"I would only tell him everything if I didn't like him," my friend Cindy said, as I described my first foray with e-harmony dating. I met him after work at a Peet's, conveniently located a block and a half between our respective offices. Once we were seated, he asked how my day had been. A considerate way to begin a conversation under normal circumstances. But I ask, how do you respond to this question, when your work situation gets more surreal with each passing day? It's hard enough explaining this ongoing workplace soap opera to your friends, but you can't tell a man you've just met that you've only been working at your new place of employment for two months and it may go bankrupt due to the pedestrian leadership of people who make the Marx Brothers look like rocket scientists. You can't. It won't matter that it's all true, he'll think you're screwed up. He doesn't want to hear about this and neither would you if he were to drop a similar bomb the first time you were meeting. You would run like hell and rightly so.
Rather than lie, I told him that work was slow. I omitted the reason for the slow down was due to a situation resembling an ongoing remake of a Pedro Almodovar film, with many of my workmates becoming "women on the verge of nervous breakdowns." Not my line, but that of a colleague's husband, which unfortunately sums up everything.
My motto is, don't lie, it causes too many complications, and in my opinion not a good practice, karmically speaking. But obviously we live in a world where speaking the truth is not always the best option. So if you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to fabricate, keep it simple.
With that in mind, I told him my supervisor was out of town due to the passing of her father and we were awaiting her return so that we could get back to the business at hand. All true. It was too early in the evening to freak him out and he seemed like a nice guy.
So here's a question, when is it appropriate to tell someone you might be interested in about the bad stuff? What do I mean by bad stuff, you may ask? There's a plethora (love that word!) of things to choose from, bad marriages, bad childhoods, rotten children, bad parents or parenting, financial challenges, career angst. Obviously the list goes on. One doesn't have to be fifty something to have had loads of life challenges, right? We all have baggage. The question is how and when does one present the baggage to someone new so that it appears that we have unpacked it carefully? It's important to show our potential Mr. Right that we're in control, especially if you think this person is someone you might want to get to know. You don't want to present yourself as something that you're not. Been there, done that, and it's exhausting. Keeping that in mind, it's better to keep some eyebrow raising scenarios to yourself for awhile and sometimes longer.
A couple of years ago, I ran into a man I had dated briefly. I inquired about his two children, a son and a daughter. As I recall, he said his son was fine, thinking about going to college, considering his options. It's kind of a blur, because when I asked about his daughter, he said she was living in Mississippi, which was frightening enough. He then continued to tell me that she was working as an exotic dancer in a club. I didn't want to assume, but I asked, what exactly did that mean? He said she was working as a stripper. He didn't seem bothered by the line of work she had chosen for herself. It was more information that I needed, but it was an opportunity for me to once again, thank the dating gods and goddesses that I had dodged a bullet by not remaining involved with this man. I find the story fascinating, but was more than a little astounded that he would tell me the truth, particularly since ours had not been a long-term relationship.
Fortunately, I don't have stripping offspring, or any other kind to worry about hiding from future paramours. Eventually I will need to elaborate a bit about work, along with my past relationships, divorce, and who knows what else; if not with this man at this time, hopefully with another. And when the timing feels appropriate, I will give more details. But in these early stages of getting acquainted, it's best that he think I'm relatively sane.