22: Thank God I Wore Flats + All the Single Ladies

Date #22 was with Jim … or Jeff… I have both written down in my Blackberry calendar and I can’t for the dear, sweet life of me, ascertain which is correct. (This is partly because the date was over a month ago, and I have been busy working, Christmasing, treadmilling, reading, new-musicing and friending, and partly because I have a terrible memory.) At any rate, I had to reschedule my date with J after falling under the weather that Friday so we met the next Monday at Tryg’s in Uptown and shared delectable, if not teensy, apps. J was a short, muscular, short, older (late-thirties) gentleman hailing from a very eastern suburb of St. Paul. He was quick to smile and had the calm confidence of a man comfortably settled into himself.

It’s always interesting — and perhaps telling — how the first conversation topic of a first date finds its form. Often, it’s a bit quiet and uncomfortable, with napkin-twisting concentration on the drinks menu and the shuffling of chairs and the hanging of coats. Other times, you dive right into discussing a mutually agreed-upon topic. First up to bat with J was sports. I was proud to hold my own as we divulged team affiliations, talked Vikings in Arden Hills, hashed out the latest Twins’ trades and discussed the then-recent tentative agreement between NBA players and owners. I may dislike football because of the players and their exceedingly large attitudes, but for goodness sake, I still know what a safety is.

J was a very decent gentleman, letting me order first, holding the door and embodying a general sense of graciousness, which is old-fashioned but surely appreciated on a first date. We got along just fine, chatting about jobs, nieces and nephews, the holidays, and there were a few laughs sprinkled here and there.

The check arrived, we split the cost, climbed our way out of the oversized booths and headed for the door. It was indeed a good thing I wore flats that night — otherwise I would have usurped him in height. I *think* we exchanged numbers or something, but whatever the case, I didn’t call him or he didn’t call me and that’s the anticlimactic end of it.

A good chunk of my recent dates have been of the same lukewarm temperature — we don’t find anything freakishly wrong or disturbing in each other, sure, but nothing is really compelling us to explore a romantic route. It’s more like a friend date — a “frate,” or a “driend.” (Although the former sounds like shipping freight and the latter like something out of Lord of the Rings so let’s forget I wrote that and move on, okay?)

Kate Bolick’s article, “All the Single Ladies” (courtesy of the remarkably unfettered The Atlantic), about the single, contemporary female life has been out for a while, but still commands attention. Kate (we’re on a first-name basis) wonderfully describes the new male/female dynamic for the modern age and recounts the history of marriage and gender roles, but mostly I love her spirit and intellect and can trace commonalities in our lives as single, independent, superawesome women. We’ve both broken up with great guys for no great reason (although, admittedly, something was missing), and share the same refusal to simply settle. She puts her finger on a lifestyle trend I have been trying to get my mother to understand for several years now:

” … we keep putting marriage off. In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26. … We’re also marrying less—with a significant degree of change taking place in just the past decade and a half. In 1997, 29 percent of [the] Gen X cohort was married; among today’s Millennials that figure has dropped to 22 percent. (Compare that with 1960, when more than half of those ages 18 to 29 had already tied the knot.) These numbers reflect major attitudinal shifts.”

Kate goes on to examine the effects of the current economy on relationships, the advent of honeymoons — the couple used to invite family and friends along — and several other delightfully interesting topics relating to love, gender and happiness. (Well, perhaps delightful to those of us unattached lady fellows.) It just goes to say, for all those single ladies out there, you don’t always have to put a ring on it.

For more, check out “The Marriage Paradox: Why We Say It’s Outdated but Get Hitched Anyway” from my fave, GOOD.

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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

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!

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.