I was a horrible liar, and we both knew it, but I had no choice. There was no possible way I could tell him that when I reached into his coat pocket and took his hand—to this day the only bold, romantic gesture I have ever made—it was because I thought he wanted me to.
"You're just doing that as a friend, right?" He asked, sheepishly.
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"Yeah. It, uh, helps with balancing."
A few Captain and Coke-fueled seconds passed before I used the liquid courage to tell him the truth. He stayed calm while I explained that I thought he was cute, funny and kind. We enjoyed each other's company, so why not see where this could go?
"Jesus," he said, sighing. Apparently, it wasn't going anywhere good.
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Embarrassed and disappointed as I was, I also felt a bit relieved. If we weren't going to be dating, maybe I didn't have to tell him exactly how serious my slight limp actually was. We'd known each other for a year and a half already, so he knew that I had mild cerebral palsy, a neuro-muscular disability that occurs when the brain's cerebellum is damaged, usually at birth. Balance, fine motor, and speech can be affected, but a diagnosis of CP doesn't automatically mean a lower intelligence.
To him, CP meant that my gait was awkward and my balance shaky. Other subtleties that accompanied my diagnosis—my difficulties with depth perception and direction, my need for assistance when using downward escalators, and the numb sensation in a small part of my left knee that took the brunt of my semi-often falls—were still my secrets. Dating is hard enough for a nerdy, bespectacled, 24-year-old without adding permanent deficiencies to the mix. I can never decide if the best time to confess that I don't drive is after the first round of "getting-to-know-you" drinks or on the third "I-think-I-like-you" dinner. When To Tell Your Date An Important Secret