Single In The Suburbs, Installment 2
As her dating diary continues, our newly solo writer meets her online sweetie.
To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.
n our last installment, our newly single writer tested the waters of online dating. Now it’s time to meet a suitor in person.
Saturday 9:30 A.M.
I’m getting ready for a first meeting after doing this online dating thing: I am meeting bald Harley dude in two and a half hours and I still can’t
believe this is my life. I am practically paralyzed. I have three loads of laundry to do, and I promised my teenager I’d take her to the mall for a new pair of jeans, but all I really want to do is prepare for my date, assuming you can even call this a date. The clothes I picked out suddenly look plain and unappealing. I ransack my closet for my cute red hoodie, then remember that my daughter had borrowed it which means it’s undoubtedly balled up on her bedroom floor. I guess I'll stick with the tank top.
|I had to tell my friends to keep the news of Craig’s exploits to themselves.|
Saturday 10:56 A.M.
Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Law & Order, but it suddenly occurs to me that it might be wise to tell a friend about my date, “on the off-chance this guy turns out to be an ax-wielding maniac,” I write to Jennifer, who is also divorced and lives in my subdivision. My phone rings a moment after I hit “send.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jennifer says, incredulous that I’d consider online dating. It’s probably worth mentioning that Jennifer has announced that she won’t consider dating until her kids (ages 11, 13 and 16) are out of the house. I think she’s crazy. I miss kissing and cuddling. I’d like to do it again someday, preferably before I reach menopause.
I begin to think about how my ex-husband Craig plunged back into dating with a vengeance as soon as we separated. Like I've said, this is a small town, and I received almost daily debriefings from well-meaning friends. They’d share accounts of my ex-husband's escapades, which included dating three out of five waitresses at what used to be our favorite downtown seafood restaurant and a romp in the woods with a history professor at the departmental barbecue.
It killed me to hear the stories, and eventually I had to tell my friends to keep the news of Craig’s exploits to themselves.
I assure Jennifer that I’m not kidding, just anxious to meet guys in a town where all the available ones seem to be very young, very gay or dentally-challenged hilljacks, if you can excuse the expression.
“Well, it’s not my style, but if you think it’s worth a try, go for it,” Jennifer says, her voice tinged with some combination of awe and disbelief. “I’ve got your back.”
“Thanks, buddy,” I tell her, grateful for friends like Jennifer. In my darkest hours, when my marriage was collapsing and it took all my strength just to drag myself out of bed every morning, my friends were my dearest treasures. Side by side on the treadmills at the Y or walking our dogs through the neighborhood, my friends listened to me, cried with me, and reassured me that I was going to be OK.
Saturday 11:53 A.M.
I pull into the Panera’s parking lot and look for a Harley. There are plenty of minivans and SUVs but no motorcycles in sight. My heart sinks. He is going to stand me up. I know it.
But as I step through the door, adjusting my bra strap for the tenth time, I see him sitting at a small round table by the window. I recognize him immediately. The same bald head, the moustache, the black leather jacket—and then he stands up to greet me, and I realize that Harley guy fibbed about being 5’10”. In truth, he is only a little taller than me, and I’m barely 5’4”.
He’s also older and frailer than he appeared in his photo.
Now I almost wish he’d stood me up. This is not the strapping, sexy biker in the picture. This guy looks like my ex-father-in-law.
|Baldy and I spend the next fifteen minutes in painful, perfunctory conversation.|
“I’m Gilbert,” he says, extended a bony arm. He already looks defeated. He is, I suspect, a man who rarely gets past the first date.
“Sara,” I say, shaking his hand. “Pleased to meet you.” I notice dirt under his fingernails. Can I go home now? “So, um, where’s your Harley?”
“I don’t actually have a motorcycle,” he says, taking a sip of the mocha latte he must have ordered before I arrived. Some date. “That was my friend’s motorcycle. I drive a Taurus.”
He’s talking now about his brother and their trip to Walmart, where kitty litter is on sale, by the way, and something about a cousin who can fit eight ice cubes in his mouth without gagging. At this point, I’m not hearing anything, just watching his mouth move and thinking, “Dear God, what have I done? I hate dating, I hate men, I almost hate myself for thinking I even had a chance of finding anyone, online or by any other means for that matter.”
Baldy and I spend the next fifteen minutes in painful, perfunctory conversation. I finally put us both out of our misery by glancing at my watch and announcing that I have an appointment.
“Sure. That’s OK,” Gilbert says. He sounds as relieved as I am to be done with this.
As I stand to leave, Gilbert offers a sad little smile and tells me he’s glad I showed up. “I know we didn’t exactly click,” he says, “but that’s no reason to give up. Like my mother always said, ‘There’s a cover for every pot.’”
I’m counting on it, I think to myself. I’m feeling awfully disappointed when I get home…but somehow can’t resist checking my e-mail.
There’s another message waiting for me in my mailbox. I read it expecting the worst and feeling jaded, but I have to admit—this one actually looks promising. It’s from a guy named Kevin, and he starts his message with what I consider the magic words: “I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, too. I own all four seasons on DVD.”
I started my profile by saying how much I absolutely adore that show and thereby made it a kind of litmus test. Anyone who doesn’t watch, never heard of it, or, worse, actually hates the show would be a tough sell.
His comment also revealed that he went beyond my photos and actually read my profile, another plus. We e-mailed back and forth a few times. He’s an economics professor who loves camping and dancing (he said, “I actually dance a little better than a frog in a blender”)—and he says he doesn’t have a lot of baggage, “except maybe a small carry-on.” I was charmed by his e-mail, and the more I read, the more I wanted to meet him. His picture showed a sweet-faced, nicely built guy. Great smile, great hands, and, best of all, he was holding a fuzzy Golden Retriever puppy! I think I’m in love. Do I dare risk disappointment again and set up a date to meet this guy? I think the answer has got to be yes.
Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.
Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 3