As anyone who has ever gone on a date will know, it’s a mine-field out there.
With girls, it’s like preparing for World War 3. There are endless discussions with girlfriends about what to wear, what not to wear, the decoding missions (“What do you think it means that we’re going to Blah-de-blah restaurant? Does he expect me to put out on the first date? Because I want to, but I also don’t want to send out the wrong message.”) and the four hours of prep time before the date (hair, makeup, outfit, shoes, accessories, perfume).
Guys have it relatively easy. They just have to make sure they wear a nice clean shirt, comb their hair, bring some flowers, compliment the girl on her outfit (but never the shoes) and remember not to pick their nose between courses. Well, at least that’s what I thought this was all we had to worry about.
A few days ago, my flat-mate Saffy introduced us to Mike, her current boyfriend. They’d met at an office function. Saffy said she was attracted to the fact that he was tall, could string a sentence together and wasn’t constantly checking his phone for messages. “And he’s got the cutest ass I’ve seen in a long time!” she reported breathlessly after the first date.
“Oh, that’s very important!” Amanda said with approval. In the world according to Amanda, a man with no ass is a man who is also very likely lacking in other departments. And now after a few dates, Saffy decided that it was time to introduce Mike to her friends, to get their stamp of approval. I begged off and said something urgent had happened at work.
“I hate that stage when you’re meeting the girl’s friends,” said Karl over dinner at Chomp Chomp. “It’s so stressful because if her best friend hates you on sight, it’s over.”
I looked up from my char kway teow and stared. “What do you care?” I asked. “You’re married.”
Karl shrugged. “I’m just saying.”
Right about then, across town, Saffy was introducing Mike to Amanda. By all accounts, it was very civilized, but Saffy said that she could tell that something was wrong. “Amanda had this pinched look, you know, like she’s about to pee out a kidney stone!” she told me later that evening when we had all regrouped in our apartment.
“You cannot possible date that man!” Amanda said without her usual sugar-coating.
Saffy’s famous breasts heaved in alarm. “What is your problem?” she demanded. “He’s single and straight! He’s perfect!”
“He wears Crocs!” Amanda said with devastating pity.
I swiveled my head around and frowned. Saffy’s mouth automatically opened to retort, but to everyone’s astonishment, no words came out. She tried again. And again. Eventually, she managed to squeak out, “What?”
“Mike wears Crocs!” Amanda repeated.
I hesitated. “Uhm, but what does that have to do with the price of eggs?” I asked, utterly bewildered.
“I also say!” Saffy said, her bosom trembling.
It was Amanda’s turn to look surprised. “Crocs!” she stressed again. “He wears Crocs!”
Saffy still looked lost. “So what?” The penny eventually dropped. I piped up, “Are you seriously telling me that you would rule someone out as husband material just because he wears Crocs?” On hearing this, Saffy sucked in her breath.
“Are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t?” Amanda retorted.
“But Manda, they’re just shoes!” I protested. “Actually, they’re not even shoes, they’re more like slippers!”
“They’re Crocs!” Amanda said firmly. “Crocs are ugly. And if Mike thinks it’s acceptable to wear them, who knows what other kinds of bad taste he’s going to exhibit?”
As Saffy later complained to Barney Chen, “It’s totally unbelievable! I never even noticed what Mike was wearing! Would you hold it against a guy who wore Crocs?”
“Sweetie,” Barney said kindly, “I don’t care what the guy wears, as long as he holds something against me! I’m very low maintenance that way.” Saffy pursed her lips. She was clearly dissatisfied with this unexpected bump in her dating prospects. “The worst thing is that now whenever I see Mike, it’s all I can think about. And I still don’t even know what the problem is! They’re not even that ugly.”
“I hear they’re very comfortable,” Barney said vaguely. “Apparently, it’s like walking on air.”
Saffy wasn’t listening. “Amanda is crazy! Mike is perfect. He’s a banker, he’s smart and he’s got a car. Oh,” she suddenly remembered, “and he’s straight. Do you know how hard it is to find someone like that in this town?”
Barney sighed and patted Saffy’s hand. “You’re preaching to the choir, girl!”
Like I said…mine-field.