#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:


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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?

Number Nine

Here’s what I knew about Brian before our date: He is a man, in sales, lives in SLP, very musical, plays in a few bands, 38, never married, tall, cute, driven, nice. … Okay, fine, quite a bit out of my age range, but he sounded promising so I thought I’d give it a go. I looked forward to our date with the necessary and controlled anticipation of a serial blind-dater.

Here’s what I knew about Brian after we met: He loves playing the guitar, is an avid biker, just finished putting in hardwood floors at his place, LOVES HIS MOM SHE IS AMAZING SHE IS TREMENDOUS A FANTASTIC WOMAN, loves the word “cute,” and was a gymnast. Loves effeminate hand gestures, sushi and 80’s hair bands. Also: Very nice, good values, cherishes Minnesota, sure does love the word “cute,” and seems as straight and narrow as my dad’s wheelbarrow.

On the date, the fellow had root beer, the lady had wine. He showed pictures of his cats, I blew kisses to my puppies. He likes working for a small company, I like working for a super-sized establishment. He’s the youngest child, I’m the oldest. Etc. Despite our differences, the conversation was bumping along fine and we luckily hit upon our mutual passion in music. Unluckily, his favorite bands were the ones who were selling out stadium shows when I was lounging around in my diapers and building towering cities out of Duplos. We swapped life details in a corner at Cooper for a few hours and when the bill came, I knew I wasn’t interested in much further — there just wasn’t any excitement.

So, when Brian wanted to know if I was up for hanging out again, I used my new “move” on him. Instead of whipping out the smart phones and doing the awkward I’ll-call-you-and-then-you-save-me-in-your-phone dance, here’s what you do: ask for his business card. It’s brilliant because now you have his number should you want to make contact again, but he can’t get in touch with you. This is a lifesaver especially if you have no interest in exchanging information, but don’t want to be mean and then always kick yourself later for not just saying “This was fun, but I’m not interested in anything more” when he keeps texting you. (This is only to be used when you are not up for getting down with the guy. If he’s a keeper, grab his phone, enter your digits and call yourself. In 10 seconds, you’ve ensured a means of communicating again.)

Throughout this adventure, I’ve had really great conversations and thoroughly enjoyed meeting people who come from all walks of life. It has certainly broadened my perspective, but I haven’t found anyone I’ve been drawn to — no one has stuck in my craw, as I’d imagine they would say down south. I suffer from whoosh-out-my-head-they-go syndrome after we part ways.

If anything is going to keep my expectations in check — and serve as my daily entertainment — it’s OkCupid. Clearly, I’ve set the bar too high:

You’ll never find a movie star handsome compassionate caring man… doesn’t exist. The world is a different place to guys (and girls) like that… people bend over backwards to be with them… I’m pretty darn close to the guy you’re looking for except for my physical appearance. You have a huge list of demands that you may want to split up into two different people. A nice, smart good guy and a silly handsome guy who isn’t very intelligent… I can be the nice successful guy!

For the record, my OkCupid profile in no way portrays a desire for a Hollywood handsome man. In fact, I think someone who is really good looking can be really boring looking. A truly attractive man has some uniqueness and dimension and embraces his individualism. Also he’s tall. And smokin’. But not smoking.

Although the dating site is cluttered with “hey, baby, let’s get a drink” dudes, “I’m doing research to find out if ladies who have a cute smile also have a cute laugh” boys and “don’t let my age scare you” 55-year-old retirees, there are a few seemingly decent gentlemen. I’ve exchanged online messages with a few, but haven’t pulled the trigger because, really, you can be anyone you want online and I’ve learned to cherish the buffer of the It’s Just Lunch vetting process.

For now, I’m picking and choosing, including an upcoming date next week with an elitist. But, first on the docket is a meet-and-greet with Jeremy, a 32-year-old about whom I can’t remember much else. Because he really isn’t going to notice if my toe nails are appropriately polished for the new season, I’m instead curled up in my grubby college sweatshirt and slippers with a new memoir, re-experiencing the Jayhawks, sipping Good Earth tea and kind of wishing I had some Duplos to play with.

Oh, and about next week’s date — I was selected as a potential match for members of the It’s Just Lunch Elite program, a more comprehensive and exclusive dating service for successful professionals who have the money, but not the time to search for Mr. or Mrs. Right. I’m meeting Luis, a former national soccer player and all-around worldly dude, at Manny’s downtown, and I hear he’s a sharp dresser. I anticipate a shopping trip in the near future…

date.eight

For my first date #8, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Last-Name-Unknown at Cafe Barbette in Uptown this past Saturday. Jeff is 28, an auditor-turned-accountant, divorced, shortish, blondish, nice-ish and sort of vanilla-ish — when I’m looking more for caramel-coffee-chocolate-chip. All in all, though, I didn’t have the Deana-Carter-circa-1996-“Did I Shave My Legs for This?” reaction that I’ve experienced on a few of my earlier dates.

Since the restaurant is a mere 10 blocks from my house, naturally I arrived late. I had no excuse either — now that I’m more comfortable and into the swing of first-dating, my preening time has diminished. No more freshly polished nails, deep-treatment conditioners and unforgiving heels. I was even tempted to slap on a pair of Paper Denim & Cloth jeans instead of my standard summer dress, but I refrained. (Little did I know that Jeff would take it to a whole other level and show up in shorts — that’s illegal for guys on a first date, right?) Luckily, sweater-and-scarf weather is just around the corner, opening up a whole slew of relaxed-yet-refined wardrobe options.

Anywho… At Barbette, we noshed on apps (an exquisite pairing of French fries and scallops), split a decent bottle of Pinot and ventured into conversation topics great and small — current events, the State Fair, family, the best decade of the 1900s, etc. But we really struck gold when the discussion turned to our careers where we geeked out over our mutual love of math, including a lengthy and multifaceted debate on calculators vs. adding machines, imaginary numbers and the pros and cons of MS Excel 2010. We wrapped things up shortly after that as I had to jump over the river to St. Paul and visit a friend who was in town.

Although Jeff and I had a delectable conversation about the wonders of mathematics, I don’t think our bilateral love of numbers would be enough to sustain a relationship that wasn’t producing any chemistry. (For what is a match without a spark?) Besides, it would be terrible if, two years from now, the highlight of our evening at home started with “Honey, I learned this fantastic new spreadsheet formula today — quick, get the laptop!” So, when Jeff — small town guy and lover of country music, John Grisham books and loafers — gave me his number, I politely accepted, but without any plans to ring him up.

Without many It’s Just Lunch dates on the horizon and the cancellation of my first heard-it-through-the-blog-vine set-up — which was going to put to rest my uncle’s theory that any guy reading my site would be scared to go on a date with me — I was enticed by my friend’s suggestion to try out OkCupid, a free online dating service. After answering a series of questions (everything from “Do you think flag burning is illegal?” to “Would you prefer a date who is rich or hot?”), I threw together a quick online profile and began perusing the meat market. If I was somewhat disappointed in It’s Just Lunch’s volume of vetted dudes, I encountered the opposite problem with OkCupid. Deluged with messages from HotMplsGuy325, ChessMastr99 and the like — after also having taken the preliminary freebie questionnaire for eHarmony — I was quickly in email jail.

A sampling of my favorite messages:

  • “So why are you single?…keeping your standards too high??? Well, good, keep them high, cause that’s okay, now that I’m here.”
  • “When I saw you liked math, I was kind of sold.”
  • “So are mustaches and motorcycles a ‘no-go’ item together…? Based on the way your profile is drafted, it appears as though you are saying mustaches by themselves are acceptable, and motorcycles by themselves are acceptable, but together, they are unacceptable. Am I reading this correctly?”
  • “I’m really good at holding in my farts on a first date.”
  • “I’m also training to do some Mixed Martial Arts…love the sport, and thought I’d get into it.”
  • “I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that it’s a jungle out there in OkC-ville, so let me be the first to commend you on your impeccable spelling and grammar. It’s sad that these skills make someone a standout on OkCupid, but it’s true.”
  • “I believe I fall into your list of wants. Well except for the tall part… sorry I missed that boat.”

Skipping over the profiles riddled with references to gaming and Second Life (not an easy feat, mind you), I realized online dating is more of a Marshall’s shopping trip vs. an appointment with Macy’s personal shoppers. Since I’m hearing over and over again that dating is a “numbers game,” I may give in and purchase a few months of eHarmory to hook a few fish in the sea. Nothing wrong with a little diversifying — I’ll just chalk it up to research for the blog.

Slim Pickins

Defined by Urban Dictionary as “almost no choice of chicks/dudes to date in a certain group of people,” I am totally owning this phrase right now. After having politely clarified that I preferred quality over quantity (in addition to my dates being generally good-looking [too much to ask?] and not almost 40), I haven’t been matched in two weeks. To counter this lull and entertain myself, I decided to brush up on my dating etiquette compliments of The It’s Just Lunch Guide to Dating. It’s an interesting read from the folks who live and breathe the subtleties of dating and have seen more than one neurotic lady grace their hallways. Heretofore follows a list of rules I am repeatedly breaking:

  • Height preference: Guilty! Yes, I have surreptitiously crossed someone one off my proverbial list if I deemed them too short. The dating guide details a study where 77 out of 79 women admit they wouldn’t date a man shorter than them — and instead of making a case for the vertically challenged men of the world, I think the research is more indicative of a genetic preference with which women are hard-wired. We survive if we have the big, strong, manly hunter by our gathering side, right?
  • High heels: “Guys love gals in sky-high heels, but wedges don’t count.” What? Lame. 
  • Widening my scope: According to the experts, I shall not be turned off because of occupation, income, fitness level, hair color, hobbies, musical taste, boldness or lack thereof. Okay, fine. But if the guy is out of shape, listens to KS95, can’t manage his income (or lack thereof), likes to tie-dye in his free time and is as shy as a mouse, we aren’t a match! If you aren’t taking care of yourself physically, financially, etc., I think this speaks to larger issues I care not to touch with a ten-foot pole. See also “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Double fail.
  • Strike a pose: I’ve isolated the problem—Note to self: Must pose more.
  • Tardiness: This sends out a negative message, per the dating gods. But how am I supposed to make a swooping grand (and perfectly posed) entrance if the guy isn’t even there?

Luckily, there are a few rules I am correctly following — telling it like it is (triple points!), and being proactive, enthusiastic and, most importantly, myself. According to It’s Just Lunch, other successes include: tousled hair (it counts even if the look is due to a lack of taming time); smiling lots; not wearing really tight pants or ordering spaghetti; and — I think this is the clincher — not jumping too quickly into “sexy talk.”

Admittedly, I have some refining to do in terms of my reproach approach. If I were to poll my therapist, hair stylist, career coach, matchmaker and masseuse — obviously, some of the most important people in my life — they would undoubtedly say an attitude adjustment is in order. Although, I will still console myself with soothing “don’t settle!” self-pats to my back.

I may also be looking in all of the wrong places. Based on my limited experience, there are some terrible places to meet single men — the gas station, Bed, Bath & Beyond, the DMV, weddings and concerts featuring female singers. Super awesome spots to snag a tall drink of water: the Minneapolis lakes area, Half-priced Books, Target Field, my favorite antiques shop, First Ave after The National concert or a friend’s BBQ. Maybe I will stake out one of these fruitful locales and prowl for potentials, setting up a booth for any man interested in organic lemonade and/or taking a short survey. Inquiries may or may not include:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, tell me how fantastic you think farmers’ markets are.
  2. Bill Bryson, Dave Eggers, Ayn Rand, Orson Scott Card and Simon Winchester belong to what category of careers?
  3. Do you generally like or love prime numbers?
  4. Do you own any Ed Hardy apparel?
  5. When is the last time you talked to your mom?
  6. If given the choice, would you rather watch Arrested Development/It’s Always Sunny or MTV/Spike TV?
  7. Tell me about the relationship between you and your car.
  8. Please expound on your talents in spider-killing.
  9. Do you think it’s impossible to love your dog too much? Please explain.
  10. Do your friends love you as much as you absolutely love them?

…but I shall not limit my scope too much.

Striking a confident-yet-approachable stance pose after a long weekend at the cabin, it’s just me and my dirty-from-Spicy-Doritos keyboard, obsessively listening to James Vincent McMorrow and Dan Wilson, updating my queue on Netflix (hello, “Dexter” Season 5!) and paging through my worn copy of The Fountainhead. My GMAT prep books are collecting dust in the corner as I soak up the last rays of summer, but I am blissfully happy. Despite my tendency towards snarkiness, I am blessed with fanfrickintastic friends, an amazing family, a fulfilling job with wonderful coworkers and a safe and comfortable place to lay my head. I’m taking a slight repose to strip myself of pre-judgments, common dating mistakes and the extra calories I’ve consumed from all of those old-fashioned doughnuts and French fries. I shall return ready to take on the next adventure in the quest to find the ultimate partner with whom to share a bountiful life.

For more harrowing dating escapades, check out My Brief OkCupid Affair with a World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player. (Language is PG-13.)

And, as it turns out, I do have a few dates on the horizon… more play-by-play action coming soon!

Five

Sunday night found me at Chianti Grill, awaiting the arrival of Aaron, a 34-year-old human of the male persuasion. He had totally stolen my move by deciding to arrive late so I was neurotically checking my phone and glancing (stealthily) sideways at every fellow who strolled into the restaurant.

Instead of meeting a psychologist who was a department head (as per my phone call with It’s Just Lunch earlier in the week), I met a psychologist who works for the Department of Corrections. You know, as in he spends his day at an honest-to-God, locked-down-with-handcuffs PRISON. Aaron was a nervous, portly, sweet man and the date was off to a rough start so naturally upon hearing about his occupation, I grasped onto this conversation topic as if for dear life. I prodded him with so many questions about the ol’ jailhouse that he was barely able to get in any questions about me, which of course was the point. As soon as he had lumbered into the bar, I instinctively knew the date wasn’t going anywhere and I was reticent to share any personal details with him. Don’t get me wrong — I was impeccably polite and patient, and my heart went out to him as he fiddled with his napkin, and broke a bit as he departed to go to the little boys’ room (his words).

Needless to say, I ordered a salad due to its quick prep time and as politely as possible wrapped up the date as quickly as possible. Although I was discouraged, it got me thinking… What really goes through our minds when we meet someone new? In the past month, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet a handful of new men and within the first five seconds, I’ve slotted them into their respective “it’s just not going to happen” and “okay, there’s potential” bins. Is there any sense to this or am I a hopelessly superficial person prone to judging people solely on their outward appearance?

Seriously concerned about my possible lack of character, I turned to my book collection for an answer. I snagged my copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and began rereading a few sections.

Turns out, and I quote, “it is quite possible for people who have never before met us and who have spent only twenty minutes with us to come to a better understanding of who we are than people who have know us for years.”

I don’t think there is any substitute for a relationship carefully cultivated over the years with love and mutual respect, but there is something to the snap judgments we make when encountering someone new. First impressions are everything. (Or not… you really can argue both sides pretty effectively, but for now, I will take comfort in the fact that our intuitive awareness counts for something.)

I’m off to bed for some much-needed sleep to reclaim my trademark sarcasm for tomorrow’s date in Uptown. But first, a bit of dancing, some Pinot, a text to Brandon confirming our second date on Saturday (!!) and plenty of Lissie on the radio.

In the words of my dearest Cloud Cult, I love you all!

Candidate #4

I prepped for tonight’s date as any classy woman would — with a stop at Taco Bell for two chili cheese burritos and a Diet Mountain Dew. I had just received a note in the mail from my $401k manager stating that I did NOT have a designated beneficiary, a big financial no-no and firm reminder that, no, I did not have a husband or children to whom to leave my vast fortune. My pseudo date with Mike #2 earlier in the week was a nonstarter — to keep it short and sweet, he was short and sweet — but the It’s Just Lunch ladies had lined me up with three dates in four days so I was feeling good heading into the weekend.

After a last-minute wardrobe change from one navy Banana Republic dress to another clearly superior navy Banana Republic dress, I descended upon Ciao Bella to meet Brandon. I was slightly flustered upon arrival. I had poorly estimated my primping time and ended up hastily applying a clear coat of nail polish to my fingernails in the restaurant parking lot and arriving accidentally fashionably late.

Brandon, an electrician lineman at a local company, was nice, unassuming, in shape and way cute. He owned a house (+10 points) in Rosemount (-10 points) and ran a side business with his dad. We bonded over our common affinity for cereal, although he prefers Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops to my Kashi Go Lean. He had never heard of 89.3 The Current (wasn’t sure what to do about that one), and grew up with a steady diet of rap music. I, of course, spent my teenage years in worship of Hanson, N*SYNC and BSB (that’s the Backstreet Boys to the layman).

We swapped Vegas stories — don’t worry, Grandma, they were funny, not crazy escapades — and chatted about our families, including his sister who had told him he was NOT allowed to wear just a t-shirt and jeans to the restaurant. (Thanks, sister!) I was impressed when he didn’t balk at my snarky, and obviously hilarious, comments and wild hand gestures, and he seemed genuinely interested when I told him the most exciting part of my day so far had been the blender I just purchased at Target.

We spent a good two-and-a-half hours chatting and both enjoyed the super yummy halibut on special, washed down with beer for him and an extra-spicy Bloody Mary for me (always keeping it classy).

Although part of me wonders if we have enough in common, I didn’t inwardly flinch when he asked for my number, as I had done before on earlier dates. Although I did outwardly flinch when he pulled out of the parking lot in a monster-truck-like Chevy.

Feeling as though I’d semi-mastered the art of the first date — smile a lot, wear a fun dress and ask a lot of questions to avoid awkward silences — a second date presents a whole slew of new challenges. But that’s a topic for a different post at a different time should he call me.

For now, I’m mixing up a fruit smoothie in my snazzy blender, spinning the new Brett Dennen CD and then heading north to Roseville for the next rendezvous. Carpe diem!