Online Dating Has a Whole New Meaning

This is not the singularity I signed up for.

I guess it was two weeks ago I put my profiles back up.

I wouldn’t say I’m totally over everything that happened with Ten, or that I was in a great hurry to find someone new. It’s just that it took three months to find anyone I even wanted to go on a second date with. I figured I’d window shop while I figured out what I learned from dating Ten, and maybe I’d set up some coffee dates. Or maybe not.

Yeah, maybe not. Maybe not until June. Or 2021. Or who the fuck knows when I am going to be able to date again, right?

Because the fates are tricksters, I connected with a guy I would like to meet almost immediately. He’s an ex-New Yorker, a musician, a cook. Yes, Gramma, he’s Jewish, but Jewish like me. He has an apartment full of ukuleles. (Really!) He’s age appropriate and makes saucy art jokes. He’s unemployed, because nearly all restaurant workers are unemployed right now, but when we chatted the other night he was making ten pounds of carnitas which he had planned to share with his shut-in neighbors. I am not a carnivore, but I like that a guy with free time on his hands is making food for his neighbors. We talked about playing music and I told him about my guitar, it’s the same one Nick Drake played.

“No way,” he said. “I was just playing Pink Moon. Takes forever to retune for that song, but it’s worth it.”

We are, it seems, never meeting. Never.

I also connected with a photographer who was supposed to be doing an artist’s residency here on but is currently bunkered with his 80 year old mother in another state. I told him a little bit about my work and he stopped me to say, “Long shot, but do you know my friend…” and he named a guy I know.

“I’ve had soup dumplings with him and his wife and kids!”

I mean, what are the odds? We chatted for a long time, but because he’s not physcially here, plus, you know, The Corona, we are never meeting in person.

“Can you imagine?” he asked. “Anyone who’s dating right now is completely irresponsible.”

“Why are we doing this online dating thing, then?” I asked, curious about his reasons.

“I’m just looking for connections right now,” he said. “Nothing else is possible.”

I get it.

This second scenario has made me think I would consider being set up. Having someone in common acts like a safety net. Your common friend likes you both, so that’s a character endorsement that you don’t get when choosing random strangers and hitting “Add to cart.” It was nice to find that a friend knows and likes this particular guy, it encouraged me to be myself with him almost immediately. But you, reading this, with your single friend you want to set me up with? Not now. Because The Corona, right? Save it. Just save it.

Let’s summarize the story thus far.

Me: Okay, I’ve been separated for over a year, I feel good, finally. I would like to date, please.

Fates: Here is a guy you have blazing chemistry with.

Me: OMG, YES PLEASE.

Fates: He is also, um, how do we say this, batshit crazy.

Me: Oh, come on. Really?

Fates: Okay, okay, you’re right. How about these cool creative types? You like that. We have two right now, a musician and a visual artist. They communicate well, too!

Me: OMG, YES PLEASE.

Fates: But also, there’s a plague and you can never leave your house.

Me: You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Fates:

Me: Seriously?

Fates:

Me:

Wait, *He* Broke Up with *Me*?

Didn't see that coming.

Him: [Posts casually racist thing on Facebook]
Me: That’s not okay, you’re better than this nonsense.
Him: [Blocks me on Facebook] We can’t be friends on Facebook if you’re going to react like this.
Me: The problem is not being friends on Facebook or my reaction, it’s the casual racism.
Him: [Here’s why it’s funny.]
Me: No. Here’s why it’s racist. Can you try to understand why I’m upset?
Him: If you’re this bent out of shape about a Facebook post, it’s not going to work out with us.

We are that couple having an awkward discussion on the sidewalk downtown. I’m having a slight out of body experience where I’m watching myself — a white woman — explain to a black immigrant why casual racism is a dealbreaker. This is not the lesson in intersectionality I signed up for, but I guess that’s the weird thing about racism, it gets in everything, in everyone. I feel like any minute he’s going to say “You’re getting on me about racism? Because no, you have no idea.” He’d be right, I have no idea. And also, yes.

A friend pushed a guy off the bus a few weeks back for hassling a woman in a hijab. He’s not a big tough guy at all, my friend, he was just hit with this overwhelming “Not today, not here, not on my watch” feeling. He stepped in between the racist jerk and the woman, and when the bus sereditipitously opened the doors, he shoved the guy off. My friend said it took him a long time to wind down from the adreneline rush.

I was feeling jittery as hell while we talked.

Him: I was looking forward to us having a nice afternoon together, but I’m just going to go home now.
Me: I was too. I kept our date because I was hoping we could talk this through, that you would understand.
Him: This is who I am, it sounds like you can’t accept me for who I am.
Me: [In my head] You’re really going to die on this hill, defending a casually racist Facebook post?

I’m fine. I wasn’t in love, I don’t have a broken heart, though I am disappointed. I didn’t see a future, but because the chemistry was so great, I was having a hard time calling it quits. Stupid dopamine, that shit is addictive. He saved me the trouble of breaking it off.

Also, I kind of want to send him a thank you note. This stupid ending aside, I’m genuinely grateful for the time we spent together. It’s been a long time since I felt, well, anything. This was thrilling.

They say it takes 40 to 60 dates, huh? I guess it’s time to restart the counter. Not today, I need a minute, a month, but here we go. Again.

It's Always the Same, It's Just a Shame

That's all.

How do you break it off when you know it’s not right, but you really like him? How do you say “It’s not me, it’s you,” when you don’t want to hurt him? How can you be honest with yourself and him at the same time, when it means telling him that even though he makes you laugh, even though you feel your hard edges soften when he takes your hand, that it’s not a good match, you can’t see a future?

He’s wrong for me in 17 different ways. I’ve talked to him twice about places we diverge and both times he’s said, “Yeah, that’s reasonable, I’ll work on that.” Way to suck the self-righteous wind out of my sails, thanks a lot, pal.

There’s a new issue though. For argument’s sake, let’s say he’s an Creationist and I’m a dyed in the wool athiest. I’m not going to talk a grown ass adult out of being a believer, after all belief systems aren’t based in fact, they’re based in faith. Carbon dating has no special powers over fundamental beliefs.

“God made the world in seven days and sent his son Jesus to save us from our own sins. The planet is 2000 years old.”

“The universe is ancient as fuck. We’re made of star stuff. Carl Sagan said so and he would know, what with the science and all.”

I went to the Grand Canyon a few years back and in the magazine in my hotel room — you know, those tourist rags with coupons for 20% off all the things — there was an advertisment for an organziation that ran creationist tours.

You read that right. Creationist tours of the Grand Canyon.

The next day I asked a park ranger about her thoughts on this take on her territory. She looked at me for a long time before answering.

“I guess I would say that we may not agree on how this place got to be here, but we can agree it is valuable and we should care for it.”

I think about this park ranger as I listen to my guy tell me his view of the world, of how we got here. I look at him for a long time.

“The universe is vast,” I say, “and there are many things we do not know about it.”

I tell a few friends about how the guy I’m seeing, having such a great time with, is a Creationist.

“Oh, no, you have to break up with him,” they say. “It’s like you’re dating a Republican. You also have to wait until after Valentine’s Day because otherwise, you’re a dick. Sorry.”

I think my friends are right on all counts. I spent Valentine’s Day with my guy. We talked, went out for a nice meal, watched some Star Trek, as one does on the holiday of romance. It was nice. We did not discuss Creationism.

Later, I was on the phone with my best friend.

“It sounds like you don’t want to break up with him,” he said.

“I don’t,” I whined. “But I have to, it’s the right thing to do.”

“Okay,” he said, “just checking.”

Ten Dates with Ten

Am I in a relationship? I think I might be in a relationship.

I am still seeing the same guy.

Last night we went for pho and over noodle soup he said, “You HAVE to come back to my place and watch Adam Schiff’s closing remarks at the impeachment hearing. Have you SEEN that speech? It’s amazing. Jeezus, what a brilliant mind.”

“I think that’s the hottest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” Talk about knowing your target market. And yes, reader, we did indeed watch said closing remarks, and the opening ones, and after that, some old clips of Obama at the National Press Club for good measure. Hot.

It is strange to navigate this place of making room for another person in my life after being so very solitary. We have had some disagreements and it pains me to talk them through, but I refuse to let them sit unaddressed; I will not build up grievances. I ask myself if I should be pickier about Ten’s occupation and then I remember that my future exhusband was barely employed and this guy has an actual job he goes to, sometimes six days a week. I find he has left things in my house, a sweater, a cell phone charger, his toothbrush on the bathroom sink, and I want to return all of it to him right away, and when he says, “Don’t worry, I’ll get it next time,” I feel a sense of being wanted crash up against my fierce independence, softening my hard shell.

Sometimes I think he’s a hot mess — and he is human with a complex history, an immigrant, black, far from his family. Sometimes I think his complexity is what I like about him. Sometimes I think *I’m* the hot mess with my unresolved divorce, my feelings running hot and cold.

There are places we are clearly not well matched. He is a carnivore, I am decidedly not, he likes to have music playing all the time, I like a very quiet house. He is an occaissional smoker, something I find impossible (people still smoke, it is very bad for you, you absolutely have to quit, and he says, yes, I know, I will try). We have twice hit up against one of us needing alone time at the wrong time. He likes to drink and smoke weed and while I enjoy a nice cocktail or the random low key high, I am generally sober person.

Had I actually been paying attention when I read his profile, I would have passed him over for smoking alone, but I really liked the way he looked and when I heard that French Haitian accent, well… He told me that he showed up at that first date with a real “Meh, what the hell” attitude and then got hit by lightning when he saw me. You, person looking for a match out there in this weird world, should have a date smile at you the way he smiled at me when we met. Apparently we are matched in other ways, though the gooey, glittery, chemical part won’t hold up over time without the other stuff working out.

“Come over, I’m making steak for dinner.”

“Hahahaha. No. I’m not a meat eater.”

“Come over, I’m making steak and I’ll cook salmon for you.”

It was really good.

Adam Schiff’s closing remarks were eloquent and moving.

We watched them while I leaned up against Ten. He put his hands in my hair and we talked about how the tenor of dialog in Washington sure has changed since Obama was in the White House.

I am still seeing the same guy.

Something Stupid

Fire in the hole! (Not a metaphor, you with the dirty mind.)

It was going great. A little whisky on ice. My scarf, my shoes, my sweater, this is a small apartment, how is my stuff all over the place?

He’s saying all the right things but I’m nervous as hell. The last time I got naked with a new guy I was in my 30s, my body was hard and tight. Youth covers a lot of flaws. Now, I’m 56, squishy and soft and self conscious as hell.

“You’re telling me you’ve been walking around for a year, more, alone, and no one snapped you up? White guys are fucking idiots. Look at you. You’re fucking gorgeous. What the fuck?!”

I completely forget the things I hate about my body for an hour. Two. Three. It was going great.

“I know this is weird but I saw the whole thing the minute I laid eyes on you. I am in love with you. I want to be your man. I’m going to make you happy. I’m just waiting for you to catch up. I love you.”

Let’s pause the replay button for a minute so I can make a confession. I have fallen in love at first sight. That’s what happened with my future ex-husband. We were together for more than 20 years. This shit happens. The current scorched earth state of my marriage doesn’t negate the fact that when we met, I thought, “Well, would you look at that, he’s here for me.” Years later, I remember that moment quite clearly.

So I’m not — in theory or practice — against the idea of having big feelings about someone you just met. I also don’t think this is some kind of player talk, a man doesn’t have to confess love to get a woman in bed. My jeans were already on the floor in the living room. There was no need.

Okay, let’s go back to the tape.

He was a bit drunk. I decided to go home. I hunted for one of my gloves, it had been eaten by the couch.

“You’re not going to stay the night? I was hoping you would stay.”

“No.”

“Okay. Okay, but listen. I’m going to tell you again, I love you.”

“Walk me to my car. I’m going home.”

This adventure feels like an adult board game where no one wins or loses. There are a series of tasks you must complete, but the outcome is not clear. Roll the dice, move forward, pick a card.

Go on your first date in 20 years without throwing up from nerves.

Make a connection online that fizzles out the minute you meet in person.

Kiss a relative stranger and catch a harmless yet annoying virus that steals three days of your vacation while you recover.

Pull on your clothes and leave a man’s apartment, your joints tight, your mouth dry from whisky. Drive home in the rain.

On that last one.

Setting aside the weirdness of how last night played out, this morning I’m drinking coffee and thinking, “Wow, you really have moved on, haven’t you? Congratulations on that. Good job.”

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