It's been said time and time again but we seldom take notice. When you're with someone, it really is the little things. Forget the grand gestures of flowers, expensive jewellery and saying the obvious ("Wow, you look gorgeous" - um, duh). There are a few things I truly take note of when dating a guy and, while to each his own, I think it's a pretty good gauge of character.
1. Punctuality. I'm not a stickler for being there on the dot; I am Malaysian after all. But there's a difference between being ten minutes late and being half an hour late. A guy who shows up on time means what he says and say what he means. 7pm is 7pm. Hence, "I really want to make this work" means just that. Oh and minus points for not apologising for being late. How rude.
2. When he drops you off, he waits till you get inside safely. This I can attest to. The guys who actually drove off the minute I stepped out of the car turned out to be jerks and the guys who waited for me to give a little wave before I closed the door behind me were keepers. Lesson: If he can't spare a few seconds to ensure you're not abducted by aliens as you walk to your door, he really can't care less.
3.He's nice to the waiters. He can be a charmer in seven languages when wooing you but a real gem is nice to everyone. I knew a smooth-talker who de-charmed himself by being a complete ass to the wait staff. Selective manners? I don't think so.
4. He doesn't like animals. I dunno. There's just something untrustworthy about people who don't like animals. You don't have to be a zookeeper but shoving your boot at an innocent stray cat says a lot about a man. That was one short date.
5. Animals don't like him. If Sparky doesn't like him, neither will your grandma. Trust me on this.
6. He's cheap. When I say cheap, I don't mean he orders the cheapest wine on the menu. I mean, he makes you pay for your own Teh C (which, even in these hard economic times, costs less than RM2.00). Or when he takes you out for dinner, his idea of 'a really special night out' means a Snack Plate at KFC. And after you give him your share when the bill comes (because you generously offered, of course), he reminds you, "Oh there's service tax." I'm not saying it's' all about the money. You know that parable in the Bible about the poor woman who had nothing and yet she gave her last penny to help someone? While the super loaded guy on his high and mighty donkey gave a bigger amount, thinking he was 'da man'? My point is, you need to date someone like the poor woman. It wasn't much but she gave her all.
7. He remembers. All sorts of stuff. Your favourite color. That embarrassing story when you were sixteen. Your aversion to olives. The attention to detail means he's listening. Definitely a good thing.`
I remember once when Haw picked me up in his vintage Toyota on a Sunday morning and he had placed a colourful pareo on the PVC seats. I asked him, "What's this for?" And he said, "It's a hot day and the seat gets really hot. I know you hate that so I covered it up for you."
It's the small things, I tell you.