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…

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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!

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!

 

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.