One of the unexpected pitfalls of being a management student is that you tend to hang out with other management students and, sometimes, the guys you meet and date will also be from this crowd. Superficially, you might be thinking “jackpot” but, on closer inspection, having too much in common with a man can kill the romance.
It goes something like this:
Dale* and I were fixed up. He is a fellow former management student and an entrepreneur, as well as a close friend of a previous colleague of mine. For our first date, I told him we’d meet outside Prada, because if I am to date him, he might as well know where he would often be picking me up. I always estimate my walking time in terms of Ugg boots but today I was wearing heels. Since it had just rained and my head was still healing (see The Orangina Miser), I decided nothing more than a cautious gait would be advisable. I was thus almost ten minutes late. When I got to the boutique, I saw no one. For a brief moment, I was crestfallen but that quickly subsided as I contemplated having a look at the new collection (I am used to disappointment and thus easily get over it). Then I noticed a reflection in the store window. It was like Matthew Fox in the early 2000’s had left the set of Lost, changed into preppy clothes, lost ten pounds, grew a mole on his face, and came to meet me! I thought to myself, “if this is not Dale, and he does not show up, I sure hope you and I go for coffee!”
But it was him, and I felt very optimistic as we walked towards a café. Knowing little about Dale, I thought it would be interesting to ask him about his business. It was. He gladly and openly discussed his project, which, it should be no surprise to any recent grad, revolves around a mobile app. Like many “revolutionary” concepts, his was not really a new idea but offered what he was sure to be a better interface and more varied functionality than the dozens of apps already providing a similar service. I did not at first find anything strange about this conversation. We ended up talking for two and a half hours. Of course it was now 8:30pm and he did not invite me to dinner, however, like so many before him, I guess he might have been hoping for a firm invitation into my bedroom before forking out a knife and fork. Still, I wanted to see him again.
Later, he messaged me about alumni contacts. Since I’m used this behavior, it didn’t strike me odd coming from a potential suitor.
The next day, he wrote: “would you like to have a cheap lunch with me tomorrow?”
I try not to read too much into text messages because jokes are often misunderstood. I replied: “That’s an interesting choice of words!”
He came back with: “better a cheap lunch with a good guy than a good lunch with a cheap guy.” Again, I think his humor was lost in the bandwidth but I also sometimes say stupid things unintentionally, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I accepted the date.
I really wanted to get to know him better. I was hoping we could get more personal since we had already discussed every aspect of his business, and I was unemployed, so discussing my professional life should be quick.
This time, he showed up late. When he found me, we walked to the restaurant. What started as small talk (“What did you do today?” “Oh, I sent a couple CVs”) turned into the primary axis on which our conversation rotated. I do not believe I formally asked him for his advice but I got it. Honestly, he is quite clever and has the networking bit down to a science–too much so even as he greets and chitchats with every waiter, bus boy and hostess, regardless of whether that person seems completely uninterested and too busy to deal with someone like him.
As he went on about how I needed to lower my expectations in terms of salary and the types of companies that would value a native English speaker (things I have heard many times from the school’s career counselor), I allowed my mind to drift. He was so into what he was saying and also so inattentive to me that I could probably have been playing on my mobile phone without him noticing, but that’s not what happened.
I started to think about him in other ways. He was so good looking. I pictured what it might be like making love to him. He was fit and handsome enough to make the cut but then my imagination gave me a wakeup call. In bed, I thought, he is probably a talker who gets turned on by his own words. Phrases like: “Oh, I have a meeting with the VC firm,” “Oh yeah, Porters Five Forces,” “Give it to me HBR!!!” and as he climaxes, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmarket capitalization!!”
As I thought of this, I almost laughed. I decided then and there that I might be better off with someone from a different world, a different background, to whom I am a success for merely having a management degree, rather than a failure for not having found a job yet.
In the end, I gave him the business card of my friend working in VC (Venture Capital) and decided I wanted a partner in love, not business. I’m sure we’ll remain friends and help each other network but the man I will fall for will challenge me intellectually with his own original thoughts and opinions, not those imparted upon him from a cookie cutter business school.