Dating Diaries: I Needed An Umbrella, As He Was Spitting All Over Me – Zaniab’s story

Zaniab is a 3o-year-old nurse. She says “I think I’m pretty casual and chic” and describes herself as “outgoing, adventurous and spontaneous.” Zaniab likes to do “outdoor activities” like skiing, hiking, biking, and camping, because I have to stay in the hospital a lot.  She says “I have been single for too long! I would say about six years? My dating life has dwindled as I’ve gotten older. My social life has as well, as my friends have gotten married and had babies.”

I’m on dating sites a lot, but I only meet a few guys every year in person. My schedule is tight, but also, I often just don’t click with someone. I’m looking for someone who can have an interesting conversation, is genuinely interested in getting to know me, and is just basically a cool person.

Kayode and I hit it off on the phone. Our conversations were really interesting, and more importantly, the banter was effortless. We talked about everything under the sun. We had a lot in common; we both liked to discuss politics, social justice and the general state of the world. He seemed to be everything I was looking for: educated, family-oriented and entertaining.

After a few of those back-and-forths, Kayode asked me out for dinner at the end of a call, and of course I said yes. He said “Just one thing,” and paused. He told me that he wasn’t sure if it would be a deal-breaker for me, or not, but he was a smoker. Normally, that actually would have been a deal-breaker. I can’t stand the smell of smoke, and I had never dated a smoker. However, our phone calls had been so awesome that I decided instantly I would give it a go, regardless. He added that he didn’t smoke that much, “just occasionally.” People quit, anyway.

Kayode chose  this new bistro, yes, they actually called it a bistro, near his apartment, and the next night, I drove up and met him there. I found a parking spot close by, and got excited about the restaurant, which seemed warm and friendly.

Meeting Kayode, I realized he was a little bit shorter than I thought, but that’s not a big deal for me. As I approached him sitting at the table, though, the deep and sour odour of cigarettes emanating from him overwhelmed me, even though I was still a few feet away. I remembered what he’d said about being an “occasional” smoker, and suddenly I doubted that being true.

I sat down, we made eye contact, and then the conversation took off just like it had on the phone. We even had to ask the waiter to come back twice, as we hadn’t looked at our menus. Other than the acrid smell of smoke, the date seemed promising. I liked him.

Since he had been to the restaurant before, he recommended some of the appetizers. Not being a fan of the food he had suggested, I instead ordered a salad. The appetizers came, and we dug in, me with a fork, him with his hands. He picked away at the food, licking and slurping sauce from his fingers. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. As our conversation continued to be fast and animated, Kayode became passionate about the topic at hand, and in the process, proceeded to spit and even fling small flecks of his food in my face. He seemed to enjoy his appetizer, but I definitely wasn’t enjoying sharing it.

As the dishes were cleared for the next course, Kayode smiled at me and reached over to take my hand. Normally this would have been a very sweet gesture, but his hands were still covered in sauce. I couldn’t help staring. I hesitated a bit, and asked him whether he would mind using the napkin first. He looked at it like it was an afterthought, made a cursory wipe, and reached over once again. I tentatively gave in, but was completely turned off.

As we were leaving, I ducked into the restroom to thoroughly wash my hands of the sticky sauce, and he went out for a smoke. He asked if I wanted to come over to his place. Imagining the haze of smoke in the apartment, and the likely aroma, I politely declined, telling him I had an early-morning meeting to prepare for. As much as interesting conversation and chemistry go a long way in hooking up with someone, basic manners go even further.

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