Monday, February 05, 2007

I Hate Littering, or A Dating Litmus Test

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He stopped at a convenience store to buy some cigarettes. (No, no, this wasn't what made me dislike him.)"

It should have. Smoking is skank.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Clint said...

For several years one of my Dad's character-building tasks for me was to clean up the trash in the mile stretch of road around our house. Instead of building character, however, it instilled in me near-homicidal rage at the sight of someone littering. So yeah, littering, definite turn-off.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Well, perhaps I should've mentioned that he didn't smoke while we were dating. Still, you're right -- that should've been a clear indication of our mismatched values . . .

8:39 AM  
Blogger Lexia said...

I like hearing your explanation of WHY littering is a turnoff. You didn't even mention that. Anyway, maybe I should add the following to my litmus test:
If he doesn't like 80s music or God it's a no-go.

12:16 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

Liars. Can't handle it, too much trouble.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

When a guy cries during a conversation regarding your relationship, it's over. Especially if it's early in the relationship. Yuck.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My litmus test is that the person must be beautiful, be smart, have the biggest smile in the world, be unpreditable in a predicatable sort of way, be a seamstress extraodinaire, love the name sentiments, know colors, have six children and 5 grandchildren, like Mr. Pibb, have a cat named "Lucky", make the best spagetti ever, love to sing "the beat goes on", be able to hit the highest musical note known to humans, and be able to drive while reading the mail. Without those things, forget it.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Heather S. said...

So I had this big long comment for you on this all ready to go- and it didn't work. So I'll give a brief overview of what I said. It's always been in the shoes for me. If they've got bad shoes, I'm sorry- unless they can be trained to wear better ones, it's just that you can tell so much about a guy and his sense of style and therefor his personality. That's what I've got for now. :)

12:37 PM  

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