#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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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

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!

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…

Multi-date Update (Specifically: #6, #2 with #4, and #7)

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’m highly discouraged. I’ve primped, primed and pouffed my way through more than a handful of men and nobody has yet to float my boat, as they say. Yes, I’ve had the sweet, the successful, the adventurous, the handsome, the brains — even the quirky and unique — but no one has weaved these together into a harmonious package that catches my eye as it twirls and sparkles in the store window.

Before I wallow in my self-prescribed misery, I owe each of the last three dates a paragraph or two to make their case…

The scene: Cafeteria in downtown Uptown on a busy Tuesday night. The dude: 36-year-old Rich — a man wafting of come-hither cologne and one-button-too-many-unbuttoned coolness. Why it would work: If I wanted to spend my days golfing, schmoozing and pretending I’m ten years younger than my real age, we’d be fantastic together! Why we just can’t work it out: Rich, who was rich (did I mention he was rich? He would let you know if I wasn’t making it clear), was just not my type. Interested in slick cars, coasting on well-timed career success and partying like it’s 1999, he was smoooooooooth. Intimately absorbed in keeping his tan just slightly orange enough as to let you know it was fake — and totally untrustworthy. Next, please!

The backdrop: Urban Eatery overlooking Lake Calhoun. The victim: Greg, another 36-year-old business owner, but this time in the beverage industry — blond, nice and extremely well-meaning, but entirely off-putting. Second-date-able?: Not so much. He started most of his sentences with “If we should date…,” seemed generations too old for me and the chemistry was roughly -325, if such a scale should exist. Give him a chance?: He assured me it was fine that he paid for meal (it was a business expense after all) and… and… well, I’m struggling to pull another positive adjective out of the wreckage of the date, to be honest. Let’s just say I politely sped up the date as fast as I could and exited gracefully as soon as the valet pulled up.

And last, but certainly not least: This one is exciting, right? She’s got a little spark going here and things may be looking up for Date #2 with Handsome Man #4. We close in on a beautiful Saturday night in Minneapolis, scrumptiously ripe for the picking. The gentleman: Brandon, of monster-truck fame, comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans and making the trek from Rosemount to South Minneapolis in said monster truck, which, yes, looks strikingly similar to the image I selected for his post, but think more red. Excitement, fun and possibilities: After abandoning a ill-fated attempt to take in the Pizza Luce block party, we sauntered over to Cafeteria for beers and French fries. We laughed and talked about anything and everything. He called me judgmental (I deserved it) and I told him to stop using the word “ain’t” (because it ain’t a word). I revisited my college youth as we headed to Williams for a nightcap. Although everyone there looked ready to head back to Calculus 201 in the fall, we roosted on the bar stools and drank beer out of over-sized glasses. And — I promise I will always be honest, dear readers — I kissed him. Right smack-dab on the mouth in the middle of a dirty and crowded bar. It was sweet, innocent and absolutely set us on a path of it’s-not-going-anywhere, for who starts their “how we met” stories with a peck in the middle of strangers? The aftermath: Ever the lightweight, I was down and out (and ready for bed) sooner than any civilized 28-year-old adult should allow herself to be, and the night wound down from there. And wishing and hoping and praying (okay, that’s being slightly over-dramatic), I have heard nary a word in 2.17 days.

So… exhausted from eight or so meet-and-greets in the last month, I am ironing, listening to Fitz and the Tantrums (download it now) and digging up the courage to post this intimate and oh-so-personal update for the world to see.

It’s an adventure, not a destination, right? Or… Hmm.

Option #1

Last week, I took the inaugural step into the dating world on my first official date. Naturally, I was nervous while curling my hair into a messy wave and running around the apartment collecting the necessary odds and ends for my handed-down-with-love-from-grandma vintage purse. I hadn’t gone on a tried-and-true date in approximately 10.7 years. For realsies. Granted, I’ve had serious relationships since then, but none of the nature that started off with a “Hi, I’m Jenny – you must be…” handshake. Gina, my designated matchmaker, had set me up with Mike. Mike, the cute VP banker who loves sports and is looking for a kind, yet motivated, woman. After plunking down a hefty load of cash for It’s Just Lunch’s top-shelf service, I had high expectations.

I strolled into Barrio on Friday in high fashion. My much more aesthetically gifted friends had loaded me up with a brand-spankin’-new dress and I was feeling confident despite the sheen one naturally bared if one loved in a non-air-conditioned apartment during the summer that Minnesota literally melted.

Mike, a short, dirty-blond boy decked out in a branded golf shirt and ironed khakis, and I were seated. He was slightly divergent from what I had conjured up in my mind. Although very sweet (one might say timid), the VP title hid the fact that he was a true small town, country-music-loving farmer’s son. I scrounged up the image of me, living in a checkered two-story in Jordan, MN, whiling away the time to the latest Rascall Flatts album, and politely had to decline.

Before you judge me on my hastiness, know that I sat there, picking at the guacamole and sipping a way-strong margarita (okay, two seriously strong margs) for two hours. We chatted, I asked prodding questions like, “what most defines you” and “why the heck don’t you recycle, country boy” and we truly parted on good terms. He was shy, extremely good-natured and a perfect fit for an unassuming lady looking for a small town family and a dedicated husband. May he find that woman!

Undaunted, I headed home and watched a rerun of “Parks and Rec” before retiring to bed, book in hand.

Up next… Andrew.