Everyone wants to love...and to be loved. Everyone wants intimacy. Everyone wants someone to grow old with. Finding this person is the end game of many trials and errors. This game is called dating. It comes with optimism, discovery, anxiety, awkwardness, and self realization. Dating is a challenge to everyone...especially for me. This game started for me in high school and continued to my early 30's. The most common question people have about someone with a disability is if they can have sex. Let's put it this way, I didn't go through my vasectomy for a good time. However, this question was always in the back of the mind of everyone I dated. Over time I wanted to have my opening line be, "Hi, I'm Dave...and I can do it". I can disappoint a lady just as well as my walking peeps can.
I didn't start dating until later in high school. I had to wait until girls got their driver's license. I realize that dating a disabled guy might not be considered cool, but having my mom drive would have made it worse. My mom's singing along to her 8-track of Glen Campbell singing 'Rhinestone Cowboy' would not have set the right mood for the date.
Caveman used clubs to begin their courtship. Our generation used mixed tapes. I know I'm going to get heckled about admitting this...but I'm sure I wasn't alone in doing this in high school. When looks are not your selling point, nothing sealed the deal like spending hours making a mixed tape that included 'In your Eyes' and 'Somebody' for that special lady. If you were smart, you used your dual tape deck to make multiple copies of this love potion in case that week's attempt didn't workout.
When preparing for a date I would think ahead to what I might say. Obviously she isn't going to be interested with my boring self...so I have to portray what I would be like if I was interesting. I guess telling her that I scored 4 touchdowns in the high school championship would be a stretch...
In addition to this I would have to manage how much I drank during the day. No, not 'liquid courage' but ANY fluid. I would quit drinking anything at 2pm for a 6pm date. I didn't want to take the chance that the restaurant washroom wasn't accessible, and asking her to help me might be considered a perverted request. Gigity! Alternatively, wetting my pants would not likely lead to a second date (unless I was lucky enough to connect with her freshly after a really bad relationship).
I did not use my wheelchair on dates too often. Since I'm able to walk with assistance, I would have my date walk me. Something I discovered while dating, and verified over my 5 years of marriage, that women do not wear practical shoes out. Walking me is usually easy...unless you are wearing 4 inch heels. It was like being walked along a tight rope. Having my date walk me assured that at least we would hold hands during our date. Who's got game? Davey's got game. Plus, I got to make sure she didn't have 'man hands'.
In an attempt to be independent I would always order chicken fingers so I would not have to ask her to cut my meat up. Chicken fingers is one of the last socially acceptable thing to pick up and eat with your fingers. The fact that chicken fingers were on the menu tells you the type of places I would bring my dates too. Shut up, I'm frugal.
We have all been exposed to being on a date where the other person will talk your ear off over the most uninteresting things imaginable. When this happened to me, she would say, "You are such a great listener". Not really...I just can't walk away. Falling out of the booth and crawling away might have given her the hint.
Even though dating was excruciating, I would not change anything After a long time playing this game, I finally won my soul mate.
Until next time...