In a conversation with my daughter some days ago, I was reminded of something almost lost to the fog of faulty memory and the passage of time. When I was still dating, in the Dark Ages, some men did things that were absolute "deal breakers". Poor guys. They never had a clue.
The worst dating deal breaker, ever, was committed by one of my Harley riding beaus. We were going to spend the day in Kansas City. I was eagerly looking forward to it and had dressed carefully in my best jeans. I had shined my Harley boots, braided my hair, and donned my newest Harley t-shirt. It was the first year Harley sold gray t-shirts, and they were so cool that I bought two - a sleeveless one and a regular t-shirt.
When my dashing suitor showed up and saw that I was wearing one of the new gray T's, he wanted for us to wear matching gray t-shirts. Ouch. It was a deal breaker. But, I really liked the guy and did not want to hurt his feelings.
He went to retrieve his matching sleeveless gray shirt from his saddle bags. I simply could not be seen in public wearing matching t-shirts. It is perfectly fine for other couples to wear matching clothing, but it is not fine for any couple of which I am one half. It is just too embarrassing.
I compromised and changed into my other gray shirt. (Surely he had no more spare t-shirts in the saddle bags?) We would be similar but not identical. I was hoping in my heart he would read this critical situation and be happy with similar. But, no. He changed his shirt again to match mine. So. I had to go, then. In matching shirts. 5'1" me and 6'5" him.
In matching shirts.
To Kansas City for the entire day.
In matching shirts.
Deal breaker. All that he could possibly hope for after that day was "friends" status and nothing could change it.
Do not think for a moment I am unaware of the irony that we both had the two new gray T's in our respective sizes, or that my shallowness, even to this day, does not concern me. But, you can not choose what constitutes a deal breaker in dating. It is hardwired.
Another man had his own inexplicable deal breaker behavior. I met him while riding to my local watering hole for a few games of pool one sunny afternoon. Two guys riding a Kawasaki, or a Yamaha, or some such foolish machine, were broken down on the side of the road. The first commandment of motorcycling is to never ride past another stranded biker. In the days before cell phones, the least you could do was offer to call someone for them.
I stopped to see if there was anything I could do to help. The bike's owner was a very handsome guy my age. He introduced himself and introduced his cousin. The cousin was a total loser. He was wearing polyester pants (in a deal breaker category all their own). The cousin had been wearing a white sweater around his waist but it had become caught in the rear chain causing the chain to roll off the back sprocket. I could clearly see it could be remedied right there, and then perhaps Mr. Handsome Dreamboat and his dorky cousin would want to ride to the bar with me.
I pulled the rest of the sweater out of the chain while Handsome Dreamboat and his cousin manhandled the bike. I placed as much of the chain back on the sprocket as I could and had them roll the bike forward. That chain slipped right back on the sprocket. And yes, they did come to the bar with me. Because they were not riding a Harley, and because it was two guys on one bike, they were convinced they were riding to a certain beating at the "biker bar". I assured them there would be no beatings, but those two guys made me laugh.
Mr. Handsome Dreamboat could have been a true contender, even though he did not ride a Harley, and even though he was only a few inches taller than me. For one thing, he was so darned handsome. Really handsome. He was wearing nice jeans and good leather boots, too.
I admire a man so secure in his masculinity that he is not afraid to haul his full grown, dumb ass, sweater-wearing male cousin around on the back of his motorcycle. Even though he was convinced he was heading into a brutal beating at the biker bar, Handsome Dreamboat came anyway. (Maybe he thought the cousin could help him in the fight, but those polyester pants would have been a huge liability had a smack down actually occurred.)
We played a few games of pool and had a nice time talking. I learned that Handsome Dreamboat owned his own business and that he was divorced. It was evident that the divorce had deeply hurt him. They did not stay long but before he left, Handsome Dreamboat asked if I would like go out with him sometime. He quickly added "I know you would never go out with me." At first I thought he was joking but he looked surprised when I said "Sure, I will go out with you." I gave him my number but I did not think he would ever call. Who wants to date a woman who rides her own Harley and hangs out in biker bars? But he did call me, and we set a date for the following weekend. He sent a dozen red roses to me that week. I had found my soul mate I was certain.
The night of our date, I dressed carefully and paid special attention to my makeup. I did not want to look anything like a "biker chick" when he knocked on my door that night. I was nervously waiting for him. When he pulled up in a brand new truck, I practically swooned. Here was a man of means. (So, he could afford those roses!) When I opened the door for the man of my dreams, he just stood there. He never took a single step into my house. He was on time, smelling of soap and aftershave, in expensive leather boots and a nice western shirt, and his black hair had been carefully combed. He just shook his head and said, very sadly, "There is no way you would date a guy like me." He turned around and left me standing in the doorway. It was the shortest romance, date, and break up in the history of the world. He took himself out of the game before he ever committed a deal breaker!
What a guy.
The very first deal breaker I ever encountered was at church camp. And it is true, the first cut is the deepest. The boy I genuinely liked only had eyes for my tent mate. We were all twelve years old so this potential problem was easily resolved by his tent mate and me becoming a "couple". Everyone was happy and no one was left out. (Too bad romance can not remain that simple throughout life!)
The big event was the bonfire at the end of the week. Somehow, EVERYONE knew that the night of the bonfire, boys and girls would get the chance to hold hands! I was not certain how much I liked Heath the second-stringer but I was sure I liked him enough to hold hands after the bonfire. It was all my tent mate and I talked about after the lights were out at night.
The big day finally arrived and all the campers were excited about the grand finale to the week of camping, canoeing and bible study. Holding hands in the dark as we walked away from the light of the bonfire back to our tents was The Reason to go to church camp in the first place.
We hurriedly ate supper in the big mess hall, finished up all the boring details, and finally, at long last, everyone gathered around the bonfire for singing and stories. Afterward, my tentmate and my first choice of all the boys at church camp were ahead of us on path, and I could see they were already holding hands. There was not a lot of time for this activity and for some reason Heath was not taking my hand even though I kept "accidentally" bumping his hand with mine. Time was getting short and we were not that far from the girl's tents where we would have to part. I decided to go for it and boldly took his hand in mine. He was reluctant to even open his fingers but I would not be denied my first chance to hold hands with a boy. It only took a second to discover why Heath did not want to hold hands. He had picked his nose and the snot was still in his hand. It was the very first Deal Breaker, and it was a whopper. Epic fail, in fact!