First date with B

What a ridiculously fantastic weekend! I’m exhausted from laughing and smiling and good conversation and…fun.

Friday, Ethan tested for his next taekwondo belt. He did great and will be receiving his high purple belt this week. I also met with the school system about transitioning Lauren to a speech program in the fall. She’s been tested and qualifies for a special group two days a week.

But then…

Saturday was the big first date with B. I wasn’t really nervous, but more anxious. I prepared thought starter questions, in case our conversation lulled. I researched the restaurant at which we were meeting to make sure I would be dressed appropriately and to get a sense of the wine list. I checked out a few different routes to get there, since there was a baseball game and traffic was sure to be a mess.

Sporting dressy denim, a black sweater (too low-cut? Major cleavage debates happened in my head before I decided a little peak of one – two? – of my best assets was probably okay), a bright turquoise scarf (he said he favors jewel tones), and black and pewter ballet flats (I suspected he might not be too tall so heels were a no), I set off for the restaurant. In my inability to ever be late, I arrived almost 20 minutes early. I drove around the neighborhood for a while before finding a spot in the small parking lot.

I surfed Facebook for a while. Called my sister to talk about my niece’s prom that night. Listened to empowering music. And tried not to sweat (40 degrees but air conditioning blazing).

About 10 minutes before we were supposed to meet, he called. “Dammit!” I thought as I looked at his name on my phone. “He’s standing me up. I knew it was too good to be true!”

I debated letting the call roll to voicemail, but decided to answer it. His voice was slightly higher than normal. He was obviously uncomfortable.

“You won’t believe this…” he began. “I am so excited to meet you, so looking forward to tonight…” Turns out, he locked himself out of the house. Keys in the kitchen. No way in. I laughed (maybe too much, too long), told him it was okay, and that I’d see him soon. (He finally got into the house by shimmying a window in the sun porch and unlocking the back door.)

I texted with a friend, filling her in on what was happening. “I’m sure he’s dying!” she wrote. Instantly, I realized that he was probably ridiculously embarrassed. It wasn’t long before B called again. He was at the restaurant. I told him that I was parked in the lot across the street and I’d meet him in a minute.

As I walked through the lot, I texted my friend to let her know he arrived. I looked up, and he was walking across the street toward me.

He looked slightly different from his photos, but not too different. His dark curly hair was a little longer. Great smile. Intense but very kind and gentle eyes. He was dressed well – denim, white button down shirt, tan blazer. Exactly the kind of look I find wildly attractive – casual, cool, smart.

He told me there was a bit of a wait for our table and asked if I would mind having a drink at the bar first. Um…no…drink would be great. We went upstairs to the bar and he ordered a couple of glasses of wine. We stood and talked for about 15 minutes. Any initial meeting with someone new, even if it isn’t a “date,” is a little awkward – getting into the conversation groove, sizing up and drinking in the other person, finding the right amount of eye contact, absorbing the new environment.

We talked and laughed and soon the awkwardness was gone. A couple offered us their seats at the bar, and we continued talking until our table was ready. We talked, and laughed, and smiled, and had fun for two hours before we decided we probably should order dinner. We talked about everything – our childhoods, our kids, our careers (very similar career experiences), our interests. He complimented me appropriately (not too much, not too little, very sincere). It was nice. There weren’t many conversation lulls.

When dinner came, we both eyed the other’s dish and agreed to sample each other’s. Sharing food, not something I usually do – especially someone I just met. But it was comfortable and seemed right and the swordfish looked amazing (and it was). Conversation continued. We talked for another two and a half hours before we felt pressured to leave (we were the last ones in the restaurant and lights were starting to turn on, chairs were being moved, tables set for the next day).

B walked me back to my car. We stood in the cool night, awkwardness back between us. It was that part of the night when things could go several different ways, and you don’t know which way it’ll go because you can’t read the other person’s mind, and you kind of know want YOU want to do, and you’re trying to read the other person… He was staring at me, and me at him. I broke eye contact and smiled, looking down. “God, I suck at this,” I thought, smiling.

We talked about how much fun we had, and agreed that we wanted to see each other again. And then he leaned in for a hug. It was nice, the feel of his arms, and a little awkward because it was our first physical contact – how close, how tight, which way to move your head – all awkward that first time. He kissed my cheek. We said good night. I drove home.

He sent me an email about 20 minutes after I got home, thanking me for a great night and reiterated that he wants to see me again. I fell asleep (HOURS later) still smiling.

Side note: I have incredible friends. While many people IRL didn’t know about this date, a few did and the text messages, FB messages, phone calls, and emails I received before, during and after the date were much-needed and very appreciated. Knowing that there are people rooting for you, people who have your back, people who love you so much that they want to just see you happy – it’s truly amazing. XOXO

Coming soon: How I spent my Sunday (another online dating story) and Things were good with B but…

Online dating: one week later

I’m a little more than a week into my experiment with online dating. And (surprise!) I have some thoughts. I’ve been trolling a few of the big ones, but the one in which I chose to actively participate is the one that starts with OK and ends with -upid. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that “stupid” also ends with -upid…

Some background on this site: I chose to start with this one because it’s easy. A quick page of bio info (a summary, list of books/movies/music/TV shows liked, six things can’t live without, something private). Answer any, all or none. Upload a few pictures. Answer multiple choice questions – your answer, what answer you’d “accept” in a partner, and how important that question is to you. You can also skip questions without answering or decide to answer some privately. You can also comment on your answers, which is nice because several of the options are black/white. Based on your answers, the site determines your best matches, giving a percentage to those you’re most compatible with as a partner, friend, and “enemy.”

My thoughts:

  • What’s up with the algorithm? How am I answering the questions that would lead the site to believe that I’m compatible (with a surprisingly high percentage of compatibility) with someone interested in an open relationship or a kinky fetishes or looking for a super-skinny/model-esque/ditzy/blonde/no kids/heavy drinker and big time partier companion?
  • I have a huge appeal to men in the medical profession who are age 55+ (if they’re closer to my mom’s age than mine, I’m turned off), men who are under the age of 25 (mommy complex?), men who are unemployed and/or make under $20K/year, and men who are ridiculously dorky. I can appreciate dorkiness – heck, I have some dorky tendencies, but hot diggity these guys are beyond stereotypes. Oh, and I also rate highly with atheists, men looking for a third-party for their marriage (wink-wink), and men who want to be dominated. Great.
  • And on the issues of doctors, with whom I’m very compatible (allegedly), why are there so many docs on the site? Am I really to believe that these men can’t find dates any other way? By their descriptions of themselves and their photos, I’d think women were flocking to them. Red flags much?
  • I’m convinced that the majority of men on these sites are lying. (Maybe that’s where I went wrong with the kind of man to whom I appealed – I TOLD THE TRUTH!) Photos are old, and even if they were uploaded recently, some of the (alleged)  42 year olds looked at least a decade or so older. And if they’re not lying, the profile language is so cliché: how many hardworking, dependable, reliable, honest SINGLE men can there be in the world? And why, then, would they be single if they were so ridiculously fantastic?
  • Or maybe they can’t read, as evidenced by the responses to the questions. I’m certainly hoping that there are literacy issues that have caused men to answer questions in certain ways – drugs as a romantic activity but you detest smokers? Really? Men who would like there to be a nuclear war? (And why is this even a question?) I really hope that low literacy levels have caused men to miss words like “always” or “never” as part of the questions because for some of the questions, there’s NO question what the answer should be…
  • Let’s talk about the photos for a moment. I don’t need to see you shirtless before we’ve even met. Really, put the shirt back on. Why would you include a photo of just your eyeball? What are you hiding? How come so many men are posing next to “toys” like big boats or motorcycles or fancy cars? Pretty sure they’re not yours, buddy. Or include photos of their kids or pets? I’m not looking to date your child or your labradoodle, so why do I care what he/she/it looks like? Or photos taken from a distance with the man wearing a helmet of some sort – or scuba gear. Like I can get a sense of anything with a breathing apparatus or wearing a snow mobile helmet.
  • Oh, and I live in the land of milk, cheese and beer – I do not believe that every man on this dating site has an “athletic” physique. Unless, we have different definitions of “athletic” – sorry dating site dudes, but the “six pack” in athletic terms refers to “abs” not how you buy your beer…

All this aside, I have had a few “conversations” (online only) with a few men. One claimed to be a widower working in London, but was so short and uninteresting in his responses that I let the conversations drop.

A second was one of those “too old for me” guys who just wanted to talk dirty – or try to trick me into talking dirty to him – PASS!

Another is a local dairy farmer with a history degree who volunteers at the local historical society for fun. Farm-guy and I seem to have some things in common, but I have some reservations: 1) he lists his height as 5’4″ (I’m two inches taller than that). If he’s anything like the other guys on the site, he’s probably lying and even shorter. Height isn’t a deal breaker, but I do like my heels to be at least two-and-a-half inches tall. 2) he’s excruciatingly formal in his written expression. Hey, I teach writing, and I dig a guy who can craft a complete sentence (they are few and far between on a dating site!) but it’s just VERY formal in his sentence structure and word choice. 3) he’s 39 and never been married. I don’t know why this bugs me, but it does. What’s the problem – with him?

In our last email exchange, farm-guy is hinting that he wants to meet. I’m surprisingly nervous about the prospect of meeting someone from a dating site in person. I mean, what do I have to lose (as long as we meet in a public place and people know where I am)?

You won’t believe how I spent Saturday afternoon…

As I continue to fight the darkness, I realize that I have to – no, I NEED to – get out. Out of my house, out of my comfort zone, out of my pajamas (or yoga pants), out of my routine of just lying around.

My Saturday afternoon activity with a group of mom friends was about as “out” as you can imagine. (And I found the activity even more hilarious considering we all spent Saturday morning at church with our children preparing for their first communion.)

I took a class that afternoon with my friends. Specifically, a pole dancing instructional class. Four moms from the suburbs went to a strip mall 45 minutes from home, and after two rounds of super strong martinis at a nearby restaurant, we were prepared to learn new “skills.”

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A pear and lavender martini made the lesson a little easier, albeit maybe more dizzy and definitely more hilarious.

The store front for this adventure was smushed between a hair salon and a seedy-looking yoga studio. The two windows were covered in pink and purple gauzy curtains. The red wooden door had ornate carvings, and was definitely out-of-place with the other establishments’ clear glass entryways.

The entry was narrow. A sign told us to remove our shoes at the door and place them on the trays flanking the door. A few plastic, cheap chairs lined one side of the entry, and a messy desk was pushed in the middle of the hall. A line of about six women was already formed, each giving the instructor at the desk her name and making payment (or using a Groupon, as my group was doing).

Dimly lit, poorly shot photos of women in various poses on poles were tacked to the walls. I’m assuming these were students, but they could have been “professionals,” I guess.

After checking in, we were told to go into the back. Here we found a super bright room with a dozen poles. The women who were in line before us had claimed their poles, and I had to ask one of the ladies to move down so I could be near my friends. (Thank goodness, because we spent so much time laughing, I would have been really lonely and not having much fun if I was on the other side of the room.)

(Side note: we were all completely dressed for this class in workout wear. It wasn’t THAT kind of class!)

Class started with some basic stretching. The instructor was young, and not as… svelte… as I would have thought. Then she taught us some basic “moves” that included the princess pose (laying on your side, bottom leg bent at the knee, other leg straight up in the air and one hand stroking the body from leg to hair) and the desperation pump (laying face down and essentially humping the ground – the instructor made it look less “desperate” than any of us moms). She taught us how to get from laying down to standing up in a “sexy” way (complete with ass smack). And we learned the “sexy walk” which involved walking on tip toe, dragging the toes of one foot to meet the other and vice versa – admittedly, I found it anything but sexy as it was weird and awkward and Frankenstein-like (but with more hip thrust).

Then we were onto the pole portion of the lesson.

We learned the fireman, the side-saddle, and some other move that’s name escapes me. Then we were given instruction on how to combine the walk, the pole action, and getting up (complete with ass smack). Walking in circles, hand on the pole, spinning awkwardly and falling the ground left us all dizzy and in fits of laughter. (Maybe round two of the drinks wasn’t the best idea, but I don’t know that any of us would have had the courage to do this without a little encouragement…)

We watched the instructor rip off her silky pants (revealing tiny and unattractively tight boy shorts, which may have actually been her panties?), put on ridiculously high f-me pumps, and demonstrate some upside down maneuvers that are taught in advanced classes. (The whole point of this instructional class is to convince people to sign up for six-week classes, of which there are FIVE levels before “graduating.” Graduating to what, I was afraid to ask. FYI – none of us signed up for classes when we left.)

It has been a ridiculously long time since I’ve laughed so hard. Watching my mom friends (a nurse, two accountants, and me – a college professor. I’m pretty sure there’s a joke in there somewhere…) try to navigate the pole or walk-the-walk was hilarious, as I’m sure they had as much laughing at my expense, too. We all walked out of there with a bunch of painful “pole kisses” (which is what the instructor called the bruises we were already seeing on our thighs and shins).

None of us found second careers, but it was a fun, silly, wouldn’t-have-done-it-alone experience that we won’t forget. I also learned that I’m tremendously out of shape (or pole dancing is great exercise) as I was sweating really a ton by the end of the hour-plus class, and the muscles in my arms and the backs of my thighs were SCREAMING.

I need to find more opportunities to get out, do stuff, even silly stuff like this. I had an awesome time with time with the moms, all of us completely out of our comfort zones. And even better, my abs and cheeks  got quite a workout from laughing so much. Laughter might be the best medicine after all.

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My pole. I can’t believe I actually did this…

And the award for the most awkward interaction with a man…

I haven’t dated anyone for 18 years. (I even had to check the math on that – really, that long?) The internet was in its infancy – there wasn’t a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or online dating. I was barely of legal drinking age. I didn’t think I’d ever get married, and I wasn’t sure that I’d ever have kids.

Mike and I started dating in college, and until August 2011, we didn’t have any breaks or time away from one another. It was just us, together, through thick and thin, for better or worse, through sickness but not alcoholism…

Now my kids are my first priorities. I’m not a college student, but I teach them. I’ve grown a lot. I’ve changed a lot. I’ve been through a lot.

So fast forward to yesterday. I must have been exuding some sort of crazy-ass pheromones. First, the Starbucks dude gave me a free pastry (he didn’t give anything away to the three women who were in front of me in line) and a wink and up-sized my latte.

And then (I think) I was (sort of) asked out.

Background: I’ve never been good at flirting or knowing when a man was interested in me. Before Mike, I only dated a handful of guys. I was a late bloomer for sure, not having my first boyfriend or first kiss until my senior year of high school.

Ethan and I attended mass on Sunday morning. During communion, I noticed K, a good-looking and very recently divorced dad, walking back to his seat a few aisles away.

(Sidenotes: his son is E’s “arch enemy” and his daughter is one of Ethan’s crushes. I’ve talked to K on occasion – wouldn’t say I know him well, but I have caught him looking at me at school meetings and other events. I brushed it off as coincidence or my crazy imagination. One last note: the mom-friends I went out with last weekend, three of the four of them said separately that K and I should date. I laughed it off, but the comment stuck with me.)

So when mass ended yesterday, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that K was looking in my direction. I concentrated on Ethan and getting him down the aisle so we could get his stuff for his extracurricular meeting post-church. But then I noticed K alter his gait when he got close to our aisle. It was like he was stalling, waiting.

“Hey,” he said casually, raising his hand and smiling. He gently tossed Ethan’s hair and asked him about his weekend.

We continued with various pleasantries and small talk – the weather, his new condo, our kids – through the church and into the lobby.

“I’m starving. My stomach was growling all throughout mass,” he said with a laugh. “Thinking about going and grabbing some lunch somewhere…”

And that’s when I turned into a ridiculously awkward idiot. I think.

Was he kind of hinting at going to lunch? Was he looking for a lunch companion? Or was it just a continuation of the small talk? If it wasn’t for K adjusting his walking speed to “meet” us at the end of our aisle, I probably would have not paid attention to the comment, but…

I panicked. Said something like “yeah,” steered Ethan into a side hallway, then ducked into the women’s bathroom. I’m super smooth.

I either lost the chance to go to lunch with K and get to know him better OR acted like a complete buffoon by reading too much into nothing.

Regardless, I really need to work on my social skills with men. Geez.


Warning: rambling posts to follow. Blog posts this week may not be coherent.

It’ll be one week on Friday since Mike died. And it’s more emotional than I thought it would be.

We were separated, but we were still friends (when he was sober).

We were divorcing, but he was still the person I called when something good – or bad – happened to me.

We weren’t living together, but he was still involved in making decisions for the kids (when he was sober).

Some days it seems surreal, like this is a dream. That he’s not really gone. Sometimes I wonder if his death was somehow faked, an elaborate hoax. That he’ll some day reappear, sober and with the personality of the “old” Mikey.

I often think about the long-term effects his death will have on the kids.

I wonder if I’ll find love, companionship, friendship, passion again.

I wonder how we will get through this week… How Ethan will manage… If Lauren will even realize… If I will get the motivation to actually DO anything this week…