Well, as I mentioned, I’m 40 now. As I also mentioned, I had plans that fell through and I was going to tell you about that later.
And my motto is “Later is now.”
Or, you know, in just a little bit. Over the next few posts, I’m going to recap for you what’s been going on in my love life since the disaster.
Let’s face it. I was rocked pretty hard this year. That’s why my secondary motto is “Fuck 2013.” I did the therapy thing. I suffered depression. I wrote a bunch of uncomfortably personal stuff on a blog. I started new exercise programs and hobbies and picked up old ones again. I ran the gamut of emotions and I keep gamboling on back through that gamut gratuitously. I also started dating again.
And yowza that hasn’t been a smooth deal. My work schedule, which has me tied to a desk third shift Friday night through Monday night each week, certainly doesn’t make the whole “head out to the meat market” or even the whole “invite someone to a music festival or some such shit” thing easy. And being all growed up means I’m cut off from things like classes and campuses that were my main stalking grounds the last time I was out there in the dating world. So off to OK Cupid I went to seek my fortunes.
My first date was with Betty. She looked at my profile, saw something in it she liked, and sent me a message. We did a little back and forth banter and then arranged a date back in June. She surprised me by offering to come up to Delaware from Columbus and join me for dinner at a steakhouse downtown.
I’ll back up a little to tell you some things about Betty and why, barely two months out of the longest relationship of my life, a love that had taken up more than half of my life, I was willing to take a risk at getting hurt or being in a rebound or any of the other nifty scenarios that can come of rushing into this sort of thing.
First of all, Betty had approached me, which is what caused me to even give her profile a second glance at OK Cupid. Second, Betty talked about being in a similar situation to mine, as she was hurting from a long relationship that had broken off and was looking for some fun and nothing serious. Finally, Betty was, as the online vernacular goes, curvy. A BBW. The opposite of a bag of antlers.
This combination actually worked really, really well for me. It meant a potential “training wheels” type of date with no chance of long term attraction or success. I’d get to do a dinner date thing, try out a little charm, and no one would get hurt. Can’t miss, can’t fail!
I walked down to the restaurant and she wasn’t there. A less than auspicious start but, as I found out from phoning her, she was on her way and she arrived in the next few minutes. I met her where she parked her car and immediately put on my poker face. They say the camera adds ten pounds but, in today’s post-MySpace-angle world, people know how to take off a lot more than that before they post images of themselves online. She also had a lot more grey in her hair than she let on in her pictures but, hell, I’m more salt than pepper myself.
You may be annoyed that I’m harping on appearances so much here. It’s a bit frustrating to me as well. After all, I’m decidedly overweight still after losing 80 pounds. And, you know, there’s the little fact that I had 80 pounds to lose. So it’s not like I have any room to talk when it comes to the quality of a person from their physical form. But, when it comes to initial attraction, yes, I prefer dainty to corpulent. And I sure as hell prefer honesty in self representation over deception.
But, whatever, it’s not like I was going to run screaming into the night or do anything other than share a meal with this person who had been so kind as to share some of her time with me. We went into the restaurant, shared a lovely meal and a couple of drinks (I had my first Manhattan and, hey, that was pretty good. Also some beer. And some more beer.). The conversation was good and the food was tasty (well, mine was, anyway. Hers was some kind of butter noodle thing that tasted like noodles with butter when she insisted I try some. I guess my palate is too unrefined for such subtle joys as I was singularly unimpressed) and I found myself really kind of starting to like this girl.
Then we had a frustrating hassle over the check at the end as she didn’t pipe in at all until the check was delivered to the table and I picked it up, prepared to pay. She snapped at me that she pays her own way thank you very much and threw way too much cash at me to cover her part of the check.
And I was pretty damned drunk at that point. I fumbled through the wad of cash she had forced on me, plucked out and returned a few bills to her that I hoped would get her down to her portion of the meal and drinks, and put the whole thing on my card, pocketing the rest of the cash she had given me.
After the restaurant, we opted for a little walk around Delaware and I discovered that I don’t really know shit about the city I’ve spent the last fourteen years living in. I mean, there’s the Hamburger Inn downtown. There are more antique shops than I feel there should be, leading me to suspect they’re all fronts for money laundering. And restaurants come and go every few months.
But I don’t know things like where there is live music playing on a Monday night like, for example, Betty did. She suggested a nearby dive bar I had never been in, a block away from the main drag through town (where most of the other bars, which I avoid due to their college student clientele making me feel like a creepy old man, are). On the way, she said something about me not liking her and I asked why she would think that.
“Because we’ve done all this walking together and you haven’t put your hand on my ass even once,” she replied.
So, what the hell, I went ahead and put my hand on her ass as we walked together. I won’t lie. It was kind of nice.
We went into the bar, no cover, and a live blues band was playing. Betty and I danced and got a little handsy with each other and that was kind of nice, too. After a couple of dances and a few songs (but no more drinks, I had to go to work that night still), I asked if Betty wanted to come back to my place for…
Hell, I honestly have no clue what I was inviting her back to my place for. Maybe some cuddling or making out on the couch? Beats the hell out of me. One thing I do know for certain: it wasn’t for sex. Indeed, I told her that I wasn’t going to try to make a play for that and she pouted and threw off a bunch of mixed signals along the theme of “Well, why would I come back to your place if you’re not going to try to have sex with me?” and then acted offended when I said, “Well, I’d probably be interested except I do have my kid at home.” She shrugged and said, “OK” and we went back to my place.
Yeah, that was a mistake. The kid’s a teenager. He lives in his vaguely goaty smelling room and skypes with friends or plays video games almost all the time. He, of course, picked our arrival back to the apartment to be one of those times when he made a rare appearance outside of his bedroom, out to walk the dog. I introduced him to Betty, giving the wrong name (because her real name is similar to Dawn’s real name and I’d recently written the post about Dawn so she was on my mind)… whoops.
The next fuck up occurred almost immediately after that. Betty asked me to put on some music. I stammered that I had no easy way to do that. My sound system is all set up for TV and video games and, while I could hook the iPod I keep in my car up to the Xbox and get music going that way, it would be at least five or ten minutes of fiddling with it just to get a random ass playlist that includes everything from the Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt” to They Might Be Giants to gay techno club music. No telling what horrors would come of that. Betty sighed, pulled out her smart phone, started up Pandora or some such thing, and some soft, appropriate to a quiet date, music started playing while we sat together on the couch.
She started stroking my hair while we talked softly to each other for a while and I stroked her thigh. That was really nice. And then, all too soon, the alarm rang on my cell phone, signalling that I was out of time and had to end the date and get to work. I offered to walk Betty out to her car and she accepted. She gathered up her phone and her purse and was just about to walk out the door when she stopped dead, looking at a picture on the wall.
“Is that your ex?” she said.
I realized that I had left hanging up a family picture taken from when my son was an infant. Me, Her, and tiny baby son sitting together and smiling out in one of those classic portrait studio poses. It had been a feature on that wall for so long that I hadn’t even consciously recognized it in a long time. “Uh, yeah,” I said. Betty walked out the door and we didn’t say anything else until we reached her car.
We stood there exchanging the “I had a really nice time” type pleasantries and I realized that I kind of liked this girl. This isn’t too unusual a state for me, by the way. I’m the type who develops crushes fairly quickly, especially if there is any interest shown to me or if there are facets of the girl’s personality that I like. Physical appearance does matter for initial attraction for me but personality seals the deal either way.
This tendency to fall into quick crushes means I constantly have to slap myself down from trying to pick up every female customer service professional who is obligated to be nice to me. But, despite some bobbles and mistakes, Betty had won me over enough that I was interested in a second date and was very interested in getting a kiss goodnight.
It’s OK, though, she managed to kill that desire.
She stood there by her car for several seconds, clearly weighing her options. Then she said, “I’m not going to kiss you goodnight.” Fair enough, I thought but then she continued with the words that killed it all for me: “I don’t know why. I’m fickle! Tee hee!”
Bam. Mood killer. All interest at all went out the window for me. Rejection is fine. Waiting is fine. Hell, I don’t mind that she was undecided how she felt about me. I was still buzzing a little bit and, frankly, fairly desperate and I wasn’t sure how I felt about her. But she’d been playing weird mixed signal games all night and to cap it off with some kind of cutesy “tee hee” move just told me that this kind of crap would stretch on and on into the future if any kind of future was going to be attempted.
And that’s a big NOPE for me.
I went back upstairs as she drove off. I took the damned picture off the wall and stuck it somewhere that I wouldn’t have to look at it again. Then I vowed to wait at least a year before I tried to date again because I still had a lot more work to do on myself and I did not need to be trying to figure out what someone else might want from me or even from herself in the meantime.
My next date was about a month after that vow.