Building on the theme of romantic regrets, we’ve got special guest author, Laura Chapman here to tell us about her big “What if?”
I’m not much of a dater. Like Elliot, the main character in The Marrying Type, I had a serious boyfriend in college, but I’ve spent most of my 20s single and focused on professional and personal development. Also, I just don’t have a lot of game. So unfortunately (or thankfully depending on how you look at it) I don’t have any horrible dating stories I wish I could change.
I do, however, have an “I wonder what would have happened if” story.
A year after college graduation I moved to Houston. At 23, I wanted to try living somewhere other than Nebraska, and I could continue working for the same company. I had a cute apartment in a pretty, wooded suburb, which was my home office when I wasn’t traveling across Texas to conduct interviews for the magazines I wrote. It seemed like a pretty sweet deal, until I realized how hard it was to meet someone (particularly eligible and interested bachelors) when you work from home, only interact with customers (and your boss had a non-dating policy), and you have zero game at the bars (if you need me, I’ll be holding everyone’s purses while they tear up the dance floor).
One of my friends took pity on me and decided to help me meet a man. By placing an ad on Craigslist, setting me up a new email address, and using a photo of my face and one of her boobs. I was more than a little embarrassed, but I was also intrigued by some of the responses I received. Let’s call him X.
X was a firefighter who lived in my area of town. He was a year older than me and like me also liked football and still enjoyed the bar scene. Email exchanges turned into texts, which led to a couple of phone calls. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but he had a nice voice, and I felt comfortable talking to him.
The only real mark against him was that he was a University of Texas alumnus and fan – Nebraska was still in the Big 12 then, and it would have devastated my parents to bring a Longhorn home. And the fact that I’d “met” him on Craigslist, which was so NOT something I’d do.
After a few weeks of conversing, we arranged to meet for lunch, which seemed relatively safe. But an hour before, I panicked. What if he turned out to be a serial killer? What if, despite him sending me a couple of photos in shirts with his station’s name on it, he wasn’t actually a firefighter? What if I didn’t live up to his expectations of me? What if it went terribly wrong. So I canceled. I made up an excuse about having a last-minute interview come up and asked if we could reschedule. Though we exchanged a few more texts that date never happened. The last time I heard from him was right about the time I moved back to Nebraska.
I’m still not sure if I made the right choice. It was the safe one, but I still sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d met him for lunch that day. Maybe nothing, but at least I would know. And at least I’d be able to say I’d fulfilled a childhood dream of going out with a firefighter.