20 is… plenty?

Sometimes you meet someone who satisfies a significantly decent portion of your dating criteria… Meet Joe Black, a 37-year-old entrepreneur from Winona, Minnesota. (Confession: I don’t know his actual last name, which isn’t shared as part of the It’s Just Lunch process, but it seems to fit so let’s just go with it. Also, not to confuse the reader, but my Joe Black has black hair, which is distinctly, and not unfortunately, different from Brad Pitt’s delicately golden, wispy 90’s highlights.)

Joe and I met at the newly opened Pittsburgh Blue in the Galleria. Our reservations weren’t until 8:00 p.m. so I had plenty of time to wrap up the work week, stop at Marshall’s for new workout pants and carefully paint on weekend-appropriate date make-up, which is essentially a lot of Bare Escentuals strategically applied to look like a little bit of make-up. Feeling the need to dress more formally for such a fine establishment, I slithered into my thank-God-I-just-dry-cleaned-these black tuxedo pants, pulled over a slightly sequined Banana top and popped my toes into my favorite pair of red pumps. Grabbing a fitted jacket, I was down the stairs and out the door with time to spare, and steered my trusty, non-gas-guzzlin’ Honda towards the Southdale area.

The date started out on the wrong foot. I had arrived and been seated before Joe arrived, and so when he slid into the booth shortly thereafter, I naturally began with “You made it!” and then spent the next five minutes explaining that no, he indeed wasn’t late, I was just early, and really it’s no big deal because, hey, I’m late ALL of the time. Awkward. (I’m also not sure he heard a word that I said, I was talking so fast.)

Joe was tall, dark and handsome. Well, two steps down from handsome, but still a good looker with a smattering of silver hair at the temples, which made him look distinguished rather than old. As we inspected the drink menu, I put my other foot in my mouth by sharing that obviously I don’t drink white wine (I mean, come on) and, since that was in fact all he drank, we settled on a Grey Goose gin-and-tonic for him and a Malbec for me. (P-Blue is spendy so I had to go with the cheapest red on the menu — classy!) Conversation eventually drifted towards fitness and the gym. Joe used to run several clubs and was a dedicated athlete — he ran, lifted and swore by yoga and kettlebells — and a bit of a health nut who loved his juicer. I didn’t have much to add to the conversation except a quip about the hydrating powers of coconut water and sat there in hopefully strategic positions designed to camoflage what I shall refer to as my “date weight.”

Our doting waiter shared the night’s specials and I selected the salmon (because it’s better for the world than red meat — Joe didn’t agree) and he elected for the steak because, well, it’s a steakhouse. The food was sumptuous and we turned the chatter to our professional lives. Joe was an entrepreneur in the strictest sense. He thrived on taking an idea and building it into a successful business, regardless of industry or trade, and had managed to secure quite the nest egg for himself. He worked when he wanted to, just moved into an apartment approximately five times larger than my 600-foot space (no exaggeration — he shared the square footage) and pretty much lived a fine life as a single, independent, well-heeled thirtysomething man.

In fact, after poking around a bit, I wasn’t sure if there was even room for somebody else in his larger-than-life world. He didn’t seem especially interested in asking any questions about me and when he did, it felt like a competition. Also, we weren’t laughing — just talking. And that’s huge. In my opinion, if you aren’t laughing on a first date, it’s not going anywhere. Life is long, our skin sags, friends disappear, money runs short, unfortunate things happen — if the person next to you isn’t there to laugh through it all once the tears are brushed away, what do you have?

So there I sat, spooning deliciously creamy butternut squash onto my plate and trying to make this into a great date. He was far better than any of the other guys I’ve met since July and technically I should be interested, right?

I have Joe’s business card and it’s been sitting on my dining room table for a solid week, collecting dust and slowly being overtaken by junk mail. When it catches my eye, I keep thinking I should send Mr. Joe Black a text (I’m too lame to actually call), but feel like I would just be forcing myself to do so. I wish had more to say, but that’s really it — I just never felt the urge to pick up the phone.

But here’s the thing — and I truly believe this — no one ends up with Mr. Perfect. We end up with Mr. Right. The one who failed our endless checklists, but still stole our heart.

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!