not responsible for him in any way.”
Jodi: That’s so true! So right. What did you say to him? Did you say anything when he said that really obnoxious statement to you?
Monica: I repeated it back because I was just so stunned. I said, “Radioactive.” And he just looked at me and he made some inane comment like, “Well, yeah, I mean, you know, if you’re not even done, or whatever.”
At that juncture, I thought, “I’m pretty sure that Jeff would have shared that with him. I don’t think Jeff would have said, ‘Hey, do you want to go out with my friend? She’s been divorced 20 years.’” So that also reinforced my feeling of, “I’m just the seat warmer next to him for this evening.”
Jodi: Did you stay much longer?
Monica: I had finished my drink at that time and so it was a good time. He is a friend of my friend. I don’t want to throw my drink in his face and make a big huge scene. I was being brave, but I wasn’t that brave at that point in my life. I had pretty crummy self-esteem going anyway, but I didn’t take it personally.
Had he looked at me and made a very personal comment at me, I would have probably burst into tears. But his radioactive comment, it exposed more about him than it did me. It was a nice, easy point to say, “Whoa! This has been fun.” He didn’t have a problem with it either. It wasn’t like he was falling in love. So he paid the check. I’m sure he didn’t want to offend Jeff either and that was that part of the evening.
We did walk together out of the front door. He handed over his valet ticket. I did not. It was very obvious that my car was not going to be brought to me. They whipped up in his little two seater sports car and he just climbed in and drove away. I remember standing there thinking, “Wow! Okay. Now I’m walking through a dark parking lot all by myself.” It never even crossed his mind that maybe he should have somebody make sure I got to my car safely. On top off the rest of his behavior, that was kind of the icing on the cake.
Jodi: He was no gentleman and he had had a heck of a lot to drink as well. So he shouldn’t have been popping into any car.
Monica: No, no, no. Exactly!
Jodi: You learned a ton about this guy in a very short period of time, but you also learned about yourself, didn’t you?
Jodi: What did you learn about yourself?
Monica: I was proud of myself because I was in a very, very crappy personal space of very negative vibes and very hurtful things were happening to me. I learned that my friends can see the value in me even if I couldn’t always see it and I listened to them. That was a good thing. I let them be my self-esteem for me. I also stepped out of my comfort zone, which is always important for everyone. That’s how you grow.
I also learned that I have a say-so about who I spend time with and that I don’t have to settle, that it’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to go out and meet somebody and have it not go anywhere. Like I said earlier, disaster dates can end up being a very good lesson. They can also end up a better story! It also reinforced that I had made a decision. If I’m going to start dating, I’m not going to have these dates come to my home or be near my children. I had some single friends who I had watched. It was a parade of different men coming through their children’s lives. For me, I didn’t feel like that was appropriate. I wanted them to know that I was taking the step. I wasn’t hiding the fact that I was going out. But I wasn’t going to have these people come to my home and be in my children’s lives unless I felt I had met someone very special and that I was going to be spending a lot of time with that person. Then, maybe, I would take that step. That was a personal choice for me and I felt like this date really reinforced that decision.
Jodi: This first ‘first date’ after over two decades of not being in the dating scene really helped get you back on the path to self-renewal!
Monica: Yes! I had gotten married at 21. So I had gone straight from my dad’s house, to college, to my husband’s house. I had never had the experience of having my own place, of taking care of myself and being on my own. This was a step into that experience that I really feel was a valuable experience. It’s a good experience for everyone. I think it’s invaluable for women. I was just coming into it 22 years late.
Jodi: What a great life lesson you learned! All of these were great life lessons that you came to learn out of dark place, with the end of your marriage and an unfortunate first date. They propelled you down a healthy path. There are women listening to this episode who are divorced and who probably relate to a lot of what you experienced. What words of advice do you have for them?
Monica: To not use all of the hurt and negativity that may have been hurled at you in some past experience as an excuse to not get out there. There’s a lot of experiences that can build you as a person. If you can get off that track of meeting your husband, or meeting your next husband; if you can stop that tape and look at it as just a growth experience for yourself, then you’ll be surprised at how comfortable it can be and how refreshing it can be. I encourage people to do that, to take that step.
I’ve also watched a few of my single girlfriends waiting for their married friends to set them up. I did this. It was my married friend who got me that first date. But I encourage women to not bank on that. Your friends who are married or in relationships may not thinking about the dating scene anymore and a lot of times they don’t want to be involved because if it blows up they don’t want to feel responsible for it. So I just encourage women to own it a little bit. You’re an intelligent woman. You know what you like. Trust that.
Jodi: It’s great if other people can help us, but we need to take the initiative.
Jodi: Thank you for coming on this show and sharing this incredibly memorable and meaningful story about your first date with Scott.
Monica: Jodi, thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed sharing this story. It would be fabulous if it helps another woman get back in the game.