24: Unfortunately, Not My Amorous Adventures with Jack Bauer

It’s starting to become a tad repetitious, I fear. Me, date, restaurant, dinner, done. Forgive me if this has become slightly monotonous and, unfortunately, not monogamous.

I’m basically Rolodexing through the single men of the Twin Cities at this point, but still having fun — and continuing to refine what I do and do not want in a relationship.

And so shines the spotlight on Mr. Jeff at the formerly high-society institution known as Chino Latino…

I arrive first, which is a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse because you naturally use your sitting-alone-in-a-busy-restaurant time to spy on the newcomers who swing open the unmarked door and silently pray that this or that person is or isn’t your date. (Unbreakable, sworn-in-blood rule: he who-isn’t-your-date shall appear infinitely more appealing than he who-is-please-no!-yep-okay-still-heading-your-way option. He who-isn’t-your-date will, on cue, be meeting up with an adorably cute lady who is excited to kiss a sweet hello to her man.) It’s a blessing because you are comfortably seated in the audience, awaiting the show. I habitually keep my head buried in the menu, with only a few furtive glances at approaching diners, so as to keep my expectations at nil.

While waiting for Jeff to grace me with his presence, I anxiously shoot my friend texts about how lame my outfit is (a classic well-at-least-I’m-comfortable ensemble that clearly does not denote the I’m-somebody-I-swear! vibe I’m getting from the room) and how 2003 Chino seems to be.

Jeff, a mild-mannered, dishwater-blonde, middle-of-the-road man strolls across the floor (I think, I’m not looking) and deposits himself at the lucky table.

He’s in the insurance business, I recall, but we quickly push our careers to the side and order off the confusingly elaborate menu — mouth-watering potstickers and Korean lettuce wraps (a world different from typical Thai wraps and oh so wonderful) drape our table and are gone in a heartbeat. Conversation is centered on one of my favorite topics: WWII. Jeff studied abroad in Germany and I had an endless list of questions about his time and travels in the still-wearing-its-war-scars region of my heritage.

Appetites subdued for the moment, we patiently sucked down our cocktails and giggled over mutual pet peeves, ignoring the din of parties celebrating a notable achievement with sake bombs. And here’s the curious thing about first dates — sometimes you are having an entertaining time discussing this and that, and all of a sudden, every imaginable conversation topic has abruptly dried up like a grape left in the summer sun and all you want is your plump, cozy bed. It’s as if you’ve reached your time limit with that person. “You, ma’am, have approximately 134 minutes in common with this person and — ding! — time’s up. No more fun shall be had here.”

It was a fine conversation, but I had no interest in grabbing his hand and making him swear to go antiquing with me before dinner at Travail and the Beirut concert if only I promised to check out that really sick goal in overtime that FOR REAL needs to be watched seven times in succession until one can fully grasp the complete and utter awesomeness of such an achievement.

You win some, you lose some. As long as you keep playing, everything is fine. ♥

P. S. With one month left on my It’s Just Lunch contract (and no interest in renewing), I’ve slowly been thinking about the next step. Perhaps it’s burying my head deep into studying, taking in five stray cats so as to fit in with the rest of my apartment building, or giving online dating a try. A few stats on what I might be getting myself into are summarized below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go dye my hair blond.


Eight/teen: The Awesome Aussie

My night with David holds a special place in my heart.

I was really excited about the date beforehand, telling everyone about my pending meet-and-greet with “the Australian.” I made sure to look extra special by wearing a new, picked-by-my-most-fashionable-friend sequined tank, covered with my latest Clothes Mentor purchase, and held up by skinny jeans and my can’t-live-without-but-very-worn navy wedges. I strolled into Barrio, all flouncy and bouncy with my new fall hair color (I have ze best hair stylist!) and ready for a fun night. I couldn’t wait to meet a version of the “Ozzie” man I knew from my half year in the country a half decade ago. Tall, chiseled, salty and bronzed, sporting that wicked accent, relaxed-to-the-max attitude and ocean-washed, sun-bleached blond hair.

And there sat David in the back of the restaurant, a vampirely pale little man with a bald, bald, bald head. And you know what? We had a friggin’ BLAST. We spent four hours sipping Surly, laughing and chatting about physics, Australia, books, music, Minneapolis,  restaurants and then back to science-based matters.

David, it turns out, has a fantastically unique life story so far — a 28-year-old, Ph.D.-holding physicist from Kiama, New South Wales, he was transplanted to Minneapolis for three years as part of his work at a global nanotechnology company. As a complete if not highly uneducated physics dork myself, we enthusiastically talked about the recent NatGeo article on precious metals, discussed his time at CERN, a world-renowned lab that sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva, and dissected his thesis on graphene (aka graphite), which has been published quite broadly. I lapped up his take on dark matter and TOE (the theory of everything), and proudly shared my understanding of the strong and weak forces as they relate to gravity and electromagnetism. I’m pretty sure anyone in hearing distance of our conversation would have wanted to solidly punch us in the eyeballs for being so weird and utterly nerdy.

I took a nostalgic trip back to my time in Australia, remembering the good times (walking two blocks from my dorm to the ocean, meat pies, wearing a bathing suit to class) and what I’ll call the “not-so-smart times” (jumping off a three-storied building into the ocean at midnight, getting caught in a riptide on a long board, aptly acquiring the nickname “Caption Punchy”). And David was graciously willing to travel back with me. We talked New Zealand, bungee jumping, bottle shops, uni and huntsmen spiders, and I swear if I had a time machine, I would travel back to Fairy Meadow Scary Ghetto and live it all over again in a moment’s notice.

The kid was amazing. Having been in Minneapolis for a mere five months, he had already seen more of the Twin Cities than I had. Target Field? Check. Mall of America? Surely. Walker Art Center, Triple Rock, Lake Calhoun, State Fair, Bar La Grassa? Yeppers. He had even ventured up to Duluth in early fall to surf the record-breaking waves. He was fearless and also kindly willing to participate in my relentless “how Australia is different from the United States and vice versa” game, which I personally found to be entirely entertaining.

And you know what? I wouldn’t, and definitely couldn’t, kiss him if the world depended on it. Great guy, but no great love in our future. And that’s really okay!

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.

Numero Tres

Today was a bit tricky as I hadn’t yet had a date scheduled right after work. Let’s be honest — no one wants to see you after a day at the office. You’re crabby, hungry, wrinkled and have bad breath from that last Diet Coke you partook in at 3:00 p.m. To minimize the odds that my date would take one look at me and dash out the door Road-Runner style, I ducked downstairs to the scant-used first floor bathroom at work to freshen up before heading out. And, oh boy, there is nothing like an optimally-lit locker room mirror to make you feel super awesome about your makeup and outfit choices. Despite the lighting and one of the worst hair days I’ve had in months (come on, humidity, you’re killing me!), I popped an Advil, stuck with the flats I’d donned during the day and headed to Solera. (Side note: For those of us who work not-downtown, I cannot emphasize enough the difficulty it takes to get to happy hour in Minneapolis at 5:30 p.m. I’m just saying…)

But enough about me, let’s get to the juicy stuff. Karl with a K was a pleasant, 33-year-old who oversees the securities division at one of the major corporations downtown. He was smartly dressed, well-spoken, nicely groomed and clearly successful. After half a decade in the military, he worked in securities and IT in South Korea, Italy, Morocco and Germany. Along the way he picked up his Master’s in Computer Science and an MBA. Comfortably settled in a corner office, he now worked on important global initiatives.

We had very agreeable conversation and chatted in-depth about Minneapolis – the housing market (he owned multiple properties and I’m a lowly renter), restaurants (I was appalled he’d never been to Lucia’s) and the Twins’ ultra-lukewarm season ($9 mil for Nishioka and he’s done thismuch).

All in all, it was a fun-ish evening. He paid for the meal (including the lamb I will never eat again… poor fluffy, sweet baby sheep) and was very courteous. I found my way home from Minneapolis in the same way I always do — drive til you see a highway and figure out where to go from there… but there just wasn’t any spark.

And let me be honest here, a lot of it had to do with the fact that had I chosen to wear my fab high heels, I would have ousted him as the taller of the two of us. Ladies and gents, I officially suffer from an extreme case of heightism. I quote the infallibly-accurate Wikipedia when I say that the “greater reproductive success of taller men is attested to by studies indicating that taller men are more likely to be married and to have more children.” (See, science says it so I’m not a superficially ridiculous person.)

Yes, I’ll reluctantly trade in the dark and handsome (and smart) for blond and adorable (and intelligent), but I want my tall!

Slightly to moderated deflated after three strikes, I’m Spotifying the Infamous Stringdusters, quizzically wondering why I chose True Blood for my next Netflix DVD, and looking forward to a weekend filled with best friends, families and puppies.

Oh, and Mike #2…

P.S. Check out The New Yorker for an inquisitive and insightful look at online dating. For those of us taking the road less traveled, it’s a riveting read!