Escapade #17: Birds of a Feather

After date #17 (my most favorite number and it’s a prime at that), I’ve arrived at what may already be a foregone conclusion — I haven’t yet checked the annals of history — but which I’ll underscore here: small-town guys need small-town girls.

But first let me rewind a bit…

There I sat in a roomy booth at Stella’s awaiting the arrival of Ryan. I was slightly out of breath having just walked three blocks to avoid paying for Uptown parking, and felt only mildly unkempt for a weeknight date in dark, skinny jeans, tall Optiz-purchased boots and a cozy, but fitted sweater with a big, funky neckline. I was attempting to smooth down my flop of curls that had become decidedly messy while simultaneously checking for happy hour specials when Ryan meekly approached the table. He was tall, quiet and plainly dressed with a gold necklace roped around his neck that seemed entirely out of place. He was a shy, soft-spoken man that I immediately took a protective liking to as one would a wounded animal.

Determined not to overwhelm the conversation by chit-chattering away as I would normally do in awkward situations, I quietly glanced over the drink menu. After a moment, Ryan said he was going to go with a Bud Light, and biting my lip, I disclosed that I was hoping they still had Summit Octoberfest.

After ordering, it was quickly determined that Ryan was a dyed-in-the-wool small-towner from the upper limits of Minnesota. Only a sliver away from Canada, he grew up in a teeny-tiny community with a entire population less than my high school, and spent his time hunting, studying, working in his dad’s shop and likely cow-tipping, I’m assuming. (Let me pause here to state that there is absolutely nothing wrong with small towns, the people who populate said small towns and the general small-town lifestyle. In fact, I know — and like — several small-towners so don’t go calling me a populist city-ist? metropolist … person who hates small towns.)

Moving on, Ryan moved to the cities a few years ago and worked at a property management company since it was virtually impossible for him to be gainfully employed in real estate given current market conditions. He was nervous and quite quiet so I asked painless questions that would hopefully put him at ease, and found out that he was planning to eventually move back home after gathering up some savings, even though he didn’t dislike city life. He liked rap music and loved country music, but didn’t go to concerts. He liked going out to eat, but didn’t have anyone with whom to grab dinner. He wanted to travel outside of the Midwest, but hasn’t. And a few other things I have since forgotten.

Basically, by the time the date ended, I just felt really bad for him. He carried around a sad look in his eyes that I left me a bit brokenhearted. We split the check — he paid in cash, me with a credit card — but he misunderstood what was going on, thinking I was paying for the full amount and ended up leaving no money. At this point, I was so flustered by the date itself that I didn’t realize he hadn’t paid a penny until we were out the door. We had shorted the waitress half the bill, which made me feel even worse so that by the time I was home, I was practically crying.

Taking a deep breath, I decided three things: 1) clearly I am way too sensitive to wounded animals and the like, 2) I am most certainly not right for a meek man, and 3) in general, people who grow up with a small worldview need someone who wants an equally small life. Score one for the Birds of a Feather Flock Together team (which I’m assuming is a real thing that exists).

Sincerely hoping Ryan finds a lady that suits his lifestyle, I cracked open The Zookeeper’s Wife, turned on the fan I can’t sleep without and read away all of my stress.

Not-so-sweet 16: What the Frick? And Other Intellectual Witticisms

Let’s be honest. I may be outspoken, impatient, left-handed, random, opinionated, hard of hearing and quite simply a whole lot to handle, but at least I am FUN — you know, I smile and stuff. I’d like to think I am friendly, engaging and open-minded on a first date to put the other person at ease, show interest and avoid the toe-crinkling awkward moments…

Enter Keith. Keith was decidedly a dud of a dude. I made a bet with myself to guess when he would first smile during the date. It took 10 minutes — 10 minutes! — before he cracked a toothless grin and I’m pretty sure it was more of a smirk than a smile. Keith, 33, with a shock of gelled, spiky blond hair and otherwise average features, worked in medical device sales and lived alone in downtown Minneapolis. He seemed so uninterested in anything I had to say — even my numerous peace-offering inquiries about his job, family, hobbies, etc. — it was as if I were repeatedly throwing a deflated ball against the wall. There was no rhythm, no cadence. Each time I threw the ball, it produced a small, pathetic bounce and I had to walk over, stoop down to gather it up and step back to throw all over again. Repeat until insane. I expended so much energy trying to prop up both sides of the conversation that I was spent after only an hour.

Conversation highlights: He called my no-longer-living grandpa a “man-whore” (a typical response when someone shares that her dad has five sisters and no brothers), told me to stop listening to MPR, scoffed when I suggested — with a smile! — that perhaps he was over-generalizing by calling all Occupy participants “idiots,” and glared at me when I realized I didn’t have $2 in cash to tip for the free valet. Remind me to never again go on a date with a libertarian (“maximum freedom, minimum government” is apparently the only way to live).

I drove home from Urban Eatery (sorry, valet man, I’ll get you next time!) perplexed, but undaunted and happy to be a not-angry person. Back in my perky, colorful apartment, I wiped off my weekday-casual smokey-eye makeup, unzipped my cowboy-inspired boots, swept up my hair and poured myself into pajamas. Not quite satisfied with the sriracha edamame we ordered (even though it’s exquisite), I pulled out crackers and Dubliner cheese, bebopped to Foster the People and cracked open A Short History of Nearly Everything, a favorite book I’m rereading once again. No complaints here!

Even though my waistband is expanding and my pocketbook is shrinking — both at alarming rates, I might add — every new date is still a learning experience. And if one or two make me fully appreciate my Singledom, I can still smile.

#15: Goldilocks was on to Something…

A first for me, I had initially declined a date with It’s Just Lunch potential match Chidau for one reason and one reason only: he was 25. Although he graduated from an Ivy League school and was “very mature for his age,” I just wasn’t feeling it. But upon prodding and the feeling that my true ageist (and apparently flaming) colors were  showing, I agreed to meet the kid.

I wore fitted jeans and a slightly-less-fitted Theory top, anticipating he would be more dressed down than me regardless. I slapped on big, bouncy earrings and a complementary bangle, and although my desperately-in-need-of-a-trim hair was barely making the cut, I moseyed over to Amore Victoria and arrived before my date. (Maybe another first? Score.)

Chidau was smiley with endearlingly crinkled eyes and a combustible demeanor. We held the same job title at our respective companies, but didn’t share the same responsibilities so we ambled around a variety of work-related subjects until I realized I was most definitely approaching the conversation as if he was the child and I the parent. A surefire sign of a romantic connection. I doled out career advice in a sanguine, (hopefully) helpful, yep-been-there-done-that fashion and he reminded me about life with roommates, college loans and internships. Well-intentioned, but exceedingly not relationship worthy.

Side note: Having now dated boys in their mid-twenties to guys in their very-late thirties, I believe there is a morphing of years that occurs in age differences between men and women. A dude younger than me will seem disproportionately more so than another dude with the same age difference but older. To rectify this, take the difference in years between you and him. If he’s younger, multiply by two. If he’s older, divide by two. Now you have a better representation of your standing.

Although our conversation at Amore was interesting yet uneven, Chidau delicately pressed his business card into my hand as we saddled up to my car, but I haven’t followed up.

Thereupon, I would like to suggest a Goldilocks theory that seems to be testing well — there’s too old (>34), there’s too young (<28) and then there’s juuuuust riiiight. As luck were to have it, my idealized Mr. Right(eous) fits snugly between these two limits — mature, yet adventurous, spontaneous and youthful; experienced and grounded.

A friend recently asked me what was the No. #1 characteristic I looked for in a guy. My immediate answer was “He’s smart… he’s just… smart.” If I were given the chance — and I’m clearly giving myself a soap box here — I would extrapolate that to “he’s smart, therefore he’s likely to be educated, funny, interesting, worldly and freaking smart.”

Geologically speaking, I wonder how many levels of defining characteristics I would need to dig through until I reached the “optional/not essential” plane. Let’s see… The Must-Be’s:

  1. Smart
  2. Funny
  3. Handsome* ** *** (to me)
  4. Generous (to all)
  5. Patient (to me all of the time, others as needed)
  6. Loving (to all, but most pointedly to me)
  7. Kind-hearted, cultured, passionate, fun, adventurous, spiritual, willing, lovable, endearing, entertaining, independent, unique, rugged, engaged, dependable, driven, grounded, interested, interesting, athletic, hobbyrrific, so so sweet, disciplined, open, loving, affectionate, animal-loving

*Tall, dark and handsome, to be specific. See: Robert Downey, Jr.

**A TD&H man doesn’t always guarantee attraction, however. See: Nathan Fillion — although my grandma thinks he’s “hot” (her words).

***I will also accept a Patrick-Jane-esque man, of The Mentalist variety.

Seven and I’m in heaven! I think Goldilocks would be quite enamored with this fellow. Yes?

###

Age difference, schmage difference. Underneath it all, we essentially want the same things:


14: The Over-Qualified Bachelor

His profile at the sperm bank would certainly be popular: A soft-spoken Hispanic gentleman who is an experienced surgeon, successful businessman, world traveler, volunteer and community leader; he’s been described as wealthy, attractive, well-dressed, highly athletic, cultured, knowledgeable, kind-hearted and in possession of a great hairline. Great genes, I daresay!

Luis and I met for dinner and drinks at Murray’s last Friday. I arrived ever-so-classily and on time (!!!) via car service, a sweet tip from a dear friend who knows my inability to be punctual and carry cash for parking. Luis was waiting in the bar and walked me to my table, whereupon a waiter bequeathed us with an extensive wine list. Over sips of a Pinot as smooth of silk, we decided on our own version of surf and turf — sirloin steak and a lobster tail that was essentially the size of my head. In steady measures of brief sentences, Luis shared an abbreviated summary of his life story — born in Central America to an affluent family, he had the choice to play on the national soccer team or head to med school. He trudged his way along the narrow path before ending up in the U.S. for his residency after being attacked and kidnapped for driving a flashy, fancy car. Over the next two decades, he settled into Midwestern life and worked his way up to the head position in a prominent surgical unit while acquiring another advanced degree here, a business there. You know, normal stuff.

Although my life story was clearly vanilla compared to his rocky road (I’m talking off-brand, yellowish, gallon-sized vanilla ice cream — not even of the Sebastian Joe’s variety), he was incredibly gracious and complimentary, and picked up the half-my-month’s-salary check. Being the chicken that I apparently am, I did accept his invitation for a second date. Although I was having a good time, I realized it was only because it was interesting, not because I was interested in him — and I politely rescinded via text message the next day like a true Gen Y lady.

I thus present why Date #2 with Bachelor #14 will not take place, which shall henceforth be known as Jenny’s Reasons Why Not. My argument is two-fold and structured as follows:

  • He is 39. There are 5,781,600 minutes between us. Luis is worried about hitting the big 4-0 and walking down the hill. At 28, I’m practically brand-spankin’ new. Heck, my lil’ sis just graduated from college and I still bring my laundry to my parents’ place (okay, maybe not the shiniest of points to make, but I’ll stand by it…). MTV was already two years old by the time my mom got around to popping me out. Luis surely will not be able to relate to my early teenage years, of which the better part were spent dreaming about the middle Hanson brother, reading The Babysitters’ Club and watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. (Man, I was a lame kid.) A wholly-unqualified elementary scientific approach to my self-described ageism is as follows:

  • He lives in North Dakota. Now, before my Fargo and Bismark friends start squawking, please note that this is a simple case of logistics. His practice is firmly stationed in the northernmost Dakota, while my heart remains in Minnie. Even if the date showed signs of promise, this would be a deal-breaker.

It was a fantastic night that knocked me slightly off-center if only as an exercise in reemphasizing what is important to me. Not the lifestyle, wealth or flash… just the guy who will love me in sweatpants, stop me from eating a full bag of Baked Lays in one sitting and gently remind me that I am never again allowed to rent an apartment without a dishwasher.

And, so, I head in a slightly different direction, carefully removing the training wheels that have padded my journey so far. If It’s Just Lunch is bowling with bumpers for dating, it’s time to remove said safety measures and take yet another chance. This time, I’m picking the guy, I’m defining the parameters, I’m in control.

This time, I’m meeting who I want to meet.

Thirteen: The Case of the Serious Mismatch

I am flummoxed, cantankerous and somewhat disillusioned about my matchmaker’s most recent pick of the crop. Having met me in person and listened to a singular diatribe of feedback on my previous 12 or so dates, my ladies who (it’s just) lunch exasperated me with their choice in Jeff…

…Who HUNTS MOUNTAIN LIONS, lives in ALBERTVILLE, which is approximately 45.76 miles from anything remotely awesomesauce, LOVES the win-less Vikings, has NO urge for worldly travel and speaks in an energy-less mOnOtone about his landscaping business. Not to mention that Jeff was slightly to moderately zaftig and glabrous. (That’s a nice clever sneaky way of saying he was overweight and on the verge of a severe balding attack. Don’t hate me.)

The date had so much potential, too, despite the fact that it took place at P.F. Chang’s in Maple Grove, which is approximately and scientifically (I’ve measured) the most furtherest location possible from where I work. Dressed to the nines in the perfect fall dress from Banana Republic’s Mad Men collection, ultra-fresh-for-autumn Essie pewter nail polish and a new Coach clutch, I had a mind brimming with NPR stories and the latest in new music — and was pumped for a night out.

Determined to rid myself of the horrible habit of assuming exactly everything in the metro area is ten minutes away, I slid onto the highway a good fifteen minutes from T-time. (I still arrived ten minutes late after a wrong turn, but don’t worry about it.)

Jeff and I split greasy, faux Asian apps and jumped from conversation topic to conversation topic in hopes of landing on safe, neutral ground. He was ambivalent to my cries for environmentally-friendly permeable driveways and rain gardens, and shrugged off my accusations regarding his murderous hunting habits. Don’t get me wrong — it went both ways. He had no response to my comments on Steve Jobs (legend), Occupy Wall Street (inspiring), Obama’s jobs plan (needed), the latest version of National Geographic on orphan baby elephants (heartbreaking) or the new Jayhawks album (dreamy).

Erudite and bow-tied-bedecked philosophers will often remind us that life ’tis the journey, not the destination. But, I daresay, sirs, that this is wholly inapplicable to the subject of love. In the dear, sweet, verdant land of 10,000 lakes, I’m slowly sharpening my belief that the smart, handsome, passionate, cultured, hilarious, single thirtysomething Twin Citian gentleman is near dinosaur-like extinction. (Side note: Please feel free to go ahead and prove me wrong.) But, on the hopeful, sunshiny days, I stay true to my belief that if I am patient, open and kind, I will one day tap my toes and Mr. Wonderful will be there at my beckoning — equipped for my idiosyncratic personality and complicated, bleeding heart.

But, hey, that’s just about enough curmudgeonry for one sitting. I shan’t lose sight of the greater things in life — family, peace, equality and superbeautiful fresh flower arrangements — and will tuck myself into my pillow-top, heavenly bed with The Shipping News, the Cults and the ever-hopeful promise of tomorrow.

XOXO

Eleventy Twelve

I should have known the date was ill-fated when I woefully ran out of Moroccan Oil in the preparatory stages. But, geesh, let’s not be overly dramatic.

I met Brent at Spill the Wine last Saturday, which turned out to be a bubbly, brilliant and beautiful day in bright-eyed Minneapolis. Brent was from Moooooooooooooooooose Lake (correct pronunciation; incorrect spelling) and an auditor by day, seemingly boring man by night.

I had just barely made it to the date itself. The parking lot of the restaurant was closed off for a wedding and I found my cashless self digging in the dusty depths of my car for a quarter or two to stave off a parking ticket while I dined. I then proceeded to teeter up to the main door in my overly-pointed heels, praying I wouldn’t biff it in front of the vacillating dudes valeting the wedding shin-dig with nary an interest in helping a poor girl out.

Brent and I spent the majority of our date discussing, no joke, Sarbanes Oxley. SOX is essentially legislation that came to fruition after the scandalous likes of Enron corporate greed and whatnot, and represents the current driving force in financial reporting, so you can only imagine the entertainment level achieved at our dining table.

As much as I enjoy meeting men in a similar field to me, I, by no means, have any interest in dating a number-crunching auditing fellow. I already lovingly satisfy my deep affection for numbers all on my own, thanks — I want someone to challenge my horizons and respectfully push my boundaries. Maybe he is an entrepreneur, artist, teacher, traveler… just not another anal, crazy, type A++, order-craving individual such as myself. Because that would be simply combustible. No offense to me or anything.

(I need a place to champion the men I am meeting. They are successful, driven, quality people with whom I may not have a chemical connection, but who should nonetheless be celebrated as quality men worthy of dinner and a drink, even if I harpoon them in an earlier write-up…)

Before we close: Date #12, aka Jeremy #2, was an animated, bright-purple-shirt-wearing Oregon transplant who… who… mistakenly questioned my pronunciation of “edamame” and. And. … Gosh darn it, I’ve forgotten anything else definitive about the date… except for the scrumptious Salut french fries and my polite jettisoning at the end of the date. #isoundlikeaheartlessperson

It’s all part of the adventure and the experience, right?

Well, That was Different… Moving into Double Digits with Date #10

Hmm. This one was a head scratcher…

A Thursday night date is always tricky. If you are anything like me, you are always trying to squeeze one more thing into your workday before you head out for the night. After a crazy day of scuttling around the office like a busy worker bee (and loving it), I finally glanced at the clock and realized I was in trouble. I flew down the stairs to the women’s lockerroom and hurriedly slipped into my #lifesaver non-wrinkle dress. A quick glance at my cell phone revealed how far behind schedule I was. It was either curl my hair or get my booty to the restaurant to make it on time. Naturally, I chose the latter. (Just kidding — of course I stayed behind to curl my hair. Obviously.)

Jeremy and I met at Collette in Bloomie. Fortunately, we were both running late when I showed up breathless and wreaking of Aveda Air Control and Escada Moonflower. We were whisked to our table and after a few minutes of “I’m so sorry I’m late” and “I need to spit out my gum – where’s some paper?” conversation, he hit me with the big question. So, why, exactly, are you paying for this service? He spoke from a position of resentment so I turned the question back on him, feeling he likely had something he needed to air. Turns out, this was his absolute last It’s Just Lunch date. Overall, Jeremy had not enjoyed his previous 14 dates and was calling it quits-to-bits. Meeting the IJL ladies wasn’t any fun and felt like work versus entertainment. He hadn’t met the caliber of mademoiselle he had hoped for. Fair enough. Listening to him, however, I felt fortunate that although I hadn’t yet met Mr. Perfect Amazing Stud Man 2011, I was still enjoying my mis-matched dates for what they are — a chance to share a moment with someone who could shape your life forever or for the next five minutes. That’s worth something.

Firstly, Jeremy had a six-year-old son, which is — cringe — sort of a total deal breaker for me. Sorry. Secondly, Jeremy, real estate extraordinaire, was rolling in the dough and not afraid to declare it. He had thrown down so many dollar figures within the first five minutes of meeting me that I was struggling to keep up. Spouting off your accomplishments in numeral form is probably one of the least attractive things a man can do on a date. Surely, your priorities are not in the right place. Yet, he kept going, keeping up a steady diatribe of angst against the institution of professional dating.

It was weird. Although the lines had been drawn — no second date would surely take place — we kept chatting. I hadn’t met anyone who was diametrically opposed to me before he had even met me, and I found the conversation was keeping me on my toes. My randomness irked him, my off-the-wall hand gestures annoyed him and my snarky comments simply fell flat. I hadn’t been on a date that honest in a long time and it was refreshing. Although, please read above, this was clearly going nowhere.

We didn’t exchange numbers or pretend to be interested in more and this stick-to-reality approach was interesting. Onwards and upwards, my friends.

Next up — Brent. Then Luis, my mini Millionaire Matchmaker man.

Cheers!