Just when you think you’ve heard it all, dating sites throw up the unexpected. Let’s call this guy Sparky.
I only chatted with Sparky over two nights, since on the second night he showed himself to be a dick and things went down in flames. (Sparky is a fireman, but in our final conversation he was acting more like an arsonist).
So, Sparky and I actually had a bit in common, and the fireman thing is just hot 😛 (not that I was going to let him know that early on). His profile said he liked women with brains and opinions, so we were off to a good start. (Although, in my experience, men say this and don’t actually mean it). Anyway, our first night chatting was cruising along very nicely, and in our first conversation he actually said “I like chatting with you. You seem normal” (which, online, is a great compliment 😛 ).
He bought up the topic of books (my profile has “reading” as an interest), and we discussed various topics for a while, such as the appeal of Edward Cullen to teenage girls, and then moved on to the random things such as 37+ year old men wanting 20 year old girls (Sparky stating that he was “way over” the 20 year olds) and whether or not blow up dolls let you down, or you let them down.
At the end he said “I like you… you’re funny.”
Overall: a great first conversation!
He took it a step back the next night, though, opening with “How was your day, sweetie? Have the other kids stopped bullying you?”
I’m sorry, what?!? First of all, I hate pet names from relative strangers – it’s an instant turn off and just sounds fake. Second of all, did he think I was an 8 year old coming home from school?
A simple, “Hi, how was your day?” would have been 2000% better. I knew he was only trying to tease, though, so I let it go, basically ignoring it.
We chatted about our respective occupations and degrees (he has a law degree, but gave it up to be a firey) and after touching on a few other topics, he bought up books again. I wasn’t complaining – I love books! We talked about the last books we’d read. His was a true crime, so I told him about a new non-fiction book that’s coming out about the last woman hanged in Australia that was a catalyst for changing a lot of the laws surrounding women’s rights to vote and serve on juries, etc (I figured I’d chuck in the law element, thinking that, since he’d done a law degree, it might be up his alley), and a fiction book-movie tie-in coming out about a father who goes to Gallipoli to look for the bodies of his dead sons, based on one line in a real letter a soldier wrote home (the movie stars Russell Crowe).
He laughed (well, “lol”ed) and said, “So, books are a passion for you, hey?”
“Yeah, just a little bit 😛 ,” I replied. He asked if I liked to read as a child (hell, yes) and if I’d read 50 Shades (hell, no).
Then he asked if I was chatting to other guys. Hmmm… This question is a bit of a doozy. Most guys want to believe that they have your undivided attention. At that moment, I was chatting to another guy as well as browsing Facebook. I didn’t think I’d confess. Instead, I side-stepped the question, saying truthfully, “I haven’t been on much in the last few months, but in the last few days I seem to be inundated 😉 “.
“Cool,” he replied.
I should have left it there, but I added, “I’m not really fussed.” What I meant was, I’ve chatted to so many men, and there are always more online, so I really don’t get that excited about new contacts. If the chatting stage goes well, great!, but I’m not going to lose sleep over how many people I’m chatting to.
Then Sparky came out with something I still don’t know how he came up with: “hmm not being a dick but are you autistic? Just seems you are more interested in a book than talking to anyone.”
WHAAAA?!?! I nearly spat my tea all over my computer. I replied, “lol no, definitely not autistic.”
What I was thinking was:
1) WE are talking. You presume I’m not chatting to anyone else?
2) YOU bought up the topic of books in the first place.
3) Yes, I am interested in books. You think this makes me autistic? HOW do you reach that conclusion?
4) We have been chatting for all of two nights. You think you know what I’m “more interested” in? In the words of Elizabeth Bennett: Insufferable presumption!
5) Anytime you start a sentence with “Not being a dick…”, whatever you say next will make you a dick. (Similar to: “Not being racist, but…” ; “Not to offend, but….” ; “Not to gossip, but did you hear about Suzy?”) The solution? The instant those words enter your head, stop and either keep the thought to yourself or find a way to reword it so you genuinely are not what you are claiming you are not if you really are trying not to be that. (Did that make sense to you? I hope so. I know I’m rambling a bit here).
I went on, “That’s a really bad assumption to make after only chatting for two nights.”
He replied, “No it’s not. I know a few autistic children.”
Again, tea almost sprayed across the room. It was getting worse and worse! He knows a few children on the spectrum, so he thinks someone he has had limited conversations with and has never met may be on the spectrum, too? Not only is he making assumptions about me, he’s also making assumptions about autism and how it presents.
“Autistic children aren’t all like rain man,” he went on with authority. Ya think, Sherlock? For F*’s sake! I was nearly speechless. He’s assuming I don’t know anything about autism? He knows a few kids and now he’s an expert?
After a bit more frustrating back and forth where he insisted he didn’t make any assumptions and was merely asking a question, and then questioned me when I said I’d also had experience with children on the spectrum through my own work (which I’d told him a little, albeit not much, about), since I’m a [fill in the blank with an occupation which may have experience with children on the autism spectrum -due to privacy, I’m not going to say what I do on this blog]. What he actually replied was, “No you’re not a [blank]. You have a [blank] degree. Just like I have a law degree but I’m not a lawyer.”
Wow. Do you think he could insult me any more? Now he knows exactly how much I use my degree and how it relates to my work?
He ALMOST let it go and moved on, and at this stage I was too annoyed, hurt, and utterly gobsmacked that he was being such a dick. I said I was going to bed. He said, “Night,” and then this message popped up in the chat screen (it’s an automatically-generated message from the site):
“Sparky has removed you from their contacts. You can no longer send any messages to this member.”
Yep, he’d deleted me. I saw it coming.
Now, how could we have avoided going down in flames like that?
For one thing, he could just have kept the thought to himself and if he had a suspicion I was autistic, then continuing the conversation and (since he’s such an expert in autism (ha!)), a few carefully worded questions would have helped him sus me out without asking outright.
Failing that, he could have worded his initial question differently. Instead of leading with “Not being a dick…”, an honest, “Can I ask you a weird question…” would have gone down a little better and instead of going on and on and on, after my initial answer, “no,” he could have said something along the lines of, “oh, sorry. My bad.”
If he had to go and be a dick, the least he could do was realise we were in an argument and stop and apologise for being a dick (something like, “Ok, ok, stop. I’m really sorry. I’m a dick. I’m sorry. New topic?” and I would likely have said, “It’s ok. Sorry I jumped down your throat.”)
On the other hand, when he said, “Not being a dick but are you autistic?” I should have replied, “Not being a bitch, but are you a dick?”
Now, excuse me. I’m going to read a book, which is infinitely more interesting than talking to dicks.