Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Got a Boyfriend...or 2

First, excuse my absence. I just couldn't take anymore dates, any more disappointment, any more below par men. Seems to be a plethora out there. So far I'd grade my experience a C and frankly, I'm aiming for out of the park, A plus. Perhaps my expectations are too high. I'd love to meet a guy who is breathing, has all his limbs, and a job, and it might help if we like each other. Last night, on the way to Hot Pot City with friends I said that I want to meet a guy who is cute and before I could continue with my list I was interrupted. Apparently, cute is no longer a reasonable expectation for women my age. It has come down to:

"A feature you could find endearing." Added after a silence, "Some day."

Fair enough. I guess when the lights are out the lights are out. But really, I'd like more than a feature. I'd like an overall cuteness and if I can't have that, then I'll go with at least a cute look. How's that? Setting the bar too high yet again.

In a pinch there are some standbys. My boyfriends: Mr. Vornado (a space-heater) and Freddy (as in Freddy Meyer's). I put my face in front of Mr. Vornado all morning long while on the computer and during a winter in Portland - with nearly no insulation in my house - this thing is a godsend. Perhaps better than any boyfriend I've had, he's Italian and perfectly reliable. Next, Freddy. Always there when I need him and has everything a girl could need including free cheese samples on weekdays and yarn. Though I share him with other women, I simply feel better after a visit.

So there you have it. Zero dates. Two boyfriends. A hundred cups of coffee. A thousand dog walks. A million minutes of kvetching.

I promise to be back in January and to go on...dare I say it, two dates a week again? No, I learned my lesson. I was all dated out. But maybe one a week. If nothing more than to prove a point: this is my experience. It is not a fiction; it really is this hard out there. At least for me.

An ex, who claimed not to have read my blog, said it was tacky. Well I take his tacky and I raise him one: this is my experience, this is my life, and if it's tacky or unpleasant or disappointing or if some of the guys come off as duds, all I can say is: this is real --

Show me what you got Portland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At 8pm the Chicken Goes Half Price!

My last date with L. was supposed to begin at Huber's. I know, the Spanish Coffee, the Spanish Coffee, the Spanish Coffee. Everyone raves about it. But when I arrived downtown and poked my head into the restaurant and then the bar, I noticed blue haired ladies and felt a bit of dread. I'd picked a bad place. A bad place with old people! Luckily L. was fine with eating at a Persian restaurant around the block.

The food was decent with huge portions. My theory is that restaurants in Portland feel like portion size makes up for quality, when really it doesn't. Anyway, the date was very nice but we missed the movie I'd wanted to see, playing at 6:50 at The Laurelhurst, 500 Days of Summer. That left us with the other idea of watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. L. had been raving about this show. Because of certain logistical issues: he watches on a laptop, didn't have the proper adapter cord to connect it to a TV, etcetera, a visit to Freddy Meyer's proved useless yet amusing, we ended up in the "entertainment room" at his building, with an unsuccessful hook up to the TV there, and then just huddled around his little computer to watch.

Side note:
At FM's we run into a friend of his. When asked what he was doing in FM's (huge grocery store) at nearly 8pm on a Saturday night, he explained that at 8pm the chicken goes half price.

Well, that's one exciting way to spend an evening. I dearly hope it was the rotisserie and not slices of chicken. Slices of chicken at a deli counter. Does it get more depressing? I wasn't enjoying the florescent lighting - it certainly wasn't doing justice to my newly chestnut locks and highlights, but I was going with it. It definitely felt less romantic that visiting the opera and getting hot toddies at Caldera, as we did last week.

That said, after the show, which is gross and almost amusing and then gross again, "things progressed" and I can't quite explain it but something felt missing. I tried to explain this to L. I really like him, but between our last date and this one some enthusiasm felt absent both on my part and maybe his, some ephemeral piece of the connection. He said he felt it too and that he'd been a bit depressed since our last date.

Never a fantastic sign. I'm wondering if, now stop the presses, drum roll's not all them. But me? Could it be me? Could it not be all the men I go out with? Ridiculous, I know. But evidence is pointing in that direction.

Still, I'm going to hold my ground: I want to meet someone I have fun with, who likes peace and quiet, who adores my dog, who is sincere, and cute and there's attraction. In the scope of the world, I don't think that's too outlandish. It just might mean more future dates.

On my drive home, I didn't feel terribly upset. But there was a part of me that felt like the half priced chicken. Like my value decreased after 8pm.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Death, Love, the Underworld, the Usual

L. and I grab a quick dinner at Matador, replete with crazy LA style goblets of Malbec and Shiraz. We use the Tom-Tom to find the theatre and it fails us royally, yet we make it to the opera with five minutes to spare. I'm an expert on rushing, so this feels normal. He's gotten us tickets to see Orphee, a Philip Glass opera. I suffer from a rarely diagnosed disorder of falling asleep the minute the lights go down at any performance. I have many stories of movies missed, plays slept through, and bands that were silent, because of this. I never sit too close to the stage. It's a bit of an experiment to see how those around me respond.

L. put his hand on mine, "You're falling asleep."

I tell him, "I'm awake. I'm awake." I improve my posture as if this is proof positive of how awake and alert I am. Then I explain. "It's so relaxing. The lights go out and my eyes...just close."

L. looked very handsome in his suit jacket and jeans and he didn't seem upset and soon enough he was caressing my hand, which instantly made me awake for the remainder of the performance, though I'd be hard pressed to give a summary of the plot line. There was the fantastical stuff, death, love, the underworld, the usual.

It was lovely to be at the opera. This whole other world takes place in Portland at night and for some reason I've not chosen to be a part of it. I believe with my knitting, cheap wine, and A., I've been in hibernation mode. Back in New York I'd been more involved, more active, more into the arts. So it's lovely to be here with L. and have him re-introduce something into my life that's purely for pleasure. There is no need to be here tonight, it's all an elective. Listening to this story, hearing the swells and arcs of Glass's musical stories, the punches he throws and learning about lost love and chauffeurs, I feel different, like a light is shining on a little lost part of me.

Afterwards, we go for hot toddies at Caldera, not realizing until the lights are flashing that we are some of the only patrons and at a whopping 11:30pm they are closing. I love Caldera and go there often. It's an old house way out on 60th and Stark, converted into a restaurant/bar with a back deck and a black bath tub that's now a couch and lots of worn, old wood, rich cakes, pies, plus elaborate drinks.

Fast forward...

L. and I sleep just a little and make it to Mt. Tabor the next morning with A. A. cannot get enough of L. He chases her, attacks her paws, grabs her snout and she comes back for more and more and more. It's a lovely morning and a lovely walk and L. doesn't end up going home until 3pm that day. He lets me know about his recent divorce and his school responsibilities, I take this in. He describes himself as flawed and we agree we are both flawed and at this age, everyone else is too. But still, my ears perk at this warning. We go for brunch at Arletta Library Cafe. Because I'm more practical than emotional lately, I don't feel upset by what he said. He knows I'm applying to PhD programs back East. I explain to him that I like him and want to get to know him better. Soon enough he's asking about our next plans and texting me as he drives home and later that same night.

I like him. I really do. There is something familiar and yet foreign about him. And then my phone rings and it's M. (my ex-boyfriend that I moved out to Portland with). I decide to call him back later in the night. Fine. He's been pushing. Okay. He can be my friend. He's 1,000s of miles away.

But for now, I'll just bask in the glow of L.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Privacy Setting

Date #3 with L. I get lost, in many ways. First, I cannot find the restaurant. I've lived in Portland for over three years and have yet to visit this nook near OHSU, Riverfront. It's composed of winding long, dark roads, leading to ultra-modern, new skyscraper types - a small, carved out neighborhood somewhere near the 5, Naito Parkway, and the river, and yet only a few streets allow entry into this spot. FYI, Market street is nice to know "goes through." I had moments of doubt and three phone calls to the restaurant for directions, arrived 25 minutes late and yet, was ecstatic to find it at all. L. had killed his phone and so I couldn't even text him to say I was running late. Actually, I did text him knowing he'd not get it, but needing to tell someone somewhere out there that I'd be late for something.

L. is understanding about my lack of promptness and we eat sushi, then visit his apartment and go to the 5th floor with our glasses of Riesling onto the eco-terrace. The eco-terrace and this whole neighborhood is as surreal as it sounds. I feel like I'm in an episode of the Jetsons. It's modern hotel-style living and riding in the silent elevator, for a moment I wish my whole life could be as straight forward and simple as this ride. Silently, I'm led from place to place. No decisions necessary. Each swift move as calibrated and direct as the design of this building, this eco-terrace, this strange land.

"Let me turn on the fire," L. says. And two seconds later there is the appearance of a fire, we're on the rooftop, sitting beside it, watching a woman silently exercise in the all glass room nearby. She's on the treadmill. I watch her legs scramble to keep up, her unforgiving pace.

"So Portland is small," L. tells me. "Really small."

I agree with this.

L. has a pained look on his face. "I found your blog."

The air inside my lungs is gone and I feel tears approaching but I'm able to hold them back, if I don't look directly at him.

"I'm sorry," I say, not wanting to look at L. I am mortified. "I think I should leave."

He asks me to stay. Once I catch my breath and find my voice I explain that it's really just for my friends to read and to stay in touch, and for me to reflect on my experiences.

"That's fine," L. says, and he couldn't sound kinder. He's nearly whispering and I can barely hear him, this has its advantages as I wish we weren't having this conversation. "Is this like a project? I don't want to end up in the New York Times."

Can't anything not turn to shit? I let this concern of his sink in. I assure him I didn't write anything negative about him. A large part of the blog was to provide a place to share my experiences with other people because I couldn't believe how challenging dating had become. I hadn't meant to hurt anyone's feelings.

"What's wrong with the New York Times?"

Finally L. laughs; it's a welcome sound. "I love the New York Times."

"You're definitely not a project. These are my experiences. I just wanted to write about them. To own them." I stop myself here because I can imagine as much as I feel my privacy violated, he must feel it much more so, "I'm sorry you read it and it bothered you. I can take it down."

L. says that isn't necessary but that I need to protect my privacy on facebook, so he doesn't feel tempted to keep reading it. I had thought I did this already. "That's fair," I say, "and I'll need to blog about this."

He says he's fine with this arrangement though I'm not sure how much I want to blog about it. Bad dates are one thing, but good dates and the hopefulness attached to them, are another.

We went upstairs, he picked the Your Friends tab under the Privacy Setting on facebook. There were some kisses and we discussed outfits for our Friday night date. I described what I was planning to wear: a sweater dress. It's a sweater but it's a dress and a dress and a sweater. Hence, casual. There were more kisses.

I found my way home on the 5. It was easy and right there all along.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Miracles Happen: Junior Mints, Kiss

I went on a date with L. He asked me out again. We went on a second date. There was a kiss. There was kissing. I like him. He likes me. He makes this clear. He sends me emails, texts, and there are phone calls. I've met with him in real time. Can this be possible? Can this actually be happening?

My faith is renewed. I no longer have the urge to strangle the creators of match. After all the negative blogs, here's some sugar. L. and I met for coffee. He moved here from the East Coast a year or so ago to go back to school. We're the same age; this is his second career. He's very intelligent and cute and during our first date I enjoyed his company, however after all the previous dates and this being "one of the last ones" I simply showed up and didn't care all that much. Of course there were special hair products, but besides that, no crazy effort. I do remember telling him that some of my best decisions have been made while I was drunk, but that's another story...

On the second date we met for dinner at the Bye & Bye, though vegan, the atmosphere is perfect for dating: proper lighting and low key, not too crowded. Immediately when I saw him I thought very handsome. Often I can't remember what a guy looks like exactly, especially if I might like him. Also, I felt a bit self-conscious, which had happened on zero earlier dates. After dinner we went to see District 9, a very light, romantic comedy about aliens who clearly resemble huge shrimp that is a metaphor for apartheid. (I highly recommend it. I was engrossed.) While on line for tickets at the Kennedy School I began discussing Junior Mints and the lack their of. From my angle I could only see Sour Patch type candy and Red Vines. These will do in a pickle but not my favorite treat. I really wanted a Junior Mint and I wanted it bad.

Then guess what? L. said he saw Junior Mints! He found them for me. He has great peripheral vision! My hero! We were flirting. Flirting on a date. This is huge. And did I mention he hooked me up with junior mints? After the movie he suggested a drink, which meant two drinks for me which = tipsy. I said yes. We had our drinks and then our goodbye with hand touching and kissing in the parking lot. But I don't like to kiss and tell too much. Except....there was kissing and I'm telling. I'm telling anyone who will listen! Kissing!

Anyway. Since then he has purchased tickets for our next date. He has given thought to what we talked about and what we both might like. Miracles! He has called me the day after our date. He has said he had a good time. L. even offered to watch my dog, A. in two weeks because I'll be away for the night. I think he may not be human. (Of course I declined, at least at this stage.)

This is an incredible situation: a man who might just want to make my life better instead of more complicated. Who wants to impress me and please me and who doesn't seem to need me to take care of him? And he's cute, has ambition, and is thoughtful on top of that?

Juxtapose this with an email from M. date 2 (the one who arrived with $10, no n-working debit card, a cold sore,and a big chip on his shoulder?). He wrote to thank me for our dates and to say he just didn't feel chemistry. That we were different people. On the one hand this is a polite gesture, but on the other, I couldn't imagine why he thought I might want to go out again. I wanted to write back regarding his dating manners, but I couldn't summon the energy to care that much. Instead I wrote him a short note:

Hey M., thanks for the message. I was feeling much the same way and I feel like that's the purpose of dating - to get to know people. Actually, I did start dating someone from match who I like a lot.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Make Me Want It

Beware: the following is a terrifically romantic exchange, it goes something like this, at the end of a date:

"I'd kiss you but I've got this thing on my lip," says M.
"Okay," I said, inserting a fake giggle, producing one hug. "I hadn't noticed it."
"I wish I could rip it off," M. says.

I hate to be a bee-otch but a simple hug would have sufficed. Isn't some editing of oneself required on a date? One shouldn't just be one's self entirely. I'm not going to lift my leg and rip a good fart. So please don't mention your cold sore. Thank you. Signed, Miss Manners. After all, I have a lot going on in my life, cold sores aside, that I am not going to share, especially not on Date #2. To refresh memories (yours and mine) this is physical humor guy, the one where bugs committed suicide in our drinks on date #1?

I may need to change his name to Argumentative Guy. One thing in the world I abhor and despise is when someone is of average intelligence and enjoys arguing. Thank you but no. Allow me to backtrack. We went to Nicholas's, the scene of my being stood up (same guy, furnace issue?). We wait for a table and sit down.

"Do you have cash?" he asks.

I immediately say no, even though I do. I'm barely making a living and I'll be damned if I'm paying for a dinner, especially after he basically stood me up once. Earlier in the evening M. explained that he had his bags, and some credit cards stolen while in Costa Rica and couldn't remember his new pin number while here, in order to use his ATM card and had $10 cash on him. I know, I know.

So let's recap: 1) stood me up on Date #2, said he texted, I never got it. 2) plans date #2 at a place that doesn't accept credit cards, has only ten dollars, and a useless debit card, 3) hasn't thoroughly acknowledged the stand up.

Let's not put ourselves through too much pain. I was very kind about the cash situation and suggested we go to a restaurant that would take cards. We go to Slow Bar. I have amazing "autumn slow burger" with fried squash. Yum! We discuss the unemployment situation in the country and in Oregon in particular, he nay says the whole thing because he's gotten 2 calls from headhunters. I explain that I've applied for about 25 counseling jobs and I have many private clients who have lost their jobs. This whole unemployment thing isn't in our heads. M. continues to argue but it is obvious that he thinks we are bluffing or being overly dramatic about the problem. I consider mentioning that in good economic times Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country but I decide to forget it, he'll only argue otherwise.

The problem is that arguments that are based only on feelings aren't really arguments. They are ideas or preferences or the way we'd truly like things to be...and yet they aren't. My assumption is that M. is defensive about Oregon because he loves Oregon. But we can love Oregon and accept Oregon's flaws. In other words, there ain't jobs here, buddy! Pick up a newspaper!

Which leads me to my point: where is the romance? This is a date, isn't it? We aren't friends here. Don't tell me about your cold sore. Don't show up for a date without cash. Don't argue with me about the unemployment rate, which is a number not an idea or a feeling. Show up. Be fucking romantic. Be a man. Make me want it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mushrooms vs Men

Today I went to the Farmer's Market up at PSU with K. and bought $10 worth of chanterelle mushroooms. The rain finally came down, pouring on our hoodies but we continued to explore the market and buy bagels, mine with cream cheese, pesto and oily pumpkin. I loved it! Better than any date ever! K. was great company, visiting from Eugene and not scared off by rain. Afterwards we got coffees and sat under an awning, discussing futures.

Alright, you pulled it out of me. Good god. Fine! I do happen to have one date tomorrow. I hesitate to use the D word (date, not that aforementioned wus) because it is a 10am coffee, really a meet & greet. So far I've been so enjoying my time off from dating: cooking my mushrooms, drinking my wine, long hikes with A., reading books about Positivty (!), and spending time with friends, that I surprise even myself with this development.

But, there are exceptions to every rule. Date with L. tomorrow. L. is a med student here from the East Coast who already acknowledges the lack of curse words used in Portland. Shall I greet him with a "Fuck yeah" or fix him up with The Curser? He seems nice via email and if the date is horrendous I brought some knitting to distract/amuse myself.

This is just a mini-check in to say:

1) Enjoying my dating hiatus
2) Yes, going on one, final date
3) Put together a printer today, because I rule
4) Still no word from D. but I can't spend my life caring
5) There is no five

Except...mushrooms sometimes are better than men. Sorry. It's true.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phantom D.

D. re-surfaces. He was in Yemen. Of course, he was. And we exchange a couple of emails and texts, the usual. I suggest a phone call and he responds immediately and tells me he loves me. Well, not precisely, he writes, "I would love a call. Or even 3-D." Close enough. I don't know what 3-D means (Skype? in person?), though it sounds potentially dirty. Sign me up. We've been corresponding through modern technology for a full month now: it's time to take a step forward. Or is it?

After D.'s acceptance of a call and lack of an actual call, I wrote to him that a good time for a phone date would be last Tuesday night at 6pm or later my time since I have other plans the rest of the week, my social calendar is rather full. I've got knitting and Gossip Girl and Ugly Betty and $3 movies and happy hour and work. Bet you can't imagine what happens.

6pm rolls around, I pour myself a nice Syrah and pop in some Gossip Girl, plop on the couch. Life is good. Fast forward to 8pm, I'm waking myself with my own soft snores and wiping drool from my own cheek. How did this happen? I've been stood up cyberly now as well and was too exhausted to be terribly upset. One clue: D. did refer to himself as a wimp in his last email, however I thought that was in reference to the weather. Apparently not.

I know what you're saying: I should call him. I hear you. I agree, technically. But in the end I'm still a woman and I feel strongly I would like to be pursued. Nearly all women agree with me on this in private, though they may state otherwise to friends in public. It is a secret little acknowledged: men say they want to be asked on dates but it never works out. They seem to enjoy a bit of longing and desire from afar. It's true: you know it.

So D. is off the radar. During a space clearing at my office in NW yesterday, my gracious friend R. lit a bowl of alcohol and salts, which created a bowl of fire that captivated me. What if my whole office went up in flames? I swear I wouldn't care. I just can't react to much these days. I'm broke, I've been stood up on two dates recently, I'm 34, I'm tired. And while it's nice to not get upset, I have to wonder if I have become a robot. R. also told me a couple of stories about men who do this: email and text and phone calls but can't do an actual date. Is there a DSM diagnosis for this?

This would be the time I hear from M. M. and I dated off and on for four years, lived together and moved to Portland together. Out history, to put it mildly, is tumultuous. We hadn't spoken in six months and then out of the blue my phone rings with his name. His name. A person who loved me. A person who cared about me. A person who showed up on actual, live dates.

Can exes smell vulnerability? Can they sense it like a bear smells food hitched up in trees in the woods and is willing to scratch out the eyes of small children to eat lunch?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Zero Dates a Week

I can't take it anymore. The dates, the dating, the bars, the restaurants, coffeeshops, the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the texts about the phone calls, the emails about the texts. My head is spinning and A. is looking at me through her fluffy, white, bangs that partially cover her black eyes, like "What the fuck? Pet me." It's too much. Too much people contact. The plans! The plans! Will we meet for dinner or will it be brunch? Just a drink or a drink and a snack? A walk? Well, that means he's unemployed.

Granted, this has a little something to do with D., that rapscallion. It's this: he's fallen off the face of the universe. My universe, that is. After a month (stop rolling your eyes) of emails and texts, he is oddly quiet. We did exchange a simple text on Tuesday, two full days ago. But here is the kicker: he sent me a mass email. Yes, a mass email! He may as well have sent a big picture of a middle finger. A mass email to some fund-raising event in NYC, a wonderful charity event that will be this month. As if! Why I should be included on such a list, when I obviously cannot attend, is beyond me. Yet, my curiosity is piqued.

I smell something fishy. It's a bit too reminiscent of rejection and that is something no woman likes. D. could be married. D. could be busy. Or D. simply lost interest. After all, friends have not so subtly asked, why isn't he calling you? The fact that I even care really bothers me. I see this as a sign: time to take a break. A strike from men!

But hold up: that doesn't mean the blog has to stop. Should I be asked on dates in real-time or should anything else of interest (like real life) pop up, I'll still write. But it's safe to say that the experiment of two dates a week would turn any woman into a bit of a bitch.

Now, time to finish my coffee with hazelnut coffeemate. See you in the real world...sort of.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Date Like You're in Your 20s

This seems a bit nit picky to some, but I think manners are important. After all, they show the world a first impression of who you are and what rules you live by. Hypothetically, would you lick your fingers (while eating) on a date? My vote is no. Does that make me a snob? With friends or family I might lick my fingers and alone, sure, I'll lick a plate of organic maple syrup. But that's different.

Last night I met up with T. who is almost 30, has a way cooler haircut than mine, LA button down, cuffs uncuffed, like a boy band but solo. I was late of course but just by 10 minutes. That is normal in NYC but apparently rude here. I have some manners of my own that could use some fixing, I suppose. I don't "plan" to be late. It just seems to happen every single time & I see I'm becoming burnt out on this process & may be avoiding.

T. is not the most insightful man I've ever met (when his last girlfriend decided not to move in with him at the last minute that meant, "Shit, I need a roommate"). But who cares? He's in his twenties. He's cute with cute hair and more of a cute look than actual personality that makes someone really cute. Before the date I had a mini-epiphany: why am I being so serious about this dating process? Why don't I just date like I did in my 20s? If I found a guy cute and fun, we went out and began dating. Now, in my 30s I have to actually enjoy his company (a real drag to find), consider him future mate material (who could ever live up to my standards?), and make sure he has a good job (or just a job). What if I ditched that whole concept?

Here's the thing: I could never marry T. from last night, but there could potentially be kissing. I think this may be how men approach dating in general, no? Like if they could see having sex with you, they'll move on to Date 2. It's a theory, but my problem is that I'm not terribly excited about the prospect. This leads me to believe it may be time for a dating break.

Last but not least, the sad news with D. He returned from Panama and leaves for Geneva this Saturday. While I still heart him, of course, I fear his interest has waned and/or he's busy preparing for his trip abroad. I've only gotten one brief text since his return and that was after my message. Perhaps this is a good thing in the end, though it hardly feels good. It feels horrible. I really liked him...or his writing style. We had fun together, or I mean swapping emails and texts.

A great friend, T., pointed out the obvious, which being in the situation I did not see: why is that level of intimacy so appealing to me? I should probably want to talk on the phone or meet in person and ask for it. And though I did, I was pretty much fine with being pen pals too, in many regards. Perhaps as much as I say I want a relationship, there is a significant part of me that does not. At all. How better to get some emotional needs met via writing with D., but not be completely vulnerable by being in the same room? The implied distance creates safety. But there is a part of me that would love to jet off on an adventure. The fact that I have no money, may not like D. in person, and am adverse to risk, shouldn't hold me back. Or should it?

When I half joked to my own mother that perhaps I'll fly off to Geneva to visit D., she responded, "Now that might seem a little desperate, J."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stood Up at 34

Yes, hard to believe but I have been stood up. I should be indignant. I should be upset. I should at least care. But clearly I don't. I felt a touch surprised, regretful that I'd missed happy hour drinks with a friend, P., but ultimately happy to go back home to the comfort of my little, warm house on a cold night and my dog's kisses and cuddles. This was supposed to be Date #2 with the physical humor guy (the one who I got drinks with while bugs swarmed us and ate our skin, remember?). I don't blame anyone for not keeping the guys straight, since I'm the one going out on these dates and can barely do so myself.

We were supposed to meet at Nicholas's for dinner. I arrive promptly, which is pretty rare for me. Inside the restaurant is full of couples and packs of friends. I consider grabbing a table but decide against it. I go inside for a minute and feel thrust upon other people; there's no real foyer or waiting room or bar, all of which I don't care about except when feeling vulnerable and wanting to hide/wait in a dark corner, drink my drink, and live my god damn life. But I digress.

The short version is that my date's furnace blew out, he was headed out of the country the next, and day, and thought he had texted me a cancellation but texted the wrong person. I, being a Capricorn and steadfast myself, simply believed him. After all, why would a man ask a woman on a second date simply to stand her up? True, the circumstances might warrant some suspicion but I didn't go there. My friends and acquaintance, however, felt different - quite different. SOme bullshit detectors even went off in the process. "Sounds like crap," said one friend.

It may be, but since I had D. in NYC, nobody could touch me. So to speak. I already had someone to chit chat with, send funny texts, flirt via email. Who needs an actual, physical date? Until I started talkign with some friends.

You haven't met D. yet?
You HAVE to talk to him on the phone.
Can't put your life on hold just for him.
Who is this guy?
Texts and emails are one thing, but there could be zero chemistry in person.

While all these concerns are true, I was happy with my crumbs. I was happy flirting and teasing and writing and playing with D. I was happy in my cocoon with the web spun just around our two little selves, our brains connected via words, stories, modern technology.

Why burst my bubble, friends? I know, because you love and care about me and hate to see me disappointed. And D. could certainly disappoint: he has yet to actually call (I know I don't call him either) and he has failed to acknowledge my pleas for a visit. He may in fact be an obese Filipino woman living in Iowa. But damn! She's fucking awesome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm Mad at Portland

I went on three dates this week instead of two. Insanity? Perhaps. D. and I continue our long-distance love affair, only soon it will become longer distance since he will be in Geneva for work starting October 10th through the end of January. If I had any money whatsoever I would fly out to Paris or Rome and meet him (yes, for the first time) but since I have none, I'll simply wait by the mailbox and will the tickets to arrive. My hair will gray while I wait, but that's happening anyway, and I've got time.

How unromantic and romantic at the same time. Right now, D. is at a wedding in Panama and continues to text often. Last night as K. and I watched the swifts (migrating birds) fly overhead, ducking in and out of the Chapman school chimney, I couldn't help but think of D. And as K. pointed out, the birds are on their way soon toward Panama too and maybe, just maybe D. will see one of the same birds I saw last night. We had had a text miscommunication whereby I asked him if he "had ever been to Brown." Brown is a restaurant in his/my old neighborhood, Lower East Side. He texted back, "What does 'have you ever been to Brown' mean?" I explained that they had good coffee and that he was gross. He explained that he grew up with 6 sisters and women were far more vulgar than men.

Is it just me? Or should I not be having anal sex jokes with a guy I haven't met yet? Now, I'll be known as "that girl" to his friends, who he mentioned were blushing in regard to my text.

Great. Onward!

Date 9? Who can remember? We go to the PSU farmer's market and this guy is a saint because A) I'm fielding a million cell phone calls from people viewing my apartment in NYC and my parents (subletting my old apartment) and B) he's fine with me being distracted. He's attractive, well adjusted, funny, and smart. At one point, while perusing squash, he removes a folded up, silk looking satchel.

"A murse?" I ask.

"Excuse me," he says.

"A man purse," I add.

It wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that it had silhouettes of flowers on it, his white button down was starched and wrinkle free, his sunglasses were mirrored 70s style. I was on a date with a man more stylish than I am. I was on a date with a metro-sexual.

Need I say more? We parted ways without a handshake or a hug and I could see skipping off into the sunset, being fantastic friends with him and perhaps vice versa. But the thought of sex never crossed my mind and I doubt his.

Am I doomed forever to date men I could never ever be friends with? Why do I date the enemy?

Date 10 or G.
Sunday night. Signs of trouble, a text last week asking for an impromptu date. While not unheard of, this signals an overt casual tone to a first date, which I'm sorry, but should have a hint of pomp and circumstance, shouldn't it? It should be a touch special, but that's just me. After all, if it ever blooms into more, then you will look back at the first date many times and reflect upon it. A text saying:"you around tonight?" doesn't exactly qualify for romance.

Instead of going out last week, we met Sunday night for a drink. At first I suggested a bar near me, but since he lives way out in NE I changed the venue to the Bye and Bye on Alberta. Also, I had a very dear friend's birthday drink event there anyway, S., and figured I could attend that hour and then excuse myself for my date. As a Capricorn, I try to be as efficient as I can.

He's tall. Way tall. But that's okay, I didn't even read the height section on match this time. I've been fairly callous, in some regards. I judge by picture and description and make sure they have jobs. If I mentioned what G. actually does, I fear I could be sued, so I'll m ake something up which is not nearly as fantastical: he is below 7 feet, but not by much, a doll parts maker, in a The Dalles. See? Not so funny. But I swear,the real version is.

He's already told me he lied about his age. He is not 30 but 34. Who cares? Now he tells me he lied about his height. He's not 6'3" but something else. Again, who would care about this? We sit at an outdoor mini-picnic table and chit chat easily.

"I'm hungover," he announces, "do you want anything from the bar?"

"A little heroin?" I cough. "Just a water."

I'm still finishing my lemon drop, managing to curl my lips over the sugary rim (that may be the most provocative part of this blog, good lord). It's a wonderful drink that cost $4. Should I fly to Paris, fall for D., move to NYC, have 10 children, live in Brooklyn, I will surely miss these cheap, sweet, wonderful drinks. I like Portland, but I'm mad at Portland. Show me something good, Portland! One decent man. One decent job. I'm ready.

Dollmaker returns and he's nice, he's fine, a bit rough around the edges. He tells me about an old roommate who was 25, from Poland and a virgin. He used phrase like "pop her cherry" and "throw down" and "a Mexican guy."

Am I a prude? Am I that annoying PC person? Am I asking too much? I have been told that I'm very focused on manners. I think manners are important, especially during the first date. But I'm wondering if this logic is wrong somehow. I know women in Portland who belch in public, not even covering their mouths, same thing with yawning. They lift their arms, exposing hairy pits and don't think twice.

I am not these women.

After an hour I'm ready to go. I don't dislike the dollmaker, but he could have washed his hands; there is dirt under four of the five fingernails on his right hand. I am hoping it is dirt. Or he could wear gloves. Wash them or wear gloves, but don't show up dirty. A full body shower is a wise move and hoped for, but not expected.

I do like him, and a part of what I like is that he acknowledges that he's a curmudgeon. But I see the signs: he hates his job, he's vulgar, he's bitter on dating. Catch and release. Or as my dad would say, "Another one will be along in five minutes. Like a bus."

If he only knew.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Shirley Temple

On Date 8 I learn new words like: clucks. When I ask my date, “What's a cluck?” He explains they are chickenheads, druggies in New Mexico and then does a stumbling impression of what can only be a chicken without a head, drunk, bumping into people, his eyes turned upward and he says, “Ooops sorry” like he's banged his chest into a stranger.

Later I find myself asking, "What is a mook?"

“Mooks,” Date 8 tells me, “are New York know it alls. Ya know,” he says, “How are ya? How you doin?” and proceeds to laugh while posturing and doing his best imitation of a New York wise guy, using his hands to gesture wildly, then his arms, then his whole body.

In all my years in NY – ten – rarely did I encounter such a fellow but sure, they exist, especially in the boroughs but more commonly in movies and on TV. Isn't that where the rest of the world gets their ideas about what New Yorkers are like?

Date 8 provides amazing physical humor. He's funny and sweet. Date 8 has been hurt. His heart may be breaking right now; it is too big. We talk about pet loss, break-ups, and I like him but do I like-like him?

He arrived early, waved at me energetically as I entered the bar, Moon and Sixpence. Immediately, I felt comfortable. He was sitting when I arrived, which meant I couldn't yet see his body except from the nipples up. He was wearing a funky type hat. I don't like to use the word funky, ever, but it was. My mind flashed to that movie with Jon Cryer playing that alternative boy.

The bartender joked with me about what my date's last name was, long story, and I noticed they had, on tap mind you, Belgian lambic frambois or whatever the hell it's called, which I hadn't had in years. As I recalled, it was a slightly sweet beverage, both frothy and tasty. In reality it was like drinking corn syrup straight from a bottle chased with a stiff Shirley Temple.

Gnats swarmed my beverage and my arms. Something bit my shoulder, swarmed under my glasses and landed on my eyeball. am not making this up, The conversation went along as Date 8 and I swatted bugs from our drinks, arms and faces. Finally, I gave up and watched as several committed suicide in my drink, which by then I'd pushed far off to the side. I'm sure there's a metaphor in this: bugs attracted to something so sweet that they die in the gluttony, the sheer act of sipping it, if bugs sip, and then drown. Like Narcissus staring so hard at his reflection that he falls in.

I can't help but think of D.

“I'll have another,” Date 8 tells the waitress, while I decline.

Another? It took him an hour and a half to drink the first drink. I might fossilize here, drop dead, from sheer conversation exhaustion. This has nothing to do with Date 8 and everything to do with me. On the Meyers-Briggs I was nearly 100% introverted. That translates to first encounters like this one sometimes feeling tedious. No reflection on Date 8.

“I'll be back in a minute,” he informs me and for the first time I see his body: narrow and thin, long shorts with bunchy socks, a tattoo on a leg, in essence not my type. I'm too tired to have a type anymore though and Date 8 throws dance parties, does silly impressions, a cool job involving forrests, and has deep pet relationships. I egg myself on: give him a chance. For christsake.

He suggests walking me to my car and while accepting the offer, I think: please don't kiss me.. I wish I felt otherwise. Date 8 opens his arms out wide and there is a warm hug. He asks me out again and I accept. Never one to be quiet I say, “You're funny. You're really, really funny.” If someone could smack me on the head right, I would have been grateful.

I arrive home by 10pm, past my preferred bedtime, quickly check messages (one from D. thank god, there is a god) and take A. on her walk around the block. She's so happy to see me, she jumps up to my face, lands kisses on my chin and cheek, leaves scratch marks on my arms.

If only my dates and I had such enthusiasm.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Date a Week and Get Tired Trying

Or When a Date Has Diarrhea...

Is this still Week 4? How do things get so serious so fast? D. (in NYC) and I are already on the topic of tragedies like family dying young and on my first date with The Curser the subject of abuse comes up. These dates were supposed to be fun! I wasn't supposed to actually feel anything like pure sadness and empathy. These men were supposed to be dates, guys, material for my blog. Suckers.

It shows that though all evidence points to the contrary, I am in fact human.

Date with The Curser. We decide to meet at Laurelhurst Market at 8pm so at 7:50 I drive over, which should be the exact amount of time to get there promptly. I decide to wear a dress, which I may need to employ for all future dates. This is because A) I look cute, I think, I hope, B) it's feminine and I've been known to wear fleece, and C) no need to match any articles of clothing together.

Park at 7:58 around the corner. Get a text from The Curser:

“Are you an early person or a late person?”

Cell says 7:59. “I'm an on time person.”

“I like this place.” I'm nearing the front door, wondering if we'll sit in front of each other, glass of wine in each our hands, candle flickering between us and text the whole night through.

“I'm at the bar,” he writes again.

Should I write “Ok” or let it be? I snap my phone shut, turn it off, and walk in. The restaurant is buzzing with people, food, perfect overhead lighting, on every table slabs of meat, glasses of wine; the whole place is shiny and busy, a perfect date spot. The bar is tucked away, slightly divided from the rest of the place and I make my way to the bar. The Curser is cute and polite (stands when I approach, offers a seat, no curse word in sight). He's an enormous person, years of rugby in his past, his shoulders go on for miles. There are more of these men in the Pacific Northwest, than New York City. I went out with many men in NYC who were shorter than me though always claimed to be 5'10” (impossible when I'm 5'4”). The Curser has got to be 6'2” at least, but it's pointless to me, height has never been my thing. It's his width, his shoulders, his presence. Does it scare me? His wingspan, his arms and's like eating with a giant, but in a good way.

He's funny. He makes me laugh. He talks too much. But they all do. At least he acknowledges it and tells himself (out loud) to stop and asks me specific stories and listens well. Like the Russian guy, he tells a dramatic story: his eyes get huge; his face grows animated; he uses hand gestures. It's definitely a lovely dinner. Yes, there are some curses. Yes, some odd jumps of logic on his part that elude me. But the curses are fairly benign, more along the lines of shit and jerk rather than fuck and bitch, so I say it's okay. He does not say pussy, which would be totally gross. I do think about D. in NYC and the level of intimacy and the romance brewed up already. Our relationship is percolating. He's got me up at 5:30am writing him tall tales and he's writing from his iphone all over the city...but still thousands of miles away, bodies of water, mountains separate, tragedy awaits...

I too can be dramatic! There is something amiss with The Curser, aside from the obvious cursing, and I can't put my finger on it. Something childlike and hidden. He has a little boy's haircut, reasoning and story-telling. He combs his fingers through his bangs. Both endearing and little boyish and I can't help remembering how he feels his ex-girlfriend “tricked” him.

I won't divulge much else, since I like him and we had a nice time and maybe I'm reading into things and maybe, like L. mentioned that others suggested, maybe I'm looking for excuses to go back East. That could be right. I don't claim to understand myself entirely and I'll look to readers for insights. Like a polling process or feedback.

We have a mishap when ordering and the food arrives, which I believed we'd be sharing and The Curser asks, “This is it?” I explain to him that yes, he said let's share so I reiterated that to the waiter. TC says that when he said share he meant that we'd each get a main course dish and swap portions, not share one single meal together. I tell him that in girl-speak share means one dish. The waiter comes and TC tries to say we wanted two dishes then I cut in and apologize and say it was all my fault, because in a way it is. I did say to the waiter “one dish to share.” But why TC didn't interrupt me, I'll never know. I have to wonder if this happens to him a lot. Because it doesn't usually happen to me. When it comes to food, I am very clear.

So, the date ends and we stand, unceremoniously in the brightly lit parking light (tsk tsk Laurelhurst Market, NOT romantic) and though I've thought of D. once or twice or seven times on the date, and though The Curser, I imagine, has thought of his ex who he explained earlier he was really in love with, we still seem to enjoy each other. We bond over our East Coast roots, our roles as counselors, and we make each other laugh.

We stand facing each other.

“Is that your rig?” he asks me.

“You mean car? No, I parked around the corner.” I had assumed he'd walk me to my car and there's be a kiss or a hug or a gesture to indicate romantic intent or the lack their of.

“I have to go to the bathroom! Good meeting you!” He shakes my hand, jogs around me and back into the restaurant. I'm left standing in the middle of a parking lot. What just happened? The only explanation is diarrhea. Alternatively, nerves, and possibly both. I realize it isn't easy being a guy.

PS: Got a text later that night saying, “Thanks for the great company” and I agreed, wrote back. Perhaps there will not be 32 first dates after all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mini-Update Week 4 begins...

D. and I write each other nearly constantly. He let it leak that he wears a suit to work: while common in NYC, an anomaly in Portland. It feels like years since I've seen a man in a suit. Also, he wore a bow-tie to work. A bow-tie! He sends a picture and guess what? He's wearing a suit and a bow-tie!

But wait. There's more. There are French cuffs and there is a closely trimmed beard and moustache like thing on his face. Plus, he's holding black rimmed, old school glasses. He is out of control cute. Actually, he is very handsome, but I tell him cute instead. And yes, I used the zoom feature on my computer. I had insomnia last night thinking about him, and wake to an email from D. saying he had insomnia too and is reading Camus.

I heart D. But I must stay true to my mission...

The Curser says that "Right now Thursday looks good. We can go out in our hood." This would be our first date. This is via a text. I feel like I'm making a dentist appointment but even my dentist (if I had insurance to have a dentist) wouldn't say that. He'd commit to an appointment time. What The Curser does not know is that I must finish the story arc of him, so that means a minimum of one date. I texted back:

"Right now? I feel like I'm being played."

Then he texted, "No, just not sure what my work schedule will be come Thursday."

I write back, "I understand. Let's grab a burger at Castagna."

He writes back several descriptive texts regarding Castagna, BBQs, and work and I write a little then decide not to respond anymore. I'm spending my life typing and texting, which is fine with someone who lives 3,000 miles away but The Curser is three blocks away. If he wants to chat he's going to have to show up at our appointment.

Whether he likes it or not.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Keep Portland Passive Aggressive, If That's Okay With You

I keep thinking about this bumper sticker, which leads me back to my hypothesis that perhaps I am too East Coast, too overtly aggressive and not passive enough or that the men here are just ridiculously passive. Or maybe I'm plenty passive. You decide. Anyway, I'm boring myself with that one so here goes Date #6:

J. or LSGG (law school grilling guy) is supposed to meet me at Utopia on Belmont for a platonic brunch at noon. From his picture I wasn't too thrilled, but he had written long, thoughtful emails, which included his love of all things Spanish. Though this part intrigues me, I'm beginning to wonder if detailed messages indicate sheer boredom and/or loneliness and not interest level. Whatever the case, he's 1/2 an hour late, calling twice: once to say he'll be there at 12:30 and again at 12:29 to say he'll be there in 5-10 minutes because he got lost. In my past life I would have been pissed or thought it rude, but in this one I don't really care enough to have any reaction. I'm numb. He's just another guy and this is just another date. And my coffee is good company.

LSGG bursts into the door of the restaurant like he's in a Broadway play in a scene that calls for high drama, his hair still wet, looking frazzled, his palms held out and 20 lbs extra than his photo. Of course he breezes right past me. I enjoy this, watching him frantically search for me. Finally, he walks backwards almost knocking down a waitress in his path and says hello. Maybe I'm in a Broadway musical called Date Me, You Silly Fool or Two Dates a Week or Else or just Dates! I'll work on the score. He is not someone I will have sex with. Ever. I can tell this quickly. But he's nice, has a Russian accent, the kind where most words end in z and he has a dramatic delivery like when he tells me about how he likes to watch the fat drip from a steak via a George Forman Grill and the following riveting tale:

"My muzza haz a brilliant cat who closes his eyes and listens to the birds sing to him. He doez not chase them. He sitz, makes himself comfortable like an audience."

Just like nobody ever wants to hear about your "crazy dream last night" nobody ever wants to know about your pet stories. Ever. I realize this and yet I do share them with my friends. Not with my dates. Honestly, I don't want to make too much fun of this guy. He's genuinely a nice seeming person. But when the check comes, I do the requisite reach for my wallet and offer to pay something. His eye enlarge, "Well zat would be very nice."

Well it would, wouldn't it? A lot of things would be nice.

I fear I may be too traditional expecting him to pay and judging him as a creatin for not doing so. I grant him a second chance. We go for a walk in Laurelhurst Park and he talks, then talks a little more, and continues talking until I understand that I can take my brain on a little vacation, pay no attention to him at all, and he will continue to talk. He's not a bad guy. Let's see, I wonder if his jaw might fall off at some point during this afternoon. Of course he writes me immediately upon arriving home, asking for a second date.

Fantasy or reality: Thank god D. exists in NYC and we are writing each other like mad like 4 emails a day. He took a picture of his dinner (sweetbread tortellini) and my old block on Broome street near Orchard and Ludlow. So cute. We've been writing each other constantly. Clearly, this can only end in heartache and disaster.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fuck yeah

A recent email from a potential suitor:

"I grew up in Oregon and you New Yorkers are tough! Ya'll gotta lighten up sometimes, or is that not in your nature? You all trip me out.
In some ways you're all totally cool. In other ways, you folks blow me the fuck away. Chill the fuck out (most of the time)!

Still Week Three, Update on The Curser

Though I realize douchebag is not a curse, it feels like one. When I'm not expecting it, I hear back from The Curser on Friday. We exchange texts and he continues to not ask me out. The last text I write: "Let me know if you want to meet up in real time." And I mean it. I already have one pen friend across the country, I don't need another one who lives around the block.

So, he calls and we talk. This is Conversation #2. I ask him, perhaps naively, how was your trip? He responds, "Good and weird." I lay on the floor and take the bait. Give A. some pets. "How was it weird?" He explains that he visited family then picked up his ex in another state and drove the 15 hours back to Portland. "Oh," I say. Then he explains further, "She tricked me," and he uses the word trick several times. I wonder how a guy who is over six feet tall, an ex-rugby player, an attorney, an adult, and a raving curser could be tricked. Alas, he believes this has happened. She'd said she still had feelings for him and he fell for it. He explains several times that he no longer has feelings for her and she is crazy.

I'm putting this experience into the "All my ex-girlfriends are crazy" category. My response, though I say it only my head is: what did you do to them? You drove them crazy.

Enough: we end the conversation with The Curser asking me out for the same night but I say I have plans - and it's true: I plan to drink red wine and I plan to watch my netflixed Gossip Girls Season Two. I plan to listen to my dog softly snore in her sleep. After a pitter patter of you call me or I'll call you, I hang up. What just happened?

Is it me? Or is he crazy? I think I might be crazy because after all this I'd still go out with The Curser. Perhaps it's a vocab thing, not the curses, but he says things like right-o and kiddo, and those are things my dad says.

Tomorrow it's brunch with LSGG (law school grilling guy). I predict pleasant conversation, jokes about being a jew, and an absolutely sparkless marionberry pancake experience.

But I've been wrong before. Very wrong...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 3 or I Forgot My Wallet

I pull into Laurelhurst Market, a new restaurant/meat market (literally) and see one other person has parked as well: my date, J. J. has a huge SUV but I won't hold it against him. Turns out the restaurant is closed. We laugh easily about this and move our cars to new spots down the block. That's when he gets out and realizes he's forgotten his wallet. To his credit, yesterday he returned from a trip to Belgium. Also, I like that it doesn't even cross his mind to ask me to cover it. This may sound absurd but my expectations have decreased this much. He offers to drive to his house and I accept, as long as he doesn't expect me to get out of the car. Note: having things go wrong on a date helps break the inherent awkward ice.

We pull up to his very sweet, perfect house: an immaculate lawn, perfectly manicured shrubs. Contrast this with my house. My pregnant neighbor mowed my lawn the day before she gave birth. I have more dandelions than I can count and recently used a scissors to edge the lawn near the sidewalk. J.'s car, by the way, is also spotless – serial killer spotless, whereas mine has dog kibble littering the seats and white fur on the dash, a random banana peel and just yesterday I threw out a spider by one of its legs.

So we may be opposites, which is good. I need someone to keep things sanitary around the house. We go to Navarre. Should I add links to this site? The restaurants may be more thrilling than the dates? There's a whole page for Red Burgundy wines, like thirty, and we eat small plates of scallops, squash, and bread with oil. Aside from charging $1 for the oil, I really like this place. And I actually like J. He's kind and easy going, incredibly mellow. He's an engineer who manages other engineers and he's originally from Arizona and has a slight accent. Or is it that he speaks slowly? He might be a better therapist than I am. He's vulnerable when talking about family, laughs at my witty jokes, and is very much a gentleman. At the end of the date we hug and though not feeling a ton of sparks, I find myself saying: let's do this again. But as I've learned from Millionaire Matchmaker: the ball's in his court. I resolve to do nothing. Nothing is very difficult for me, as it turns out, but it takes away from the guessing game. If I put my mind to it - this time - I can really do nothing.

I must use the dancing approach as R. suggested. We are simply trying out partners and it's on to the next...victim, I mean date. My detached approach is easier since I've begun emailing with D. in NYC. He's a wonderful correspondent. Though only a flirty pen friend, and a cute one from the photos, I feel like I've cheated on J. and E., but I swear I love you all! Equally! But D. has an adorable picture, a twin sister, a dozen siblings, and he's Italian. He's a brilliant writer who uses phrases like: sleepy time and Jersey perm. Who wouldn't fall for him? After all, the ingredients are all there: far away (obstacle #1), Italian (probably not faithful, but sexy), and a funny, smart writer. I like him.

Must get in one more date by the end of the weekend – it's looking like it'll be the law school,Jewish grilling guy, also a J. This could be confusing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Week 2: Mad, Sad, Glad & FEARful

I meet E. for lunch at Ned Ludd. We're the only people there and since he is completely bald, he's easy to spot. He is bald in a Bruce Willis way and not a Kojack way, which is a plus. I have always had a crush on Addison from Moonlighting, although he had hair then, so that's not really my point. Anyway, I like him immediately because he's easy to talk with, sexy, he's smart and he's nervous. This intrigues me. I like that he stumbles over his words a little bit. He appears confident at the same time. This juxtaposition of someone who is confident and yet nervous around me is immensely flattering, and he had used the word kerfuffle during our earlier conversation. I definitely like him. While telling S. about him she asks what nickname I want to choose for him, but I actually like him so a nickname (and a blog) seems wrong, but I get over this guilt in about 30 seconds and go with: The Body. Because he has a very nice one.

He tells me about his work. He has a law degree but doesn't practice. Instead, he visits with farmers in rural areas and literally breaks bread with them and does something regarding wind power. Though I don't understand, I am impressed! He seems sincere and I could see him being good at his job, which is attractive. He also makes it clear that he has no real plans for the rest of the day – despite common assumption this does not make him appear like a loser, it makes him seem normal and honest. I don't take the bait though, I feel a first date is a meet & greet. He tells me about his acting class and it sounds amazing – the instructor schools them on basic emotions, i.e. mad, sad, glad and fearful. Apparently, everyone ends up crying at some point. I am impressed that he just admitted he cries.

I finish half of my burger, rare with a perfectly ripe green tomato, and we say goodbye in the parking lot. There was enough great conversation to go out again but an equal amount of silence to say there is some tension/attraction.

But as an intuitive empath and general introvert, sensitive type, Meyers-Briggs INFJ, I try not to get too attached to any one outcome. I try to see it like a formal dance with people switching to new partners. That's the thing about on-line dating, you can't take it personally.

Next Date –

I begin to notice that most dates include those selfsame emotions: mad, sad, glad, and fearful or three of the four. I meet D. at Stumptown Annex on Belmont for a cute, ex-New Yorker date: swapping sections of the Sunday NY Times and drinking coffee. In his email he explained that he's a Quaker and upon reflection, he is just looking for friends right now. Fine. I wasn't terribly attracted to his photo, but you can't always tell. He is Chinese and his email to me had stated: Jews love me! Who could resist?

When he arrives I tell him there is a cupping in progress. A cupping is a half hour barista explaining the coffee roots or some jazz, you smell the coffee and then drink it. D. says he doesn't like coffee. I find this odd, since he suggested the place and activity. I instruct myself to be spontaneous, but I also notice he has no newspaper. “ Where's the paper?” I ask him and we joke about that, but I am wondering if he had expected me to get it and I was expecting him to get it. Is he selfish or am I? Whatever the deal, we end up walking over to Clinton to Kettleman's Bagels. I think he's pushing the Jew-thing too far, but it's true: I scarf down my scallion cream cheese and salt bagel.

We walk through several neighborhoods: Belmont, Hawthorne, Clinton and we have a candid conversation and it feels like a potential friendship. I'm subletting my old place in NYC. He's selling his in Philly. Until the end of the friend-date when I feel “mad.” Towards the end of the walk D. questions me about an earlier statement where I said I was giving myself 4 months of internet dating to find someone I liked then I MIGHT move from Portland. He re-phrases this as: so you're giving yourself 4 months to find a husband? I correct him, albeit gently. I am annoyed though and see why he is looking for friendship: he is not so good on dates. He has a chip on his shoulder. I've seen this syndrome before with men and it's not pretty. He asks me about flirting and says that a woman who flirts well is like a salesman and the guy or the flirtee doesn't realize what she's doing but just that he likes her. He goes on at length. I am so accustomed to listening to people, I let him rant. Eventually, I correct him again, this time in a not so gentle way – “D.,” I say, “I can flirt, that's not the problem. The problem is that I want to find someone I really like and vice versa.” I don't need flirting tips from some Quaker who's using the internet to supposedly find friends!

“Oh, so you're a JAP?”

Right now I regret my reaction: calm and cool as a cucumber. I should have told him off. Looking back he was so obsessed with the Jew thing and peppered me with a million questions about being a therapist. I should have seen the signs coming: walking wounded, been on match too long, looking for friendship.

Sorry, D. Hate to be rude, but nobody single is just looking for friendship. We say goodbye near his car and I say I can't remember exactly where I parked.

“You're over there,” he says and points. “I saw you parking and walking over to the coffeeshop before we met up.”

Instead of asking why he didn't say hello or mention it earlier, I walk pretty briskly in that direction.

“See ya!” my keys are in my hand and before you can say Date 4, I've started up my Toyota Carola.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When a Guy Doesn't Get Your Message

Does this ever actually happen? Does technology fail single women? Ever? I hate to sound like a cliche. But if I at least acknowledge it, then maybe it's not so bad. I am a cliche. I used to assume this mantra: he always got the call/text/email/carrier pigeon. Now I'm not so sure.

Specifically, I am wondering if the Curser really did not get my voicemail message from last Saturday. Let's review the facts:

HE sent ME a "missive" type email on match: crazy ass long, specific, tailored to me.
HE called me, fairly quickly after I give him my number.
I had to end the conversation early. I called him back later that night.
No response. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.

So those are the facts. I sent a quick text tonight, with the aid of S., always helpful. I tried to speak The Curser's language: Why the F didn't you call me back? No, not be cursing per se, but just direct instead of all polite and long and nice. I wrote: Hey. Hope you got my message saturday and you're having a good week. Give me call sometime. He responded within ten minutes and wrote that he did not get my message but would check his voicemail. Also, he was leaving for Chicago until Wednesday...that's three dots. Not four, not two, not five. Three. An ellipsis. But what it really meant, I think, was an indication of a mystery or a well now what? BUT

What does this mean? Could this possibly mean anything at all? Ever?

Sadly, I did call him. And I'll tell you why, since you begged. It was the first conversation I'd had with a man where I was attracted to him since my ex. The Curser has a great voice, was whipsmart, and did I mention the sexy voice? Why? Why did I need to leave an actual, human message when I could have simply texted once again? A much less vulnerable move.

Perhaps I wanted to show him I do like him. As much as a thirty minute conversation will allow. Now it's time to scrounge up 2 dates in 4 days.

Shouldn't be a problem...

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Social Experiment

Two Dates a Week...Or Die Trying

I begin enthusiastic. This is how all of my projects start. Eventually this passion will subside so I figure I should act now. Two dates a week for four months. ( Of course this is internet dating.) After that time, if I haven't found a boyfriend/future husband I will move back to New York City. Portland, show me what you got!

Some background: I've lived here three years, two of which I've been single, quite single. This was never a problem in New York City. Of course I was in my 20s there and I'm in my 30s here. Still. My theory is that men in the Pacific Northwest are very different from East Coast men. My hypothesis is that the supposed laid back culture here is a front for sheer sit-on-your-ass laziness and prolonged adolescence – meaning that men do not approach. And while I have no stats on this, and I don't miss loud-mouth obnoxious types saddling up to me at bars and talking all night, I think most women in Portland will agree that the men here are the 3 Ps; pale, passive, and you can guess on that last part.

Week 1

Date one Attractive, skinny (which not my type, but I prefer it to a chubby troll), believes exercise cures mental illness. I am too kind to crush his ignorant, sweet soul. Aside from divulging that mania runs in his family and he is divorced, he reveals nothing personal. We ping-pong. He has a salesman personality and realizes that he must ask questions. Whoever told guys to ask tons of questions is an idiot. I feel like I'm on an interview, when what I want to feel like I'm on a date and he adores me and vice versa. I want to go on tangents, I want to go off the topic, I want to skip the q-and-a section. I don't want to stay polite.

Instead, I politely answer all his questions and throw some back at him. I vow next time to identify this behavior to my next date (god bless his male-little soul) and request more organic conversation.

Nobody mentions getting together again and it's mutual: we each think the other is a dud. Next!

One hour and twenty-seven minutes. This is a new record for a first date that includes food. B. has no job, but cute pictures, and in this economy I felt it okay to break my one rule: every man I go out with must have a job. Still, I f'ed this one up. I swore the date was at 5, went on a hike with my dog, A., S. and her dog, T. At 4:15 I get a call from B. that he is at the restaurant. I make it from Powell Butte to Belmont Dairy to my house (where I feed my dog, apply mascara and lip gloss) and Clay's. I arrive at 4:58. I apologize profusely, thinking it a test (for him) and he passes. He is polite, even gracious, saying it gave him a chance to walk around the neighborhood. It is also, however, a test for me, though I'm not sure what I'm being tested on.

He does not quite look like his picture. His chest is not broad and his shoulders are narrow. But he's not a freak or a troll and he's quirky. He has parrots: three. He imitates them in a birdy voice and while I do my fake-laugh, I like it and I like him. Not in a, I want to straddle you way, but a genuine, human being way. Clearly, we are not a romantic match but he seems to be a good guy. The check is split down the middle and he points out to the waitress his ribs and his beer, which cost more than mine. This gesture is both kind and pathetic.

We exchange a hallow hug and he's off and there's no mention of a future date or even a see-you-later. I'm numb enough that I don't care. He's whisked off into the nether regions where all my old dates go. Where do they go? What will they do? Lead lives of quiet desperation and go on millions more dates with faceless girls or worse, gals.

If I didn't have The Curser* to look forward to I might be smack down depressed right now. But I know how I operate and I know that I need that smidge of dating hope – like a pinch of pot or a glass of Trader Joe's Blue Fin. Without it, there's a vast wasteland of sparkless dates, going dutch down the middle, and celibacy for infinity.

*The Curser: we have yet to meet but have shared one glorious phone call. FYI, sexy voice rates higher for me than sexy looking.

Here's the rub: we talked on the phone for thirty minutes and it went well. Not once do I mention my work, which I hate discussing because it's all I ever discuss. He makes me laugh and he curses. A lot. Shit, damn, fuck, pussy (not a curse, but still), he even calls someone a douchbag and refers to douchbaggery. He's teaching me curses! I'm laughing, and without effort. It uses different muscles, I am sure of it. But within thirty minutes I see a friend out my window, who's squinting into my living room, looking lost and A. is barking her fluffy white head off and it's hectic. I am bad at surprises and doing more than one thing at once, let alone three. I try to quiet A., welcome my friend, and put The C. on hold. He lets me know I can call him back, but the day slips away and it's five hours later that I leave a message. And I'm worried: did he think I'd call right back. I should have! But we went for a long walk and then lunch. Anyway, l leave a message and now it's Monday. It's over twenty-four hours and no return call. Did I leave a bad message? Did he not like me as much as I liked him? Is he married?

Is he cursing me out?

Week 2

Stay tuned...