Escapade #17: Birds of a Feather

After date #17 (my most favorite number and it’s a prime at that), I’ve arrived at what may already be a foregone conclusion — I haven’t yet checked the annals of history — but which I’ll underscore here: small-town guys need small-town girls.

But first let me rewind a bit…

There I sat in a roomy booth at Stella’s awaiting the arrival of Ryan. I was slightly out of breath having just walked three blocks to avoid paying for Uptown parking, and felt only mildly unkempt for a weeknight date in dark, skinny jeans, tall Optiz-purchased boots and a cozy, but fitted sweater with a big, funky neckline. I was attempting to smooth down my flop of curls that had become decidedly messy while simultaneously checking for happy hour specials when Ryan meekly approached the table. He was tall, quiet and plainly dressed with a gold necklace roped around his neck that seemed entirely out of place. He was a shy, soft-spoken man that I immediately took a protective liking to as one would a wounded animal.

Determined not to overwhelm the conversation by chit-chattering away as I would normally do in awkward situations, I quietly glanced over the drink menu. After a moment, Ryan said he was going to go with a Bud Light, and biting my lip, I disclosed that I was hoping they still had Summit Octoberfest.

After ordering, it was quickly determined that Ryan was a dyed-in-the-wool small-towner from the upper limits of Minnesota. Only a sliver away from Canada, he grew up in a teeny-tiny community with a entire population less than my high school, and spent his time hunting, studying, working in his dad’s shop and likely cow-tipping, I’m assuming. (Let me pause here to state that there is absolutely nothing wrong with small towns, the people who populate said small towns and the general small-town lifestyle. In fact, I know — and like — several small-towners so don’t go calling me a populist city-ist? metropolist … person who hates small towns.)

Moving on, Ryan moved to the cities a few years ago and worked at a property management company since it was virtually impossible for him to be gainfully employed in real estate given current market conditions. He was nervous and quite quiet so I asked painless questions that would hopefully put him at ease, and found out that he was planning to eventually move back home after gathering up some savings, even though he didn’t dislike city life. He liked rap music and loved country music, but didn’t go to concerts. He liked going out to eat, but didn’t have anyone with whom to grab dinner. He wanted to travel outside of the Midwest, but hasn’t. And a few other things I have since forgotten.

Basically, by the time the date ended, I just felt really bad for him. He carried around a sad look in his eyes that I left me a bit brokenhearted. We split the check — he paid in cash, me with a credit card — but he misunderstood what was going on, thinking I was paying for the full amount and ended up leaving no money. At this point, I was so flustered by the date itself that I didn’t realize he hadn’t paid a penny until we were out the door. We had shorted the waitress half the bill, which made me feel even worse so that by the time I was home, I was practically crying.

Taking a deep breath, I decided three things: 1) clearly I am way too sensitive to wounded animals and the like, 2) I am most certainly not right for a meek man, and 3) in general, people who grow up with a small worldview need someone who wants an equally small life. Score one for the Birds of a Feather Flock Together team (which I’m assuming is a real thing that exists).

Sincerely hoping Ryan finds a lady that suits his lifestyle, I cracked open The Zookeeper’s Wife, turned on the fan I can’t sleep without and read away all of my stress.

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

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.

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.