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Posts Tagged ‘first date’

GUYS! Sarah Von from the UNIMPEACHABLY DELIGHTFUL yes and yes was kind enough to run a little interview with me today! Check it out if you’re interested in my inner workings, such as they are. And apologize for length of today’s post but I’m going to go ahead and file it under: worth it.

NTKOG #96: The kind of bold, forward-moving networker who meets you, takes your contact information and actually calls you to meet up afterwards.

I am: terrified of accidentally imposing my company on unwilling interlocutors.

I am not: crazy enough, therefore, to follow through with any of the disposable friends whose numbers and business cards I accumulate by the dozen on the T.

The Scene: Last month, I met a dude on the T and went absolutely nuts for him — fireworks, fantasy montages, the whole deal — and was heartbroken when he canceled our date. A few days ago, after a month of no contact from him, I forcibly ejected every fiber of “he’s just not that into you” from my mind and texted him, proposing drinks on Thursday. To my utter friggin’ elation, he actually agreed, and suggested 8pm at Harvard Square.

Dressed for the evening in a tizzy; finally settled on: pencil skirt, casual V-neck with push-up bra, granny panties (to protect against first-date sexin’), and condoms in my purse (I’m only human). Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Dude was, as I remembered, a dreamboat, after all.

As I approached him, he waved and I wondered, huh, were his eyes this beady when I first met him? And was his forehead always so protrudey? But my taste in men is quirky anyway. As we walked to the bar, I launched into a funny story about Kiss-Ducker and I getting drunk in a combination Mexican restaurant slash tranny bar in San Jose.

“When we get together, we’re totally crazy,” I smiled.

“Wanna know a fun fact about me?” he asked. I nodded. “I’m totally crazy too.”

Just then, his cell phone went off; he answered immediately. “Hi Mom. I’m okay, how are you? Yeah, I’m just out right now. With some girl.” I threw up my arms in mock-protest. “No, she’s a real girl, Mom. I swear she’s real.” Um, your red flags getting a workout yet?

After he said goodbye, I joked: “Hey, this is great. I thought I would make this date really awkward, but, dude, you took a call from your mom! Totally surged into the lead! Nothing can be awkward now!”

“Oh, the fun fact about me,” he continued. “I’m crazy. Literally. I was hospitalized for a psychiatric breakdown in late November. I got diagnosed with bipolar and I’m on tons of lithium, so I can’t read people’s minds anymore. Okay, the bar’s around the corner.”

…holy shit. Holy shit. We walked into the bar and were told it had a twenty-minute wait. Was that okay with me, he asked? Uh, no. I needed gin and I needed it about five minutes ago.

We headed down the block to a cute underground bar and I flagged the hostess down and begged for a gin and ginger ale, and keep ’em coming. And for the gentleman?

“I’ll have a pina colada.”

…she broke it to him that they don’t make pina coladas at Irish pubs, so he sighed and ordered a pint of beer. When she brought our drinks, she lay a straw next to my glass. Former Dreamboat unwrapped the straw and stuck it in his beer. HE DRANK BEER WITH A STRAW.

In order to fill the fog of awkward, I babbled through my ice-breakers (what’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod? Miley Cyrus. do you have a rich uncle or a creepy uncle? Uncle Moneybags) while generously lubricating my discomfort with the blessed gin. Former Dreamboat, though, was in no hurry. He sipped his beer drop by drop while staring deep in my eyes. And dudes, I am here to say that he had a case of the Crazy Eye so bad that his irises were practically plaid. If you don’t know what I mean by this, you have never been penetrated by the Crazy Eye.

Every time I dropped my hand to the table, he jerked his arm toward me to try to cover my hand with his own. After a few iterations of hand and mouse, I buried my fists deep in my armpits, shivering with feigned cold in the eighty-degree bar.

The conversation moved to meeting people in the T, and I admitted that though I am naturally shy, I meet tons of people during my commute. “It’s hard to meet people on the T, though,” he mused. “If you try to talk to people, they think you’re crazy. My best opener is when I see people playing with their cell phones, I ask if they get reception in the station. You can kind of trick people into talking to you that way.”

I mentioned that I like to flash people live eyes, which sometimes draws them into conversation. He answered: “Oh, I stare at people too. I stare at people in the T all the time. They always look away really fast, though. It’s probably because I’m a guy.” It could be that, dude. It could. Or it could be the fact that you actively try to trick people into talking to you.

For the rest of his slooooow beer (and my two subsequent gin and ginger ales), he discussed the side effects of his lithium, the pall that it casts over his world until it loosens its grip before bedtime. “Did you know that 60% of bipolar patients stop taking their medicine within a year?” he asked me, a glint of hope in his voice. “I miss being manic. I was really great back then. I was a good conversationalist. You would have liked me. I thought I could read minds too, and even though I guess I couldn’t, it was kind of nice, feeling normal like that.”

Finally I paid for our drinks and walked him back to the T station, before catching my bus. There was a moment before we parted ways — that normal awkward first date moment, but captured in a funhouse mirror. He leaned in to kiss me, but I ducked out of it and gave him a hug. We should do this again, he told me. Yeah, I said, maybe. As I walked away, I could hear him taking out his cell phone to call his mother back.

The Verdict: Shit, guys, I thought that was a funny story, but it’s actually kind of sad, isn’t it? I don’t know. Part of me is happy that he apparently had a good time; the other part of me is shrieking I wore a push-up bra for this?! One thing is for certain: I’m not picking up any more guys in public until I somehow install a better pre-screening process for social dysfunction. Also, if a dude ever comes up to me on the T and asks if I get cell reception, I will turn up my music, smile politely, and say nothing.

Now I’m kind of feeling like a jerkface that I didn’t like this guy, but the thing is, you can’t like people just because the world would be a sweeter place if you did. I think all you can do is be nice and try to be an okay person. He ordered a pina colada in an Irish pub. It wasn’t going to work out anyway. It just wasn’t. I don’t know. I’m doing my best.

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NTKOG #79: The kind of girl who, instead of just speculating on the personal lives of strangers like a normal person, strides up and DEMANDS CONFIRMATION afterwards!

I am: constantly making predictions about the lives of strangers based on small quirks of their behavior, then narrating the whole thing into a mental novel (she noted wryly, tilting her fedora to cover the steely glint of her keen eyes).

I am not: actually that great at interpreting the behavior of others, it transpires.

The Scene: Last weekend at an adults-only bowling alley/bar in Dedham, on a ladies’ night with Sister, Irish Broad and Snowflake to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Snowflake’s 26th birthday. The wait for a lane is about three hours, so even after we’ve thrown back a few drinks and enjoyed surprisingly gourmet appetizers, we find ourselves lulled into silent people watching.

The majority of the bar is filled with clusters of Lady Gaga-lovin’ woo girls, all leaning a little too long over the shared scorpion bowls, their brassy roots glinting in the light. Among all the youthful revelry, though, one couple stands out: a man and woman, maybe late ’20s. She is short and a little chubby, with long, wildly unkempt hair and the perpetual half-snarl of a girl who has had to learn how to be funny; he is medium height, trim, wearing an expensive but ill-fitting sweater and swirling his chair in wide arcs. They are waiting for their check, and she takes out her credit card and taps it along to the beat of the song blaring in the background. They do not talk or even make eye contact.

Snowflake: Think that’s a first date?
Irish Broad: It has to be. They obviously don’t like each other.
TKOG: But if they were a couple who hated each other, they’d be touching.
Snowflake: But she’s paying!
TKOG: Guys. Let’s find out.

The idea of approaching someone in public to confirm predictions I’d made about them I’ll admit I totally stole from an amusing story on Blonde Monde. Just to up the awk, I drilled the table for a few more predictions. We decided that the couple had met online, and that he was a first-year law student.

The couple was so wrapped up in ignoring each other that it took them almost ten seconds to notice when i stopped at their table; she was still click-clacking her card on the table, while he swirled to look anywhere but at her.

TKOG: Excuse me, this is awkward, but I have a question for you guys.
Angry-Looking Maybe-Dater: What is it?
TKOG: Are you two on a first date?

The pair looked at each other and, for the first time in the twenty minutes we’d been watching, laughed. Like, threw back their heads and guffawed.

ALMD: Absolutely not! We’re friends. We’re ooooold friends.
TKOG: So I suppose you didn’t meet online?
ALMD: We met in college, like twelve years ago.
TKOG: And you’re not a first-year law student, are you?
Swivel Chair Speedracer: I’m a reporter.

I fought my impulse to ask if he needed a secretary, and made my way back to the table. After a moment, the girl leaned over and asked the guy, loudly: “Do we really look that awkward?!”

Yeah, I wanted to say, you totally do. And — spoiler alert — I still think it has something to do with the fact that you don’t like each other! But that, like so many other things, is none of my business.

The Verdict: Dude, this was so much more fun than it was awkward or embarrassing! I don’t think it’s going to go in my daily social-skills repertoire, but next time I’m lookin’ at a dude and really going to die if I don’t find out right then whether he’s a socialist horse jockey, I’m just going to do it. It might end up being a great conversation starter anyway!

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NTKOG #61: The kind of girl who — you all knew this one was coming — meets someone through an online dating service.

I am: pretty happy being single, and, that aside, difficult for guys to favorably impress at the best of times.

I am not: terribly lucky when it comes to meeting guys on purpose. The only formative and positive relationships of my life have come during times when I was specifically not looking for anyone.

The Scene: OkCupid. I’ve heard great things about sites like eHarmony and Match.com, but at the end of the day, OkCupid is funny, it attracts a younger demographic, and — big point in its favor — it’s free. When I first made my profile, I was totally thrilled: not thousands, sure, but quite a few guys messaged me. Some of them wrote really clever and charming things! And I wrote them back equally clever and charming things! And then … they kept messaging?

After about a week on OkCupid, I realized online dating is way too much work for this girl. It was like having a keychain full of Tamagotchis: cute on the ride home from the store, but then they keep friggin’ wanting you to pay attention to them. I was bored yet flustered and about ready to call it a day, when I got a message from a guy who fulfilled, on paper, every single absurdly specific requirement I have for a man:

Over six feet fall. Culturally Jewish. Well-read. Into wordplay. A PHYSICIST.

I mean, holy shit, right? It’s like someone went through my bizarrely detailed personal want ad and checked every box. I was giddy for days. We messaged back and forth a bit, then started chatting on AIM, and soon we’d set up a date at (sigh!) the Museum of Science.

The day of the date, however, I was hit hard with my standard pre-event ennui. Still, I put on a decent outfit — four-inch heels, no less — and got on the T. Then somewhere along the way, it occurred to me: I haven’t had a first date with anyone since I was 18 years old. I’m … I’m not good at dating. A quick peek into my bag confirmed this. Inside, I was carrying two copies of Oprah Magazine, a blonde wig (explanatory post later), and a circa 1965 single-girl cookbook with the subtitle: “Dazzling Bachelor-Bait Recipes!” Good thing I wasn’t taking in a set of knives to get sharpened, or else I’d probably end up on a national registry somewhere.

When I got to the venerable museum (half an hour late — I hate the green line) and the guy and I met, my terrible-at-dating streak continued. He seemed very nice and we both pretty enthusedly went through the exhibits. But my first-date patter was Lifetime Movie bad. I mean, I kind of came off as a crazy person? Some truly stellar things I revealed within the first hour that I am commemorating here only as advice to you lovely people not to ever use them as first-date ice-breakers:

  • I have a thing about people. I don’t like to stand near them, in case they accidentally touch me. (Deals with the first-date kiss dilemma, anyway.)
  • I learned to read as a kid by going through my father’s joke books. I know the punchline of every joke ever and I will stop you if I’ve heard it.
  • Upon looking at an exhibit of vehicle engines: “I like looking at machines because they animate without any sort of governing magic. So they’re kind of like humans, but at the same time really sort of underscore the patent weirdness of the human experience. Our, y’know, awareness of. Said experience.”
  • When I’m trying to do something that you can’t do as well if you’re concentrating on it, I mentally repeat the US presidents in chronological order repeatedly until I am done.
  • I’m intensely afraid of fish. And thank god he didn’t want to see the butterfly exhibit so we didn’t have to broach that one as well.

Um, I’ll take “Shit That Makes You Sound Totally Crazy” for $1000, Alex. This would have been much more normal if I had been nervously word-vomming or totally flustered, but I really wasn’t. I was totally confident. I just — I guess I feel like I was trying to throw the fight for some reason. Like, frontloading this hurricane of neuroses to push him away.

Anyway, he wasn’t totally scared away, weirdly. After going through the exhibits, we hung out and chatted for about an hour, and the conversation was nice. He asked if there was anything about him I wasn’t expecting, based on his profile, and I said I thought six feet was a bit taller, then instead of asking him back, I just told him: “I talk more than you thought I would and I’m crazier, right?” To which he replied: “You talk about as much as I thought you would. About different things, though.”

Near the end of the date, I was checking my watch to see if I would make it to a Flip Your Wig pub crawl on time, then told him, “Look, let’s make this an event for the first-date hall of fame — do you mind?” So he held my coat while I went into the ladies’ room and reemerged with a headful of shiny-synthetic cascading blonde curls, then waved goodbye from the foyer (NO TOUCHING!) and dashed out into the rain.

I’m memorable, at least.

The Verdict: Online dating? I take away everything I’ve ever said about it. It seems like a perfectly safe, perfectly pleasant way to meet people whom you already know you have something in common with. As with all dating, just because you have a lot in common with someone obviously doesn’t mean there will be a love connection, but I guess it at least improves your odds. I would online date again. But I wouldn’t do it soon.

I spent yesterday, the day after the date, plunged in a weird quagmire of semi-depression, and not all of it can be blamed on the weirdly muggly coldness eating Boston right now. I realized I was completely terrible on the date because — this is probably a big surprise only to me — I’m not ready to start dating yet. I know I’m only three months out of a very happy four-year relationship, but I thought I was totally healed. I was weirdly, amazingly, inhumanly fine during the break-up. The Ex and I knew we were going to break up for the last six months we lived together, but things never got weird, we stayed in love, and I didn’t cry. Not even once. Not even when I was alone or on the phone with my mother or listening to Postal Service. I was eerily happy the whole time. The only tears I shed throughout the whole demise of my four-year relationship were after dropping him off at the airport on our very last night. Then I took my heartache and put it in a box and forgot about it.

And now, of course, it occurs to me that said box was shipped with the rest of my junk to Boston and very probably it would be in my best interest to unpack it. Not that the break-up itself was so very tempestuous or difficult, but it wasn’t nothing. My zero-tolerance policy for personal weakness (just my own; I’m okay with yours) might be a bit overbearing.

It’s not the break-up, or not just and concretely the break-up. I’m fine with The Ex and I going our separate ways, and I’m happy to be on my own. But when I think about it, I spent four years falling, every day, more in love with the same wonderful man. And he was just one (one very wonderful!) in a series. There has not been a single goddamn minute of my life the past ten years, maybe more, when I have not been or thought I was in love with someone. My adult life has been a sustained hysteria of want. And right now, what I want is not to want anything that requires anybody else.

Which … is a pretty heavy reaction to a single pretty-okay date. So maybe physicist would be right to assume I’m a total crazy person? (Also, ladies who have online dated, what is the protocol for telling someone you’re probably not in a good place for a second date? Do you have to facebook defriend? Why has the internet made etiquette so hard?! Share your thoughts, please!)

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NTKOG #32: The kind of bold, vivacious creature who, standing on a street corner, catches the eye of a stranger, banters for a moment, then asks him out right then and there.

I am: shy. Deeply shy. Surely by now you all know that I’m an extreme introvert?

I am not: convinced I’ve ever even actually been on a date with a guy whom I hadn’t been seeing exclusively for at least several months.

The Scene: Wednesday after work, and after my hyper-uncouth spitting adventure, I was wandering around Harvard Square, trying to kill an hour before my creative writing class. I decided to cross the street and get a cupcake, and waited for a light, standing next to a tall, nice-looking Asian guy.

Also, for context, I was wearing my Alice-in-Wonderland dress, a light sweater and flipflops, and basically freezing my eyelashes off.

Stoplight Guy: Aren’t you cold in that?
TKOG: Yeah. But I just moved here from California, so I’m just pretending it’s an unseasonably cold summer day. In late September.
SG: Where in California? I’m from [Prestigious West Coast University’s rival school].
TKOG: Oh, I went to Prestigious West Coast University. I guess we hate each other now. Where are you headed?
SG: Nowhere, really. You?
TKOG: I have an hour to kill before class; I was going to grab a coffee. Want to join me?

And guys! He absolutely said yes!!!

We found a cafe — where it transpired that neither of us actually drinks coffee — and both independently asked for the orders “for-here”. So no awkward-out escape hatch.

There was a moment in the line. I felt like I should pay for his order because I’d totally instigated the hang-out, but the line was confusing and I couldn’t find my wallet. At one point I asked if we were even in line, to which he responded: “Well, I am. And you’re with me.” in the sort of paternalistic way that I don’t really hate, and I resolved to pay for his drink, but then lost my nerve.

As we waited for our mugs o’ seasonal beverage, we talked about our academic and career trajectories. He’s currently pursuing a law degree from Hahvahd, but claimed he wants to retire early from corporate law to focus on oil painting. Whenever men say things like that, I wonder whether it is only what they think we want to hear, and if so, why the devil they think we want to hear it.

He was very frank about money — wanting to make it, and lots of it — in a way that, on paper, would have seemed crass. But I have a soft spot for men who are appallingly forthright with a hint of egotism. Similarly, he gave the obviously overworked barista a hard time about making him wait for his drink, and although I hated it, I kind of admired it.

We ended up sitting outside and talking intensely for about an hour. It was all the standard terrible first-date stuff (undergrad experiences, the weather, out-of-reach career fantasies), but done quite well. The conversation was mile-a-minute and clever. He did not make me laugh, of course — very few men do — but we enjoyed each other’s company. It was all the terrible first date conversation, true, but I felt we were working through it. I could see the first-date slipping into a second date with the same natural flow, but more off-the-wall, engaging, whimsical, real.

Then I mentioned growing up in Las Vegas, which is always a mistake: it always, always causes men to grow slimy and disrespectful, at least a little, even the nice ones (let alone barista beraters). I had mentioned not knowing Cambridge well, and we talked about finding a bar and going out for post-work drinks one day. But after the Vegas discussion: “Oh, when is your class over? We could just have drinks at your place…”

Sorry. Did I miss some sort of critical transition in the evening? We made tentative plans to see each other again for drinks (at a bar, not my apartment, obvi), exchanged information, then I had to book to my class.

The Verdict: I would absolutely, totally, 100% do this again! It comes off sounding a more negative experience than it was: to be fair, it was nearly entirely enjoyable, and only took on a weird tone right at the end.

As of right now, he has called a few times, but I keep missing his calls. I texted and he responded with a voicemail asking what I was up to (and for my blog address — whoops, shouldn’t have mentioned that). I think I’m going to ask him if he wants to grab drinks on Monday.

But truly, guys, it was totally pleasant and there was no awkward at all. If you’re reading this and you’re single, I totally encourage you to stop a stranger this weekend and ask them to hang out. Just try it! You’ll feel like a ballsier, better person. (Unless the person turns out to be a total sketchmonger…)

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