Datehazard’s Blog

On dating, singleness and adjusting to being 30ish.

A boyfriend’s friends May 21, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating — datehazard @ 8:25 pm
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What do you do when you meet your boyfriend’s friends for the first time, and you don’t like them?

It’s a situation I’ve often felt uncomfortable about: a negative opinion has tended to suggest that I have less in common with the person I’m thinking of dating than I initially imagined. Generally when I feel as though I probably would not have anything to say to a partner’s friends, it’s meant that I’ll eventually have nothing to say to my partner.

I met Camera Technician’s friends at a live music show a few weeks ago. We happened to be on a date, and they happened to be there. I wasn’t terribly impressed by the caliber of the interaction; it felt that they were interested in partying and having a drunken good time, and the level of conversation wasn’t particularly stimulating. I know, not everyone’s an academic — nor should I expect them to be. There are really some ways that working in this field has made me socially unsuitable for smalltalk and ordinary contact. My level of patience for superficiality has decreased rather substantially in relation to the amount of specialized knowledge I’ve accumulated. It’s an attitude that’s generally associated with elitism, an ascription I both loathe and yet, it’s also a position I am loathe to relinquish.

So when I met his friends, an ad director, a filmmaker, and a television producer, all of whom hold rather sparkling, intriguing jobs, I felt very ungenerous when I struggled to find some common ground. They didn’t want to talk shop outside of their work hours, and the cultural capital they had was of a more mainstream variety, which left me rather bored. And so we eyed each other warily, superficially, scanned each other quickly and surmised that we swam in very different oceans, and that we’d probably best give each other respectful, if nevertheless wide berth.

Last night, I had my first “we are a couple” dinner party at my boyfriend’s apartment. We’d invited over two of my current boyfriend’s friends, a couple who paint sets for movies and tv shows. We quickly found that we shared a knowledge and passion for organic gardening, so the evening went along pleasantly enough. But it was a strange space to be in, to be talking about mulch, compost and keeled potato slugs with interest and vigour long into the night. They smoked, I tried not to cough, and we smiled at each other.

Then we talked about bikes, riding, and the summer. The conversation was punctuated with questions about my stay in New York and my summer plans to be away. In the silence broken by the sounds of inhaling smoke, Camera Technician’s friends cast sidelong glances at him and at me, gauging our estimations of each other.

 

What happens next? April 28, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Singleness — datehazard @ 5:00 pm
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It’s a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Spring has given way suddenly to the promise of a hot summer ahead (if the weather over the last few days is to be any indication).

Every year, I find men become much more interested in looking at and pursuing women with the change of the seasons. I’ve never been hit on in my neighbourhood in the months I’ve lived here, until last night, when two men sitting idly outside of a restaurant greeted me with that unmistakeably friendly but flirtatious “Hey Mami.”

I never know what to do when someone greets me like that. Is there a code for how to respond? What if I’d like to? I’m always generally shy but also suspicious of strangers (perhaps my mother trained me too well?) And does this approach work for men, anyway? What do they expect? That the woman would suddenly stop mid-stride, and coyly smile, head bowed, calves brushing each other coquettishly?

And what about men who are more obvious or rude? On the weekend as I was returning from a dinner party, a guy ran up to me and said, “I give compliments where they’re due, and you have all the right curves.” At first I had to ask him to repeat himself, because I didn’t hear him; then when I heard him, I thought he must have said “you have all the right curls” — as in, that he was complimenting me about my hair. I laughed anyway, because I thought it was really funny. Perhaps that wasn’t the kindest response. But I am not cruel, and I thanked him for his compliment, even as I laughed.

But I never did get the idea of obvious overtures. Or cat-calling, for that matter. Do they actually work?

Meanwhile, the Poet and I keep flirting, and I’m not really sure what’s going on. And I’m starting to date someone who I met, through, of all places, the “mysterious ‘e'” dating site aforementioned in the preceding post. I’ll call him IT Guy. He seems pretty besotted with me at the moment, which I’m a bit surprised about, but I am the first to admit general cluelessness when it comes to dating. I’ve also pretty much given up trying to figure out what’s going on around me since I am so clearly bad at it.

Still, I wonder what happens next? Am I supposed to confront the Poet? His ex-girlfriend is visiting in a month. He’s gone for the next 3 weekends on business trips. We couldn’t organize our schedules to even talk, let alone meet this week. And he asked me again whether I was worrying about his ex visiting. Which I thought was weird — so I replied, “No, I’m not worrying — why, am I supposed to worry?” Which he avoided.

Ugh. I need a manual on human relations, STAT!

 

What does the “e” stand for in “eharmony”? April 27, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Singleness — datehazard @ 11:00 am
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An idle thought: what does the “e” stand for in “eharmony”?

My poet friend and I were debating this crucial question the other day. I offered the general assumption: “electronic” (like, “electronic mail” for “e-mail”), and we both started laughing.

Seriously? Electronic Harmony??

How funny is that?

So we suggested other possibilities. I said, “Electrifying!” And he rebutted with “Epileptic!”

The conversation dissolved into laughter at that point. I ended with, “maybe elliptical?” — as in, being entirely tangential.

Let’s hope. It’s certainly better than “electronic” as a start for possible romance.

 

With my luck, I should definitely not buy a lottery ticket April 23, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Drama,frustration — datehazard @ 11:53 pm
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… because with my recent luck (if this is any indication), I will definitely not win anything. In fact, if my most recent dating misadventures are an indication of my current (un)lucky status, I will most likely find out that the lottery is fake. And that I’d just participated in some kind of elaborate scam.

Like what happened last night.

I was out at one of my usual networking events, and bumped into one of my colleagues. We generally never hang out at work, so it was really great to see her. I had also brought one of my new friends along — my roommate’s friend, in fact — because he is thinking of getting into my field of work, and figured he might appreciate being given better access to some of the more business-related sides of what I do.

After he left to another event, my colleague “Stylish Beret” and I stayed behind, looking at some of the work, making a few connections, and preparing eventually to leave and get a drink on our own. We were having a great time chatting, and we walked to a bar nearby to continue our conversation in more convivial settings.

After about an hour of a stimulating and lovely discussion, a group of rowdy men and a few women decided to sit at the table next to us. They decided to invite themselves over, and, as usual, I started getting hit on by the alpha male in the group, while my friend attracted the eye of a kind-looking, jovial guy. The man who introduced himself to me was the President of the company, and the rest of the people there were his employees. He proceeded to tell me about his bisexual wife, and how they have an open relationship. His manner was one of bragging, essentially, but it shifted rapidly to one of fear when he, after a pause, asked me not to reveal this information to his fellow colleagues. It was clear that he’d had quite a bit to drink and was feeling entitled to the liberties he was taking, particularly to an attractive stranger.

I struck up a conversation with one of the women of the group, too, who decided she’d take it upon herself to set me up with someone in the group. She (ever so kindly) shouted jovially at me, “You’re going to pole tonight!!”

I’d never heard that expression before, and honestly, started laughing. It was just absurd. And a little of the usual human comedy/drama.

The rest of the evening was then spent with me talking to a guy who was trying all of his moves on me, while I gently teased him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good looking, it was that he was trying too hard. And he was definitely approaching me as someone who might help him scratch an itch. Generally, this is not a recommended strategy for complimenting a woman. Guys, take note: spend the time to try to get to know someone, and treat the interaction with a light touch. Leave the hammer and mallet at home. Especially when you realise you’re talking to someone who is intelligent and strong-willed. Cheesy pick up lines are just going to give her so much fodder for comedy. At your expense.

After “Clumsy Conversationalist” eventually made his exit, it was then time for the third act of the evening.

As with all plays, the third act is generally the one with the most promise: the scene has been set, the characters established, and the situation is now ripe for exploit — either comedic, tragic, or a combination of both. In my case, I decided to treat the eventual outcome as a complete joke, and an opportunity for instilling a little fear. Call it vigilante justice if you will, call it delicious, call it whatever you want.

But I get ahead of myself.

As I’m preparing to leave, feeling not particularly inspired by the evening and missing my earlier conversation with my friend Stylish Beret (who is still deep in conversation with the same guy with the twinkling eyes and kind face), another of the party comes over and sits across from me. This is a man who is considerably older than I am, with gently sagging cheeks, but with a smile that lights up his whole face. It is really his smile which is spectacular: it rearranges his time-worn, serious eyes into dancing sapphires of boyish invitation. His gaze is steady and consistent — engaging, but soulful. There is something warm and inviting about this man, something deeply reassuring. He is generally directing his comments to the clumsy conversationalist sitting beside me (who is no longer trying to hit on me), but makes sure he catches my eye, too. Soon, though, we are left alone, and he turns to talk to me. The clumsy conversationalist had been trying to find his way out of the conversation, and out of the bar, and Sparkling Eyes had provided just that convenient interruption.

Sparkling Eyes turns to me, asks, “What is it that brings you to New York?” I look at him, and, based on the brief fragment of conversation he’d just had with the conversationalist, replied, “Work.” I felt compelled to ask, “And, by the way, are you a writer?”

A look of surprise registered on his face, and he said, “Well, actually, I used to write quite a lot. How– how did you– ?”

I replied, “Because I’m a writer, too. Something about the way you put your sentences together gave you away.”

I smiled at him.

I continued, “And, by the way, is Jack Kerouac one of your favourite authors?”

He looked wordlessly at me, even more surprised.

“How– Well, yes– I love Jack Kerouac– How did you know?”

I smiled again. “I don’t know. It was a hunch.” I continued, “I get the feeling that your approach to life is one of a journey — that the metaphor of the road trip and travel — is something that resonates with you.”

I continued, “And yet, you’re still searching. Why are you searching? What are you looking for?”

He looked, amazed, wordless at me. I heard the words tumble out of my mouth, and I was surprised, too. They didn’t feel like my own thoughts, or my own observations — they seemed to be more of verbal manifestations of instinct. And for once, these manifestations were coherent. And so they seemed magical.

At around this point, I expected him to change the subject; attempt to cover up, try to reach for some kind of privacy, however much he’d have to wrestle for it. I am not usually this straightforward or blunt with someone I’ve just met, but with this man, I was much more intrusive than I’d ever remembered being. Even when I’m my diplomatic straightforward self, it results in younger men generally straining to escape, change the subject, or do what they need to do to avoid being so open.

But not this man.

He just kept looking at me in wonder, mesmerized by my words, his curiosity and his attention entirely held.

And so we kept talking. He told me about himself without restraint or edit, calmly, unhurriedly. As he talked, he struggled to be clear, to be concise, and to be precise. His hands formed rounded shapes in the air as he tried to articulate his feelings of vulnerability. He looked, with furrowed brow, at me as he spoke, choosing his words carefully. And interspersed these moments of seriousness with that brilliant, transformational smile.

I found myself smiling in response to him, easily, unthinkingly, each time he smiled at me.

There was a naturalness to the conversation, and a depth that I found difficult to quantify, and even harder to identify. And even more strangely, that I had no desire, whatsoever, to do any of the aforementioned analytical things. Analysis operated on a different level last night, when it came to him. The world dissolved and we were left in a self-contained sphere. He reached out to hold my hands; his hands were surprisingly warm, and reassuringly rough. He pressed my fingers between his palms, smiling in wonderment at me during those frequent, happy silences.

We parted on a subway platform, he trying to insist on me coming home with him, or coming home with me. I reassured him, telling him not to worry, and not to try to be deterministic. Every time he asked, I smiled, and made no promises. He seemed to understand and he listened. Even at that late hour, even with the heady intoxication of our long, intimate conversation.

We kissed, and we laughed as we kissed. I don’t remember being so happy during a first kiss as I was then. I felt, somehow, that I knew him, on some kind of essential level, and that he did of me, too. I knew it wasn’t possible: I knew the feelings were really strong and were most likely based in the cold science of organic chemistry. And I went home, floating on a cloud.

And this morning, I wondered, smilingly, about this mysterious stranger with the sparkling eyes and the brilliant smile.

And found out that he’s married. With three kids.

And so, when he texted me asking to see me again, I replied simply, bluntly, “No, I don’t think so. Cowards and liars are so boring. Give my regards to your wife.”

He replied in kind, by text message. But I haven’t checked it yet. I’d imagine it’s some paltry attempt at an apology.

And so, life goes on, and dating continues its own twisted journey. And I’m left with yet another amusing, if bittersweet, experience.

 

He Plays a Good Game. And I had a good time. March 19, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,seduction — datehazard @ 10:41 am
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I met The Author last night, at a rather swanky, old-fashioned cigar lounge where the female servers wear red cocktail dresses and you have to be buzzed in.

I was quite the sight when I arrived to meet with The Author; our age difference was perhaps the most pronounced aspect of the two of us. The two German men sitting two tables away kept staring at me and my companion. I sipped on my gin and tonic, flirted with The Author, and he sipped on his delicious, smooth Bourbon. He invited me to join him with the same libation, but I declined, to which he teased, “But G+T is such a summer drink; why would you drink it now?” I replied, “Because to me, it is summer, always, most especially when it is not.”

I knew he would find that charming. And he smiled and sipped while I smiled and held his gaze.

Flirting is such fun.

We talked about all kinds of things, he making statements, me listening, for the most part, then intervening with quips initially, then with interruptions. I would let him talk, seemingly passive, and alternate between being indulgent and complimentary, to being challenging, or skeptical. All along, he noticed, and appreciated my interventions. It felt like a dance of sorts. A fencing duel would probably be not a bad metaphor for the kind of back-and-forth repartee.

There are few things more attractive than intelligence. And few things more exhilarating than alternating between boredom and stimulation so unexpected that you’re left wordless.

We went back to his apartment, I admired his paintings, and we sipped champagne. I became incredibly drunk and realised I’d have to leave. We said our goodbyes and he put me in a cab, paying my cab fare. There is a lot to be said for the niceties of life.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in New York; it looks like I might not be able to teach here next semester. There was a problem with making up an additional course that I need. If I don’t get to teach two course sections, I will have to return. That’s a shame, since I’ve only just started really enjoying myself here.

New York is a tough place, there’s no doubt about it. And I think The Author is right when he advocates a “just don’t take it seriously” approach.

 

Playing games March 17, 2009

So, apparently, I’ve been doing it all wrong.

I had a most enlightening talk with a new friend (let’s call him The Author) this afternoon. He suggested that I stopped being so conscientious about the men I was pursuing and adopted the approach of a dog trainer.

Basically, if my “pet” was behaving, I would feed him treats and be nice to him; otherwise, I would train him to behave as I wished, and would punish him for being bad, and generally adopt an attitude of a lack of caring. He also advised strongly against pursuing the Analyst, saying that I needed to not pursue someone who was cold and distant (his translation for my, “he’s hard to read”). He also made a wide stereotypical statement about the Analyst, and said it was almost impossible for someone from his background to treat women with the respect that I was probably expecting and demanding.

Those words of advice played in my mind and lingered in my fears. But perhaps the most valuable thing he said was, “Don’t turn a farce into a melodrama. It’s just too much work.” How true. He also advised me to get laid.

I generally tend to heed men’s advice about other men, particularly if they’ve had some experience with the culture (which this man does have).

And so tonight I went out for St. Patrick’s Day to a local bar, got good and drunk and got someone’s phone number. But I didn’t follow the last part of my new friend’s advice.

Baby steps…

 

Dating Dhervish March 14, 2009

Filed under: Comedy,Dating,Desire,frustration,Singleness — datehazard @ 10:57 am
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Last night I went out on a first date with the Hedge Fund Trader. I almost called it off, I was feeling so tired from partying a little too hard two nights ago. I’d gone out with the Grad Student and his gay former roommate, and ended up stumbling home after a series of gay bars filled with cute, uninterested men, at about 4 in the morning. Yesterday was pretty much a write-off in terms of work.

The date with HFT went well. But I felt no spark.

I am seriously getting irritated with what exactly it is that results in that heart-fluttering reaction anyway. If someone can bottle this, I will pay them for it, for the chance to spray it on a Suitable Nice Person like HFT so that I can reciprocate his affections.

Because he was seriously digging me. I mean, he didn’t lose his head and say something ridiculous, or promise some kind of everlasting love and affection, but I definitely got the “I am interested in taking things to a more serious level with you, if things keep going the way they’ve gone tonight.”

He’s a nice guy; intelligent; funny; attentive but laid-back; not too bad to look at; and a great kisser. And not at all interesting to me.

Meanwhile, I am really looking forward to seeing The Analyst today: the guy who seems reticent, a little depressed, lonely, and probably more in need of hobbies and finding personal fulfillment than getting a girlfriend. But he’s exactly the kind of person I always go for. When men make me work, I chase them. When they chase me, I’m skeptical.

It would be great to have a rational, orderly relationship, but chaos, heartbreak and comedy are generally the order of the day.

And I’m STILL obsessing about The Charmer. We never met this week because he was too busy, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m leaving it up to him to get his stuff together and get in touch with me. Even as I’d like nothing better but to call him and see how he’s doing. Crumbs from this guy keeps me going for days. It’s humiliating, and embarrassing. And I’m doing it to myself.