I wanted to impress a girl, so I invited her to one of my softball games.
It seems like a questionable move, I admit, considering my team was in dead last place and boasting a league-low 0-10 record (CLICK HERE to read about our season up until this point).
But if I’ve learned anything about dating it’s that, usually, bad is good. Down is up. Nontraditional-weird is better than predictable-“nice.”
Never, in any circumstance, is it a good thing for a guy to be called “nice.” Socially, the word’s a death sentence, just a sliver less demoralizing than “cute.” The old lady at the Publix bakery who gives out free cookies — she’s nice, a sweetheart. You know what’s cute? Puppies. Penguins. Pixar movies. And guys who have no real shot with a girl but don’t know it yet — they’re adorable.
But me? I shoot for dangerous (note the leather jacket). Mysterious (sometimes, I’ll purposefully mismatch my shoes and belt, just because).
I’m the poster child for average, dark and handsome. Really not the kind of guy you bring home to mama.
So I chose the softball route. The days of dinner and a movie are dead, caput. People don’t go steady or do promise rings anymore. They “hang out;” they “talk.” The awkward pre-relationship interview over appetizers and drinks is a thing of the past. Embrace it.
Today, if you want to make an impression, make a fool of yourself first — that’s the gospel according to Cavaliere. Break the ice. Then worry about the whole “getting to know each other” bit later.
(The first date I ever had, I took a wrong turn on the way to a miniature golf course and ended up at a four-way dirt road intersection somewhere in the backwoods of Daytona Beach. GPS-less, we spent the night guessing where home was, and laughing our way back to civilization.
We never did make it to putt-putt. But I got the girl, and I managed to trick her into sticking around for three years. It was like taking candy from a baby.)
When the game’s first pitch is thrown, I’m feeling good. I’ve got my tuxedo T-shirt pressed and freshly starched. My backward hat is crusted in lines of stale sweat, which I’m sure you’d agree gives me a certain “man’s man” appeal.
What on earth have I been doing while wearing that hat? the girl must’ve wondered. Chopping wood? Pumping iron? Building a hot rod?
Hot off the bat, in one of the later innings, a liner soars to my right. I run, deep into short. I extend, my mitt Pac-Manning toward the yellow blur. I make the grab, but the runner on third wants to test me. He starts for home. I find my feet and fire. A frozen rope. Jake, our pitcher, runs to cover the plate. He grabs the ball and goes for the swipe tag.
What a play! the legions of fans inside my head cheer. They’re throwing popcorn and jumping up and down. They’re screaming, going nuts, Cracker Jacks falling like confetti.
I look over to shoot a knowing point to my girl on the bleachers. She, the only person sitting in the stands behind home, is looking down, poking and scrolling through her cell phone.
I tell myself she’s tweeting the play to ESPN. They’d want to see it, I think. How else would it make tomorrow’s highlight reel?
Our bats come alive the next inning and Business Casual ends up taking home its very first victory. The next game, a grudge match against the Young Professionals Group (who beat us for their only W the last time we faced), we reigned supreme once more, in a come-from-behind win to clinch not-last place.
Looking back, sure, maybe the girl might have missed my shining moment. And maybe, because my softball skills are so refined, I didn’t get to utilize my “make a fool of yourself” wooing method. And maybe Business Casual wasn’t the best team in Flagler coed. But you’ve got to look at the bright side.
Statistically, we were better than YPG. Those chumps.
*For more of Mike Cavaliere's column,” 20/twentysomething,” CLICK HERE.