Hi, I’m Shani

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that.

He Wore A Bathing Suit On Our First Date

He Wore A Bathing Suit On Our First Date

A word on dress code. I’ve never held a man’s clothing against him. I understand that fashion isn’t everyone’s thing. I don’t expect, at our first meeting, to be dazzled by a man’s particular choice of outfit, because I don’t think it’s a fair thing to judge someone on. Further, I don’t see how a man’s fashion sense is going to be any real help in a crisis. Perfectly cuffed jeans tell me nothing of your spider killing skills.

The specific bone I’m currently picking with the hunger of an underfed buzzard is with effort. I feel disrespected, I feel as if my time has been wasted, if a man puts literally zero effort into what he’s wearing on a date with me. This isn’t a discussion of brand labels, matching, even appropriate dress for weather. It’s a matter of whether or not a human being looked in the mirror before walking out the door to meet me and thought one of two things:

  1. Okay, good.

  2. Eh, whatever.

Obviously I know I am not important to this person yet, that’s not what I’m asking for. But is dating important to him? Is he looking for companionship or had he just not left the house in a while and this was a good excuse? The pace of online dating doesn’t allow for a lot of time, or repeated exposure to a person, to really learn about them. Much has to be inferred.

I don’t like inferring that a man couldn’t care less about dating, when I care very much, nor do I like to get the impression that a man is going to be hard work in an area that isn’t worth it. I can see myself arguing productively in ten years with someone who is a workaholic who needs to spend more time with his family. I’m not going to waste my time bickering with a man who thinks it’s okay to wear corduroys with a hole in the knee to dinner with my boss. I’m worth more.

I recently went on a date with a man who without question rolled sideways off his couch, slid his feet into glorified shower shoes, didn’t comb his hair, shave, or confirm his clothes were clean, and then sauntered out the door to meet me for the first time. And I don’t mean his clothes were mismatched or ill-thought out, I mean they weren’t thought of at all. A clashing shirt and pants number would’ve been preferred to the laundry he showed up in. You might be colorblind as an Instagram filter but you’re not going to wear swim trunks on a date with me and get away with it.

I showered. I shaved things. I did my hair, makeup, applied deodorant, perfume, and two accessories. My clothes were clean. I moved my personal effects from my gross work tote into a small purse of high quality leather. I removed my chipped nail polish. It took me a full hour to create what I considered to be a good first impression. Because I have respect for people. Because I respect the dating process.

Then this schmo comes swaggering out onto my favorite Brooklyn patio wearing an outfit I wouldn’t don to answer the door for the FedEx guy. Messy hair, old t-shirt with words on it, swim trunks, actual fucking swim trunks, and flip flops. I hope before he came to meet me that he’d had a great day at summer camp.

I am already dealing with a massive imbalance of effort in the dating world. I have to come up with a clever, witty enough first line to entice this XY peon to exert even a morsel of give-a-shit to write me back. Men just sit back and collect the matches and messages with their feet up like we’re a box of chicken wings being delivered directly to their overstuffed leather chair. Then throw the bones on the floor.

It is degrading! I can’t speak to them unless I hook them like wild salmon. I can’t meet them unless I set actual firm concrete plans and select the venue because Christ knows if I wait on them to “confirm plans later this week” there are greater odds of it raining Fruity Pebbles than us meeting in person. I can’t participate in the way dating is now without swallowing fistfuls of pride, shame, and an entire childhood that taught me how to date in an entirely different, tech-free way. I’m already lowered, you swine, the very least you can do is show up to a first date looking as though this matters, even a little, to you. He didn’t.

I am irate. This is a date, not a grocery run. I have things to do this weekend. I allowed one of those things to be meeting you. I would have been just as happy, and certainly more productive, dusting my bookshelf and reorganizing the cookbooks while my favorite Chris Rock HBO special played in the background. I left my disdain for the modern dating landscape and for most of your gender at home, you could’ve at least done the same with your bathing suit.

To accept my exertion of effort and simultaneously give the impression that you’re doing me a fucking favor is simply unacceptable to me. I gave up on having a “good” first meeting story to tell relatives a long, long time ago. At this point I don’t give a shit if I have to say that we met while we were both being arrested for shoplifting. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life remembering the moment I met my husband with that dust bunny excuse for an outfit as a part of the picture.

This world is lowering my dating standards daily. I have to keep a level of Linus I will not crawl below. I have my dignity.

It isn’t a question of clothes. It’s a question of effort and respect. Neither of those things showed up to meet me on this date. And no matter how many times this happens again, I won’t bow to it. I will never think I don’t deserve respect and effort. I would rather age into my eighties without a love of my life than give up on those two basic tenets of humanity. I don’t care if that makes me picky. I don’t care if that makes me alone. And I don’t give a flip flop if I ever see him again.

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