Y Me?: Accidates will happen

Posted 9:31am on Wednesday, Apr. 04, 2012

Ac·ci·Date, noun: An unfortunate incident when one party believes they are on a date and the other party believes they are just hanging out or having a work meeting or being buddies.

My friend Susan recently introduced me to this term, and while I don't think I've ever experienced an accidate, I certainly see how it could happen to me. Easily.

Susan had a pretty hilarious story to tell about how it happened to her, so I thought I would share. Here it is, in her words:

"Clearly I was out of practice. Stephen King once wrote that a character "had lost the habit of romance," and I was right there. Yes, I recognize that I am getting my love advice from the master of horror and suspense, but after my last relationship, it is fitting.

I had completely stopped being in the habit of romance. I should have been practicing being an awesome single girl, but instead was building a career and having a damn good time doing it. I started looking at all single men as networking contacts and not guys who might dig me. Then accidating started. We always hear about men who are terrible dates for woman. But what if it is me, girl who has her stuff together, that is actually another person's dating horror story?

I met this adorable man, Obertray*, at a business function. (*All names have been changed to Pig Latin to protect the innocent.) A week later I receive a call from him. We talked about work-related topics and fellow business associates. He then casually asks if I "would like to get together for some drinks and catch the game after work with us." I agreed. And I would swear on a stack of Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bibles he said us. Not me. I answered, "Sure, we can do that."

And here is where things start to go sideways.

When you are out of the habit of romance you begin to think that everyone who asks you out is actually asking you and your people to meet with them and their people for a work party. Not a possible pants party.

I walked into the bar for the meet-up with a few of my employees ready to watch some football and talk shop over drinks. It's then that I spotted Obertray. He was sitting at a small table for two, with two menus, and had already ordered a glass of Scotch for each of us. He looked at me, saw my posse and gave me the most uncontrolled look of disappointment I had seen, outside of possibly my own face after the 2003 Chicago Cubs playoff meltdown.

Then we get to the part where I felt compelled to cover up, pretending there was no disappointment, like I wasn't the jerkiest girl ever -- there was moving of tables, adding of chairs and the unmistakable awkwardness of two people so clearly on an accidate.

I feel that some blame has to be with Obertray for not making it clear this was not a work function. So, single man hotties, go easy on us chicks: We may need you to spell out that this is an impending pants (and not professional) party we are attending. Do not assume that because we are intelligent women we understand subtext. We are taught that men do not have subtext. This is especially true for ladies like me, who have a lot of male friends. You may think we are getting it. It's best to assume we are not. "

I feel for Obertray, and don't really agree with Susan's assertion that it's up to the guy to make it painstakingly clear that you're on a date.

To me, if someone asks you out to do something, regardless in what capacity, you shouldn't invite other people (unless it's a key party). If I were in Obertray's place, I might have suggested something more formal for a first date. Then again, the two already had a professional relationship.

Susan told me they never went out a second time. That's too bad. I just hope she'll do a better job of seeing herself as the object of a guy's affection in the future.

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