Judge the cover

On East 86th Street, there’s a Barnes & Noble and Sephora on the same block, thus combining two of my favorite things: books and makeup.

I was in the bookstore this past Saturday, adding a forth item to my stack of outrageously depressing memoirs, when a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Were you part of the Reservoir Dogs running group five years ago?”

I was not and my look must have said as much, so he followed up with, “Sorry. You look just like someone from that group.”

I had to hand it to him, asking that question was a pretty bold move for someone who apparently couldn’t make it happen five years ago when he likely had a much better opening.

“I’m not,” I said. “I run though – so maybe I’ve seen you around.”

I figured that concession was the least I could do to help smooth things over. After all, I once chased a personal trainer from my gym down the dairy aisle of Target and shouted, “Hey! Aren’t you the guy?!” at him. So, I know a thing or two about being awkward, is what I’m saying and I don’t wish it on anyone.

The problem was that by giving that inch during the the bookstore run-in, I somehow signed up for a whole conversation. I knew it was only a matter of time before this man suggested that we run together. Or read together. Or do something else that I’d rather not do together at all.

Why? Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, I just didn’t find him attractive, which I suppose is rather ironic given that we were surrounded by stacks and stacks of books that we were not supposed to be judging by their covers.

But I don’t care how that saying goes. I think the cover is important. I pass judgment on it all the time.

Before you lecture me on why I should be more open-minded, I want to remind you that I actually am. In the past year alone, I’ve dated someone who was a caretaker to two special needs cats, as well as someone who claimed, quite seriously, that kitchen sponges should be outlawed. And there was also the man – a banker, mind you – who met me for a mid-day coffee date at a café between our offices but brought along his own coffee in a paper cup  and a plate of cookies from the party his office was having.

And those were the good ones, OK? They’re the ones I went out with again. So I’m plenty open. In fact, if anything, I should be less so  – though no one else seems to agree with that.

“I think you should have given him a chance,” my friend said when I told her about the guy at the bookstore over drinks later that day.

“I think you should shut up,” I shot back.

She means well, I know. All my friends do when they plead with me to cast a wider net, especially when my reasons often boil down to the purely superficial: too skinny; bad teeth; vests.

They may very well have a point. But at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to go to bed with this person they’re advocating for and if I don’t even want to browse books with him, why should I try to force myself to do anything more?

“I don’t have to give him a chance,” I said. “I owe him nothing.”

This is dating. Not charity.

And that’s exactly what I told myself when I headed off to Sephora in search of a new eyeliner and a third red lipstick. Because for better or for worse, I care about the cover. And I don’t believe anyone who says they don’t.


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