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...