Monday, August 11, 2008

My Imaginary Boyfriend Married Someone Else

You know it’s bad when your imaginary boyfriend marries someone else. The actual person wasn’t a figment of my imagination, but the vision of the two of us as soul mates was all mine. I met him at a new-agey retreat center in New York. He was taking a class called “opening your heart” and who wouldn’t immediately fall for a straight man who traveled all the way from Kansas to open his heart? I initially approached him to find out what time it was—he had on a nice watch so I instantly ascertained that he was financially solvent on top of his unique focus on a part of his body not covered by his pants.

I think it is fair to say that initially he had some interest in me, too. He proposed that he skip out on part of the evening workshop and meet me for coffee. We talked about our recent divorces, how he planned to volunteer for Planned Parenthood, an organization I’d worked for for many years (a straight man working for choice and opening his heart—unprecedented!) and he was into tennis, hiking and biking and thus managing to avoid the typical post-40 midline crisis. He even walked me back to my dorm-style accommodations after we talked, promising me that his work brought him to the New York/New Jersey area at least once a month. We e-mailed almost daily for a few weeks and talked on the phone but the promised trips East never did happen. Eventually I sent an e-mail that went unanswered and I let it go—though my ever sneaky subconscious must have figured that he had simply changed personal e-mails as we all do when Comcast’s prices make Verizon look like robber barrons or vice versa.

I suppose I was inspired by a few bad dates in a row (see other blog posts for details) to try e-mailing again—this time at the work e-mail. First, I did google him just to see if there was any major reason for the radio-silence—but he had been quoted in the newspaper related to the same job he had been doing two years ago so I sent a totally appropriate note. I didn’t even mention my continued very, completely, totally single status but I suppose that was implicit in e-mailing him at all. Within an hour of e-mailing I had constructed the response I was hoping for—he was taking over his company’s office in New Jersey (or New York or even Philadelphia might have worked), had been meaning to contact me and couldn’t wait to take me to dinner when he came to look for houses in a week or so. And, could I think about some towns that might be convenient and worth considering? Luckily I was able to go to a yoga class to pass some of the time while I waited for a reply. And, considerate man that he is, he put me out of my fantasy quickly with his update. “I got married last December. Lisa is a physician at a local hospital and grew up in New York so we’ll be buying a house there in the not too distant future.” So, he would be spending some time here—with his actual, real life wife. Next time I need to remember to have a truly fantasy boyfriend—because then and only then could I make sure he didn’t marry someone else.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Red or White?

When I first saw him, I flashed on those photos where one person morphs into another—George Bush becomes a monkey or the young, beautiful women becomes an old hag. I couldn’t accuse him of using someone else’s photo, though I’ve heard that is not uncommon in internet dating. Instead, I could imagine how the younger, thinner person preceded the man. The chipped tooth and the unfortunate combination of a checkered shirt with striped pants were features unrelated to his profile photo, but I was trying to be “optimistic!” and “open minded!” as counseled by my mainly-married friends. So, I mentally gave him credit for being on time.

Once seated, he inquired, “Red or white?”

“I’m pretty flexible but I’ve been more into red recently,” I replied.

“I checked it out online so I know just the one—the Craggy Creek chardonnay!” he declared.

“Uh, sounds good,” I said.

I’d remembered to re-review his profile before showing up so I’d have a couple of ready topics of conversation. Too bad I had to dip into those even before the wine arrived.

“Where is the best place you’ve ever been scuba diving?” I asked.

“Well, I haven’t really gone diving since law school” he said.

“Oh. When you did dive, where did you like to go?” I asked, the math between now and law school eluding me for the moment other than knowing that it was quite awhile ago.

“I liked going to Kauai. You could just walk into the water off the beach and see great stuff” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” I said.

“We’ll get married on the beach in Hawaii,” he proclaimed, gazing longingly in my direction.
Fortunately, the wine arrived that very moment. The maitre d’ unscrewed it with a perhaps not totally necessary flourish.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bad Date, Good Story #1--Slug Kiss

I really wanted to like Arnold. He was, it was quite evident from the start, a nice guy. We bonded on the phone around our liberal politics and he brought an Obama ’08 button to our first date along with a set of pink roses. An auspicious start! On top of that, he was decidedly taller than me and I realized I could have actually worn heels, something I’d been avoiding since the time I towered over someone who insisted he was 6 feet tall in his profile but didn’t quite see eye to eye with me even though I am only 5 foot 3.

Arnold was a decent conversationalist when the topic was himself. I asked and learned about both of his failed marriages, his struggle to train his dog and his relationships with his mother and father (easily summarized as good with dad, bad with mom). The first time I went to the restroom, I thought this might actually someone I could connect with. I came back to the table ready to relay much of the same information about my own background.

As soon as I sat down Arnold said: “I was just thinking about this great youth group trip I took in high school.”

“Really, “ I replied, purposely not asking a follow up questions in the hope he’d get the message and ask me a question about myself to lead off our second hour together.

“Yeah, this funny thing happened where two of my friends missed the bus and jumped into a cab which chased the bus all the way back to our hotel. It cost like 200 dollars.”
“Wow,” I said flatly.

“I was also thinking I should tell you about the time I told my neighbor that this woodchuck in my yard wouldn’t bite. He went ahead and touched it and it bit clear through his hand. I still feel kind of badly about that.”
I began to consider that some people have just lived alone too long, without the benefit of enough adult company. I wondered how many childhood stories a 50 year old might remember in the space of one brunch. It will give you a good gauge of my other prospects when I tell you that I did go out with Arnold again. But, this time I was ready. My friend Ann had suggested a perfect question to ask him: “So, what would you like to know about me?” and I knew that if I could deliver that without an edge, things might go better.

Sure enough, I felt I had something like equal time that night and I started to think that Arnold was the kind of person who would grow on you. I kept trying to peel my eyes away from the solo hairs sprouting now and again on his otherwise bald head and wondered if he might come to notice how other men tend to shave those away. But, going in to date three, I started to hope that maybe his awkward appearance and composure masked someone of great sexual prowess like the dorky reporter that becomes Superman. That’s why I decided that if he tried to kiss me, I’d kiss him back.

At the fateful moment after walking me to my car, he leaned down to me and first kissed me somewhat shyly on the mouth. I responded with a slightly more open lipped kiss. And then, he thrust his tongue straight into my mouth full force like he was going for my tonsils and—left it there. Just left it sitting there, no movement. It was as if a big slug had landed in my mouth only I had no real say in removing it. And, then, mercifully it retreated, only to be thrust forth once again. I pictured a kid sticking out his tongue hard in kindergarten and tried to picture the relief I’d feel when it was over and I was telling Ann about it.

“Well, goodnight,” I managed pushing him firmly away with both hands on his shoulders and turning to open my door as quickly as I could. Apparently, Arnold was not going to be my Superman.