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Your Father…

21 Jul

I am 15 minutes late to my first date with Chris. Not for the usual reasons; I actually should have been early. I am late because I drove past the bar twice and got stuck behind a bus when I turned around… all because I didn’t want to admit I have never been to this popular bar before. It’s been four months since I moved home and I am not about to admit to my new date that JD Salinger would call me antisocial. As usual, I’m off to a promising start.

Late and embarrassed, I give myself a football-movie-pep-talk as I cross the parking lot. With one last victory grunt-and-flex, I march through the door and stride right up to the guy sitting alone at the bar, chatting with the female bartender.

He stares at me blankly as I stick my hand out and introduce myself. The bartender comes over as I continue to stand there with my hand out, insisting that this man (who has already turned back to his beer) is Chris.

We’re all just standing there saying the same words with no improved understanding when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn to face someone who looks much more like the profile picture I had been talking to for the past few weeks; he is gesturing to the table next to the door where he has clearly been waiting. It turns out I had amped myself up so much that I failed to look around the bar before striding right up to the bartender’s boyfriend who is keeping her company until her shift ends.

Boy do I know how to make an entrance.

After that point, however, the date passes in a pleasant, easy blur. We breeze through the usual topics (family, work, summer plans, etc.), but also carefully debate politics and discuss history without giving too much of our personal beliefs away. I’m relieved to hear that he’s in a band part-time while teaching full-time. I immediately decide to wait at least a month before he knows anything about my taste in music and at least a year before he can see the full contents of my iPod (no one in their 20s should have that much Disney).  What feels like ten minutes of talking turns out to be three hours.

As we walk through the dark parking lot, Chris asks when he can see me again and gives me a confident, gentle kiss on the cheek.

****

Kids, there’s something about a guy asking when he can see you again that says just what you want it to. It’s not about the good time he had (although that’s implied) and it’s not about moving along in the process. He just wants to spend time with you again. What more could you want?

It turns out… nothing. Apparently I really screwed up this blog by ACTUALLY meeting your father. Every date after that point ended with the exact same feeling: when can I see you again? There are plenty more stories of how I very nearly screwed it all up (that I’ll probably share on here… I can’t shut this thing down!) but somehow Chris has always wanted to see me again. This weekend, he asked me to marry him and I am happy to officially announce: this is how I DID meet your father.

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Your Father Isn’t… Elliot

7 May

I’m listening to my current guy aggressively drumming and shout/singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” while I’m writing this. It’s an all-around weird moment. Oh well, just go with it.

~~~

Elliot sends me an incredibly sweet, thoughtful message about what he likes in my profile and how much he thinks we’ll get along. There’s no bravado in it, no showmanship, which for DC is impossible. I actually work hard on my reply because I can’t easily match his level of sincerity.

We talk for what seems like an eternity each evening for about a week, one night until 2am. I’m amazed at how much we have in common. For every personal passion or hobby that I mention, even those things I only sheepishly admit, he shares the same excitement. Baseball? Big fan. Astronomy? He’s totally into it. Late 90s pop music? He responds with this gem.

 

Even the few things we don’t have in common he tells me he’s been dying to learn more or try out, like watching the Yankees or Korean barbeque. It’s incredible and I get swept up in the giddy idea that I have found my soulmate. If I’ve online dating has taught me anything, it’s that finding ‘the one’ should be that easy, right?

By the time I finally head to meet the world’s most perfect man, I’m an anxious mess. Even though I’m permanently behind the learning curve when it comes to this dating thing, I feel like may have made a fatal error somewhere along the line.

Our online personalities have become so close, so fast, and we’ve bonded so intensely that I feel this date will either end in an on-the-spot elopement or terrible disappointment. My stomach is in knots and I fight the urge to walk straight across the Metro platform to the train heading home instead of towards my potential Prince Charming, who I’m sure is patiently waiting for me at the trendy pizza place downtown.

Elliot is in fact waiting outside the restaurant, but that is where my expectations begin the crumble. He sort of shrugs his way up to me to introduce himself.  My heart sinks but I hold out hope. He doesn’t exude the energy I imagined for him based on hours of superficial online chats. I couldn’t have been THAT wrong though. He’s just nervous… that’s why he keeps ducking his head as he talks to me. That’s normal, right?

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We navigate the worst part of any pizza outing: deciding what to order. I’m surprised that Elliot is beyond thrilled to order every pizza I suggest. He positively gushes at each suggestion and my impeccable taste in pizza toppings. On a hunch, I pursue this line. I start saying increasingly ridiculous things to see if he’ll agree.

“I don’t like beer.” “Me either.”

“The only beer I like is Guinness.” “Wow, that’s so funny. Me too!”

“…when mixed with tequila and Diet Pepsi.” “I’ve never tried that but it sounds pretty good!”

“But I don’t really believe in drinking at all.” (as I sip my wine). “I actually didn’t drink at all for three years.”

“Oh? Why not? Bad experience? DUI? Religious conversion?” “My last girlfriend told me not to.”

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Elliott goes on to list the various things he gave up for his last girlfriend, including alcohol, red meat, and most of his friends. In exchange, he picked up her religion but is willing to change that for me.

I think back to our internet chemistry… Elliot wasn’t telling me we have so much in common, he was just telling me that we could. Soon. Once I tell him what to like.

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To my disappointment, I’m actually heartbroken. Watching this figment of my imagination dissolve, I feel like I’m going through a real break up. But with an imaginary person. Which makes it that much worse.

~~~

Kids, let this be a cautionary tale. After this experience I approached each new date with a perhaps aggressive level of skepticism, aware of the pitfalls of Internet-based rose-colored glasses. And I still managed to screw things up a few more times. It’s a jungle out there.

 

 

Your Father Isn’t… Oliver

31 Oct

Sorry guys… things are going to get un-chronological for a bit. I’ve got backlogged dates (yea, I know, it’s awful) from various points in my dating career and since I screwed up my blogging research by meeting someone awesome, this is what you get. Enjoy! This one is from this summer, not too long after I moved to New Jersey.

****

Oliver surprises me. After only two online messages of the terribly mundane variety, he invites me out for a drink. Since I’ve got nothing else to do, I say yes.

In his profile picture, Oliver is really quite attractive but in person he looks like Mr. Clean’s completely average, red-eyebrowed cousin. Of course, a completely average looking guy who photographs well seems like a step up from past dates, so I’m pretty pleased with my choice.

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The bar we meet at has an awesome sign out front, “If you can’t stop in, smile as you drive past!” I immediately love this little pub, so I’m feeling very at home while I wait for him to arrive.

He’s late enough that by the time he arrives he has to explain why he’s soaking wet; it was still sunny when I arrived. As the raindrops on his bald head sparkle in the overhead lights, I make a mental note that my love of all things shiny does not extend to scalps.

Oliver is another case of ‘perfect on paper.’ We have so much in common that we breeze through typical date conversations because we just agree and move on. In some ways, it’s great. The talk flows from topic to topic with little effort and I’m genuinely impressed with Oliver.

Trouble starts when we start talking about work and graduate school. I’m in the 5th circle of MBA application hell and he’s just finished his MBA, so he has plenty of advice. At first, it’s great. Business school is pretty much all I can think about these days and I’ve finally found someone who can speak the language… if he would let me.

It takes about ten minutes to realize that he hasn’t asked a single question about my plans for business school. Instead, he has been talking in a breathless stream about his various accomplishments, from grad schools he had been considering to promotions at work to trophies earned in athletic events that I’m fairly certain took place in elementary school. Without even pausing to find out if I had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into the schools I mentioned when I first broached the topic, he launched into the braggiest humble-brag I’ve ever encountered… and I lived in DC for eight years.

When he starts bragging about his 2-year-old nephew as a personal accomplishment (Oliver sees him twice a year, but “my brother’s not the brightest, so I teach the kid most of what he knows”), I make a break for the bathroom. When he brags about his uncle installing the hand-driers in the bar’s bathrooms, I motion for the check.

Oliver hugs me goodbye and confidently tells me he’s looking forward to our second date, assured that the hard part is over now that I have heard the litany of his awesomeness. The storm has passed by the time we leave the bar and a beautiful sunset glows across the parking lot, its pink and purple rays reflecting off Oliver’s glistening head as he walks to his car.

****

Kids, Oliver is not your father. Your dad will be so awesome that he won’t need to tell anyone about it. People will just know.

Your Father Isn’t…Bill

30 Jun

Do you remember the last time you ate white bread? Does any memory of actually eating white bread really stand out to you? I have a distinct memory of smooshing white bread into a tight little ball, but never of eating it. I can describe it’s appearance, the texture and weight in my hand, feeling it stuck to the roof of my mouth. But actual taste? It’s like someone erased the memory. It’s a total blank for me. Or, more likely, it’s been overpowered by all the competing stimuli that are so much more memorable.

I bet you see where this is going.

~~~~

Bill asks me out and I suggest drinks or coffee. He proposes coffee on Sunday afternoon at Starbucks. I’m deeply reminiscing over my first date ever (I was 12), also at a Starbucks, so I don’t immediately notice when Bill walks in. We order iced teas because it’s one of those balmy, moist late-June evenings and anything else would have been absurd, then grab seats by the window.

We chat as I watch a woman walk her cockapoo past the Starbucks four or five times. Bill and I actually have a fair bit in common, such as swimming which I’m trying to get back into, and growing up in the area/still being here (I’d like to clarify that at one point, for a long while, I DID leave. I’m just back now. I’m not bitter or anything). A group of young girls come in, hugging each other and squealing like they’ve spotted Justin Bieber. I alternate between wondering where one got her yellow shorts and the legality of banning caffeine for 13 year olds.

The sky is beautiful as the sun starts to set. We’d had storms not too long before and the clouds are those wild, thick, puffy ones… dark underneath but the top turning brilliant shades of pink and purple that deepen as we talk.

Bill suggests we go for a walk and like a true gentleman, he always lets me go first… through doors, when the sidewalk narrows, when we have to get around a group of teenagers with an enthusiastic German Shepherd outside an ice cream shop. He deftly sidesteps most awkward pauses (there are a few, as with any first date) and he laughs while telling me about an old man wearing a tshirt that says, “I suffer from CRS… Can’t Remember Stuff.” He didn’t see the old man, he just saw a picture of it online, but old people are funny.

I tell him about my grandpa yelling at people, not because he’s a crotchety old man but because he can get away with it now that people just assume he’s a crotchety old man. I think to myself, ‘that’s really not a good story.’

We get to the edge of the “downtown” area we’re strolling through and decide to turn around. I ask what school he went to and he tells me his high school (he did go to college, we get to that later). We talk about traveling and apartment prices in the city and the weather. We talk about the beach. Turns out, we both like the shore and have great memories of going there as kids. Go figure.

By this point we have arrived back at the parking lot by Starbucks and we both move towards our cars. Or, maybe just I move towards my car. I think I at least move a little faster, but maybe not. I thank him for the iced tea (I almost said drink, but that would imply a drink-drink, of which we had none). He says we should do it again sometime and I say, ‘yea definitely’ a little too fast.

We pull out of the lot. I go left. He goes right.

Before I reach the first traffic light, I realize I can’t remember anything specific about him. Just like white bread.

~~~~

Kids, sometimes people just aren’t memorable. There’s nothing bad about them per se, but nothing stands out as good either. You deserve a father that we don’t all forget to miss, so I can say that your father isn’t… wait, who were we talking about? Yes, Bill.

Your Father Isn’t… Eric

17 Feb

The takeaway: I’m a stellar BSer.

****

Eric has a great photo (from a wedding, always the best), so I’m girlishly-giggly when I see a message from him on OkCupid. We make internet small talk but manage to avoid the default questions (what do you do, where are you from, how long have you been here, where do you live now), which works out well since my answers to those questions are not inspiring (just got laid off, New Jersey, 8 years and Virginia… Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids would be a step up).

He messages me a few times from a guys ski trip in Colorado… clearly he’s in love. He’s also a firefighter so I hope he’ll make up for my missed opportunity with James last year. When he suggests we meet for a Saturday night date at one of my favorite and super-convenient-to-me restaurants, I’m positive this is going to be the best date ever.

I brave the February wind and arrive to the restaurant with a lovely wind-burned flush. I feel like a million bucks and then I see my date. He’s more attractive than his picture and I flick my eyes to the ceiling as I mutter a quiet “Thank you.” It’s been so long since I’ve been on a great date; I deserve this.

We do the awkward handshake/hug dance then head to the bar. I’m pre-glowing from my impending successful date that I’ve imagined as we struggle through the usual awkward pauses and conversational lags. Gradually, I start to worry.

I ask how he became a firefighter. He tells me the actual steps required to become one, including the classes, tests, and physical requirements. If you’d like more information, I’d be happy to guide you through the whole process; I’m an expert now.

He realizes that I didn’t mean my question quite so literally and launches into an indirect history of his experience with firefighting that eventually ends with, “But really, my neighbor is a fireman and suggested I try it, so I did.”

Every subject goes more or less this way: a long roundabout answer to my question that leaves me with no viable options for follow up. Insert long awkward pause here.

Something about him is throwing me off my typically-professional-grade conversational game. Not his dashing good looks… he has a small metal hoop earring pressed back horizontally against his ear lobe. I keep waiting for him to flick it back into its God-given vertical orientation but he never does. I still can’t figure out if it was on purpose.

By the end of the night I ferret out two of his passions: music and cars. I miraculously manage to coherently debate the evolution of talent coming through the 9:30 Club versus the Black Cat (two small but popular concert venues) and to (apparently) intelligently debate the virtues of German engineering (thanks Nick!). I failed to mention that I’ve only been to the 9:30 Club for a Katy Perry concert and NEVER been to the Black Cat. And I don’t even have a car.

****

Kids, as much as I would love for you to be tall, athletic, blond-haired, blue-eyed beauties (or at least halfway there anyway), Eric is not your father. But if I’m now a lawyer, the decision may have stemmed from this very date.

Your Father Isn’t…Justin

29 Nov

Justin and I exchanged only a couple of emails before he suggested we get coffee… no, how about drinks? We should just do coffee…lunch… or maybe drinks? Let’s do dinner. That all came from him; I’m mostly passive in this process. Promising, no?

I nearly forget about this date, but somehow I make it to the hip sushi spot Justin chose in a timely manner. It’s on my always-wanted-try list, so I take the venue selection as a good omen.

The loud music fills the awkward pauses and dim lighting hides our fish-fumbling (remember back with Kevin when I swore off sushi as date food? Remind me next time). Even with the restaurant conspiring on our behalf like that scene in Lady & the Tramp, it’s still not enough to generate any real chemistry.

Justin and I agree on many things: we both love baseball and enjoy football between October and April. We both have great relationships with our dads. We’re both from Jersey. We share a few laughs but still nothing clicks.

Toward the end of the night, Justin has long ago finished his meal and I’m not touching my nearly full plate of sushi, which he’s not-so-subtly eyeing. So, I offer him the rest of my food. He’s gracious as he devours it, popping one roll in his mouth before he even puts the plate down. You would think he hadn’t eaten in weeks if you hadn’t just seen him calmly and reasonably eat his own plateful of food. Within seconds, Justin has demolished all but one piece, clearly on principle. I watch the dilemma play out on his face as he stares at the final sushi roll. He explains that if food is in front of him, he eats it, which makes me wonder how he’s still so skinny.

Something clicks in my mind. Some tiny warning light starts blinking. I’ve just told him how my brother was a picky eater (a date is going well when I’ve resorted to my brother’s childhood eating habits as conversation fodder), when he admits he was/is a picky eater himself. He reveals that he generally dislikes condiments, especially sour cream, ketchup, and mustard. He not only thinks bacon is overrated but actively dislikes it (too salty and crunchy?). I finish my wine. He also hates onions, at which point I stop trying to remember the list.

Justin lopes beside me as we make the endless three block trek from the restaurant to the Metro, listing other non-food items he seriously dislikes (winter, tv, Panera Bread restaurants, fun) before I can duck safely behind the train doors.

I realize on my ride home why my internal warning system was flipping out. Unfortunately he’s not some cannibal who wants to make me into an overpriced Panera sandwich (good story at least). No, it’s just that… I’ve dated him before. For two years.

Justin is exactly like my ex-boyfriend. He’s a shorter, less attractive, less fun version of him, but generally, they could play cloned versions of each other in a low-budget sci-fi flick.

Have I really dated so much that I’m cycling back through? Oh what joys I have to look forward to!

~~~~

Kids, find a way that isn’t detrimental to your psychological and emotional well-being to easily remember why you broke up with the people you’ve already dated. That way, when you date “them” again, you can quickly decide whether this person will mean more of the same or is different enough to be worth it. On that note, your father isn’t Justin.

Your Father Is/Isn’t… Ethan

29 Jun

I get excited about big drinks too!

I notice Ethan’s profile picture because he is making a ridiculously excited face and holding up an oversized margarita, which proves that at the very least we can be friends. In our initial messages, he comes across as goofy but sweet and uses the word ridiculous a lot. We bond over our families’ misadventures with shots (his mom decided she wanted to try a buttery nipple. My cousins have been on a creative Jello shot kick) and decide to meet for dinner.

As we plan our date we realize that we only live a mile apart, so Ethan creepily generously offers to give me a ride to the restaurant. An involuntary flashback through all of my past dates proves this: the guys I like most online tend to rate the highest on the not-actually-dateable scale in person, so an escape route is an absolute must. Plus, getting a ride increases the awkwardness quotient significantly (as if it’s not high enough on its own. Case in point, this entire blog).

I’d be lying if said I didn’t consider the fact that this could play out like so many movies…. he’s actually a homicidal maniac and the only real question is whether I’m the dumb blonde killed off in the beginning or the surprisingly scrappy heroine who uses her wits to escape, then inevitably stumbles upon a much broader crime, and finally confronts said maniac later to take him down. I figure that any leading woman would make sure she has a vehicle, so I make up a lie about driving to work that day and tell Ethan I’ll meet him at the restaurant.

We’re meeting on a Wednesday after work and I commute via the ever-pleasant-and-timely public bus system, so I don’t foresee any kind of complications with my plan.  Of course, it just so happens that one of DC’s infamous rainstorms rolls in right at the end of the day and it’s a well known fact that metro DC residents are known to panic at the first sign of precipitation, to the extent that nearly every storm is given a apocalyptic pun name, such as Snowmageddon (it snowed), or Derechosaurus Wrecks (thunderstorm. I wish I was lying).

I try to leave work early, to no avail, and soon find myself standing at the bus stop, drenched despite my umbrella and cute Target raincoat that isn’t really water repellant, waiting for a bus that never comes. Traffic is awful anyway, so I text Ethan with a mostly true white lie about being stuck in traffic (I am, or at least my bus is, wherever that may be) and run for the Metro, which is also a disaster.

Nearly an hour after I was supposed to be at the restaurant, I finally reach my car and break land-speed records for a dysfunctional Audi on wet back roads getting to the restaurant. I weigh the value of trying to fix my makeup, brush my hair or even check myself in the mirror against being even more absurdly late. Instead I step through the door, fumbling with my sopping umbrella, still in flats, and pat down my frizzing hair in a feeble attempt to look less like a wet dog. Ethan is nearly finished with what may or may not be his first beer but hides any annoyance at my unfashionably late arrival… or my unfashion.

Four hours later, the cozy, firelit restaurant is closing and we’re still talking animatedly, flitting from topic to topic with the excitement of finding a surprisingly kindred spirit. We disagree on many things, but the argument is high-level, fast-paced and… exciting. I feel a little breathless by the end. I start to hope that maybe he’ll forget that I was an hour late- and look a hot mess- because of this witty repartee we have going. I never said I was rational.

As we both reluctantly agree that it’s time to go, I fish in my purse for my keys before heading back into the rain. Like many women, my purse is a bottomless pit containing more useless necessities than Mary Poppins’ magic bag, so the process of finding my keys can take an eternity and this time is no exception. In fact, this time is worse: imagine trying to catch a goldfish with your bare hands… and you’re missing two fingers… on each hand. The slippery little suckers get the best of me and I end up dumping my purse onto the table in my frustration.

I get so caught up in my futile battle with my possessions that I completely forget about Ethan for a minute, who is hovering over me with a concerned look on his face, most likely for my sanity more than the fruitless search for my keys. I’m red-faced and yammering excuses and apologies by the time I finally find them, which lends a certain symmetry to the date.

~~~

Kids, if Ethan calls me after this disaster of a date, it will be a complete miracle. Or, I could end up a post on HIS blog about how he didn’t meet his kids mother. We’ll just have to wait and see.