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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Confessions of A Serial Dater

This post is a part of 20SB’s Looking Back Blog Carnival, and Ben & Jerry’s is awarding free ice cream to lucky bloggers and readers!

An entertaining romp through my dating life. It was published, but I can't say where because that would give me away. ;)

It started innocently...

I thought I would put an ad online to start meeting Christian guys in Manhattan with whom I had more in common. I was tired of getting hit on…the offers I got were not—to say the least—holy. Meanwhile, the guys at church did not seem to notice me in the dating way. I had met my last serious boyfriend online and had a relationship for almost a year, and a woman from my small group met, fell in love with and married a really great guy from online. I just knew I was next! I was just a personal ad away from Godly true love!

Guy #1 was “slender”, Episcopalian, and spoke Spanish. Try a few extra pounds, and barely being able to pronounce menu items at Señor Swanky’s. And like the Senor Swanky he was, he never removed his sunglasses. As we sat on a bench in Central Park, he revealed that he hated New York and women who wear pointy shoes. I had just moved there to pursue my dream of singing opera, was working for a New York charity and secretly wore pointy shoes.

Guy #2 from online was “a few extra pounds”, “thrifty”, a teacher at a Catholic school and Christian Scientist. Despite wrinkled clothes, orthopedic shoes, being the heaviest guy I ever went out with and his having to run to the bathroom to throw up, I gave him a chance. He gave me a sideways glance when he paid for dinner. We toured the new Mormon temple with its rooms that used to be racquetball courts in New York before it was blessed and closed to the public. (Free.) Later, at a 2 drink minimum show he said, “As a liberated woman, I wouldn’t deny you the pleasure of buying me a drink.” (Free.) He also lived with his mother, borrowed his sister’s cellphone and had never had a girlfriend at 27. (Priceless.)

Guy #3 was “athletic”, so I was intimidated. He was a deacon at his Lutheran church and a lawyer who spoke Spanish and Italian. He had gained 80 pounds and 10 years since the picture and started breathing harder as we walked up a hill in Central Park. We spent the day at the Met. Dinner was Italian with bad menu pronunciation. He later accused me of trying to kiss him in Penn Station at the end of our date. He is 6’2” and built like a truck, I’m 5’2” and had turned my cheek really hard, “Sorry, I don’t kiss on the first date.”

Guy #4…Had been in a Christian band. I knew we weren’t a match over Mexican, but it was too late for him to take someone else to see Van Halen. So I went. At the end of the concert he yelled at the coat check staff because he couldn’t find the claim ticket to pick up his backpack (it was in his hand). I mouthed to the staff “I’m sorry, First Date. Never again”. One of them mouthed, “Oh, God!” I barely spoke on the bus ride back to NYC. When I reached in my bag for my metrocard, I realized I still had his Van Halen souvenir hat that he asked me to hold. Oops! He called. I didn’t want to meet for lunch. I just wanted to mail it back only I couldn’t make it to the post office. He started calling daily and leaving nasty messages. He sent an email saying, “I know where you live, and if you don’t send it to me, I will take you to court.” Yikes! Finally, I just stuffed it in the mailbox with no postage so he could pick it up and pay for postage himself. Did I mention that he still lived with his mother at 42?

I fell into a rabbit hole chasing after love. Everything started to blur. Single, divorced, separated, never-separated from their mothers, white, latino, lawyer, teacher, professor, doctor, computer programmer, never-divorced, never-single, widowed-but-never-married, Lutheran, Christian Scientist, Episcoplian, Forgottoaskian, MBA, CFO, CPA--SOS!!!!

There were some I never met--the Catholic English professor who sent me a picture of himself wearing sunglasses and still lived with his parents at 38. I wondered if he was blind.

The divorced Christian actor and former youth pastor, heavily involved in his church, who asked me if I was a virgin during our first conversation.

The Christian NYU professor of music who just happened to be a cross-dresser. (I imagined showing up to a date where he wore the same dress, looked better in it and it was 1 size smaller.) I like men who wear man clothes. Maybe there were 28 other eharmony ways we were compatible?

The amazing writer who stuttered uncontrollably.

The man who demanded to know how many guys I was dating during our first conversation.

The Christian nurse, father of two and member of the local Audubon society who asked me what my favorite bird was. “Geese. When I lived in South Carolina migrating geese woke me up in the morning as they dove into a lake behind my apartment.” He asked, “You mean the geese that poop all over my kids’ playground so that they can’t use the swingset? They’re pests. I hate them” Uh…oops. He never called again.

Out of the ones I met, a Messianic Jewish CPA gave me a pocket Bible at the beginning of our date. Not flowers, but promising. Over Brazilian he told me I was very pretty, confessed that he wasn’t really divorced, said he never really felt married and asked, “So, what kind of pajamas do you wear?” Winner.

I decided these bad dates must be related to something in Manhattan water, or maybe just the online scene. I had to move, but before that I met…

“Bookstore guy”—a Columbia grad, looking to start a business. He took me to MOMA…I should have known! Art and dating are a bad combination. He was raised Christian, but not sure what he was anymore. Still, after Thai and a walk in Central Park we kissed while sitting on a park bench. This terrible kisser confessed to never having a girlfriend at 29. So, that’s why I found him in the self-help section! Never again! When he picked up on me I was looking to pick up a book that discussed how to end a date gracefully.

I met a guy through friends in Central Park on Easter Sunday…romantic! He showed promise…but going to the Met on the first date is just a bad sign. His quotable quote, “All guys go to strip clubs.” Those are the sweet things a girl longs to hear after a day the museum. Ew! I wish I could say I dumped him right away…I missionary dated, but he refused to go to church.

I met an opera friend for lunch—right after having a cavity filled. Every sip felt hot on one side and cold on the other, every word was slurred. This man of the world wears lifts in cowboy boots to stand 5’5” and has the looks to match the murderous men he portrays in operas. He wanted to help me stay in NYC and develop my singing career— if I would be his girlfriend and listen to his advice like, “I don’t want you to gain any more weight.” I told him I didn’t believe in premarital sex and wanted to get married and have kids NOW. He cautioned me to think about our careers and invited me for drinks back at his place. Of course he was a perfect gentleman and wouldn't so much as touch me. He begged me not to leave him eating alone, but I promised to meet with him the next day as he asked, kissed him on the cheek, walked calmly out of the restaurant, then ran three blocks. I didn’t answer his phone calls over the next few days.

A few hours later, I met my second date for the day—not that I knew the first was a date before I got there—a Messianic Jewish music professor from online who also tried to convince me to stay in New York and looked too much like my Russian Jewish uncle. My tongue was still 25% out, my mind on running away from the last date. We had a lot in common, but at 47, 5’4”, never married, he wasn’t sure what love felt like and that wasn’t enough reason for me to stay.

Within a month of my return to California, I had a record 5 dates in two weeks. My friends in New York couldn’t wait to hear the results! 1 was from online, 2 from a coffee place, and 2 from conventions. They all seemed nice, but, guys, here are some things NOT to say on a first date:

One apologized for being so tired. His ex-wife had threatened to commit suicide if he didn’t come back. He was at the hospital waiting with their children while she had her stomach pumped and drank activated charcoal. The good news: he really is divorced and attended church.

Two planned to attend seminary to pastor his own church, and proud to be a virgin at 30. He also had a penchant for discussing sexually explicit things. “I can’t believe my best friend said that in front of my sister.” I made the mistake of asking, “What’s that?” Never mind his sister, what about me?

Three, a social worker, had just quit going to his church because he had a problem with authority, and confessed to a troubled relationship with his ex-girlfriend because he didn’t show enough emotion. He said he really didn’t like happy people. I know misery loves company, but this company didn’t want to be miserable.

Four, a Jewish CPA, took me to a wonderful restaurant in Pasadena and gave me a new pair of designer athletic shoes. He seemed great, what could have gone wrong? “My ex-wife is a b----.” Oh. He also bragged about gambling and having enough money to use valet parking. 3 strikes on the fruit of the spirit. He enumerated a list of Christian girls who broke up with him or told him they could date “just for fun” because they envisioned a husband that would attend church. I said, “I have to admit I go to church more Sundays than not.”

Five. After several really great phone conversations, I met this newspaper editor over Mexican. He had been raised a Christian, but wasn’t that interested in going to church after all. His “ex” was in Biloxi dealing with Katrina. He was due to move out as soon as she got back. The children were at a friend’s that night… If I were the type who would go to a man’s apartment on the first date, he’d already answered, “So, why are the wedding pictures still up?” DivorcED, yeah right. DivorcING, maybe.

The next month I had two more dates:

Six. I was living with my parents after moving back from Manhattan, so I gave a hospital administrator who lived with his mother a chance. “A few extra pounds” turned out to be 300lbs. This Weight Watchers member had the nerve to ask me, “So, have you always struggled with your weight?” He called his ex-girlfriend a name, recounted a long list of bad online dates, and mentioned that his father had been abusive but he and his mother were better off when he left. Hello Oedipus! Via email, he accused me of using men as a meal ticket. But $25 for a 4.5 hour date works out to less than minimum wage. This “very, very spiritual” but not religious man also called me an Oompa Loompa and criticized how much I ate. His true spiritual gift was for insults, surely inherited from his abusive father. He’s still convinced he was a “perfect gentleman.” I sent a faux reply saying his message had not been delivered.

Seven. was an Armenian Orthodox Christian who was a graduate of UCLA, starting his own jewelry store, loved Classical music, opera and played piano. I sing opera. Nice. With a cigarette in his hand, he said he would never marry a non-Armenian older woman. “Hey, at least I’m being up front with you.” When he snuck a smooch, I thought, “This is why I don’t date smokers.” After the last guy, I was flattered, but there was much brushing, flossing and mouthwash when I got home. Being a few years older and a non-Armenian I ignored his phone calls though he left messages saying how much he enjoyed meeting me.

I removed my online profile. I’m still learning the art of ending a date gracefully—just when I think I have it figured out, something new comes up.

Despite all of this I helped plan a Valentine’s dinner for a Christian dating service. And yes, some nice, criminally-background-checked Christian guys who don’t live with their mothers showed up. I’ve been out with one of them and have plans to go out with another. Things are looking up.

(Except that one turned out to live with his aunt and uncle and told me that we shouldn't date because he couldn't see marrying me. The other turned out to be twice divorced with three children from the two marriages…these frogs could be someone else’s prince, so I threw them back into the pond. Who needs a prince? I’d be happy with nice duke…Marquis? Earl? Count? Viscount? Baron? Lord? Knight? Squire??)

Through it all, I keep my chin up and my head bowed in prayer. I have learned what I find acceptable and unacceptable. I make sure I don’t give out too much personal information to my prospective dates and always meet in safe, public places. I have learned to really listen to what men say as a sort of self-interested private detective. (And 2 years later, I'm doing the same things. YIKES!)


Fran said...

Great article. It reminds me of some interesting dates I have had. Now when I look back, I cannot help laughing out...

Thank you very much for the comments on my blog!

MilesPerHour said...

I have a very close friend who could describe her dating life to be much like yours. She too is still single after a very long time. When I look atb her as a person I started to find it hard to believe that a christian woman with great values who alsom happens to be a formal model wouldn't be taken. But as I thought about it, there not only are so few good men out there worthy of her, much less "match" her. Makes it difficult, I know.

SavvyD said...

It's just bad dating. The Christianity part is only part. I'm not even that holy, so I didn't get married when all of my friends who felt called to be missionaries and had a reputation for being superChristians got hitched. Some already divorce.

SavvyD said...

Oh yes, and it's supposed to be funny, so don't feel the LEAST bt guilty.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article and blog in general. You have some very interesting insights on dating/singleness etc. As a "few extra pounds male", who seldom dates, I wonder about one thing in particular that keeps recurring in your stories. Why, when you are not interested in a man after a date or dates, don't you tell them straight up, bluntly if need be? Rather than not answering calls.

I always wondered why women do that and then complain that a guy is a creep if he makes unwanted calls after a date. Most men would probably leave you alone if you told them politely but firmly that it's going nowhere, you're not interested and warned them not to contact you anymore. Maybe even a blunt @#$% off. At least then you would remove all doubt from someone's mind (in most cases anyway).

Personally, I always assumed that if there was any lack of reponse that the woman was busy, sick, away etc. and called three or four times while finding out later that that they found that 'creepy' and weird. On the other hand some had said much later that their silence was simply playing hard to get and that if I'd only been more assertive that something might have transpired. Seems I can't win.

Anyways, I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say. God bless.

SavvyD said...

hi Anon. I have addressed that, but it's been some time.

15 Reasons Why A Girl Doesn't Call

I get your point, though. You were trying to be nice and show interest.

Sometimes men do the same things. I had an old friend from high school pull that on me very recently and it hurt my feelings because I thought we could be friends. I invited him out to dinner and he stopped calling. He did call one more time, but then stopped calling again. It was hard because I really enjoyed talking to him. When we ran into each other it became painfully obvious that he had changed his mind.

And Seattle, well, I'm still waiting to think of what to do. I want to visit, but I don't want to annoy.

Sometimes I am blunt. It doesn't always work.

tannen said...

Hello Savvy, thanks for your detailed reply. I read the "15 reasons". #s. 3,4,7,12 and 19 are personally familiar. When I was much younger, #5 happened a couple of times, however in those cases if they'd simply told me to back off I would have been embarrassed for making them uncomfortable and left them alone right away.

Honestly, no woman, even friends, ever laid out such a succinct list so it's helpful to see someone do this. I still think that being forthright never hurts, but then again that's the hardest thing for most people to do without being rude. Interestingly when I did meet women who were forthright rather than not calling, I quit right away and after some time out of contact we remain on good terms. Silly analogy, but forthrightness reminds me of a clean cut when pruning a tree. It heals and something else can grow from it later.

On the other hand, could a male use these same reasons and not appear somewhat selfish? I wonder...? Personally, I don't think a male could use any one of these (except 11) and still come off appearing as a man. Our culture demands forthrightness of men otherwise they lack that "manliness" (sorry there's probably a better term but it's eluding me right now) that both secular and christian cultures expect.

I agree with you that one's privacy should be respected and that's why I'd prefer someone being direct with me. I'd hope that when the situation arises the other way around that I would do the same. It just seems the most honest way of behaving even if it doesn't always work. After that other strategems are called for.

As for Seattle, maybe ya gotta just call him up, pull the pin and drop the bomb. Or not; the desperate male would do that and probably get shot down. I hope your friends had hinted to him before he left that you liked him. At least if that was the case then it's in the back of his mind.

As for Seattle the city, it's a cool place, I've been there quite a bit in younger days. I always thought it was like Vancouver BC but with much less pretentiousness and a way better live music scene. A trip might be in order.

God bless, hope it all works out for you.

SavvyD said...

I've had men not call me back for any number of mysterious reasons. One told me later that he dropped me because he thought I was flirting with someone right in front of him. I was only talking to the other guy. I had been drinking alot and was holding his hand to connect with him, as soon as that conversation was done, I was back with him--only he dropped me. I'm glad he did because I found out how strange he was and that he would never be able to provide what I am looking for--marriage and family.

Interestingly, I said something to Seattle myself in this tale:

It's OK to Date at Church