Time to Get a Watch

31 Mar

Set your clock to: Punctual

Punctuality: it’s not just a river in Egypt. Wait, that pun makes no sense. In any event, I’m someone who’s very careful about keeping appointments, sometimes to a near-obsessive degree. If I have a doctor’s appointment at 4, I’ll be there at 3:59. If I have a conference call, I’ll be there on the dot, not a minute later. Whenever I schedule a date, I make sure to be there at least 5-10 minutes early. It’s not starting to sip our drinks at exactly 7 PM will directly determine the success of our relationship. But when you don’t have much to go on meeting a person face to face for the first time, impressions are important, even if people often mis- and over-interpret everything that happens on a first-date.

On the dating scene, punctuality very quickly reveals itself. If I’m running late, I usually call or text to get word of a brief delay out to the other party. So I’m not perfect but I try to be as considerate as possible so the girl doesn’t think that I’m not taking our meeting seriously. Plenty of girls that I’ve met are as good or better than I am. More interesting is the roughly 60% of women who are either lax in scheduling or wishy-washy in being on time.

With certain women, I would postulate, being on time is paradoxically a social faux pas. Times and appointments are for reference only, kind of like a weather report. We don’t spend time obsessing about the weather (excepting cases of extreme disasters), so when we check the forecast and see rain in the cards, we might grab an umbrella; most of us aren’t going to then drape ourselves in a raincoat and put on giant galoshes. This is how I feel many people treat date appointments. My dates have arrived anywhere from 5 minutes (totally venial) to 2 hours (she “didn’t realize” we were keeping our originally scheduled time and I was in a forgiving [horny?] mood) late.

Somehow I feel like if I kept a girl waiting for more than 5 minutes without forewarning (or even with if it goes beyond the 15-minute mark), they would not be so understanding. It’s kind of like being late to work. Of course, the trains can often screw your commute. But knowing that you should be able to exercise judgment and take appropriate measures (e.g., leaving earlier) to insure yourself against unpredictable factors. If you throw yourself to the whims of the subway schedule every morning by cutting it close, you’d better have a cool boss. Otherwise, you’re jumping without a parachute. Why would you take dating less seriously? Does being a girl impart some sort of endearing quality to being late? Is that what “fashionably late” means? Maybe I’m a little neurotic, but when someone is stranding me for 20 minutes or more, the vexation totally spills over and can change my mood from excited anticipation to annoyed resignation. If you kept your friends/family/employer waiting or flaked on a job interview, would you expect the other person to brush it off?

Then there are the people whose lives are full of drama, or so they’ll have you believe. The week is always “crazy” (most frequently used female brushoff, too). There’s always some vague and ambiguous reason to reschedule or a mysterious and unspecified obligation (which could be anything from a sick cat to banging some other dude, who knows?). There’s always a crazy boss, a last-minute audition, friend drama, etc., etc., etc. All of our lives, especially a city as manic as New York, are busy and fraught with unexpected challenges. But when we want to meet someone, we make the time and we handle it like adults. We can do better than approaching it with the emotional maturity of a 17-year-old blowing off their college class to smoke a bong or go skinny-dipping in a local swim hole.

Ladies, be kind, mature, and responsible. Do your hair for an hour if you must, but don’t bandy it as an excuse. If you want to be taken seriously and treated with respect, give it back. Get your ass in that bar stool on time!

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