I've seen a few people littering in the last few weeks. I caught them in the act -- dropping paper cups out of their car windows as they sped down the interstate.
And I was reminded of three guys I dated. One was my first boyfriend. Of course I had a hard time getting over him; the first pangs of rejection are difficult to handle, especially when you're a teenager. Anyway, it was definitely a long time before I knew I didn't like him anymore, and I can trace that feeling to one exact moment in time.
He and I were going to lunch (because we were still friends). It was a nice summer day, warm and breezy. He stopped at a convenience store to buy some cigarettes. (No, no -- oddly enough, this wasn't what made me dislike him.) He purchased his pack, and when he got into the car he rolled down the window. We drove out of the parking lot as he ripped the cellophane off of the box. He then held the piece of plastic out of the window and let the wind catch it. The moment he let go of his trash, I knew I would no longer have the problem of liking him. In that one motion, I was done with him.
Another guy I dated committed a similar act of disrespect. It was a rainy summer night, and he and I were on our way to somewhere, though I can't remember that part now. What I do recall is that he pulled up to a drive-thru ATM machine to get some cash. When the machine spit out the receipt, he took it, then let it fly off into the rain. In that instant, I knew I would never marry him.
It was also in that instant that I realized I abhor littering and the characteristics that so often go along with a person who litters. I decided that it was my dating litmus test. If a person littered, I wanted nothing to do with him, romantically. It may sound harsh, but we've all got to have a cut-off in relationships, and whether a person littered or not was mine.
There was one more guy who did the same thing -- on perhaps a larger scale. He threw all kinds of things into his very own yard. He destroyed other people's property. After one of our initial "hang-outs," I had my suspicions that he was not a person I wanted to entrust my feelings to. I saw that he littered, but somehow I ignored it. I thought that he was just immature, and he might change. I was a bit uneasy, but I kept dating him. Not long after we dated, though, things ended rather abruptly, I would say. In hindsight, I could see that I would've been right not to date him. Why did I ignore my litmus test?!? Maybe I thought I needed to overlook such a paltry dating qualification. But where did that get me? Absolutely nowhere.
So now I embrace it. There are requirements for nearly everything in life, and if someone doesn't have some kind of dating rubric, they'll wind up dating all kinds of fools and jerks. I feel the need to add a disclaimer here, though, and it is, don't set expectations too high. Leave some flex room, but always, always have a list of things you cannot
live with, under any circumstance. One of mine is littering. I'm confident of that now. I'll trust the littering test next time.
Now it's your turn. What is, or was, your dating litmus test? You can be serious or funny in your response -- in any case, leave one!
Thing I'm thankful for: popcorn balls.