Buried Leads, Great Evenings, and Deal-Breakers

25 August 2010

I spent the better part of the day in bed – body spent, a little hungover, and generally exhausted. I was fairly certain that I would spend this Saturday quietly at home, despite a low murmur of restlessness rumbling in my brain. Then my very dear friend and best date sent me a text message inquiring about my availability for drinks that evening. Lately, Heartbreaker’s schedule has been as crazy as mine so a random night with both of us free was an opportunity not to be wasted.

We settled on early evening drinks at an off-the-beaten-path bar downtown. Joe, our friendly bartender, had already poured Heartbreaker a glass in celebration of ProseccO’clock when I arrived. By the time I had hugged and kissed my nominal date, Joe had stealthily poured me a pint of the beer I drank the first night I met him about a year ago. He’s always so good about getting my libations without prompting, and generally taking very good care that I haven’t had the spirit to tell him that I prefer another drink most nights.

Heartbreaker and I set about catching-up on the random goings-on of our lives. Work stuff, family stuff, and of course, dating stuff. Given that this was the evening after my date with the Conservative Nutter, that unfortunate two hours was discussed at length.

I suppose – just like I have done in this blog post – I buried the lead in recounting the events of the prior night. I took a while to mention that after leaving CN, I met an exceedingly charming woman at another bar later… and had a fatigue inducing night that quenched a number of desert induced thirsts… and that as much as we found delight with each other and in each other, sadly, Jessica and I aren’t suited to dating in the long term.

Heartbreaker was shocked… hell, last night Jessica and I were shocked too when we learned about some fundamental incompatibilities and deal-breakers on each side.

So what’s the problem?” Heartbreaker asked.

The short version: she’s a suburban girl… who wants kids, plural kids-kids” and I am so decidedly not. [ed. note: I acknowledge this exception, but that doesn’t change the rule]

Really” Heartbreaker questioned, “Is that really that big of a deal?”

Yeah, it really is. She works downtown, lives in the suburbs and kinda just tolerates the city. She likes that, is happy with that, and that is just incompatible with the life I want. It’s a deal-breaker.”

Heartbreaker accepted that status and we moved along to other subjects, and our favorite pizza joint. We always sit at the bar, preferably the side that overlooks the pizza making station and with a direct view of the wood-fired oven. At a certain point, I got a little lost in the movement of the flame and the choreography of the pizza chefs.

Why would anyone want to sit anywhere but these two seats?” I asked Heartbreaker. And that question led me back to the topic of deal-breakers.

I would never want to date a woman who would prefer those booths to these seats… I guess sometimes you don’t know what you’re some of your deal-breakers are until you cross them.


Lots of Things in the Eye of the Beholder

24 August 2010

I think this is a test at best and a trap at worst” I said in a winking tone to my new verbal-sparring partner. She shot me a look that seemed to communicate a clear message that my conversational jab would not give me any breathing room and my only practical option was to answer the question that her date could not: what is the difference between romantic and foolish.

I attempted the “let-the-silence-work-for-you approach” but she knew it too. Jessica simply sat there holding my gaze until I acquiesced and answered the question. She did re-cross her legs at one point during the ten second staring contest. It was either an attempt to display her resolve by demonstrating her capacity to multitask while keeping eye contact or it was an effort to weaken my resolve by giving me a better look at her platform mary-janes, Either way, it worked.

The differential between foolish and romantic exists primarily in the perspective of the object of the effort” I began. “To be sure, there are other distinguishing characteristics, however, the receiver holds the primary lever of distinction. Foolish is a weekend in Paris when your lover doesn’t have a passport or that much interest; romantic is a weekend in Paris when it’s the grand gesture that indicates depth of interest. Foolish is suggesting a walk in the rain when all your date wants to do is go home; romantic is a walk in the rain when neither cares much about the falling drops because all you want to do is make the night last just that much longer. Foolish is the mix-tape for the woman who is unmoved by music, romantic is the mix-tape of songs with lyrics that felt like saccharine before but now seem like honey since you met her.”

It was now my turn to win the game of silent satisfaction. Jessica took a deep pull on her glass of pinot noir before responding “Do you always have that smug little smile when you think you’ve done well?”

That made me laugh at the familiarity of the notion. “An ex-girlfriend/current good friend refers to that as my ‘checkmate grin’… she tells me that I’ve had it for quite a while. I’d get rid of it if I could but I’d also be willing to bet that the differential between its benefits and liabilities is slim like skinny-jeans on a hipster.”

There you go again – using a whole mouthful of words…”

By the By, madame, I do think the lady doth protest too much” I interrupted. “Any woman who makes reference to the convoluted language of Cornell West, and differentiates between the licking and sucking of farm animal gonads, all in the same conversation… well, clearly that lady must like words, and lingering lyrical phrases.”

This begat another loaded pause in our conversation. There was nothing awkward about this silent beat or any of its precedents; it was just filled with more non-verbal communication than any two strangers have a right to expect.

Jessica gave me another asymetrical smile – the right corner of her mouth seems to be a bit higher than the left when she seems pleased – and asked “So I think I know what your ex means with the term ‘Checkmate Grin’ but explain it to me anyway.”

I told her the story… amidst many interlocutory tangents and laughter.

So you know I have to ask” Jessica said once I finally reached the end of that tale.

Jessica, are you fishing for a compliment?” I jokingly chided.

Not in the least… I know these shoes are hot; I’m just checking your skills” She fired back.

Well played… and I concur – those Mary Jane’s are pretty-damned hot. OK, the obvious stuff: one inch platforms to go with the four inch heel makes them ‘Friday’ shoes that are a touch too sexy for other days of the week… and I’m sure that at least one of your colleagues took extra notice in a way that made you smile a little…”

Quit stalling” Jessica deadpanned.

Fine” I replied, “my guess is that, like a good friend of mine likes to say, they’re ‘wearable art’ and they worth every one the massive stack of pennies required to get ’em… and I’ll guess that they’re Dolce Gabana.”

Another loaded pause, another shared smile, “Was I right?” I asked.

No” Jessica replied with the same bent smile, “but you’re not far off.”

So we’ve been sitting here for about ninety minutes and somehow I’ve let you get away with asking at least three questions for every one you answer…”

And how do you propose to resolve that, Refugee?”

In a moment, I’m going to excuse myself and go to the washcloset” I said while pulling a pen from my right breast pocket and a napkin from the bar. “While I’m gone you can answer three questions for me” I said while cupping my right hand over the napkin to avoid her peaking.

Make ’em good” was Jessica’s only reply.

I thought for another moment and then slid the napkin and pen her way. It read:

1 – why?

2 – when?

3 – how?

A few minutes later I was back at the bar. The napkin was turned face down. I flipped it over after a quick scan of Jessica’s face. I read it twice… just to be sure.

Her answers:

1 – why? Good conversations are like a dance. You may take too many steps but you Tango really well.

2 – when? If you haven’t figured that out by now, you don’t read women as well as you think

3 – how? A little bit of tango, and a little bit of waltz… and I’m not talking conversation

Jimmy, I’ll take both of our checks now, please.”

Sometimes You Get Lucky After the Date

12 August 2010

My date with the Conservative Nutter lasted just under two hours and while her company wasn’t unpleasant, I am certain that at least some of that time (ok, just about all of that time) was spent in obligation. I felt obliged to give it every effort, give her every chance, and to be fully present despite our obvious disconnects. I might have been overcompensating just a bit, but the compulsory portion of the night had run its course.

I walked CN to her car, dodged an awkward moment when she tried to kiss me, and headed for the subway. Out of courtesy, I didn’t make post date plans, so I spent the subway ride texting for a drinking partner… that and hoping the bottle of benadryl I swallowed earlier would outlast my allergy to suburbs and wingnuts.

It was that tween part of the night – happy hour crowd mostly onto other things, post dinner crowds yet to arrive – and I found myself at one of my favorite bars/restaurants. I occupied one of two empty seats at the smallish bar while drinking a Santero and finishing my newspaper.

About ten minutes after my arrival I heard “Is this seat taken” asked by a well dressed 30something woman over my right shoulder.

Just by you” I replied moving my briefcase to the back of my barstool.

Just after she settled into her seat, Jimmy, the bartender and a friend of mine, said “Jessica, whatcha drinking, and what the hell are you doing back so soon?” His tone was a touch louder than required – but that’s just Jimmy; there was no intent to harm or embarrass but Jessica turned a bit red nonetheless. I tried to focus on my paper, not wishing to deepen her blush by changing my body language or otherwise providing visual acknowledgment of the obvious fact that I overheard what should have been a more private question.

To Jessica’s immense credit, she channeled her blush into a subtle chide toward Jimmy and a conversation starter with me. “Dontcha just hate it when people ask you questions when the answer is obvious?” Jessica snarkasiticly querried with a slap to my right arm. She continued – in my direction but clearly intended for us both – “Jimmy knows full well that I left here ’bout an hour ago for a date and that if I’m back this quickly it must have sucked donkey balls.”

I’ve long found the well-timed and sparingly but properly used profanity to be particularly charming from a woman’s lips.

So I guess we’re gonna start with a shot before I pour you a glass of wine?” Jimmy asked with just the slightest hint of sheepishness.

Uh-huhhh” Jessica nodded as we all shared a half-laugh that didn’t fully indicate the levity of the moment.

Jimmy gave me a look, pointed a cocktail shaker in my direction, and asked “Refugee, you in on this?”

I almost have to be since my date, though not quite hitting the inauspicious benchmark of sucking donkey testicles, wasn’t much better than Jessica’s.”

Do you always use too many words like Cornell West, or is that just an affectation to impress a pretty girl?” Jessica asked in what was becoming clear was her favorite color of speech – a pale shade of snarkasm.

I thought you had a disdain for the obvious questions” I replied as we shared the first of many flirtatious smiles. I changed the subject and inquired “So what was so what was so bad about your date, did he not get your particular brand of humor?”

And why would you ask that?” Jessica responded in a thoughtfully suspicious tone that made me instantly think she was a barrister by academic training if not profession.

Well, I get the sense, more from the tonality of your dialogue than its actual substance, that yours is a particular type of humor that is contraindicated for those lacking in appreciation of sarcasm and snark or as I like to say snarkasm.”

Good god, you do love your 25-cent phrases, even when a nickle would do” Jessica replied as she cupped her hand to her forehead. “Are you a lawyer?”

No, I’m not a lawyer, but I was just wondering the same thing about you… your tendency to answer questions with queries and all.”

Jimmy interrupted our sparring by placing three shot glasses on the bar and pouring a brownish liquid into each.

Shall we drink to nights that don’t suck donkey gonads?” I offered. All agreed, we toasted, Jimmy & I tapped the bar with our shot glasses*, and all were upended.”

Perhaps sensing the problem-solving look on my face, Jimmy proudly declared “I call that Looziana Swamp Whater” in an exaggeration of the cajun accent he used to have and now mostly turns of and on whenever it suits him.

So-Co… Lime Vodka, splash of sour, wait, no… Lime Vodka, splash of OJ, splash of coke?” I stated as more of a question than it should have been.

Fuck you and the super-tasting palate you rode in, Refugee… I’ll get you one of these days” Jimmy replied with a melange of frustration and pride.

So you wanna tell me why your date was… can we say ‘licking the donkey nuts’ if not sucking them?” Jessica said by way of returning us to a prior unfinished point of conversation.

Well, Counselor, the short version is that I met my date through some online dating site. I wrote her a message, she replied and accepted my invitation to have a drink. However, in her acceptance, she gave me her email address and some internet stalking led me to her blog which seemed to indicate that she was a bit of conservative/libertarian nutter… like, is a birther and compares Glenn Beck to Edward R. Murrow kinda nutter. And for the record, of the two things, I am not sure which I consider the greater offense. But I met her for drinks because I had already extended the invitation, and I thought she was hot. Turns out, her pictures are old as hell – and the ensuing miles were city miles not highway miles, and 30 pounds out-of-date too. That’s the elevator version of the story, but I’m not saying another word until you answer one of my questions; why was your date so bad?”

Jessica took a deep breath, a mildly dramatic sigh, and did that look-down-look-up-look-down-pause-look-up maneuver, and finally said “You guessed that he didn’t get my humor and you’re slightly right… he spent most of the evening trying to impress me with his ‘Harh-varhd’ degrees and success. It was bullshit. He talked for 50 minutes and the only real question I got in, he didn’t get the question, and really flubbed the answer. It wasn’t just that he didn’t get me, it’s that it didn’t matter to him if he did. I could’ve been any woman sitting there… Ya know most people like to jack-off to something but this guy likes to do it to himself, so all I was doing was sitting there holding the mirror.”

I get that, mostly because of my general understand of and disdain for Harh-varhd Men, but also and more specifically, because that behavior doesn’t surprise me from any man… but what question did you ask?

He said something which prompted me to ask what he saw as the difference between foolish and romantic. He didn’t even understand the question.”

And that was the moment, either the question or the shared look afterward, but most likely the combination of the two. That was the moment when the potential became possible.

p.s. There is more to the story, but this post was getting a bit long. See ya tomorrow.

I Asked, You Answered, I Dated, and I…

10 August 2010

I was looking forward to my date with the Conservative Nutter in the way that I anticipate an ultra deep tissue massage – you know it’s gonna hurt like hell but the results (a good blog post at worst) are worth it.

I prefer to arrive at first dates (especially online dates) early. Call it a function of my anal-retentive punctuality, or a tactical decision to get the seat with the best vantage points, either way twenty minutes before the appointed hour, I was seated on the courtyard patio of one of my favorite winebars.

CN was on time but underwhelming. From fifteen yards away, I could tell that her pictures were 30 pounds out of date. Five yards out, I could tell the pictures were 5 years old too. It’s not that she was suddenly unattractive or that she was outside of the rather broad range of women I find appealing, rather it’s the feeling of being duped. Bait-and-Switch is not a phrase that should apply to dating and I’m also not thrilled about the self-image issues associated with clearly deceptive images. The thoughts bounced through my head but weren’t given display on my face or in deed.

We seemed to have a certain instant comfort – there was no awkward “is that really you” moment, no hug-oops-handshake-oops-hug – and we jumped quickly into typical first-date conversations.

I wish I could you write that there were some particularly blog-juicy moments, or some grand manifestation of our political differences, but they just weren’t there. CN was about as conservative as she seemed but she wasn’t really a nutter as much as she was grossly uniformed. While there wasn’t overt flirting (at least from my side of the table) there was some casual curiosity if not a very low flame of chemistry. But that was it. No great stories to be told, or lines to be relived.

The woman I met at the bar after I left my brief date, yeah, about her there are stories to be told and a night to be relived… and I’ll tell that story tomorrow.

So I Need to be Careful What I Ask You For

6 August 2010

I am man enough to admit that I haven’t been a very good blogger lately (yeah, yeah, I know some of you are thinking “lately?”) I haven’t posted much this summer, I bailed on doing NaBloPoMo in July, I’ve abandoned a few stories without finishing, and I’ve been terrible about responding to the comments left by the lovely half-dozen readers that are still here.

Thus, when a few people suggested that I go on a date with a woman who may or may not be a complete nutter, I decided I had to do it. Not just because, as the Foggy Dew noted, being hot can overcome a multitude of failures (yes, my friend, I paraphrased you; get over it.) But really because as my favourite blonde wrote “if [I] realllly loved [you]…[my] loyal readers..[I] would court her for sport… and record it here for our enjoyment.”

I am not a fan of dating for sport. It’s cruel, objectifying, demeaning, and I know Suicide Blonde didn’t mean it that way. I am no more a fan of the fade-away technique, slow, fast or intermediate speed, it just doesn’t work for me. As my favorite Yogi noted, I “don’t want to be one of THOSE guys who just disappears, further adding to the cynicism and doubt that’s now inherent in online dating.”

So I’m going on a date tonight. I’m gonna dress in a first date suit and wear a particular shade of optimism. I will keep my mind open… but yeah, I’ll be twittering during bathroom breaks… assuming that it lasts that long.

so sorta like one of those brainteaser pictures of something good that’s really something bad… yeah

4 August 2010

So let’s suppose that you’re participating in some random online dating site. Let’s further suppose that you’re mostly jaded to the process but you do, however cross some random profile that intrigues you. Said profile is beautifully written and you’re the kinda person whose head is turned by well turned phrases. Suppose you have just enough bourbon to mitigate your fatigue with online dating in specific and dating in general and write this person a message.

Let us also suppose that your brilliantly crafted message (because you write really well with the aid of bourbon) receives an almost immediate and breathy response. This hypothetical message, still demonstrating this person’s ability to massage words, happens to include an email address and a suggestion that you use that for future contact.

Even though this scenario is entirely fictional, you would probably do a little google-stalking and some facebook searching. So suppose that even the most cursory of e-snooping demonstrates that the new object of your hypothetical fascination proves to be a nutter… like really a nutter. Like maybe, writes a blog that indicates this person is a “birther” kind of nutter. Like maybe thinks that Sarah Palin is “brilliant” and Glen Beck is a “journalist in the mold of Murrow.” See? Complete nutter… hypothetically speaking, of course.

So supposing all of those things happened to you, how would you respond? Would you respond or would you just back away very slowly trying not to disturb the crazy?

Navel Gazing of No Great Importance

1 August 2010

I was walking through a familiar and frequently traveled neighborhood but had no idea I was lost and mostly adrift until I ran into a professional acquaintance who asked me where I was headed. I paused for longer than can be ignored in polite conversation before finally responding “I have no fucking idea.”

All of the makings for a delightfully lazy Sunday where there – absence of agenda, a couple of cigars in my bag, and Washington Post and New York Times under my arm. Yet, I didn’t find comfort in this but was rather awash with ambivalence and on a quest for something I could no better define than I could reasonably hope to find.

I stopped at a too-slick-for-its-own-good Irish bar for a Half & Half and to watch some baseball. I left after three innings and one pint, driven away by annoying Philly fans (redundancy intended) on my left and a couple of blathering, bobble-head blondes to to my right.

I had another iced americano at a corporate coffeehouse and watched nothing of significance occur while trying to tackle some of the tasks on my too long to-do list. A summer rain, that I found more annoying than refreshing, began to fall. Any excuse to go find a beer.

I moved down the block in search of something but willing to use a beer as a proxy for the unknown and was struck by the sight of a hotel that had some memories attached to it. The memories and the woman associated with them had never been too far from my thoughts but rarely were they this close.

I once wrote “Time plays parlor tricks with memories of all but the most horrific relationships, and time was pulling half dollars from my ear for what was surely too long.” This was another one of those moments – every good moment, every great conversation, every stolen glance, every perfect kiss and every perfect night was stubbornly in my head. I’m not certain of how long I stood there, or how long it took for harsh reality to mingle with utopian ideals, but of course they did.

I wasn’t certain then, nor do I have definitive clarity as I write this, if that moment helped crystallize the void I could not label or define. By the time I got to my next band-aided destination, the question was immaterial. I did, however, engage the bartender in a toast to “muddled memories, definitions of the murky, and women that got away.”