Once upon a time, I wished that at some point in our lives we would be given a slip of paper, much like a fortune cookie fortune, and on that paper would be the name of the person we’re supposed to end up with. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Then one day when we meet that person, we would be all, “Hey, it’s you!” But UNTIL that day, we wouldn’t stress about it.
I enjoy asking couples how they met, when they knew, and what makes it work. That was one of my favorite things about my job interviewing potential game show contestants. I clapped for any couple that had been married for more than three years. And when I came across couples that had been married 20 or more, I asked them their secret. More often than not, the older fellas would chuckle a “yes, dear.” But sometimes, someone would say “keep laughing” or “just love one another” or “work opposite shifts.”
I admittedly have a short attention span, and I am easily distracted by the new and shiny. I’m really good at long-term friendships, but as far as long-term relationships, I wonder what will happen after 10 years…and 20 years…and 30 years…
Which brings me back to dating, as that seems to be the best method to find someone to spend years with.
Like a lot of people, I’ve met most of the guys I’ve dated through either friends or work. Once, as a young reporter, I met a boy whilst covering a story about a puppy mill. I told him to watch out for the snow-covered dog poo. The words foreshadowing and metaphor now come to mind.
Needless to say, I’m not working as much as I used to, so I had to increase my possibilities pool. More outings. More volunteer shifts. And yes, the wacky wild world of online dating.
I was really hesitant to dip my toe into that pool again. Several years ago, a friend (unbeknownst to me) put a profile up “for” me. She came clean once guys started replying. So I picked two of the guys and went for it.
Guy A and I matched up perfectly on paper. I found him attractive enough. He was taller than me. We had good conversation. But we went on two or three dates and there was absolutely no chemistry. It was such a bummer.
Guy B was the guy you hear about when you hear people talk about online dating disasters. I showed up at the bar for the date. He was smoking outside and looked me up and down and said, you don’t smoke, do you? He had left his wallet at home and asked me to vouch for him with the door guy. I vouched for him only after I asked him if he had cash. He did. We walked in and the cashier asked for the cover. He forked it over, looked at me, and said “there’s your drink.” I could barely contain how charmed I was! We got into the bar and he bee-lined for the bathroom. I walked up to the bar and asked for some Grey Goose. Stat. He came back from the bathroom and was all “ooh, you got a drink.” And I was like “yeah” (it was a bar). To which he responded, “yeah this isn’t gonna work.” I’ve told you everything that happened. There was no conversation. I threw back the GG and walked out, not even pausing as I heard him start to beg the cashier for a refund for the cover since we were leaving. Gross.*
So yeah, not a fan. And yet, here I am four years later…deciding that I am close enough friends with the internet to let it help me meet some new people. A couple of lady friends mentioned the same site as a good source of well-educated, attractive prospects. LA is a tough dating town and it’s easy to see why so many people have turned to the interwebs.
It turns out writing a dating profile for yourself – even when you’re a writer by trade – is no easy task. I wanted to be me. I wanted to be funny. I wanted people to read it and think, yeah, I’d like to know her better. So I wrote something up and had two friends read it. And neither one of them liked it. One said it didn’t sell who I really am, the other said “I mean, I get that you’re quirky, but you’re so much more than that.” That statement started a convo that included her telling me all the good qualities she sees about me. Which I guess is why it works so much better to have other people write these things for you. Because I know what I put out there, but you never know how people perceive you.
So one night I was hanging out in mixed company and we decided to tweak my profile. We’d ask the guys’ advice and crafted a funny, yet honest description.
Long story short, too late…I met up with a guy today for coffee. I chose him because he plays the accordion. That’s the cool thing about online dating, because if I met him somewhere in public – unless it was at one of his shows – I don’t feel like the accordion thing would have come up so soon. And well, I like accordions. And guys who play instruments. I think there has only been one guy I dated that didn’t have some sort of musical talent.
After we decided on the day that worked for both of us, I told him to let me know where or when. He texted me yesterday to say that he couldn’t come up with anything cool, did I have any suggestions? Dude. It’s coffee. Not a wedding venue. I got my eyebrows waxed for this, you can’t do a Yelp search? I recommended a place, but not in my beloved neighborhood. I’m going to have to really like someone to share my stomping ground.
Strike one. I mean not a REAL strike, but kind of like a foul ball that counts as a strike. (Look at me making sports references!)
He texted me excitedly to tell me he was on his way to the date. A super nice gesture (that kinda weirded me out). But I’m working to transition into liking nice guys who do nice things for you instead of asswipes or guys who just aren’t that into me. This guy fit the whole starving artist thing to a tee. Screenwriter, musician, living in a loft with three roommates…Wait, what? (He actually described it as being very New Girl.)
As a job free person, I can’t throw stones at people who need to do what they need to do, but still. That’s a lot of roommates for a 38 year old. This combined with the two earrings in one ear and we have our second strike. The “he totally swung at a bad pitch” kind.
But I’m being open to things, and look! I already overlooked that he is just maybe an inch taller than me and I would never be able to wear heels without being taller than him.
We met at the coffee shop. He bought my tea. (I offered to pay, tho.) It was a beautiful LA day so I suggested a walk around the neighborhood. He too, is interested in architecture in terms of houses, and bridges and stairs, so he was game. I walked him to one of my favorite streets for old houses. If nothing else, I was going to enjoy the walk. And I did. And conversation went well enough. I never felt like I switched to interview mode, which (hazard of a journalism background) sometimes happens if things lag on a date. To top things off, one of the houses on the street was having a neighborhood craft fair in the backyard. If you think I was in heaven, you’d be right. He was game, which was good.
This is where I would bring up the fact that he didn’t walk on the outside of me on the sidewalk, you know, if I were being nit-picky. But a wise lady recently told me (after finding out how much I appreciate said gesture) that I can’t discount guys that don’t know to do that. She said I instead have to tell them to do it. I didn’t tell him to do it.
And that was basically it, I weaved us back to the coffee shop, we hugged and said our goodbyes. We mentioned talking again, but no pinpointing of a second date. I’m going to assume from his multiple texts prior to the date that not getting one after the date means there won’t be a second. I’m not crying about it. After all, I’m doing this for practice, and to increase the number of guys I meet in an effort to get an even better idea of what works – and doesn’t work – for me.
You could argue that I took too much charge and didn’t damsel-in-distress it up enough for this guy, but at no point did he ever take the lead. Even when I was all, should we go left or right here? I’m not looking to be the one in charge, nor am I looking for someone to be in charge of me…I’d like there to be a happy medium. And I’d like a guy who brings some of his own ideas to the table.
It’s been suggested that I lose the attraction to starving artists and find a lumberjack. I would say I am completely open to a guy-guy. And I love guys with beards who wear plaid. And have nice arms. And are meaty.
Hilarious. I just looked up “lumberjacks looking for love” to see if there was a dating service I was unaware of and found this. That is a hipster playlist if I’ve ever seen one.
So we’ll see what happens. We’ll also see if I continue to regurgitate dating details.
*PS That night ended up turning around in the best way possible. I left and headed over to a friend’s bday party where I walked in to have him drunkenly exclaim something like “the prettiest girl just walked into the bar.” He couldn’t have known what that did for me that night. I think I told him, but he probably didn’t remember.