How my dog, improv class and Portillo’s taught me all about dating in my 20s

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Jul 12 · 5 min read

Women listen to their friends all the time about what they’re doing wrong and right as singles on the dating scenes. Sometimes their girlfriends get it right. Sometimes they give the worst advice. But the girlfriend I really needed to pay more attention to had four legs because my dating instincts are terrible.

Shamontiel and her dog Faith (Photo credit: Gwen Y. Vaughn)

Lesson 1: Your dog is a hater sometimes.

Dogs are a good judge of character. I hear this all the time as a dog walker. Generally, I believe it. But I have no idea what my German Shepherd knew about one particular gentleman I crossed paths with while walking her.

It’s pretty easy for me to ignore her low growl when I know I could bury my entire face in her fur and be greeted with a lick on the face. Clearly, that guy did not have the same furry blanket. I realized there was no way I’d get his number (my phone wasn’t with me) considering her intense stare. I held on tight to her leash, told him to write his number down and throw it on the ground. I’d pick it up when he drove off. He followed those directions. I waved at him as he got back into his car and left.

As I walked closer to the piece of paper, Faith (my German Shepherd) reached out first. She picked it up, chewed it and swallowed it. Well, there goes that date.

Photo credit: Fraser Cottrell/Unsplash

Lesson 2: No waiter, no date.

A college friend of mine was absolutely flabbergasted that I’m cool with going on dates to places with no waiters. I’m far more concerned with getting to know the person I’m with than hearing someone say, “Would you like to try our appetizers?”

But this guy had called me four times and asked me out repeatedly. I agreed. He was cute. I met him on (so that tells you I’m not new to this dating thing). We’d both just graduated at the time. We met downtown in front of Carson Pirie Scott (R.I.P. to the best department store ever in Chicago). And he asked me if I wanted to go to one of his favorite eateries.

We got there. He ordered and walked to the front area to get his food. And then he sat down. I stood at the ordering counter and watched him at his table. I was completely confused. I got out of line and sat at the table. He munched away on his burger and fries.

My response: “Are you serious right now?”

Him: “Huh?”

My response: “You weren’t going to wait until I ordered?”

Him: “Oh, you were hungry, too?”

My response: “Wow!”

Him: “Well, do you want some of my fries?”

My response: “Nope, I want to leave.”

I walked right out of that restaurant and called my mother. And she laughed hysterically and asked me how close I was to her job. I told her. She invited me to come by for lunch.

“Poor child, I’ll be your date today,” she said in between laughs. “And I won’t make you pay either.” No sympathy from Mom.

And when I made the mistake of telling the college friend about my non-waiter date, he laughed too.

My father and brother were not amused. Their take was simple: “The person who asks, pays.”

My motto after that date: Waiter mandatory. Ask who’s paying ahead of time. Don’t date anyone your dog can’t sniff.

Photo credit: Suea Sivilaisith/Unsplash

Lesson 3: Improv classes teach you what you’re doing wrong.

I walked into an improv class, and I saw a guy who looked like he could’ve walked fresh off a GQ cover. He was attractive, but he wasn’t my type. I shrugged and sat down. Meanwhile several other women just gawked at him. When our instructor came in, he asked us to play a game. We were supposed to all read the same exact speech but as a particular character.

I am pretty sure the character I picked was a “stewardess” or “pilot.” It had something to do with travel. It just so happened that Mr. GQ was paired with me. Part of the fun of the improv lesson was we had no idea what character the other person chose. We could guess at the end. So our entire group sat facing each other in pairs, and we read those same lines.

I read mine first. He looked intrigued, trying to guess who I was by my body language and the way I read the lines. And then he read his. And the minute the first few lines left his mouth, I decided I kinda liked him. He was the epitome of sexy, and he magically became my “type” of handsome as he talked. He still looked the same. It was just the way he read those lines.

When the rest of the group finished reading while we looked on, I checked his finger for a wedding ring. And then the teacher asked us to reveal what “character” we played. A few of the girls giggled, and one said, “I think I know what character he was playing.” I had no clue.

And then he responded: “Serial killer.” And he made eye contact with me again.

Right at that moment, I realized this is exactly why my German Shepherd knew I needed help when it comes to dating. I left that class without his number and a third lesson learned. My dog realizes I clearly don’t know how to pick ‘em.

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters member/3x officer; cohost of Do Not Submit;

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

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