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.