History Lessons: Some Guy My Friend Didn’t Date

Years and years ago, I lived with my best friend J in Washington D.C. I was in graduate school. She was working as an artist and at a coffee shop. We were poor and lived cheaply and everything was fantastic.

At some point, we decided to set each other up on blind dates, via craigslist. Neither of us knew enough people in DC – at this point, we had only lived there for a few months – that we could set each other up with actual acquaintances, so instead we wrote up ads describing each other, posted them, sorted through the billions of responses and picked two each.

The men she sent me out with were wonderful. She knew me well, knew what kind of guy I would like, knew how to find out what kind of man was behind the neatly written emails she received.

The first date – Matt – took me to fondue restaurant, to a wine bar, to a comedy club, and kissed me sweetly and put me in a cab home. I went out with him a few more times (we saw a movie, went ice skating), but in time we realized that there was just no mojo.

The second date, whose name I can’t remember, was uncannily perfect for me. I was in grad school to study democratic development in Bosnia, a field that includes, oh, a few hundred people in the United States. Date #2 worked for a democracy-building nonprofit and had just returned from making a film about the development of Bosnia following the war in the Balkans. He took me to my favorite restaurant, without knowing that it was my favorite. He was lovely-looking, the conversation was great… but again, no mojo. (This may have had something to do with how terrible I looked that night. We had been trying to make plans for ages and, at the last minute, realized we were both free that night. I met him straight from work, wearing utilitarian black slacks and a formless sweater, no makeup, hair a bit greasy from being tied back all day, possibly smelling of ink.)

The men I chose for J were decidedly less fantastic. One was utterly forgettable; I cannot remember even one thing to tell you about him. She never made it out with the other. Instead, after they had exchanged a few flirty emails, he sent me a note to say that he had decided he wasn’t interested. She had mentioned the name of the coffee shop where she worked. He had dropped by without telling her. J was a striking and unusual-looking girl: short, fat, bright red hair, always a big smile on her face. Unmistakable. He took one look at her and got the hell out of there. In his note to me – which was classy of him, I guess? to tell me that he was ditching my friend? – he said that he didn’t want to go out with J because she – in his words – “had a weight problem” and was “too flirtatious.” He could handle one or the other, he said, but not both.

I never told her what happened. I made up some story and picked someone else for her second date (about whom I also remember nothing). But what that man said, that man that neither of us ever met, has stuck with me all these years. That he was bothered by the combination of her size and her brazen flirtation. That he would have been comfortable going out with my fat friend if only she had been meek, quiet, shy. That her fat was inoffensive as long as he didn’t have to think of her as a sexual creature. It’s the nightmare that I have every time I approach a man, drop a line on a dating site, show up for a blind date: that no matter what he says out loud, no matter what he believes about size acceptance, he’ll take a look at me and get queasy at the thought of sex.

(This story does not have a happy ending. My friendship with J ended dramatically, in part – but not mainly – because of a man that she and I both loved. But that’s a story for another day.)


11 responses to “History Lessons: Some Guy My Friend Didn’t Date

  1. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that to a lot of guys (for better or worse) it’s precisely the meekness and submissiveness you’re describing that’s attractive in a woman. Additionally, a lot of men I’ve met have been totally intimidated by strong, outspoken women, regardless of their size or shape. They’re total tossers and any self-respecting woman – thin, fat, in between – will not touch them with a ten-foot pole.

  2. “A weight problem”? I think he was the one with the problem with it …
    I have to confess, I’m more than a little interested in the “story for another day.”

  3. A Yale University study this year found that the average woman starts to experience discrimination when she becomes thirteen pounds overweight, while an average man can be nearly 70 pounds past a six-pack before his size interferes with his relationships or his work. The authors of the study also noted that “sizeism” was more socially acceptable than discrimination based on sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality, and disability.

    We have an article in our magazine that I would love for you to read. Its at http://www.tangomag.com/20085282/sex-the-curvy-girl.html/1

    Let me know what you think!


    PS: I would love to read about the “story for another day” too!

  4. Women who own the space around them are intimidating — women who own their sexuality without depending on a man to affirm it are intimidating — add to the mix a woman who won’t ‘disappear’ herself for society, you’ve got a recipe for an amazing woman, a force to be reckoned with, and a perfect person with which to sift the wheat from the chaff.

    That dude? Total chaff. He couldn’t handle someone like your friend, and she’s better off because of it.

  5. palegrayforguilt

    Without knowing your friend J or the male aforementioned, it may be conceivable that he sensed J was over-compensating for an insecurity. It has been an observation of mine…(A Man) that many, (Male and female) who display flirtacious, boisterous or otherwise very outgoing personalities are simply attempting to conceal a perceived flaw that they think can be diminished by displaying other traits. Maybe the fact that she was over-weight wasn’t the problem at all. Maybe this male saw through the facade of an underlying, more serious personality issue that he may have had experience with in a former relationship… I’m no expert either, but is is possible.

  6. I think that if you had been honest about who exactly you were setting these men up with in the first palce, it may not have ended so disasterously for your friend. Perhaps you lack a bit in the profile writing skilz! That aside can’ wait to hear about why y’all aren’t friends anymore. Sounds like scandal!

  7. Well Mr. PaleGray, I too have what I would call an ‘outgoing’ personality, and aside from any normal human insecurities I have (by this I mean those insecurities that anybody and everybody shares regardless of gender, size or colour) I am not this way because I am over compensating for anything. I am this way because I like myself, I am happy in my own skin and I like other people and want to interact with them.
    If some guy, who hasn’t even bothered to ask me my name, decides that I’m not for him just by watching my face, body and mannerisms then fair enough- he certainly isn’t for me either.

    I am a fat woman, I have regular sex and regular dates. I’m neither greatful for what I can get or short of admireres. But my dates have taught me that a significant amount of men go for fat girls because they want someone who is meek and shy and will be greatful.

  8. palegrayforguilt

    Touche’ Cupids Review, I acquiesce. I meant no disrespect. Only an observation from this man’s perspective. Thanks for yours.

  9. palegrayforguilt

    Touche’ Beakerella, I acquiesce. I meant no disrespect. Only an observation from this man’s perspective. Thanks for yours.

  10. I think Heidi’s comment was for me – and there’s probably some truth to it! I really didn’t know how to go about talking about J’s size in the ad (or my own; that’s why I wanted her to do it for me!). I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure it was unhelpful. Tried to cover her fatness up with some cute language or something.

    And the stupid thing is? Years before I came around to any semblance of fat acceptance, J showed me how beautiful fat women can be. I remember one morning, the door to her room was a little bit open. She always slept much later than me, and as I walked past I saw her on her side, in her bed. She was naked and had her back to me and the gorgeous sensuality of her left me speechless.

    As for how our friendship ended… I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it. It’s personal and has no relevance to the themes of the blog. The only dishy part was the man we were both in love with. He was my dear friend, who I spent a year secretly in love with (before I finally told him, and was rejected, and our friendship fell apart, and I haven’t spoken with him since I moved away, and ugh).

    Have I mentioned that I’m pretty bad at relationships? All of them, I mean, not just romantic attachments.

  11. Hello again! I’ll segue into my comment by stating that I’m horribly unlucky in romantic matters as well, so my heart goes out to you! The blind date story was interesting, and I suspect the second man was trying to be “nice” in a very chicken sh*t way. I’m also going to have to say I’ve also noticed what Palegray mentioned, that there are a certain percentage of people that are more outgoing when they percieve an inadequecy on their end – hell I’ll own up to noticing that I do that in certain situations, such as job interviews, etc.

    I’m sorry to here about how your friend and you parted ways – and how it also caused that rift with your female friend. Despite the fact your obviously over it, my condolences anyway! :)

    But as far as intimidation goes, from my experience, too many people equate independance with disagreeability and stubornness. No one likes an arguementative person – no one wants to be in a relationship with someone who’ll give them grief every day about anything and everything. I certainly don’t, and I think that’s why alot of men avoid what they percieve as the making for a blustery partner.

    Anyway, I’m going to check out other posts – take care again!

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