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The Online Dating Chronicles
Episode 8 — Katie
Episode 8 — Katie
Have you ever dated someone you shouldn’t have been dating? Not because of any societal reason or something silly like that. Just someone you knew you should …not …be …dating.
Katie was one of them.
Naturally, according to the rules of shitty decisions, I would go continue to date her.
After some back and forth on the app, I asked her if she wanted to have lunch. Much to my surprise, she didn’t disappear. She said: “Yes, but I want to talk to you first.”
“So I know what you sound like. I already know what you look like.”
I’m not sure why this was important to Katie. We both had expressed our disdain about talking on the phone, but I played along. When I called her, it quickly became apparent that she was multi-tasking …and doing it very poorly. It was that or she was drunk.
I don’t think she was paying very much attention because she seamlessly shifted to telling me high school stories. Which was odd, but odder still was telling them to me like I was there.
“Katie, what the fuck are you talking about? This is Keith. We just met. I didn’t go to high school with you.”
“Wait. Hold on.” Very long pause. “Can I call you back?”
She never did call me back. But we texted to get together for lunch.
Katie worked two blocks away from me, so we met at a steak house in the north lobby of where I worked. She looked just like her pictures and was wearing some peach-colored dress thing. It was sweltering, so whatever the material was, it was light and very loose-fitting.
We sat at the bar. She was drinking an offensively expensive glass of red wine, and I was drinking Guinness. We spent the time digging a little more into our backgrounds. Katie’s was much more impressive than mine. I mean, I had traveled more (but not as nicely) and lived in more places, but her job was way more fantastic than mine.
I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and when I came back, I noticed she had pulled out a pack of cigarettes. I do not know from where, because she didn’t have a purse or bag, and from what I could see, the dress thing didn’t have pockets.
She said: “I have a bad habit.”
“Haha, I smoke. I hope that’s okay.”
“Only okay if you let me have one.”
I watched her walk out in front of me. Well, it wasn’t so much a walk as a weave; she had two glasses of wine in her.
While her day was over by noon, I was still on my lunch break. After we got back from the smoke break, I had figured 90 minutes was long enough, and it was time to get back to work. She pulled a card out of her bra as I asked for the check, and I waved it off.
She knew something I didn’t: “Are you sure?”
“Yea. Yea. Of course.”
“Ok,” and tucked her card back.
I got the check and gulped. Easily the most expensive lunch date I ever had.
We hugged and said our goodbyes, saying we should do it again.
And we both meant it.
I think we were both shocked that it wasn’t awful.
Over the next couple of days, we traded e-mails and had some fun. I said that I was going to see Stone Temple Pilots in a few days. When she said she loved them, I thought about getting her a ticket, but then I recalled the price of the lunch — so I merely suggested she get one, and if she did, we could go together.
Much to my amazement, Katie bought a ticket. Luckily, we both were no fans of crowds, so we had agreed to stand at the back and watch the show.
Fast forward four months, and we convinced ourselves we were in love. I say that because I think we were in love with the idea of being in love. We connected very little, and, even then, our personalities clashed more than they didn’t. I think we both just turned away from it.
Naturally, according to the rules of shitty decisions, we decided to move in together.
Now I had a lovely railroad apartment in Brooklyn that I shared with my cat. She had a brilliant duplex, exposed brick, cement floors located on the top floor of a refurbished factory overlooking the East River. It was the kind of apartment you see on television and say: “No one lives like that in New York.” Well, Katie did.
When we did discuss moving in together, I said: “I can’t afford to live in your place.”
“Well, I can move in with you.”
“That’s dumb. My place is a fraction of the size.”
“We could look for a place together.”
“That seems like a dumb idea. Your place is fantastic. I just can’t afford it.”
“Well, my aunt owns the building. Let me talk to her.”
Katie talked to her aunt, and she agreed to let me pay what I was paying for my railroad apartment.
Two things to point out here:
That was NOT Katie's aunt so much as it was this family friend — a story I could never quite understand. But, I get it; a lot of family friends are “aunts.”
Katie was paying about 1/2 of what I was paying. I had presumed we were spending the same-ish—more a lie of omission than a bold lie.
It’s hard to say where things went sideways with Katie. Oh, wait, no, it’s not …almost from the beginning.
Here are a few of the flags that should’ve warned me:
The very day I moved into her place, she would come back and forth with me but wouldn't help. At all. Seriously, did not lift a box. I finally just told her to stop coming with me.
I’ve never had night terrors, and I’m not a lucid dreamer. As I mentioned earlier this week with my playlist, I’m a shitty sleeper. A couple of weeks after I had moved in with Katie, I woke up screaming. Screaming.
Full-blown, horse head in a bed, screaming. I had never done that before. And I have not done it since.
Speaking of sleeping, Katie once punched me in her sleep.
For all the time we lived together, I can count on one hand how many times she cooked. Not a huge deal. I wouldn’t say I like to cook either. BUT, I didn’t spend a large chunk of our “getting to know each other” period proclaiming to be a great cook. Katie was not a great cook.
She thought her dog using pee pads was “cute.” I would refuse to pick them up at the pet store because I did not find it cute.
If Katie was awake, the television was on. Period — not so much a flag as an annoyance.
Sometime about seven months after I had moved in, she showed me a catalog with shorts in them. She pointed out two pairs — one pair was black with white skulls, and the other was white with blue whales: “Which pair do you like?” If you know me, you know I like skulls. I would suspect even if you didn’t know me, you would quickly pick up that I like skulls.
I pointed to the black ones with the white skulls: “I like those.”
Genuinely puzzled, I asked: “Yeah, did you forget I like skulls?”
“Well, no. But on shorts?”
“But the whales are cuter.”
I shook my head and tried to forget the banality of that exchange.
Our birthdays were a couple of days apart. And if I like someone, I put thought into their gifts. So for our first birthday together, I bought a bunch of things that I had noted that Katie said she liked over the previous months together. I got a bunch of stuff, little things; the biggest item was two tickets to The Book of Mormon. Not great seats, but orchestra seats …behind a pole (I sat behind the pole — I had already seen it.) And we went out to dinner. We even had fun.
The next night I met her and her parents right after work at a French restaurant right by our subway stop. We were celebrating both of our birthdays. Now, her parents were always friendly and fun to be around, so that was painless.
After dinner, her mother handed me a little wrapped package. After I opened it, Katie quickly pointed out, “That’s a really expensive bottle.” They had gotten me a nice bottle of cologne.
Which I thought was both unnecessary and crass. At a loss of what to say, I just said: “Oh, well, thank you. I’m sure it’s great.” The funny thing is, I’m not even a cologne kind of guy — unless you consider Irish Spring a cologne.
After dinner, Katie and I got her parents a car home, and we walked back to our apartment in relative silence. When we got about a block away, Katie said to me: “I left your birthday present on the table.”
“Oh, great. Thank you.”
“I didn’t have time to wrap it, though.”
“I don’t care.”
I didn’t care.
As I walked into the apartment that night, right there on the dining room table, rolled up and wrapped in twine, were the white shorts with blue whales on them. Shaking my head, I just walked over. On top was a card.
And let me state emphatically, it was not about the gift.
I looked at the shorts, then at her. Naturally, according to the rules of shitty decisions, I began to lose my temper: “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“What, you don’t like them?”
“That’s not the point. Shorts are something you give an uncle or cousin. They require as much thought as a fart. More thought and energy goes into suppressing a fart.”
Katie’s attitude kicked in: “So, you don’t like them. Fine.”
“They’re not even the ones I pointed out that I DID like.”
“Fine, I’ll return them. I just thought they were cute.”
I stared at her, shaking my head: “I’m going out.” I walked and walked …and walked. I think I stayed out for a couple of hours, went home, and went to bed. I got up early and left for work.
But clearly, something had registered because when I came home from work, there were a few more things on the table. They were even wrapped. AND she was cooking something. I suspect she went around the neighborhood while I was at work and picked up some stuff. Aside from one book, it was very obviously …stuff she had walked around the neighborhood and picked up.
At the time, I felt better, but still not great. As I look back now, I should acknowledge that Katie at least made an effort. But I don’t want to. Like anything she did for anyone besides herself, it was half-assed.
I hate to admit this, but it was right around then that Katie began to remind me of my mother. I’m no shrink, but maybe that’s why I woke up screaming shortly after moving in.
The collapse of our relationship was drawn out. Mostly because she had moved to Los Angeles, at my prompting (which is a WHOLE OTHER story.) After her move to LA, Katie got re-established in her career and won two (or three) more industry awards (she already had five.) And when we would talk after that, she was always gracious and thanked me because she would never have done it had I not forced the issue. And she wouldn’t have. She was a born and bred NYC girl, and LA was the death knell for someone like her.
We spoke around Christmas, about four months after she had left, and called it quits.
A few years later, I was in Los Angeles for work, and we had lunch. Unintentionally, I wore those birthday white shorts with blue whales. We hugged, and as we stood back she looked down and let out her big raspy laugh: “A-ha, you DO like the shorts!”
I looked down, nonplussed, and flatly said: “It was never about the shorts.”
Katie and I still talk periodically. Rather, Katie talks about how well she is doing, and I listen.
All of these women that I met on the dating apps were, in their own way, fine women. And while they weren’t right for me, I do genuinely hope they found the right person for them. Or are sifting through people to get to their right person.
Love is a journey, and if you’re lucky, you find someone to take that journey with you. No matter where you are on that journey, alone, searching, new love, old love, whatever, I raise a pint in your honor — Cheers!
Eight is a good place to stop. I only have one more story to tell. And maybe one day, I’ll tell it. Right now? It’s not ready to be written.
Thank you for reading and all of the kind words.