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“Please, can we keep him, please? He’s so Good on Paper! Please!” my best friend whined at me through the telephone, sounding like my children hoping to keep a stray puppy. He was G.O.P. – appropriate age, grown children, successful business owner, LOCAL (new for me), fit & athletic. But after six months, with Valentine’s Day closing in fast, I could go no further.

Early on I detected a helluva playboy vibe, wrapped around some serious short man energy. There was a show room style three car garage housing a vintage model, an exotic go fast car and a race car. On the wall, behind glass, hung his racing suit. Above the garage, a wine room. The best dating advice I’d ever received suddenly rang in my ears: Never date someone more vain than you.

Soon enough, I found myself on a three hour road trip to watch him race around a dusty track in that suit. It was a festival of grown men, their hobby of choice appeared to be risking death by crashing ridiculously expensive cars. I’m no NASCAR or even a regular car enthusiast, but I ‘oohed and aahed,’ doing my best to be impressed. I met a few other women that day in the dust bowl, none of them were wives though. Little wonder, this couldn’t be any wife’s idea of the perfect weekend.

I did relish the expensive dinners, delicious wine and VIP treatment. It tickled my vanity to be introduced to the seemingly important people stopping by the table to say hello. I decided to ignore how blonde I was on his arm. It was only for fun after all.

And, apparently he was a big deal in town. As chair of January’s premiere annual White Winter Ball, I’d be his plus one. But not before he invited me to shop, after hours no less, at a local clothing boutique. The rack of sale items on the sidewalk had prices so high, I hadn’t bothered to go inside before now.

I was to select anything I wanted, but especially an outfit for the gala. From earrings and a clutch, to a dress and shoes. My stomach turned queasy when I realized the staff had clearly done this before. It was my turn in the

“Dress the Girlfriend” rotation. I was mortified. “Don’t you want to try on some jeans? We just got these hand embroidered tops that would be great on you!” offered the owner. Thank you, no, let’s just focus on a dress for the gala please. Later he declared, “You’re beautiful! It’s perfect!” but did seem a bit disappointed I hadn’t spent more money.

Shortly after the gala, he turned up at my office, unannounced, with a souvenir from the evening’s ball – an enormous photo of us, double matted and professionally framed! He proudly presented it to me like a cat dropping a dead mouse on my kitchen floor. In the photo, I am a deer caught in headlights, while he looks thrilled to be on stage. Where on earth was I supposed to hang this thing?

The effort of being impressed by him, as much as he’d like, was becoming too much. I’d wandered into a quicksand pit and it was now creeping up my neck. “To hell with GOP,” I fairly yelled at my best friend, “Mary, I’m gritting my teeth just answering the door to go out with him. I really can’t do this any more!”

“Are you sure? He seems really into you,” she tried once more.

“Mary, it’s not me he’s into.”

Lesson learned: Never date someone more vain than you.

Vanity Lessons from a Playboy was last modified: by

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