Cursed: Dance of the Last Symphony

This weekend I did a foolish thing. I invited a stranger to attend the symphony with me. Painful. Humiliating. Exhausting. This guy made me confront some of my worst behaviours by exhibiting them himself.

The Cursed 9th Symphony

When I told my Dad that I had a ticket for our local symphony and they were playing Beethoven’s 9th, he shook his head. Basically, there is a 9th Symphony “curse.” When you write your 9th symphony, it’s game over. Kaput! Lights out! Note to self: never write more than eight symphonies. Luckily, I haven’t even written one and this is something I don’t aspire to. Consequently, I might be able to avoid this trap…unlike every other I seem to fall into.

The Curse of Friendliness

I was once compared to the donkey in the movie Shrek. The one who is overeager to be friends with the grumpy green guy. Whenever someone new came into the office, I’d jump up from my desk to greet them. I am curious about the experiences of other people and also sensitive to the feeling of being left out.

I know this is not “cool” but other than that, I hadn’t seen it as a particularly bad character trait. (I know it is out of fashion and has its detractors, but in the MBTi, I fit the classic description of an ENFP.) Until this weekend that is, where a stranger demonstrated the downside of friendliness.

It was my eagerness to share my symphony experience that led me to offer a guy I didn’t know to come down to hear it with me. And to stay in my spare bedroom.

The Curse of Distance

Since I’ve been on the dating site, I’ve noticed the sad trend of a lack of local men my age to date. (See Wanna Be Your Dog: Online Dating in Your 50s) I’ve adjusted my parameters to see men on the outskirts of the big city, about four hours away. Distance of even half that presents a few problems, however.

First, if the roads are bad – the date gets cancelled. Once this meant that I had a pair of very expensive New Years’ Eve tickets for a party I was too depressed to go to. Luckily, the girls decided to go and dragged me out for a very fun time. No sitting at home crying for me that year! The relationship did not survive this setback, however, as he thought it was “no big deal.” I saw it as an omen – right up there with an eclipse or a mushroom cloud. Ignore it? Never.

The other thing about distance is the awkwardness. If someone comes from out of town, should they be forced to drive all that way and pay for an expensive hotel room? I didn’t think so and offered my spare room.

Safety First

OK, so I’m not a complete idiot and am careful about who stays at my place. I had this guy’s complete name, where he works, and had spoken on the phone with him a couple times. He was not scary in any way. I find that, as a rule, people who sang in their high school choirs growing up, who enjoy astronomy, who are straight-forward about where they work, and freely share other details of their lives are generally not dangerous.

Perhaps “dangerous” isn’t the only thing I need to worry about anymore. I will be considering this experience before I offer to share my space in the future.

I was also comfortable enough to make it very clear that he could stay in my spare room but there would be no hanky panky, etc. He gave me his thoughts about expectations in relationships of all kinds, detailing his experiences to date. This should have been a red flag: I didn’t get a word in edge-wise.

The Curse of Optimism

I had bought my ticket to the symphony as a reward for all the work and effort I’d put into getting a “new” job over the past few weeks. Beethoven’s 9th is actually called, “An Ode to Joy.” It was to be a treat to myself. Stupidly, I had not actually read the words of this particular Ode to Joy:

“All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.”


I had been emailing this particular guy for weeks and his messages were long and detailed. When I told him about the symphony, he was very enthusiastic and I took the hint and issued the invitation. Wouldn’t it be amazing if my future partner and I had our first date at this symphony? Such was my naiveté.

My Dad’s warning about the finality of this symphony should have cautioned me.

When will I learn to curb my enthusiasm?  To temper my hopes?  To throw a bucket of cold water on the blind fire of optimism?

Apparently, from now on.

The Curse of Trying too Hard

I spent days getting the house ready: organizing and re-organizing so as to present it in the most flattering light. There was the usual deep cleaning, setting out only the objects d’art that really express who I am, having imaginary conversations around these things and the books on my shelves. In addition, and for good measure, I also mowed the lawn, put out flowers, cleaned the carport and washed the car….

Actually, it is great to have all this done. I’m going to count this as a positive on the shit list of this past weekend.

Personally, I even shaved my legs – which says a lot since I only do this on special occasions. I tried on several outfits and chose one with the utmost care. It had to look chic but not overly contrived. Flattering but not phony. Effortless. (They say the best time to get ready for a first date is six months ago. Six months from now I will be ready for another first date. Or not. There, see? I’m learning already!)

The Curse of Reality

I used to be what is often called “a hopeless romantic.” I read Jane Austen novels, watched romance movies ad nauseam and dreamed of my own Mr. Darcy arriving to save me from my loveless spinsterhood.

A couple days on any dating site will cure even the most die-hard romantic. You become disabused of any notion of fairness or integrity almost immediately. Your sense of humour is all but gone by about the four month mark. A few more months and you’re as tough as Linda Hamilton in T2 – or Trinity in the Matrix: tight-lipped, leather-clad, and ready to kick dipshit profile ass.

If Mr. Darcy came across you at this time, he’d be horrified. But this is the only way to survive in a hostile world filled with liars, thieves, narcissists, and psychopaths of every stripe.

I have a new category now: those who show you your own character flaws. Perhaps the most nefarious thing of all. Can anything be more hideous…or more embarrassing?

The Curse of Not Enough Wine

This guy arrives and immediately I know he is not “my” guy. Not even close. For many, many reasons, not the least of which is that he brought ¾ of a bottle of wine. To a first date. Where he was staying for free. *groan*

I hid my disappointment that he was not partnership material and decided to be a gracious host. Awkwardly, I asked if he’d like to put his bag in his room – except he didn’t bring a bag, only the aforementioned ¾ of a bottle of wine.

It was then I felt a pang of serious regret. I should have bought my own wine as I was going to need a lot more than ¾ of a bottle to survive the night.

The Genius of Beethoven

I did truly enjoy the concert and was only mildly embarrassed to walk through the lobby with him. He had a kind of mismatched, dishevelled, unevenness to him that defied description. Thankfully, he did not attempt to hold my hand or move too close to me. I held my head high, determined to pretend that this man was a distant cousin from a foreign country. In my mind, he was a professor from Romania and had only just managed to get to the concert on time….

I would like it noted here that I looked great, even if no one noticed my efforts.

A few times during the concert I had to raise my hand up, in an attempt to get him to keep his comments and thoughts quiet so others could enjoy the music. Luckily, we sat amidst a group of very small children whose parents were the typically oblivious new type of parents. The kids gamboled around in the seats, knocking over water, complaining in loud whispers, and generally agitating as young kids do. I was grateful for this distraction. It hid much of this guy’s embarrassing utterances.

At the end, as we stood to applaud with the rest of the enthusiastic audience, he kept repeating how emotional the music had made him and how wonderful it was and how it stirred up feelings, etc. As we made our way out of the auditorium, he gave me his opinions as well.

In the car on the ride home, he went into more detail of every thought that occurred to him. They were many.

The Curse of a Lost Night

I finished off the wine in the first hour, begrudging even the single glass he took. I had nothing to do but drink. He went on for over four hours.

I heard about his childhood, his siblings, his school years, his marriage, his jobs, the places they’d lived, the women friends he had and what they thought about him and his life, how much money he gave to his ex and where his finances stood now – all of this interspersed with his views on God.

Then he’d go back over it all, this time telling me of his feeling around each of the situations he’d found himself in.

I tried not to feel sorry for myself and began to look upon the night as one of endurance: a good way to practice stoicism.

Every now and again he would realize I hadn’t said a word for a long stretch so he’d stop and ask me a question. I would answer but before I could even finish a thought, he’d interrupt me and be off again. I decided to just observe him. A couple times he said, “I know I talk a lot…” but it didn’t slow him down any.

The Curse of Self-Awareness

Somewhere in hour two I began to realize that there have been many times in my life where I “overshared.” Many times, especially just after my marriage ended, that I was so eager for others to know me that I literally poured everything I had inside me out as fast as I could, before they could escape.

My loneliness had been so profound that I was anxious for people to “see” me. If only they really knew me, they wouldn’t abandon me. I wanted so badly to be loved that I gave them everything I had as quickly as possible.

I was experiencing what it was like to be on the “other” side.

I get how they must have felt.


Dark Night of the Soul

By 1:30AM my ears were nearly bleeding. There wasn’t enough wine in the world that could have consoled me at this point. I was disillusioned. How many times had I acted as selfishly as this guy? OK, even at my very worst I was not on this level but the gist was there. “There but by the Grace of God, go I.”

This guy just didn’t have the capacity to listen or care for others.

Every now and then, after a particularly sad story, he’d say, “I just want to find someone who’ll love me.”

Creeping Tearfully Away

Relationships require a careful social dance of give and take. Sometimes we are unable to dance properly and can’t stop stepping toward our partners. But only if we can gracefully step back will our partners be able to step forward towards us. If we move toward them over and over, we give them no choice and they have to nervously keep backing up…until finally we have them pinned up against the back wall.

At about 2AM I had to escape. I felt so sorry for him that I was nearly in tears. How many times had I sensed that others had had enough of me yet still I persisted? Tried even harder. Doubled down with just one more lengthy story?

Finally I just got up and went to bed. He followed along, running a commentary. I interrupted to say “goodnight,” and that the coffee pot just needed to be plugged in in the morning. He started to tell me about how he never drank coffee…I shut my door.

Curse Missed Opportunities

He wants to be friends but I have had this kind of “friend” before. It is a one-way street called frustration. A street that ends in a dead-end alleyway and a spray of bullets. In my experience, it always ends badly in that catastrophic 70s movie kind of way. I don’t feel guilty about this. Just protecting myself, man.

We are each doing the best we can and we are each in a different place. It’s painful to think of the times I’ve been like this guy. Now I see that my heart was in the right place – I truly wanted a friend or a partner. But in my fear and panic I was just not able to allow the other person room to dance. I literally chased them away.

This guy totally missed getting to know me.

Will he, like me, be embarrassed and mortified about his behaviour one day?

Honestly? I doubt it.

The point is moot anyway.

I’ve left the dance, ducked out the back door, changed from my party dress back into black leather and donned my darkest sunglasses. Cue the music.


After this guy left, I did not get as many texts from him as I expected so was able to dodge them quite nicely. Then I received a most extraordinary, lengthy text. I was halfway through it when I realized he’d meant it for another woman he had obviously been speaking to.

After calling him out, I blocked him.

I won’t be inviting anyone to anything anytime soon.


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