Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Call Me Liz Lemon

I have been on enough first dates to last a lifetime. I wish I could say that more of them have worked out for the best and resulted in second, third, even fourth dates, but they haven't. Some of these first dates have just fizzled. Some of these have not moved forward because he wasn't interested. Others have been because of an ever-expanding list of deal-breakers occurring on the first date. Yes, you read correctly, deal-breakers. While I don't have my own book like Liz Lemon, this list is simply in regards to first dates from which I have been asked for a second. All gentlemen in these anecdotes were denied.

So, (drum roll please...) here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the
Top 10 (give or take a few) List of Deal Breakers that Guarantee There Will Not Be a Second Date!

#13: I'm good at everything.
During the conversation, you learn that this guy is either extremely confident or so lacking in self-esteem that he has to build himself up with stories. Often these stories are about a sport or his job. My most recent first date could not stop talking about how good he was at tennis. Oh, and that he just recently started playing. Congratulations on your new-found skill. Now get over yourself.

#12: He doesn't even offer to pay.
This may make me sound like I am walking out of 1954, but I am okay with that. Despite women's lib and all that went out of vogue with it, I still believe in chivalry. I am always willing to pay my share, but there has to at least be the silly, pretend argument over who is going to take care of the check. Really, this has only happened once, but it made an impression!

#11: Mentions our grandchildren
I have been in long term relationships in which we don't even mention our possible, future grandchildren. Letting that one slip over pre-dinner drinks is jumping a gun the bit, don't you think? I sure do.

#10: He can't stop talking about "his music"
I appreciate music. I love listening to music. I have great respect for those who are involved in the process of creating it. However, I also appreciate moderation. Please stop telling me about your amazing song-writing skills and singing voice, and how good you are at playing acoustic guitar. (See #13) This gets especially fun when he starts dropping names of music execs at NBC he is trying to get a demo tape to.

#9: Lives with his grandparents in their attic
Not only does he not look anything like his profile picture (yes, this was an on-line dating experience), but he also lied about his living situation. Talking about working around the house tends to imply that you own your home. 'Fess up, kiddo.

#8: His hands are smaller than mine
I'm sorry, but I like to be the girl (ie. smaller than the guy). Small-hands Greg is a perfect example of this situation. He was a very nice guy I met while at one of my favorite bars in Stamford, Connecticut. Small-hands Greg was funny in that dry, sarcastic way and he made me laugh so I agreed to go out to dinner with him. Dinner started off fine, but then he started talking, and used his hands -- a lot! I couldn't help but notice that his hands were smaller than mine. That was it, date over.

#7: Accepts multiple phone calls during dinner
Now typically this would a giant red flag that he was not interested. Funny thing is, I got a phone call the next day asking when we could go out again. Are you seriously asking me to endure another evening of listening to your phone conversations? I'm good, thanks.

#6: Wears white dress pants to meet for happy hour
First of all, what guy wears white dress pants that aren't linen to an event that is not a wedding or prom? Secondly, not two hours before we were supposed to meet, he texts me asking how dressy is the place we're going. I tell him it is pretty casual. Apparently for him, that meant taking the pants of a white tux and pairing it with a Volcom shirt for drinks at 5:30 PM on a Sunday. Ladies, I don't care how good you think you are at fixing a boy, that is not a fixable problem.

#5: Doesn't walk me to my car
Okay, I know I've mentioned this before. It really bothered me that when, unbeknown to me, we got to his car he asked where I had parked. I say, "Two blocks down there." He says, "Oh, okay. Well, I'm right here." He gives me a hug and gets in his car. Yes, he was denied on the second date request.

#4: One sentence answers
Maybe he was nervous, but so was I and I was forming answers with multiple, complete sentences! This is simply unacceptable and exhausting.

#3: Complained about everything
From traffic to his parking spot. From the lack of ice cubes in his glass to the plethora of Sweet and Low on the table. From the day he had at work to his cat clawing the arm of his couch. Again, exhausting! The nice side of me thought that maybe, just maybe, I should give him a second chance and then I thought for a little bit longer. Nope, not gonna do it.

#2: Doesn't ask any questions
I am seeing a theme with the last few; they are all exhausting experiences while trying to stay positive and interested and charismatic. This date simply spent the entire evening talking about himself, and then making judgments about how he believed I would have dealt with a situation/person/idea. Oh. My. God.

And finally.....

#1: Throws out the ol' "I'm separated, but not divorced yet" line. Awesome. This is promising only on opposite day buddy.

Well, there ya have it! I can only hope that my number of first dates left in this dating universe is slowly dwindling.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Talk about a small town...

Seven years ago this week I packed up my Volvo sedan, scraped the muffler on the driveway as my dad and I pulled out of the driveway and took off for good, ol' Darien, Connecticut. I was running away from the confining social circle that was, and apparently still is, Portland, Oregon. Once there, I defended Portland's size, but in my heart knew the truth. I had long been experiencing the ultimate in small world/town situations.

After graduating from college I found myself back in Portland, living at home, and trying to find my way socially and career-wise. Career-wise, I decided to go back to school the following spring; talk about easy way out! My social life was a little more complicated. I was still close with my ex from college, and had become good friends with many of his friends; those of you who know me well know I don't believe in making anything easy for myself. During that year and following years, I found myself dating/hanging out with guys who had varying degrees of connections to this small social group. After dating the step-brother of a close friend, I realized I needed to get the hell out of Dodge. That's when I decided to run away to the East Coast.

Unfortunately, seven years later, things have not improved. The circle may have expanded, but old habits die hard. Last night I met up with a couple of newer running friends I hadn't seen for a while. When I walked into the bar, I ran into an acquaintance, who happens to be friends with the aforementioned group and a different group of friends. I say hello, we catch up for a bit and he lets me know that a couple of the other guys from the group will be showing of which I had been previously hanging out with, but hadn't seen for a while. Awesome. This was made even more awesome because one of the friends I was intentionally meeting up, was also someone I had been hanging out with earlier this year. (I really love the vagueness of that phrase!). So, here I am catching up with a good girlfriend and a guy I had a major crush on, when another former crush walks in the door. Not a bit awkward, not a bit.

The best part of this whole situation was that, originally, neither of my running friends knew my connection to these guys. They thought I was just getting hit on by these three random boys...ha, ha, ha!

The three of us finish our beers, and May (not her real name), Manny (not his real name), and I head out. May and I are now off to a party on a boat, and Manny is off to meet up with other friends. As May and I head off I fill her in on the specifics of what just happened at the bar, and that we are headed to a party being thrown by a guy I used to date.

If there ever was a reason to move again...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Third Wheel...and then the fourth wheel...

Everyone has been there at some point in time -- the third wheel. Now, there are some couples that being the third wheel is not an issue; the two people in a romantic relationship know how to interact with the friend who is tagging along. And then there are those who seem to forget that you are even in the same universe as them. As they canoodle on the other side of the table from you, you pull out your cell phone and pretend to look busy. Luckily, I didn't have to deal with the second type this least not on Saturday night. Saturday night was a evening of fun with new friends at another friend's birthday party. It was a night that had some nice mellow moments and some filled with some crazy, liquor influenced dancing. Yes, it was obvious that I was with a couple, but they were a fun couple!

Then came Sunday. I knew that this birthday party might be a little awkward depending on who was there and who wasn't there. It's funny how you can be a third wheel at a party that you're going to by yourself. When I get there, it's only me, the hosts and their parents. Not awkward yet. I keep hoping my friend, let's call her Martha, will show up so I can have a wing-man. More guests show up and the small talk begins. I can handle the small talk, but even these short conversations keep getting interrupted by other events going on. More guests show up, but they're coming in groups of three. Guessed where I am yet? I am at a two-year olds birthday party with friends of friends and all of their children. As I keep waiting and hoping for Martha to show up, I realize I am the ONLY person at this party without a child. While I've met some of the older guests before, I don't know them very well, and the ones I do know well are busy chasing their offspring. And so, I am left to talk to the grandparents of the guest of honor. After standing by the snack table for a couple of hours and nursing a single beer (the vodka from the previous evening was still affecting my stomach...oops...), it hits me: I am the fourth wheel at the birthday party for a two-year old. It's like being the only single person at a "couple party."

The fourth wheel is not an entirely new concept in my life, but I don't think it has ever smacked me in the face, and then upside the head, and then back across the face. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends' kids. Some of them taught me the benefits of being an aunt before I really was one. I have even had the honor of seeing one of them be born. I am extremely lucky to have them, and their parents, in my life. I suppose I'll have to readapt to this new idea. And I thought life was getting boring and routine...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

After 27 you fit into a category

The majority of my friends are 30+. The majority of them also have been with their significant other for a long enough period of time that they were fortunate enough to bypass dating after 27. I have tried many times to explain what it is like now, but to no avail. It is a confusing, odd, and frustrating ritual at times, and exhilarating and fun at others. With most of my significant relationships being in years (I'm a little to embarrassed to admit) passed, I have honestly forgotten what it is like to have a boyfriend. I promise you that I am not looking for a pity party here, but it has been a while.

At this point in life, I have learned how to take care of myself. The dog and I have a nice routine that I would hope someone special could adapt to. I have a job, as many do, that require a significant amount of decompressing before I am normal again. It is difficult to think that I could fit into someone's life and they could fit into mine. It's a whole 'nother ball of wax once you pass 27, let alone the big 3-0.

There seems to be a few specific categories that boys (yes, I am calling them boys) seem to fall into now. If I have dated you and you fall into one of these categories, please know that I have been on many unsuccessful first and second dates with others who also fall into these categories. All descriptions are based on multiple subjects.

1. Serial-monogamist-guy
At this point in life (ages 27-32) it is very common for people to have had at least a couple of serious relationships. On the first date you hear about the series of ex-girlfriends, the good and the bad. I have found that those who were serial monogamists in their earlier years have become the "playas" of this age. They know that deep down they want a relationship, but are trying to be "that guy". Um, I dated you when I was 22 when I was trying to be "dating girl." No thanks.

2. "I want a relationship...starting now!"-guy
By the end of the first date you know that this guy is wanting a relationship, but are usually not completely turned off by it...yet. The first date goes well-enough, but during the second date he does one or any combination of the following: calls you "Honey"; talks about your grandchildren, and gives you a wrapped present. Please imagine cartoon legs spinning with dust clouds behind me while I can't get out the door quick enough.

3. The male-feminist
According to this guy chivalry is dead and will not even walk you to your car. I'm a girl who appreciates her independence and the ability to provide/take care of myself. I am also a girl who likes being taken care of. Nuff said.

4. I think I want this, I don't want this, I think I want this, I don't want this ("this"=relationship)
Oh. My. God. Make up your ever-loving mind and make some girl very happy.

Yep, this pretty much sums up the men of the last 3 years of my life. It's been a wild ride, but I'm getting ready to get off the roller coaster...

Monday, May 10, 2010

A quick catch up...

The last time I sat down to write one of the ridiculous stories that make up my life, summer was just about over and I was trying to mentally prepare for the return to the classroom. I have to admit that there have not been many stories worthy of a small amount of cyberspace, but I do feel like I need to catch up on a couple of things.

1. Speed Dating: Chivalry is apparently dead.
So, I swallowed my pride (okay that was already long gone from going speed dating), and went out with Africa guy. I figured it was a good reason to go out to dinner and get to hear the rest of what was a very exciting, and hopefully true story. We take a seat at a table out on the patio. This particular restaurant is on the roof and has an amazing view of the city. Within five minutes I am already grateful for a beautiful evening because we will shortly need a topic of conversation. Another five minutes passes and the story is over; decent ending but nothing to write home about. We eat, we have a couple of drinks and I'm ready to go home and then the bill comes. Now, I am always willing to split the bill but generally expect to at least have the mock debate about who is taking care of the check. The bill is set down on the table, he opens it up, sets down his card, and pushes it over to me. I place my card in the folder, a little surprised. We tip, sign, and get up to leave. He heads right to the door and barely holds it open for me. Now we're walking to our cars, and reach his first. He asks where I'm parked and I point down the street. A small, uncomfortable hug and a fake, "Let's do this again," and I am walking to my car in the dark, alone. No offer, nothing. Two days later I find an email from him asking me to go out again. Um, no thanks.

2. I survived 30!
Not only have I survived, I actually accomplished quite a few items on my 30 x 30 list. I'm planning to finish those this summer. Yes, finishing War and Peace is still on my list.

3. Dating
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...get the picture? I spent all summer on a dating hiatus. School started and I decided that the hiatus was over. Who knew that being athletic director, trying to prepare for a move to a new school, and just taking care of everyday business would leave me inept at dating? Apparently, it does. This morning I was watching the Today Show while Obama's Supreme Court nominee was giving an "acceptance" speech. As I expected (yes, I can be a smidge judgmental from time to time), there was no thanks given to a husband or significant other. Not that I'm looking to become a Supreme Court justice, but I am over sacrificing my life for my students. My search for a new career has intensified and am hoping the relaxation that comes with summer helps me regain a bit of a hold on the dating world...I pause to wonder if that is even possible...hmmm...something to ponder as I put off the giant pile of grading in front of me...