it’s about time


It’s inevitable: the date who brings up his ex over dinner. The butterflies arrive with the entrée. I thought I asked for fries, not flies. The waitress got it wrong. But it’s too late; the menu reads NO SUBSTITUTIONS.

You look up from your plate and force a smile. He continues to talk as he tears into his steak, multitasking nostalgia with Knife Skills 101. The longing you hear in his voice is almost a dialect, but it’s hard to swallow. You survey the restaurant for the choking illustration for guidance in this matter. Your glasses are in your other bag, the big office bag full of gum wrappers, receipts, and old magazines you’ve been meaning to read on your commute. Tonight you’re donning a clutch with nothing more than some cards, keys, gloss, and a cell. If you’re lucky, you have mints. You begin to care less about the mints. You know, just like that, you no longer want to kiss this man. You know we all have our pasts, but we needn’t all discuss them with longing and ache. You worry if he still has feelings for her, and this is really what worries you: since when did I care? This was casual and fun, but now it’s negotiating steps. It’s more than you anticipated and planned for. Suddenly you care, and you’re wearing the wrong thing. You would have chosen different shoes—you would have worn flats.

It’s too late now. You’re across the table with a napkin in your lap, and your legs are crossed. A pointy metal-tipped shoe dangles from your foot. You’re stuck with a forced smile. You feel your head doing that involuntary head nod, signaling, “I follow you. I agree. You poor thing.” But you don’t. You can’t even hear him anymore, only your inner monologue warning: life is sometimes about timing, and yours is clearly off, because he’s telling you ex-girlfriend stories on your date. He’s describing her in detail. She has curly hair like you do. Then shite, there’s a pause. He’s waiting for you to say something; a question is hovering unanswered. You almost want to touch his hand and change the subject. Instead, you offer, “Yeah, dating sucks.” But when you say sucks, your “s” blows out the votive candle between you, and then, as sudden as that, you’re both in the dark. Though you can swear you’ve seen the light.


  1. Oh my. We have all been there in one form or another. Do these men know nothing about what is acceptable conversation on a date? Jeez. Good luck with the next guy.

  2. I love your blog and its honesty, but it seems your writing has changed over the last week or so. The voice and phrasing is different, almost like you're now writing a column, and much of it in the third person (although presumably you're referring to yourself when you write about "you").

    Anyhow, overall, it's great and I wish you well and happiness. Just thought I'd share a thought.

  3. I like your stuff. Just a small correction: you don't mean "donning," unless you are _wearing_ the clutch. Try "carrying" instead.

  4. Yes, the writing has definitely changed in the past week or so. I loved the old blogging

  5. I have a buddy who did this while on a date. I immediately smacked him upside the head and did so repeatedly. The last thing anyone, guy or girl, should do is talk about the ex or a former lover at all. Especially on a date, what do people think that will get them, sympathy. Damn, good luck in the dating realm, hopefully you'll find a guy who can go on a date and do it right.

  6. Wow. I would have excused myself from the table and not returned. Rude, I know, but there is no reason for him to be doing this. Even if a woman specifically asks me about exes, I don't talk about them. Wow. Just wow. Sorry you had to suffer through that one.

  7. I remember my first blog… sigh… I guess you never REALLY forget your first, huh? I really don't like to bring it up much, but yours reminds me so much of hers. That's like, so weird, you know?? Anyway, it took a long time to put that whole experience behind me… I should have KNOWN it wouldn't work out. I was dialup; she was broadband… She kept saying I just couldn't READ her. That really hurt. What the hell was THAT supposed to mean anyway?! God! What was I THINKING?? Don't you just hate that??….

    Huh? I said don't you just hate that??

    Oh. No, that's okay… You were looking in your purse.

    Uh. Are you going to eat that roll?

  8. I'd just like to remind you, I began my blog as a New Years Resolution to keep me writing. It seemed better than "will go to gym regularly." I still blog for me… for me to write. Sometimes it's an exercise, sometimes an outlet, but it's always for me.

  9. I kind of liked the third-person style thing. It's fun to play with different formats. Sometimes I've just read someone else's blog and a cool entry in a new style will inspire my own shift of voice. It's not so much copying, but it does sort of set your rhetorical framework a certain way, for a few minutes.

    You know, this relates in a way to something I was thinking about the whole "why does someone from Texas read a blog from someone in New York, and look at her photos of parties that she couldn't have attended?" question.

    It gets to the heart of why we read blogs in the first place, and perhaps why we post them, too. Other people are interesting. We find it fascinating to read another person's thoughts for a moment as we go about our day. To perhaps correspond with someone far away. To connect in a place (the Internet) that otherwise is an impersonal "shopping mall".

    It's like when you look at some famous person's biography & you look at the pictures that are in the center of the book– this one when so-in-so was a baby, this is the wedding picture, this is the picture at the lake with the cousins. You look at the pix, and read about someone else's life, because it's interesting. To see things a little bit from someone else's perspective. To read about people who aren't fictional and all made up like a movie star to be an "image."

    But it's easy to snipe at those other people from the sidelines. "I wouldn't have done it this way." "I don't like this or that". I don't mean to seem like I'm here to defend someone who can quite effectively defend herself. But I always wonder at people who take the time to post a comment that is merely negative. It's what Thumper in Bambi was told "If you don't have something nice to say…."

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with Kim. I was there and Stephanie accurately portrayed the scene, so accurately that a camera would have been superfluous. She really deserved better, but (and as she says "there's always a but") at least she wrote something worthy of our admiration. Her writing is rich, complex, multi-faceted and very satisfying, unlike the miserable meal in a miserable venue, that we shared. I hate steaks, but, as she indicated,the policy was "NO SUBSTITUTION." Maybe we should have gone to the gym instead. It may not have made much difference, because as she so correctly stated "life is sometimes about timing." Hopefully, we will have a better time in the spring, and at a nicer place like Maxim's. And if she doesn't know where Maxim's is I'll find someone else. Just kidding. Stephanie is so fascinating and interesting that one would rather eat lentil soup with her than caviar with the rest of the world, but with her inspiration as the tide to good fortune, I doubt we'll have to worry about that.

  11. Ok, some people just don't get it. When dating, past relationships should do just that…stay in the past. The definite thing is he is not over her…"she had curly hair like you." Meaning, you look alike…so he was hoping that you are alike or the version that wants to be with him. You could have spiked him with your heel and he might have snapped out of it. Then again, I doubt it.

    Very uncomfortable situation that happens to at least once to a person in their lifetime. Hopefully, not much more than that.

  12. Oh, and now I'm reminded of the comment I was going to make yesterday before I got sidetracked by the snipers.

    I have a guy friend who is single, hates it, and trying to date. He constantly finds essentially "the same girl" to date– and they are always quite cruel to him. But I think it's because he unconsciously looks for something that will fail because he doesn't really want to succeed. (Even though he thinks he does).

    Dating really sucks, and a lot of people have hidden baggage that suddenly, right in the middle of dinner, pop right out on the table, smooshing the salad plates and sending the wine glasses careening onto the floor. This guy maybe has similar baggage to my friend– he's looking to date "the same girl" again, and was hoping that you might be that same girl.

    Honestly, I am amazed at you single folks out there in the trenches with the crazy people. I think that might be part of why I read– for vicarious appreciation for my own lot. But I'm also convinced (because I'm weird like this) that there IS a person out there for each of us, and we sometimes get off track and meet the wrong one, but that still doesn't mean that the right one isn't there SOMEWHERE. You just gotta keep plugging along, and eventually, your frog– er, prince– will come along. (Sorry to descend into fairy tale…. must be something I ate this morning.)

  13. a chika view's that the pervert just wanted to get laid….sure…hot chika hail mary pass, give it a try works great does'nt work well move on to the next chika… I don't think he'd find a chika like steffi in his dreams…someone with her sexual history all out there and reperture of activities and professional success is rare…

  14. It's funny, I'm a guy who hates it when my date starts talking about their ex, but then again, I've done it as well…

    Oh, and Steph : it's good you've got this blog as an outlet for everything. Face it, if you kept this stuff in your head all the time, you would eventually go crazy.

  15. 1. I want the imposter " A Nonny Mouse" to change his or her name. This is rediculous. It's my joke. Please let me have it.

    2. Donning, wearing, carrying, clutching, who gives a fuck? Go away.

    3. I am tired of the amateur critics on the blog. Shut the fuck up. Nobody cares what you think. Read it, enjoy it, deal with it, or change the fucking channel.

    4. Stephanie is on vacation and I have been writing this blog for last two and a half weeks. I guessed the password. It's actually pretty easy, and she doesn't even know what's going on here. She's gonna be pissed when she gets back. That's why it sounds different. Please refer the previous instruction of shutting the fuck up.

    5. I like it when dates talk about previous boyfriends because I realize how much better I am than them. It's also great fantasizing how pissed they would be if they could watch video of you fucking their ex. Boo-ya!

  16. Impressive, Its funny the things people will do to get attention and make others look bad. Itd be nice to read someone elses thoughts without the world chiming in with their opinion.

  17. gently, i couldn't disagree more with the judgments people have been making here. the fact is, relationships (and past ones) are deeply meaningful, and generally much more fascinating than most other topics of dating conversation (inane comments on inane movies, self-aggrandizing depictions of boring day jobs). i think i learn more about a person from their past relationships than from which movies they've seen recently.

    and, if they bring up a past lover, i certainly do not "learn" from this that the person is a pathetic date or obsessed with the past. the judgments expressed in the writings above are a little shocking to me. do you want to spend time with someone who has no connection to, or has easily cut himself/herself off from, people once loved? or is that you want to spend time with someone who (of course) has such connections, but just doesn't want to talk about anything actually intimate and important? and who do you think you are to think you deserve to be the one and only, EVER? it's good (and charming until it crosses a line into obnoxious) to think you deserve certain minimal treatment, but it's total delusion — it's like the disneyland version of love — to not be able to bear the mention of what is so obviously true: we can love more than once, and we are attached to people who came into our lives previously.

    i know how these comments can set of warning bells: i've heard them myself and i've definitely been guilty of setting them off. but these are pretty shrill and tinny sounds… generated from shallow concerns about threats to one's ego. gently, once again, it's not ALL about you: the world, and other people, have a lot more going on than just their intersection with you. get over yourselves and you may find out how amazing other people turn out to be.

  18. It's not just when a date brings up an ex. It's what they say, and how they say it. It's delivery. It didn't work out because the timing wasn't right. She was a great girl and I'll always love her is very different from, "I just don't know what went wrong. I loved her so much." When I hear this longing, I know he's not ready to be dating again… and I cross him off my "to-do" list. It's not about restricting conversations to the weather. It's about whether or not he can recognize why it didn't work… and whether he can move on.

  19. Steph,

    I agree it is completely how they say it.

    I will disagree in that we will always recognize why it didn't work. The reason is that not everyone is as open and honest as you and I. Not everyone expresses what they are feeling and communicates that throughout the relationship. It is sad that deception occurs a lot in relationships.

    If someone has problems communicating what they are feeling during the relationship, then they are definitely going to have problems communicating when they are ending the relationship. I think part of this is that they do not want to hurt the person. So, they go about ending the relationship all the wrong way.

    So what I am saying is, it is not necessarily recognizing why it didn't work, but knowing now that it just wasn't going to work and moving on.

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