“You Have A Lot Of Opinions,” And Other Things Bald Men Have Told Me

Pairs well with Amateur Hour, by Sparks

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There was a thing with bald men for awhile. I’ve never had any strong feelings against the follicular void, quite the opposite, really. Where long, luscious (albeit filthy) strands used to signify male beauty and a propensity to be musically inclined, my adulthood can spot the hairstyle of unemployment yards away. Bald men have great jobs, in my experience.

I had, to my surprise, almost a 100% match percentage with my bald right-swipes. Three in a row, all redheads. All former redheads. I wasn’t interested in the first one at all. A mere 45 minutes with him was less pleasant than a pelvic exam. The second was pretty unattractive but was also quite tall with nice arms and would have been, had I been successful in my efforts, a lovely lay. The last one was wonderful. Cute, seemingly smart, witty even. Gentlemanly, engaging. One of those online dating unicorns girls talk about over brunch but no one actually dates or marries. I think they’re plants, actually. I think the online dating apps stick them in gen pop and pay them to go on a contractual number of first dates around the city to keep women talking about how they met a great guy online once so that any other single woman within an earshot downloads an app and starts furiously swiping away.

The first was an unexpected letdown, admittedly. I really didn’t see it coming, in my rather considerable experience it’s pretty rare for personality to completely negate someone’s cuteness, but hats off to this man for teaching me a new lesson. I can chalk it up to personality differences, but really I just can’t stand a poor conversationalist. Initially, I tried to let the silences go, offering him the chance to begin speaking, ask a question, carry the date along. He never did, and after three test silences I started filling in the gaps myself, for the sake of passing time. Inquiring about work, family, friends, various safe zones, and offering my own thoughts on the same. I threw in a few forbidden topics, too, as they’re the best possible weapon in a dating arsenal if you want to make sure a man never contacts you again. A little religion, perhaps talk salary a little bit, pepper in a daddy issue, real or otherwise, for flavor.

I wasn’t really sure why this man wanted to go on a date at all, as participating in one seemed to cause him physical pain. He winced a little before every sentence that he spoke. Apparently his ideal date was simply to sit in silence together, as the last thing he said to me before asking for the check was:

“You have a lot of opinions.”

A morsel of me was offended, but as I was trying to ensure I never received another text from this man again, I decided to be proud of myself for a mission accomplished. You’ll think I’m lying, sure, to make myself feel better in the face of rejection. But the next time you’re out with just one other person, at the end of a sentence, be silent. Don’t say a word, and stare down at the bar. Do this a few times. Then ask the person you’re with how much fun they’re having with you. I hope he found a nice, terrified woman to read books with at restaurants, I really do.

Bald man #2 was really something. While I tend to gravitate toward witty humor, I tolerated his silly/goofy humor surprisingly well. He dressed like a teenager but any woman worth her weight in mauve corduroy won’t fear fashion issues. Road rage, veganism, Crossfit, these are red flags. A tee shirt just a wee bit too small for you and skateboard shoes at 30, not so much.

We met on the back patio of a neighborhood pub, a wide open space certain to prevent other patrons from overhearing any obvious first date conversation. (Also, why is first date conversation so embarrassing? Why do I try to hide it from neighboring imbibers? It takes bravery to go on a first date. Lots of it, in fact. They should give out merit badges for this shit. Instead I try to speak in a low voice any time I have to gently correct a man on the pronunciation of my name after we’ve been talking to each other for an hour). It’s Shani, okay? ShAY-nee.

Anyway, there were empty tables for at least six feet in every direction. This is where you’ll really never get me to move to Manhattan. A square of concrete you get to by walking through a storage closet does not qualify as a patio. If a woman weighing 120 pounds cannot take her seat without her unimpressively sized bottom knocking over the red wine of the woman sitting one table over, your restaurant does not have outdoor seating, it has a petri dish. Move to Brooklyn, land of enough room to cross your legs.

I’ll spare the niceties of the conversation, mostly because I can’t remember them, as a result of my body’s own defense mechanism to block out a bad experience once it’s over. I think when I die there will be a milk crate of bad dating memories I can sift through at my leisure. Sometimes, in trying not to remember the bad endings, I lose the good stuff too. I do remember that we both enjoyed certain movies, bands, etc. There was common ground, it wasn’t a bad time at all. I kept mentally reminding myself of this because each time I looked at his face I felt a deep sadness inside. He wasn’t going to be someone I spent real time with because his appearance was actually off putting to me. While I’m not exactly a Hadid daughter, I do believe in attractiveness mattering between partners. He made me laugh a little, but he wasn’t cute. He just wasn’t.

The loss of conversation specifics has nothing, and I do mean nothing to do with the five glasses of wine we each ordered. Now, before you call my mother, we sat there talking for a good four hours. A reserved estimate average first date time for me clocks in somewhere around 60 minutes. Four hours? Major surgeries can be accomplished in less time. It appeared we enjoyed each other’s company. I was enjoying it because I had decided to have sex at the end of it all and then never speak to this person again. I felt powerful, turning around the stereotypical male behavior and facing it forward into this gentleman’s unappealing features. At the end of it all I’d feel I hadn’t wasted an outfit.

By this time of course we were a bit hungry. I had already determined my intentions were to sleep with, not date this person, so I was 100% comfortable permitting him to see me eat actual food. A cozy neighborhood spot with a perfect, simple cheeseburger did the trick. I was in a cheeseburger phase at the time. I blame Instagram. Dinner was fun. We joked with the bartender, shared an artisanal soda. We were sitting so close to each other our laps had essentially become one. The tater tots were easy the best looking thing in the room.

Before I get into the walk home (he walked me home, grasp a railing, control your shock), it’s important to point out one detail in particular. The making out. Beginning somewhere around glass of wine four and continuing on through the rest of the evening, this person was very interested in kissing me. On the walk from our beloved patio to the restaurant we stopped at least four times, as walking with your eyes shut is hazardous even in cities with even sidewalks. There were strong physical, albethem boozy, cues. Having operated in a sexual drought lasting no fewer than 10 months, and rarely if ever coming into physical contact with human beings (if you don’t count the cattle call that is an MTA train), my body was shocked at this kind of activity and drank it in like a labrador after a long run in August.

At the end of a lovely evening walk, we arrived at my front door and crumbling Brooklyn stoop. I mentally begged the pushcart wielding, screaming beer aficionados that tended to congregate on my corner for a moment’s peace. There was, of course, plenty more making out to do, and following that I asked my poorly dressed new friend if he’d like to come upstairs. He had, after all, been pawing at me for the better part of the weekend at this point, I assumed this was a natural progression to the modern online dating evening. It wasn’t. He simply said:

“Goodnight.”

And walked away. I never heard from him again.

Most dates feel like interviews. The dates where a guy is really engaged in conversation, where he’s actually trying to get to know me, I can almost hear the mental ticking off of boxes as I cross of requirement after requirement on his future-wife-must-haves list. Society condemns single women for being “too picky” but one false statement or action on a date with a guy who is clearly hunting for a long term mate and you’re kicked off the island. While he was checking off absolutely none of my “nice to haves,” I was apparently getting really close to being second date material for him. I never picked up on that. The conversation was overall pretty light, he didn’t seem to be sizing me up. Our heads were just in different places, I guess. Here’s hoping some other girl made the grade.

Gentleman number three is a short story, and for once not because he lied about his height. It was one of those last-minute meetings you’re certain is only happening because you’ve both blocked out the night for something else that’s been canceled and why waste the evening, really? I love it when two resourceful human beings come together.

We met at my favorite local dive bar and had three drinks over what I thought was actually refreshing dialog. I enjoyed speaking to him, it didn’t feel like work, as so many of them do. He bought two rounds, I bought one. I mentioned that we should see each other again sometime, he agreed. We said goodnight, hugged, and walked home in our separate directions. Three quarters of a block later I received the following text:

“Hey, had a great time with you tonight, but honestly didn’t feel a connection. Take care.”

While a bit quick-draw, I will say I really appreciated that he said something. He could have saved himself the physical and mental exertion required to send a text message and simply let me wonder, but he didn’t. He was a stand up guy — he was honest. I suppose there’s something to be said for efficiency. But I wonder, how much “connecting” can happen on a first date? A first meeting, really? How much am I expected to impress a person in an an hour and a half time span that will convince him I’m worth speaking to again? Isn’t that a little demanding? You have 90 minutes to convince me you’re amazing: Go! Cue the game show lights and sequin-clad ladies.

Common sense tells us love at first sight is a myth. In my experience even “like” at first date is almost fantasy. So why does it feel like every guy I meet is chasing down perfection? I don’t expect perfect. Perfect for me is a tall blonde guy with glasses and a job in tech he can do from anywhere. But that’s not the only thing I seek out. I think there are probably a variety of men I’d like to spend time with, so I go on dates openly, looking for nothing more than nice manners and a little bit of wit. And here I am getting flat out rejected three dates in a row and not really knowing why. I don’t have anything against bald men. Just these three.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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