master of deception

My first date with Dave was typical, maybe even cute depending on the way you look at it. The night before, I tried on my entire wardrobe twice, ultimately settling on a jean skirt, black tank and a Dartmouth sweatshirt designed both to protect me against the evening chill and hide the gross skin disease I had picked up in a Turkish bath a few weeks earlier (dirty hot tub disease, anyone?) I took the train into the city and met up with Dave for a quick bite at Shake Shack (silently cursing when he ordered a root beer as the words ‘Miller Light’ were on the tip of my tongue.) And then we went to a baseball game, because one of my friends had free tickets through work she was letting us use.

Actually, that last part? Total lie. 100% bullshit.

I mean, that’s what I told Dave. That’s what he thought. But the truth was, there were no free tickets, as evidenced by the fact that a- I had to use my license and credit card to pick them up at will call and b- they were in the bleachers. When was the last time an ibanker took a client out to the firm’s season bleacher seats?

I hadn’t set out to deceive him – I just thought that a baseball game would be the perfect first date. And the tickets were going fast, so I bought them on a whim, without asking him first, and Bridget said it would be way weird if I simply told him I had planned a whole outing for us. So I made up a story, even as my mom lectured me about how “a relationship based on lies goes nowhere.” (Direct quote. Tell that to my roommate, mother.)

This actually wasn’t the first time I had lied to spark a relationship with a boy. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’ve tricked the majority of my previous boyfriends into dating me. That high school bf? Totally weaseled my way into his health class (no one could work the guidance counseling system quite like this girl), then strategically began speaking loudly to no one in particular about my passion for skiing. Did I like skiing? Hell no. Was I well aware he was on the ski team? Hell yes. The subliminal messages eventually worked, and six months later, we were official. (And I was forced to make ridiculous statements like “me gusta esquiar” in our shared Spanish class.)

Seeing as I’m not in the market for a new boyfriend at the moment, I thought it was time to put this particular skill (manipulation, I suppose it’s called in some circles) to rest. But last week, I found myself in a conference room with a fellow reporter, my first potential friend in Wilmington. I’m not as desperate for friends as I was when I first moved here, but when you spend the majority of your time either a- working from an empty apartment or b- working from a courtroom filled with balding, middle-aged men who inherently dislike you, workweek human interaction is a prize to be cherished at all costs. Like, say, missing your train. The one that only comes every two hours. Or ignoring an email from your boss. Or maybe pretending to be a tad more conservative than you are. Or settling for a stale bagel instead of your usual PB&J, packed with love that morning and now going to waste inside your work bag.

Because sitting with someone, even if they don’t share your exact political views and even if the setting is the sketchy luncheonette across the street, is always preferable to another meal alone. Just like a boyfriend who thinks you’re a pro skiier or is convinced you have amazing connections to pro baseball games is (sometimes) better than no boyfriend at all.

Better still, though? A boyfriend who finds out that you don’t actually have any connections at all, and still loves you anyway.

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