Monday, November 30, 2009

First Impressions Last

Sitting there waiting, I try not drink my wine too fast, though it feels good going down. I have no idea just when he will be walking through the door, so I feel a little uncomfortable I sure wish I had an iPhone or something to distract myself. Instead, I pull out my journal, but I can’t concentrate. I’m trying to look natural and not like I’m dying to know if this trip was really necessary. Of course, I’m convinced that everyone in the place knows I’m waiting for a date. Why wouldn’t they? My outfit says first date with my crisp white shirt, skinny jeans, red ankle boots and chunky necklace I got from my jewelry guru, Linda.

I decide to talk to the bartender. Being left to my own mental devices will surely put me over the edge. He’s nice enough and I contemplate sharing with him that I’m waiting for an online date. Instead, we talk about the wine list and Brooklyn. The conversation is easy enough to take my mind off the awful waiting game that feels like it’s gone into overtime. The good news is that we previously agreed to meet from 5p-8p because of other engagements, so if he sucks, at least I know I’ve got only an hour and a half of torture.

At 6:45p, Bill walks through the door. He’s tall and lanky; very lanky. We greet each other awkwardly as he seems breathless by the turn of events, shaking his head in disbelief about the madness of it all as he settles onto a bar stool next to me. I’m not totally listening – I’m checking him out. He’s not as cute as his picture. In fact, he looks kind of tired. He’s got long eyelashes, nice lips and an angular face. His hair is very short, shaved, but not completely and he’s got some sort of jewelry on – bracelets – leather ones. Definitely no attraction at first glance, but let’s give his personality a chance.

Bill’s not really into wine and I’m grateful they have an eclectic list of beer from which to choose. After some more chatter about the dead deer and the PATH train, we begin the get-to-know-you portion of the evening. He’s attentive and proactive about asking questions which is nice. We trade our background stories and family situations. His parents divorced when he as six and his mother raised him on her own. Though he keeps referring to his “parents” and correcting himself by saying, “Oh, sorry. I mean my mom.” The guy’s 35 years old, you’d think by now he’d be used to the fact that his parents are no longer together.

The conversation flows easily on a level slightly more relaxed than talking to a colleague. He tells me about his work which is architecture. It sounds pretty interesting until he launches into a 15 minute description of the architectural software he uses at work. My eyes are starting to glaze over I’m sure when he finally switches the conversation back to me. He’s very interested in my singing and musical background and tells me about his short stint playing the saxophone as a kid and how he wishes he kept up with it.

Here’s where meeting men as a self-aware, intelligent, 39 year old woman gets tricky. Though I haven’t traditionally dated a lot, I’ve still met a lot of people over the years. Through my own self-exploration and experience, I’m pretty good at recognizing people’s issues fairly quickly. Past experiences especially can be a double-edged sword. My ex mentioned his mother 7 times on our first date. Looking back, I now know it was a sign that he, at 35, hadn’t quite cut that umbilical just yet. Sure enough, it manifested in his inability to fully commit to our relationship and tell his mother to stop doing his laundry. Since then, I’ve met other men with Mommy issues, however, I’m hip to it right off-the-bat and as a result, I make my escape.

Does it make me jaded to notice that this guy’s talked a lot about his mother already? Is this why I’m still single, because there’s nobody out there – save for an ex-convict – well, no I dated one of those too – who can surprise me? And why is it so hard for people to be mature and in a healthy relationship with their parents?

We order another round and talk some more. It occurs to me as I’m almost finished with my second glass of wine that this guy is boring. I haven’t laughed once in the 90 minutes we’ve been chatting. My conscience reminds me that, perhaps he’s nervous. My conscience is the reason why I’m doing this Match thing! I need to be more clear-cut and not doubt my instincts. If the guy doesn’t make me laugh on the first date, he’s probably not funny. Still, I waiver and contemplate giving it a second date to see. That is, of course, if he’s even interested. I decide to get back in the moment and cross that bridge when and if I come to it.

We both realize the time and wrap the evening up. He pays most of the bill which is nice and I leave a generous tip for my new friend, the bartender.

Once outside, we walk a bit and there is no mention of another date. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself with a response just in case he asks. I really want to tell him that it’s not a great fit. He’s very nice and I mean that. A genuinely nice guy. But there’s no attraction, no spark. Why can’t I just be okay with knowing that and not feel like there’s something wrong with me? The hecklers in my head tell me that I’m too picky and I’ll never find a man. “What’s the big deal? So, he didn’t make you laugh? You’re asking for too much.” Yep. Hecklers are in full force.

He hails a cab, we hug good-bye and he says, “Yeah, this was great. We’ll have to do it again sometime.” I offer a casual, enthusiastic, “Sure. Great!” As he pulls away in the cab, I know that I won’t be seeing Bill again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Date Night

Saturday arrives and I’m grateful that my head is in the right place about this date. I’m excited, but grounded. I’m not looking for the one - to put that spin on things would create way too much pressure and if it doesn’t work out, it’s going to be a huge disappointment. Maybe this is how those people who date a lot do it. No expectations. Well, limited expectation. Of course, I hope we hit it off, but I’m not walking down the aisle with this guy in my head just yet.

At around 4pm, I get a text message from Bill, explaining that he’s running about 15 minutes late and he wants to give me a heads-up. Truth be told, my initial reaction was mild irritation, which I found to be interesting. What’s so bad about him running a little behind? He certainly gave me ample notice. That’s the thing about relationships - it’s hard to remember that each person is different than the last. I had a boyfriend once who was consistently late and I’m not talking the customary 15 minutes, which isn’t a tragedy if there’s notification. This guy would show up an hour late or sometimes not at all. So, I’ve got a bit of a sore spot on lateness and reliability. Glad that I caught a glimpse of my own shit in time, I bring myself back to the present moment and prepare to leave my apartment for the date.

In the East Village and a bit early for our meeting, I decide to grab a quick slice of pizza. If we’re having drinks only, it occurs to me that I better have some food in my stomach to avoid any possibility of getting smashed off the first drink. As I sit down to eat my pizza, my phone beeps indicating that I have a voicemail. Bill’s left a message explaining that he’s been stuck on the PATH train for the last hour and it’s still not moving. My mind’s full of a million questions: Why’s he on the PATH if he lives in Williamsburg? Why didn’t he call me sooner? WHAT THE FUCK? Rage gets the better of me but thankfully, self-awareness kicks in reminding me to breathe and more importantly, this is just a date - he’s not the one, he’s just a date.

When I call him back, he’s still stuck on the train and we agree that I’ll hang tight for a bit until he has an idea as to what’s going on. It’s not the ideal scenario for a first date, but shit happens. And though I feel like my expectations are in a healthy place, I can’t help but be a little discouraged by the turn of events. Hassle sucks in general, but when there’s hassle with someone you’re not even invested in, what’s the point? I decide to give it until 6pm, get on the train and head over to my friend’s restaurant to drop off his drill as promised. This is the same friend whom I’d planned to visit post-date, but I can’t just sit around waiting for this guy - I need to keep busy.

I head up to Chelsea hoping that his train hasn’t miraculously started moving and he’s now waiting for me in the East Village. Nope, he’s still stuck. “I couldn’t make this up even if I wanted to,” Bill says from the PATH where he’s still idle. Apparently, the train hit a deer and they have to clean off the debris and remove the carcass from the tracks and the bottom of the train. Nope. He’s right - making this up would be quite a feat. As we’re marveling at the ludicrous nature of the situation, the PATH conductor announces that they will be moving in about 10 minutes. I tell Bill that I’m in Chelsea and we agree to revamp our original plan. I offer to find a place to meet, which is not my favorite thing, but I feel as though as I should since I’m now in a different ‘hood. I promise to text him with a place once I figure it out.

Hanging up, I’m unenthused. I feel like we’ve already had our date - sort of. It’s not technically drama, but it feels like too much work for this date. Maybe it’s a sign. Maybe the Universe is stepping in and saving me from an awful evening. Maybe I’m really not ready for this whole dating thing.

I call my sister. She’s the best at choosing places.

Finally, we’ve got a new plan and I’m settled in at a delightful winebar on Hudson Street called lelabar. It’s dimly lit, sparsely decorated but still warm and inviting. As I sit waiting for Bill, I realize that the anticipatory excitement of meeting one another has worn off for me. I hope that his personality and energy will bring me back to some sort of enthusiasm. For now, I’ll just drink my wine and wait.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let The Games Begin

The next day, the powers that be at Match, have given my profile picture the go-ahead. I feel strangely excited at the prospect of signing into my newly created profile to and taking a look at just who’s out there looking for love. My friend, Matthew put it perfectly when he heard about my creating-a-profile-angst, he responded, “It’s the online equivalent of what do I wear?”

Today, I’m all dressed up and ready to get in the game. That’s the thing about me. I’m a sucker for potential. Though, I hate getting up too early, the morning is still my favorite time of day – there’s so much possibility! Anything can happen. Surprisingly, I’ve already got mail. Or, shall I say winks.

Winks are in place of email. It’s the ultimate risk-free way of telling someone you’re interested. I plan to be bolder than that. I plan to face my fears of rejection and jump in with both feet – no hiding behind a wink here! Still, I’m intrigued by my prospective winkers.

Most of them are not my type – balding, kind of vanilla – chinos and dockers - not really my type. I feel shallow. But, I remind myself that not everyone is for everyone. I happen to like bald men – not balding. I like men who are in shape. I also like men who’s eyes draw me in – “honest eyes”, as my friend Eric puts it. Isn’t this the point of Match? To find the right match for yourself. To not just respond just because someone has chosen me? Still, maybe I’m not being open if I’ve already written these guys off because of their lack of fashion sense I can see that I’m starting to circle the drain and I remind myself that I am not necessarily looking for the one. I am looking to expand my horizons – whatever that means.

Scrolling down my inbox, I notice I’ve got another wink. This guy’s not bad! He’s much more my type – dark-skinned, South American – a definite plus! And his eyes, they look honest. Now, the dilemma. Do I wink or email? Winking would be risk-free and totally against my self-imposed guidelines. But I have to say, now that I’m there, on the cliff, contemplating a tandem jump or a solo one, my courage seems to have disappeared. Doubt prevails. What if I email him? What will I say? It’s so contrived! Winking is so much safer….chatter, chatter, chatter. Blah, blah, blah.

“No pressure,” I whisper, while clicking on the wink! Icon. There. It’s done. Whew! This is exhausting.

Eggs in the Basket

Later that evening, I got an email from my winkee. He immediately cops to the fact that he’s not big on winking and thought of emailing, but decided to go safe instead. He seems very positive as there are several “=)” littered throughout the email. He’s also quite a fan of the exclamation point. He sounds refreshing. We engage in the usual get-to-know-you emails about where we’re from, what we do, where we live.

In the third email exchange, I mention meeting for a drink. He suggests the weekend and we decide on Saturday evening at 5pm. He has plans afterwards and I tell him that I do too - a lie - unless the consideration of stopping by my friend’s restaurant afterwards constitutes plans. Whatever. I like that this guy is on the same page as myself. I’m not really interested in emailing back and forth - chemistry is too important. Let’s get to the meeting and then see what’s what.

I decide to put a few more eggs in my basket. There’s one thing I learned recently about dating. In the early stages of dating, it is essential to have more than one guy happening at one time. It takes the pressure off. “A pair and a spare!” my friend Daphne reminds me constantly, quoting the line from her favorite dating book. For me especially, this is a good motto. In the past, I’m was what you might call a one-man woman. This is not a bad virtue to possess, however, it left me feeling powerless and a little obsessed, always waiting to see what he was going to do. Having a pair and a spare always gives you options as long as everyone involved knows the rules.

I spend some time looking for my spares. Feeling confident, I cast my net out a little further than usual choosing guys that are not necessarily my “type” with their looks, but more for their profiles. Emailing this time, I settle on three guys - all totally different from the next. This match thing isn’t so bad. Hell, after 48 hours of membership, I’ve already got a date! Until Saturday……


A couple of days before the date, I get an email from Bill with his number asking me to give him a call to gel up our plans. I like this idea because I remember my previous online dating experience with the wrinkled clothes and bad table manners. He had an awful, high-pitched, nasally voice which should have been a sign from the get-go. Dialing Bill’s number, I’m silently hoping, at the very least, he has a nice voice. I get his voicemail. His voice is good! Deep, with no signs of squeaks or CDS - Charles Draghon Syndrome. (A type of speaking voice characterized by speech with a "nasal" quality to it.) Thank you Wikipedia!

We trade voicemails and confirm for Saturday evening at a bar in the East Village. I haven’t yet heard back from my spare options, but I feel confident that I can take the day off from Match and concentrate on meeting Bill on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And another thing.......

Oh and there's a tagline readers will see next to your profile. Another opportunity to be clever - joy! I'm not so great at being clever on command. The tagline feels so loaded, or maybe I'm just thinking of it that way. I go safe, or authentic let's say and use the quote on my business card.

If it makes your heart soar, it's worth the effort.

People seem to like it. It's my own words. Yes, I think that will do nicely. Though my wiseass side wants to use, "I'm no Popeye, I am what I am." It would cerainly call out to the guys with a similar sense of humor. For now, I'll stick with my first instinct. There's just so much inner boundary pushing I can handle in one day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


For those of you new to the blog, here's an oldie but goodie...............

Online dating is really not my thing. I tried it once, several years ago and spent a better part of the evening watching my date - who showed up wearing clothes that looked as if he’d slept in them for days – shovel food into his mouth at the speed of light. I’ve never had a problem meeting men which sometimes prompts people to sign up for online dating. I witnessed a good friend go on date after date when she joined Match a few years back, each date getting worse than the next – nobody looked like their picture, the men seemed desperate, the whole process was totally unnatural.

My stance has always been – “It’s just not for me.” Until today. Yup, I did it. I joined the millions of people surfing the net for their next true love. Only I’m not looking for love necessarily – that would be a bonus.

I’m looking for an education.

I don’t know how to date. Nobody taught me. My mother wasn’t a big dater. My best friend married her high school sweetheart. As role models go, I had few. There was Luke and Laura from General Hospital. Bobby and Pamela from Dallas and of course Gary and Val from Knots Landing. None of them dated – they just fell in love and spent a lot of time breaking up and getting back together.

I followed their lead and had several intensely dramatic relationships with men whom I probably spent more time getting over than actually going out with.

I shy away from dating because I don’t totally trust my instinct. Everyone tells me to be “open-minded”. But there’s a fine line between open-mindedness and talking myself into something that isn’t right for me. There’s also a fine line between being staying single just ‘cuz it’s comfortable versus taking a risk and pushing myself beyond my limits.

So, today, I am hunkered down on my couch and doing it. I have to say that I’m amazed at what goes into the process. First, there’s the username. It’s obviously best not to use your real name, but choosing one is so loaded. Should I be clever? Should I be funny? Should I be straight? Cryptic? All these questions flood my mind as I try to come up with my handle. My go to is always “gari”, but that’s taken. Strike one, Match. I choose “bkgari” because I live in Brooklyn and I can’t really think of anything else. Good times!! This one isn’t taken. I’m on my way.

Next up is creating a profile. This is the place where potential suitors can read about my hobbies, likes and dislikes, favorite places and anything else I want them to know. I hate this part. I really hate this part. In conversation, I’ve got no problem talking about myself, in fact, I’m sure I go on a bit at times. But this; this is sooooo contrived. This is the first of many moments where I contemplate aborting my mission. “You are doing this to learn.” I assure myself and coax myself gently through the 5+ page questionnaire.

Joining is the easy part, though it costs to join. Who knew? I feel so cliché, resistant and a somewhere between optimism and horror. But, I’m determined. I’ve committed to three months for $75, a small price to pay to cultivate instinctual trust.

The profile part is hard because I’m not one to nutshell myself. When asked about my favorite things, I snort aloud, “At this moment? Ask me again in five minutes. I’m sure it will be different.” I want to be authentic. I like museums, but not all, so I choose “some museums”. Favorite places? Hmm….right now, it’s definitely not here, on my couch filling out this profile.

The final part is filling out a blurb about me. In 4,000 words or less (200 word minimum), I have to tell people who I think I am. Thankfully, I’m pretty clear on who I am, however, putting it down on paper, so-to-speak, is another story. Apparently, others have the same problem. There are examples provided with little coaching-esque explanations in the margins.