Dating Me: A Scouting Report

Teddy Wayne has been playing around long enough to expose various tendencies and vulnerabilities as he hits on the opposite sex and to the opposite field; if you stay one step ahead of his games, you can emerge from a relationship the winner.  Here’s the scouting report:
The first date: Once your mutual friend and set-up man has arranged a tryout at a dive, Wayne will warm up with a starting pitcher of margaritas; balk at a second-round draft beer, as it will result in increased mental errors.  After he squeezes out an awkward goodnight, you’ll have 0.4 seconds before he zooms in for a kiss.  Making contact with a peck on the cheek is sufficient to keep his interest alive; remember, he strikes out a lot and is under the impression that succeeding three out of every ten times is a respectable average.
The fourth date: At this point, Wayne will have to exceed his shoestring salary cap for a prime-time Saturday dinner.  Let him insert the least expensive, non-corked bottle of wine into the night’s lineup, but go ahead and lead off with that $17 lobster-cake appetizer with extra mustard on it.  Afterwards, take out your purse and give a token check-swing, but if you don’t lay off his faux-protests, you will end up in an undesirable revenue-sharing plan.  He’ll intentionally walk you home to force the tough call: Should you invite him up?  Either way, your friends will second-guess you the next day in email relays, so just go with your gut.  If he overzealously swings for the fences, respond with a conservative prevent defense and block home plate against a squeeze play.  Don’t forget that, like most men, he’s happy just to be off the bench.
The morning after (if he’s still the visiting team): Attempts to converse with Wayne as he reads the Sunday Times over brunch will reveal a deceptive changeup from the previous night’s amorous chatter.  Sacrifice the Week in Review and concede a loss of intimacy; once he’s scored, he tends to show a lack of relationship-building hustle.
Having “the conversation”: When you initiate a pep talk about “taking it to the next level,” stop his frequent attempts to call “time” by issuing an ultimatum.  Wayne won’t challenge you, as he’s too fearful of being sent back down to singledom.  Caution: Wait at least two weeks until you introduce him as your “boyfriend,” or risk relationship forfeiture.
Meeting your parents for dinner: Wayne will have marginally better chemistry with Mom, so play a shift to seat him next to her, and do everything you can to keep him from facing off in a mismatch against your overpowering father.  Don’t abandon him for a pre-dessert restroom stretch, as he’s a notorious choker in pressure situations.  Keep in mind that he’s a southpaw and has trouble eating next to righties.
Breaking up: After a season, Wayne will explain that he needs a “change of scenery” and ask to be released for what he mistakenly believes is the bonanza of free agency.  If you’re the one giving him the hook, stave off a comeback rally as he appeals your decision by deploying everything from dirty tricks like guilt-tripping to desperation-time vows such as “I guarantee I can change” and “I’ll sign off on a multiyear commitment” and “You won’t ever find me sampling your birth-control pills ‘just to see what happens.’ “
Post-relationship wrap-up: About six months after you’ve parted ways, Wayne will suss out if you’re amenable to any winter meetings.  You may be tempted to give him one more shot next spring, but he’s in his early thirties now, and with each passing year resembles less an All-Star catch and more a career journeyman who may soon have to turn to performance-enhancing drugs.  Shut him out of your life unless you have no other prospects you can call up.
Date Teddy Wayne one outing at a time, stay emotionally tough, and whatever happens, do not play with all your heart.

Teddy Wayne’s debut novel, “Kapitoil,” will be published by Harper Perennial this April.