Dating debacles provide tasty morsels for column

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We had just finished dinner when he sheepishly popped the question: “Did I do anything awful that’s gonna show up in your column?”

Of course not, I told him, fully meaning it. It had been a perfectly charming first date. He was not only funny and engaging, he spilled nary a grain of rice on the tablecloth.

And that’s when it hit me. Every single gal needs a column of her own. See, when guys go out with a girl who relays her life stories in print, they suddenly become extra-conscious of how they behave. Do I sense an infomercial here? It’s the amazing all-in-one column…It slices, it dices, it keeps your dates in line.

Believe me, it’s not like I bring a notebook and pen on dates (and I only have that surreptitious tape recorder on part of the time). Still, some men seem to assume I’m casing their every move for a good paragraph.

One guy, for example, e-mailed me after a couple of dates to express genuine dread that something stupid he said or did would find its way onto the kitchen tables of Bay Area Jews. I told “Spike” not to worry; I always change names to protect the guilty. He didn’t seem reassured.

As it turned out, Spike might have considered warning me up front about his unusually rabid competitive streak. Losing was so tough on this guy that when I beat him in Scrabble one night, he left my house in a pout that could only rightfully befit the Gore-Lieberman camp. Calling the incident a “red flag” would be like calling my late grandma’s gribbenes (fried chicken skin) a little tough on the arteries.

Then there was “Seth,” who offered these tender final words after dumping me for another woman: “Let me know if you write about me.” Here you go, Seth. Consider yourself written about.

Sensitive Seth, of course, wasn’t entirely off-base in assuming I might squeeze a line or two out of our relationship. My single friends, women and men alike, get bummed about dating debacles. I get bummed — and then get writing.

Truth be told, re-entering the dating world post-divorce has provided enough drama for a Jackie Collins novel.

In mine, there wouldn’t be any tough heroines named Lucky with kidnapped Hollywood-director husbands. There wouldn’t be any mafiosi or supermodel goddaughters guarding deadly family secrets.

But I could write about the guy who told me about his anger toward his mother on our first date (he’s working it out in therapy).

I could talk about the chap who called on a Saturday night to cancel our Sunday afternoon date so he could watch the football game. Hint, “Alan”: Sometimes faking a little cold goes a long, long way.

And I could recall the man who described his ex-girlfriend in DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) detail before I even knew where he was raised or went to school. Was it Reb Nachman of Bratslav who taught that Prozac references should be saved for the third date?

Of course, I could also write about the guys who’ve offered to bring me soup when I’m sick, sent me flowers for no reason and called to wish me luck when I’ve got a presentation at work.

But what kind of tabloid Jewish journalist would that make me? (Stay tuned for future columns on Elvis sightings at synagogue.) We reporter types are always on the lookout for “man bites dog” stories — or in my case, “date shows up two hours late with excuse involving alien abduction” stories.

Notably, the guys who have expressed concern about showing up in my columns tend to be the very men most prone to behave in column-worthy ways. But I’m not complaining exactly. These guys give me headaches, but they also give me metaphors. And what writer could refuse that?