Datehazard’s Blog

On dating, singleness and adjusting to being 30ish.

Some amusement about The Charmer February 28, 2009

Filed under: breakups,Dating,Desire — datehazard @ 2:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

No, there hasn’t been anything new to report. He never did get in touch with me, either to acknowledge that we are looking for different things; to try to win me back; or to shout at me in anger and accuse me of whatever first entered his mind.

It’s been almost a week since I’d sent that e-mail. He’s not going to call.

I’d like to say it’s not a big deal, but it is. Getting over what happened is much harder when the object of your affection disappears.

But today, while at lunch, I had an insight into his type’s possible way of thinking, and the way we were so obviously poorly matched from the get-go.

I decided to treat myself and went to lunch at a Dominican restaurant. While I was enjoying my delicious stewed pork with eggplant, a couple came in.

The man had salt-and-pepper hair, a trimmed short goatee, and was talking unceasingly on his cell phone. His wife/date had straight black hair that reached down to her perky round butt. She immediately chatted with the waitress, arranging for a table, getting them seated, asking for menus, making small talk and smiling, her head tilted to one side in a classic “I’m interested in you” gesture. All the while, she darted glances at her man, checking periodically to see where he was in his conversation, and taking pains to avoid interrupting or disturbing him in any way.

They sat down, her man wrapping up his conversation. She looked at her menu, occasionally glancing up to smile in encouragement at her partner.

I was at the next table, the proverbial fly on the wall. I pretended to be engrossed in my dulce de leche and cafe con leche, while I surreptitiously watched them both out of the corner of my eye.

He says goodbye, hangs up; she juts her chin out at him, her hair flowing forward to form thin cascading sheets in front of her shoulders. She raises her eyebrows in inquiry.

“Oh that was Ted. He wants me to get him some tires,” he says.

“Some tires!” She laughs.

“Yeah, I guess he thinks I can get them for him from my friend Nick.”

(Small tinkling laughs). “That’s funny! We should introduce him to Julia. Wouldn’t that be funny?”

He smiles at her, appreciating her joke, her laugh, her relaxed demeanour, good naturedness. She’s so adoring and so amenable. So understanding.

They order their dishes, she making light conversation while he juggles multiple thoughts in his head. She asks questions about whether he’s eaten some of the more unusual choices on the menu, in her broad Queens accent. She shares light-hearted tidbits with him, entertaining him with nothing too tiring, nothing too engaging.

Their food arrives, and she flips her hair around to one shoulder, tilting her head now to the right. Black strands slide and tumble in succession; one wave after another of silken hair fall, pointing like so many luxurious arrows into her lap.

She holds the fork in her right hand. Her wrist is bent at a right angle; index, thumb and forefinger form a bird-like shape around the shaft of the fork. She pierces her lettuce with her fork held absolutely perpendicular to her plate. It meets its target at 90 degrees each time.

She leans forward each time to eat; her mobile jaw is apparent when she opens wide to place another forkful in her open mouth. As she leans forward, her elbow rests on the table, so she is forced to crane her neck forward, flip her hair back yet again, and to lift her chin. She peers down at her food through hooded eyes.

And when her partner speaks to her, she looks at him too down the bridge of her nose, assuming an air of haughty arrogance. Her fork is poised to stab, dangled once again in a bird-like gesture while she stops chewing so she can hear her man talk.

The juxtaposition of her cold, arrogant stare, with her ever present quick smile and light-heartedness makes her all the more endearing, and seemingly strong.

Both know this is an act, but both are comfortable in their respective gender roles. I would not imagine a situation occurring where this woman would choose to pay for her partner’s meal; nor would he ever allow for her to insist on it. Both would be equally mortified and insulted by the possibility. This is just not done between a man and a woman who are intimate.

Somewhere along the way while I was watching the two of them, I became aware of how strange me and The Charmer would have been as a couple. Here is this curly-haired, sleep-deprived, intelligent, unyielding woman who has often been accused of being intense, driven and inflexible, and here is the same kind of man: always on his cell phone, always hustling, making deals, who just wants something intelligible and not particularly difficult.

Amazing that we were even attracted to each other enough to think something might work in the first place. And this is why people are best suited in complementary pairs, not in a bond where both parties are just as competitive and ambitious as the other.

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Studies in dating

Last night I was out with The Artist, The Grad Student and another friend, having a few drinks in Brooklyn. We were enjoying some cheap drink specials and having some great conversation. And then I thought I’d have a little fun.

I noticed a good-looking man at the bar, dressed in a grey knit vest, white shirt and a tie. He was chatting up a woman who had short, black, curly hair. She didn’t seem that interested in him, but she wasn’t brushing him off. The flirting vibes the man was putting out were unmistakable. He leaned in to talk to her, moving in so close that the woman would be able to feel his breath on her ear. His body posture was possessive: his arms practically encircled her at some points while he gesticulated in his conversation. He did everything to be physically close to her. But he didn’t touch her.

He noticed me looking at him. I didn’t look away. I was a little tipsy at this point and was wondering how he might react if someone else were to flirt with him. So I smiled a little, and kept looking at him.

Mid-conversation, he stumbled, noticed me looking at him, looked away, kept talking, and then darted glances at me to see whether I was still looking.

Game on!

Eventually he excused himself and walked towards the door, right by my table. I tracked his progress, watching his gait, observing his choice of shoes, his long fingers and veined hands, the careful manicure. He studiously looked straight ahead, until he reached the door; at which point he turned, ever so briefly, to look at me. It was too brief of a moment to reciprocate my acknowledgement, but I smiled to myself at the nervousness he displayed. Clearly he was enjoying the attention.

Then he was outside, and I could see him through the bar’s picture window. He struck up a conversation with another man outside, and smoked a cigarette. He talked enthusiastically, his angular face animated, his eyes darting about and his hands gesturing, dancing in the cool night air. He turned to look at the window, and I looked away. I wasn’t sure if he could see me, but this time I didn’t want him to notice me.

He eventually left with the woman he’d been talking to; as they left, he placed an arm lightly at her back. She was completely oblivious to what had been happening; her back had been towards me the entire evening, and she seemed preoccupied with some other matter. At no point did she seem that interested in the man. She was relaxed, calm, almost lazy in her movements. Her clothing choice was of a casual Bohemian chic which belied its probably overpriced cost. One can always tell a woman’s clothing budget by the choice of her bag. She may dress like a bum, but if she sports an expensive bag, it’s most likely that her seemingly careless appearance is the result of the opposite kind of commitment. It probably took hours for her to decide on just the right amount of visual insouciance.

He didn’t look at me as he left, but he didn’t have to. As he walked closer to my table at the door, his gait stiffened remarkably, his look became unwavering in his linear path. His jaw set. And then he turned his head, ever so slightly, his eyes darting in my direction, as he held the door open for his new date. I smiled to myself after he left. He was awfully cute.

My party left shortly after. The Grad Student and the Artist and my other friend headed in one direction, I, in another. The Grad Student and the Artist live on separate subway lines, but tonight they were going the same way, determined to spend the night together.

I walked cheerily on my own, thinking of finding a bar and striking up some conversation with a handsome stranger, unencumbered by my friends. As is usually the case for me, my initial bravery wavered, then evaporated altogether as I passed a dive bar, a rowdy college crowd, and then the perfect dark, jazzy bar. By this point, the streets were starting to fill with people coming up from Manhattan, or Queens, or New Jersey. Girls dressed in long, tight t-shirts and lycra leggings talked loudly, “OMG” peppering their excited speech. Young boys stood on street corners, baggy pants around their thighs, gesturing jaggedly and smiling broadly, teasing each other, posturing. Checking out the girls in t-shirts going by. The night was taking on a carnivalesque atmosphere from the number of people emerging seemingly straight from the earth. Loud, happy, anxious people poured out of subterranean subway exits.

I was one of the few to enter, instead of exit, the subway. The platform was practically empty save for a few subdued people who looked like they were headed to house parties, or home after a day’s work.

And as I stood there on the platform, observing the dirt and grime caked into the mosaic “B” of the subway stop, the flourescent light seemed suddenly harsh, and the air had a sudden overwhelming density. My nostrils were assailed by the smells of a combination of human sweat, the damp night air, ozone, and that unmistakeable New York subway perfume of machine and human grease, vomit, dust, and stale bodily fluids.

I was lonely. And acutely aware of my singleness. The light and the smells around me seemed to accuse, outlining my solitary state, unrelenting. I hugged my coat around me tight, feeling its short wool fibres with my fingertips. My red cashmere scarf caressed my neck and cheek. I shifted my weight anxiously from left to right. Now I was standing, now pacing. Now leaning on a studded vertical iron pillar, now standing straight.

The train finally arrived, much to my relief. I managed to find a seat and blended in, anonymous with the crowd.

I started to doze off, comforted by the car’s rocking motion, its steady onward progress.

On one of the occasions when I blinked awake, I noticed a young woman sitting across the way with her profile to me. She was obviously talking to her boyfriend, who was blocked from my view by a standing passenger. Her face twisted in pain, a mix of anger, hurt and disbelief flitting across her face. She looked at her boyfriend repeatedly, her body lurching towards his, then withdrawing in pain, only to reach to him again. She would alternate between cajoling and pleading with him as she leaned toward him, to pulling back abruptly, sulkily. And then she would dip briefly into depression, her face contorting in pain with the effort of trying not to cry.

I was wide awake now, watching her.

Eventually a seat opened up next to her, and she patted it immediately, inviting her soon-to-be-ex to sit next to her.

I saw a young man with a spotless white baseball cap and baby blue shoelaces get up slowly, reluctantly strut towards her, and sit down.

His hands did the talking for him.

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“This is just the way it is.”

“I can’t do anything about this.”

A shoulder shrug. He looked toward her, but missed her face entirely, addressing the space above her head. He turned away rapidly.

His arm was placed awkwardly over her shoulder. Unlike the previous man’s possessive stance, his was one of obligation. I don’t want to touch you, but it would make it worse for me to act on that impulse. So I will try to comfort you as best as I can.

She leaned in heavily toward him, her whole weight bearing down on the side of her boyfriend. She placed her head on his shoulder, her long curls spilling over into his lap. Her face contorted, emotions now travelling more rapidly across the stormy landscape. Anger was quickly replaced by a wheedling, puppy dog face. She was trying to guilt him into staying. Her hands gripped and strangled a black plastic bag in her lap. I worried that she would throw up into it. She looked nauseous.

He became alarmed. His dangling arm now sported nervously caressing fingers. He stroked her cheek, touching with a minimum of pressure, hurried in his motions. I saw the anxiety in his face as he pushed her head onto his shoulder. She leaned over awkwardly, pressing her full weight into him. She seemed determined to bury herself into him.

As he continued to touch her nervously with the tips of his fingers, spider-like, she doggedly set herself to finding comfort in his presence. Her face became more serene; her weight, more natural.

But even she knew this was false comfort.

And she would break out of her daydream with renewed hurt. Her grip on her black plastic bag grew ever more violent.

And then the doors of the car opened, and they left. He, walking ahead and taking her hand; she, trailing behind, sulking.

Sleep overcame me after they left, and I awakened with a start at the stop before mine. Then I stumbled home, and tumbled into bed.

 

Adults will do what adults will do… February 27, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Drama,Exes — datehazard @ 12:37 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My friend The Artist called today to ask to meet with me. When I saw her, she was agitated and looked like she had something on her mind. She told me it had to do with her roommates and how they were driving her crazy; but when I talked to her, it really seemed like an inconsequential problem.

So I was kinda wondering what else was happening with her?

Then she told me.

She’d spoken with my friend The Grad Student (remember him?) and told him that she’d told me what happened between the two of them. She asked me how I felt about the two of them dating, and I told her that I had no problems with it, but that I didn’t want to see her get hurt, and that I felt that his behaviour was pretty shifty from what she’d told me so far.

She told me, “well, actually, he told me that he’s not looking for a serious relationship right now; that he can’t handle one at the moment.”

I said, “And that’s ok with you?”

“Well, as long as he doesn’t mean that he won’t go running off in the opposite direction the minute something gets a little serious with the two of us. I mean, I have to have a talk with him and let him know that I’ve been hurt in the past, and that I won’t put myself in that position again. If he wants to date me, he has to be prepared to date me, not to run away the minute I say I want to date him.”

That was a mixed message, admittedly. But it also put my mind more at ease.

I told her, “Listen, I just want to say that I was hoping that the two of you would get together at some point — that’s why I introduced you to each other. I mean, I told him you thought he was cute the minute you met him and told me that.”

She: “Really??”

“Yeah! I mean, I think it’s great if you two want to get together. But I didn’t think it would happen so fast, and I thought that he was being kinda shady by not telling me what happened between the two of you the night you both kissed. I told him that you’d just broken up with your boyfriend, so I thought he’d have understood to hold back a bit.”

“Well, really at this point, it just feels so great to have so much attention from all of these men. And to tell you the truth, The Grad Student is a real catch. I mean, he’s smart, and really good-looking, and so much better than my ex. I can’t even tell you. So right now, that’s just making me feel even more convinced that I did the right thing.”

That seriously made me happy. I had a huge smile on my face.

“TA, that is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I’m so glad you’re feeling better!!”

I gave her a big hug.

And I said, “one last thing. If he hurts you, I will break his neck. You can tell him that. Seriously.”

She laughed.

And then I went off to meet up with The Grad Student to attend a lecture that he’d invited me to that evening. And I told him exactly the same thing: “If you hurt her, I will break you limb from limb. This is not a joke or a threat. It’s a promise.”

He, after joking around a little bit, said, more seriously, “well, I mean, how am I not supposed to hurt her? I mean, unless we end up getting married and stay together for the rest of our lives, it’s pretty impossible not to hurt people.”

I didn’t have to say much. I turned to him and said, “You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s about acting on ethical principles. You know her headspace, and you know what I mean.”

End of conversation.

And end of my matchmaking and guidance.

Now I wish someone could do the same for me…

 

On the benefits of getting enough sleep February 24, 2009

Last night, I went out with my roommate and his friend The Actor, to watch some improv comedy.

It was freezing cold and a fierce wind was whipping through New York. We were all hatless in our “it’s hip to be cold” way, all clenching our teeth and gripping the edges of our coats in a futile effort to stay warm.

We ate cheap, hot, fresh tortillas; The Actor gobbled his down in two bites or less, and I clutched them in my hands and drew out the eating experience for as long as the tortilla maintained its heat. Lovely, cheap impromptu hand-warmers! We hopped anxiously from one foot to the other while we waited in line. We told each other silly jokes in an attempt to distract ourselves from the stinging cold, and to generally celebrate each other’s company.

Then we were inside, and the show began. And we laughed at the distracted actor, the botched lines, the awkward moments. We laughed at the high points, the moments when the timing was just right. We doubled over, shaking silently, wiping the tears from our eyes, when our favourite actor ruthlessly exploited a line or staged a perfect moment.

Then we went home. And I slept, without interruption, for the first time in weeks.

 

Weird vibes February 23, 2009

Filed under: Exes — datehazard @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I just got an e-mail from my ex. Out of the blue, he e-mails me to say he had a bad dream last night; he dreamt that I was sad and angry and frustrated, and that we were separated by a window and he was outside, unable to comfort me.

Either the guy is a complete stalker and has hacked my accounts (he shouldn’t know about this blog), or it was one of those really weird random things.

Either way, it’s nice to know that he cared enough to let me know that I was in the heart and mind of at least one person in the world. Especially after my difficult night, then morning dealing with The Charmer.

 

Walking away from The Charmer

So, I wrote an e-mail to The Charmer this morning, saying that I was walking away.

It came out of my realisation last night that we are just looking for two different things. He wants someone who can be as morally free as him, and who can let him indulge in whatever sexual pecadilloes he chooses, and it was making me sad. I cried as I fell asleep last night, in the realisation that I couldn’t be with this man in the way I’d like. It was a mixture of exhaustion, self-pity, self-loathing and acceptance.

I told him that, strange as it may sound, he was one of the few people in my life I’ve ever met who I was immediately and strongly attracted to; the kind of person who I just cannot get enough of. It’s been many years since I’ve felt this way; in fact, other than when I was a teenager, I don’t remember the last time I felt like this.

If nothing else, that sense that my heart has awakened, and reminded me of how strongly it can feel, is an amazing thing. I’ve spent the last year in a haze, unfocussed and numb. I never thought I could feel this strongly again.

And now it’s over.

And life goes on.

 

Nothing stays the same for long

…especially apparently in NYC.

I was taking a mental health day and staying away from dating scenarios, but it looks like they caught up to me anyway.

A few things happened:
1) I decided I no longer want to date The Charmer;
2) My roommate’s cute friend The Actor asked for my number;
3) The Grad Student’s friend The Musician wants to get in touch with me;
4) The Canadian Historian and I are playing phone tag; and
5) The Corporate Lawyer sounds like he wants to make things exclusive.

That is a lot of play for someone who is basically an averagely good-looking intelligent woman. And a lot of stuff happening on a day that’s supposed to be about not dating.

It’s also a lot for me to process. For now, I’m going to go to bed.