If you haven’t read Part 1 of Reed Callaway’s story, start here.
As I try to hold my eye open and add mascara to my wimpy eyelashes, I wonder what the hell I was thinking. I can’t believe I’ve become someone who finds their dates online. I’ve told no one other than Aubrey (whose annoyingly ecstatic), and I plan to keep it that way.
Where else am I supposed to meet someone though? It’s not like first-year associates get to have much of a life outside of the eighty hours we spend in the office. We’re discouraged from dating each other, although everyone knows there are several couples at the firm. Even one that’s a partner-associate matchup, which is actually worse than the partner-secretary variety.
All the guys my age at work are married though. There’s this strange phenomenon whereby male law students feel compelled to get married either right before or during law school. I hear they’re all divorced around the time they make partner, but I can’t wait that long.Despite the butterflies dancing in my stomach, telling me this is a horrible idea, I do have a faint feeling of hope because this guy is a lawyer. We have something in common and he’ll have met enough female lawyers to know we don’t all fall into some ultra-feminist, ball-busting mold.
I smudge the makeup line around my jaw, chastising myself for not buying a lighter shade of foundation now that it’s fall and I’m painfully pale. Backing away from the mirror, I decide my black dress is too frumpy and run into my closet to change into a purple number that creates a chest I don’t really have and shows off my long legs.
Running out the door, I almost forget to grab my cell phone. I can hear my mother’s voice in my head. Are you meeting him in a well lit, public place? Does someone know where you’re going? Make sure you have your cell phone in case you need to make an emergency call.
I’m determined to arrive at the bar before Billable Brad. I want to stake out my spot at the bar where I can see the door. I’m not really sure why. Maybe so I can bolt when he doesn’t look as good as his photo? I’ve heard horror stories about guys who were 5’0″ tall instead of 6’0″, or bald or ten years older than their picture.
Why am I doing this again? There’s no way he’s as good looking as his picture. Even if he is, there has to be something wrong with him. A man who looks like that and is a successful attorney should have no problem finding a date.
Yep, he defintiely has some sort of enormous character flaw. Maybe he keeps all his nail clippings in a bag in his closet. I heard about a guy who did that once.
“Can I get you something to drink while you wait?” asks the bartender.
Yes, a drink will calm my nerves. But wait, will he think I’m a lush because I’m already drinking when he gets here? Oh, what the hell, a few sips won’t hurt. “Sure, can I get a glass of the house Chardonnay?”
I turn back to the door and the bank of windows that overlooks the sidewalk. I hope I didn’t miss him. A glance at my watch tells me there’s still a few minutes until we’re supposed to meet.
The bartender delivers my order and I let the cool, crisp liquid slide down my throat. I instantly feel more at ease.
I get distracted watching baseball highlights on the tv at the end of the bar and don’t even notice Brad when he comes up next to my stool.
“Are you Reed?” he asks, slightly unsure.
The butterflies jump from my stomach to my throat, and I barely get out, “Yes, you must be Brad.” I realize he’s stuck out his hand, so I offer a weak shake. I hope he couldn’t tell my hand was literally shaking from nerves.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I got started without you.” I say, smiling with a nod towards my glass.
“I’ll just have to play catchup,” he says, smiling back.
Wow, he really is good looking. I watch him as he flags down the bartender and orders a glass of Merlot. He’s got a strong jawline and flawless tanned skin. His dark hair is neat and short, and he’s still dressed from work. There’s no tie and his shirt is unbuttoned at the top. Not at all like some of the stuffy Poindexter look-a-likes in my office.
He catches me staring at him and I offer a smile, forcing the butterflies back down to my stomach so I can speak. I have no idea what to say to this guy I barely know. At this point I know he likes some kind of sports, traveling and is close to his family. I think his profile said the last book he read was Rich Dad Poor Dad, but I know about as much about personal finance as fifth grader, so I doubt that’s the way to go.
“So, how was work today?” I ask. I read somewhere you just have to show an interest in the other person. People love to talk about themselves.
“Same old, same old. I guess you know how it goes, huh? You’re a lawyer too, right?”
“Yeah, it’s my first year. A little over-worked, but nothing too horrible,” I say, exchanging a knowing smile with him. Of course it’s horrible. We spend seven years as grunts, slaving away behind the scenes while the partners take all the credit. Then we might or might not get offered the chance to pay some ridiculous sum to join the partnership. Along the way we get yelled at, doors slammed in our faces, and the occasional three-hole punch thrown across the room.
“I remember my first year,” he says, a sour look on his face as though he’s recalling a repressed memory. “This one partner really had it out for me. Between berating me in front of the other associates and bleeding all over my memos with a red pen he actually asked me to go get his dry cleaning. Talk about humiliating.”
“I know what you mean. I heard a partner in the hallway the other day telling another partner that associates weren’t hazed anymore like they were in the good ole days. He sounded determined to change that. I can only imagine what he has in mind for me. Only six more years of this though, right?”
As I wait for him to finish sipping his wine and answer, I realize how easy the conversation is flowing. I can’t seem to locate the butterflies anywhere in my body anymore. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea.
When he turns back to look at me, he has a confused look on his face. “Is that your goal?” he asks. “To make partner?”
“Sure, isn’t that everybody’s goal?” Now I’m the one with the confused look on my face. I have no idea where this is going, but I don’t feel good about it.
“Does that mean you want to keep working after you have kids?” he asks.
Kids? I don’t even like kids. Although, I’m sure that’s not the right thing to say on a first date. I grab my wine glass and take a long sip, trying to decide how to answer his question.
I don’t know what to do but be honest. “I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m not at that stage yet, you know? Having just finished law school, it’s hard to imagine after all that hard work and all that money that I wouldn’t want to practice law one day.” Avoiding the kid issue seems like the best plan at this point.
There’s a sinking feeling taking residence in my stomach. I’m pretty sure this date just took a turn for the worse.
He looks like one of those politicians trying to formulate a politically correct response, glancing off to the right, pursing his lips a little. Finally, he turns back and says, “It’s just that most women don’t come back after they have a baby. My firm has a ‘mommy track’ and all, but most of the women seem to find motherhood more fulfilling than the rat race of a big law firm.”
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would one day be a “mommy.” I’ve always been ambitious about having a career. I haven’t completely closed out the possibility of having kids one day. A day far, far away.
I’ve certainly never considered that I would abandon all I’ve worked so hard for to be a stay-at-home mom. Not that there’s anything wrong with stay-at-home mom’s, I just never thought that after slaving away in law school for three years and going through the torture of paying back student loans and working eighty hour weeks that I would ever give it all up to be somebody’s mother full-time.
I’m at a loss for what to say to him at this point. I drain my glass before replying, the cool, golden liquid giving me the courage to just be myself, throw it all out there. “I’m just not at a point where I’ve really considered kids. I guess it’s hard to imagine that after all the hard work and money that I would just let it all be for nothing and stay at home.”
He’s sort of frowning now, his eyebrows nearly meeting and deep, tanned wrinkles appearing on his forehead. “I definitely want someone who will stay at home once there are kids in the picture. My mom stayed at home. I don’t understand these families where both parents work and some stranger raises their kids.”
I can’t believe we’re having this conversation on a first date. How did we get here? Then again, it seems to be for the best. Clearly, there’s no point in the two of us wasting our time with each other.
Awkward silence falls between us, and I wish I still had some wine to drink. Not just because it would soothe my rising annoyance, but just to give me something to do while we sit here. I’m sure he’s trying to come up with an exit strategy. Which, really, is fine by me. I didn’t work my butt off in law school for three years and sink myself $100,000 into debt to be a stay-at-home mom.
In the increasingly uncomfortable silence, I vow never to date someone I met online ever again. This was a complete disaster.
I notice him lifing his vibrating Blackberry out of his pocket, scrolling through the email. When his face lights up brighter than the little screen, I know he’s found a way out.
“I hate to cut this short,” he says, “but a client needs me to email him some documents. I’m going to have to run back to the office.”
I’ve never been so thankful for the little black ball and chain we lawyers carry around, vibrating in our pockets and demanding our attention. “Oh, no problem,” I say, faking a smile.
Brad motions for the bartender and asks for the check. I grab my purse and fumble for a credit card, but he says he’ll get it. At least I got a free drink to go along with this terrible conversation.
We say polite goodbyes out on the sidewalk, and I notice he doesn’t say he’ll call me. At least neither of us is having to pretend that this went well.
With a little wave, he turns and is taking long strides in the opposite direction. I’m relieved it’s over, and I plan to never do it again. I can’t believe another lawyer doesn’t understand that I want to be a lawyer.
I haven’t dated in awhile, but I had no idea conversations like that could come up on a first date. At least we don’t have to waste a second and third date getting to know each other, only to find out we’re as incompatible as a cat and dog.
I pull out my phone to call Aubrey. I can’t wait to tell her that her latest matchmaking scheme went belly up. And when I get home, I’m deleting that stupid online dating profile.
Stay tuned for Part 3….
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