“Crying?! Crying?! There’s no crying in baseball… or on a first date!” was the text I sent to my friend MJ and her husband D one Saturday night “D here, maybe he’s crying because he’s so happy to be out with you” “thank you but… no! That’s not why he’s crying, he’s crying because…”
We met online, spoke on the phone once or twice and were meeting for the first time for dinner. We sat down and I said “How are you?” Now, we all know the right answer is “fine” or “good” even if it’s not fine or good, we just met and that is what you say. Instead he said “the beginning of my week was ok, but then it went topsy-turvy”. Not wanting to play therapist that evening I tried to change the topic and said “Well at least you are out for a nice night and can leave that all behind”. We ordered and started talking about music, his kids, and he kept checking his phone (he has kids so I get it – to a point) then tried to bring up his week again and again I changed the subject, but this time he wasn’t budging and went full on into the story of how his wife left him 5 years ago for a 21-year-old (she’s in her late 40’s) and started to cry as he was telling me the story asking “Why? What could I have done? Why would she do that?” Desperately not wanting to get into this I tried to change the subject, again. “Well, you’ll have to ask her but in the meantime let’s just enjoy tonight” but no, still sobbing (yes, there were tears) he went on to tell me how he has custody of their kids, and she pays him alimony (another red flag, but, just in case I can get past the mass hysteria, I also know this could mean she was unfit, that she makes a lot more money, maybe has to travel a lot or that he can’t hold his own, I’ll have to wait and see) and he’s freaking out because she might lose her job and he doesn’t know what he’ll do for money because she’s always been the main breadwinner and he doesn’t want to have to get a full-time job (and there’s my answer). He is a freelance web designer and plays piano at local bar once a month. He was a sobbing mess, so finally I said “Do you need a moment? Why don’t you go to the men’s room, wash your face and when you come back we can talk about something happier.” (Text 1 to MJ and D that he’s crying… because his wife left him 5 years ago! 5! time to get over it!)
Now if you know NY restaurants you know that the tables are super close and the people around you can hear everything, so it wasn’t only frustrating to sit through but embarrassing too. The waiter came by to check on the “situation”, I assured him it was under control and wouldn’t happen again.
He came back, we changed the subject we talked about music, and he was constantly checking his phone and texting. So I asked if he needed to go. He explained that his kids are with their mom and keep sending him the play-by-play of what they are doing, and it makes him so happy because then he feels like he is part of it and with them. And then the tears started again and he went back to asking “why, why would she do that to me?” So, now starting to understand his x, I said “go splash some cold water on your face…” and mouthed “sorry” to the waiter (Text 2 to MJ and D that he’s still crying).
Back from the men’s room and trying to talk about something new, he told me that a Beatles cover band I like was playing that night and he was surprised I wasn’t there. I told him I had wanted to go but spaced on buying tickets… And then it happened again, more tears! I was no longer sympathetic, and said “now, what’s wrong?” And in between tears and says “and poor John was shot and then George, oh George, with cancer and everything, even though he was so spiritual…” What? I interrupted and said “did you know them, because if not you shouldn’t be crying” he couldn’t stop crying, he was a hysterical mess. So again I said “go to take a moment, come back and no more crying this time”.
When he left the waiter came by and said “why don’t I pack these up and bring the check”, I agreed. When my date came back, 2 to-go bags were on the table and the check was waiting for him. He said “we don’t have to go, I don’t have the kids, I can stay out” and I said “no, it’s time to go, you have a lot to work out and they basically asked us to leave”. He had the nerve to be surprised and ask why.
D was in the city a week later, we met for drinks and a recap “dinner date?” Me “yup”… Shaking his head “Rookie mistake”.