Recently my friend Marc asked me if I ever feel anxious on dates.
“Never.” I said. “Actually, once. But he was worth $20 million and gorgeous so I deserve a pass on that.”
On one hand, I wouldn’t say I was nervous about my date on Thursday. Yet the following nonsense transpired:
After a few weeks of online flirting (I was on vacation), we agreed to meet at a gastropub near my home. Tune out now if you don’t believe in the metaphysical, but I have a nearly psychic sense about men’s online dating profiles. Very rarely am I surprised by what I find or how the evening transpires. There is certainly an element of self-fulfilling prophesy at play, but regardless: when I have an excellent hunch that a date will be a grand slam (not to be confused with a home run — but that, too), I am very rarely wrong.
And I had a sense about this one was going to be special.
Of course I wore my new gauzy pastel blouse and had my eyebrows threaded, but at the last minute I decided against the spectator Oxfords I’d planned to wear and opted for some summery heeled sandals — which required an emergency pedicure. I was already running late due to some shenanigans (and emotional anguish on my part) related to getting my kids and ex off to the airport on their way to Europe, but my feet were a mess and I really wanted to feel and look fabulous and I envisioned us dining outdoors (one of my favorite things ever) and pretty strappy footwear was clearly superior to funky but butch Oxfords.
So after a shower in which I groomed all the necessary bits (actually remembering to attend to the soul patch that sprouts on my big toes), applied extra eyeliner and a giant squirt of Narcisco Rodriguiz perfume, I downgraded from the size 4 skinny jeans that rob 15 lbs from my silhouette to the size 6 bootcut denim because the smaller pants are too tight to roll over my knees for the impending pedicure.
I jetted down the block to the salon and tried very hard to be polite to the technician while letting her know in no uncertain terms: “Just the basic pedicure. I’m in a rush.” And she did an excellent, swift job, skipping all those layers of primer and top layer (what does that stuff do anyway??) at my request and sticking to just the bright red “Vixen” polish then expertly suggesting some topcoat that would make it dry very quickly for $1 extra. “Just give it 5 minutes,” she advised. But I was stalking the clock on my iPhone and I didn’t have 5 minutes if I wanted to be on time and so I handed her a hefty tip, thrust my went toes into those sandals and dashed out to the street where I quickly hailed a cab to escort me the 10 blocks in 5 minutes instead of the 10 minutes it would have taken me on foot. Would you believe me if I said I arrived on time to the minute?
Now, this story would be so funny if the evening ended with my date attempting to suck on my toes and being shocked by red polish sloppily streaked across my feet. Or if we went skinny dipping in the East River and a homeless man noticed my messy nails. Or better yet: we got naked and I noticed that his red toenail polish was a disaster, too, and we laughed hardily as we fell passionately into each other’s arms.
But none of that happened. My shoes stayed on all night. Even if they hadn’t — not one goddamn thing would have transpired because my toenails are irrelevant. And the whole stupid obsession dissolved because I was having such a good time, I was so attracted to this man, just as my intuition warned me I would.
Yes, I said “warned.” Because that is exactly why I was a pre-date mess. Yes, I really wanted him to like me. Find me hot, and note my effort to groom for him. But I was nervous because I had a feeling I would really like him. And then I might get involved and have to face a whole lot of risk of being hurt. So I channeled all that fear and crisis into toenail maintenance. Because that’s my way.
Something else happened. As the evening carried on and we had a few beers, he mentioned he’d gotten a haircut that day. And he confessed that he had been nervous about the date. In fact, he’d put off going out with other people because he had a good feeling about meeting, me too.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.