I Feel Like Sally Field.

I suck at dating. Several months ago, Rick mentioned that he hates dating. Now Rick and I are dating.

But it’s very, very early in this whole process, and since he just got out of a relationship about six weeks ago, and most of his stuff is actually still in that apartment while he crashes at his parents’ house and sleeps in his nephew’s pirate bed (sometimes with his nephew)…  we’re certainly in no hurry.

But in case any of you were worried that I would stop being endearingly neurotic… fear not.

Friday, we had plans to get together after I finished with work. His job is super-busy right now, and he’s new at it; my job requires me to work nights until 10 or 11, and then I have an hour drive home. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for us to see each other, and he was heading to New Orleans the next morning to scream his head off at the Super Bowl and get his ass grabbed on Bourbon Street. Because he’s a huge Ravens fan, and when your team goes to the Super Bowl and you can get there… you do. It’s a b’road trip. Or a bro’ad trip. It’s a road trip with a B in front of it to indicate that you’re with your brother.

But I was convinced he was going to cancel Friday’s date. He had spent his whole weekend before this working from home, and he had a lot of work to do all week long after he left the office. I was so convinced he’d cancel, my friend Sam and I had the following text conversation:

Me: We have reached the part of the evening in which you talk me out of being neurotic. Go.

Sam: If he cancels, you’re ok with it and find another activity to do.

Me: Yeah, that’s incorrect.

Sam: Which part?

Me: All of your words just then.

Sam: You’re not okay with it and you don’t have another activity.

Me: There you go.

Sam: Right, but he doesn’t need to know that.

Me: Right, no. But still with the neurosis.

Sam: Goooo sllloooooooowwwww.

Me: This from the guy who wanted us naked by now.

Sam: Well, that’s what I want for you. Mainly becasuse I’m convinced the global economy is dependent on it. Relax. What has he done to cause this freakout?

Me: Nothing, really. He’s going to NOLA Saturday, his job has him swamped, he cancelled Sunday as a result and I just have this feeling he’s going to cancel.

Sam: And if he does, you say ‘hey, I totally understand, been a crazy week all around and you’re skipping town. Snag something fun for me while you’re down there and we’ll catch up when you’re back.’

Me: Right. I’m not asking what I should say. I’m asking you to make me stop thinking it’s going to happen.

Sam: There’s always porn. 🙂

Me: Yeah, okay, clearly you’re having trouble focusing.

Sam: You’re in a good place here. You’re still in the ‘less is more’ phase.

Me: You know why I do this? To prepare for the rejection.

Sam: Yeah, stop doing that.

At 8:45pm on Friday, 15 minutes before I was to leave work, Rick texted that he was still working. With a frowny face. Well, now he’ll definitely cancel, I thought. Still, I left at 9 and headed up to where we were set to meet up, my head half-full of fears that I would be standing there at the doorway of the restaurant/bar he’d suggested, stood up, trying to look casually involved with something on my smartphone while I eyed every moving figure in the parking lot, and in would walk my ex-boyfriend Mitch, who loves that place and with whom I was already dreading the possibility of a run-in.

At 9:50, I texted Rick to let him know it was taking me longer to get there than I thought, and I might be a few minutes late.

Him: No problem. I’m just wrapping up here myself.

Oh. Oh! Oh… he’s actually getting ready to leave! To come out! To meet me! He’s not cancelling!

I had been so prepared for the stand-up, so sure he would cancel, that I had worked my way around to being okay with it, and now he’s not cancelling. Well, what a pleasant surprise that shouldn’t be a surprise at all since he had given no indication that he would cancel and I was just going by the voices in my head!

Gah, I hate those guys.

Granted, he was later than me. I was there about 15 minutes before he arrived, but that was okay, and he apologized. And then we split a bottle of wine and had, really, another great time together, and did not run into Mitch. We stayed out much later than he had previously said he’d be willing, continuing our coversation in my car after we were politely asked to absent ourselves from the establishment on account of they were closing. (Yes, a conversation. That’s not a euphamism.. although it was a very flirty conversation that involved hands on knees. Do you remember that feeling? The first time someone you like puts a hand on your knee? I’m a girl, so there’s a strange tickling feeling in my skin and then my stomach does a little flutter. Do guys’ stomachs flutter?)

Naturally, I expected radio silence pursuant to debauchery while he was in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. But no! I heard from him during his layover Saturday, and while he was out partying on Bourbon Street with his brother Saturday night (this was when I learned of the ass-grabbing), and on Super Bowl Morning before he headed out, and again at 3:30am after the game when he was back on Bourbon Street with his brother. And then while he was at the airport waiting for his flight, and then when he landed back home.

You guys. I think this guy likes me.

I Had A Date.

I had texted my friend Sam, whose interest in my love life rivals my own, a photo of what I was planning to wear for my date with Rick Friday night.

“Are you going to church?” was his reply. “Really cool looking bathroom, though,” he added.

Ugh. “The shirt is see-through, asshole. But fine. Suggestions?” And then I sent him a picture of the bathroom.

“The problem is that you have something underneath the see-thru shirt.”

“Yeah, kinda have to.”

A pause.

“Anything to offer the occasional cleavage glimpse?” he wanted to know.

I changed the damned shirt. Put on a tight, black v-neck. Sent the picture.

“Giddyup” came back.

I wondered. “Do accessories matter in the slightest?”

Ding. “A necklace might be nice. Whaddaya got?”

I took two photos. Two different necklaces.

“#2. Something to give an excuse to glance at when I’m not looking at your boobs.” He really does have my best interests at heart, but Sam has never been shy about talking up my assets. God bless him.

“I see you’re planning to come along,” I told him.

“If this dude loves your body as much as I do, you’ll thank me.”

Sam, Sam, Sam… have you forgotten the delicate situation that led us here?  “This dude met me because I had a stalker. Can’t go too hot or I’ll look like I deserved it.”

And so I prepared for dating in the digital age. Yes, I have had a date or two since the dawning of that age… hell, my age bracket invented social media and the text message… but it’s been a while, and frankly, I’m kind of no good at dating. And I really do have to think a little bit about how to date the guy I met because he was chief of staff for a state senator who wrote a bill increasing victim information, inspired by my story of stalking. He was always very respectful and careful about it while we were working on the bill. And apparently, he had thought about how to ask me out, too, because, over dinner, he told me that he hadn’t been quite sure how to approach it.

I find that rather gallant.

I hadn’t known for certain whether this was a date, this meeting for drinks to talk about my ideas for legislation that no longer had any bearing on his life since he no longer works for the state senator. I knew that was a guise, but I didn’t know how much of a guise. Thus the outfit debate. Obviously I needed something that looked effortlessly sexy but not too hot, age appropriate but not boring, appealing enough to suit a date but average enough not to presume one. For women, this translates to “thought-out for hours and put on immediately after the pre-meet-up shower, but appearing to have only just been thrown on somewhere in the course of the day.”

Were we really only having drinks? Might we have dinner? Would it be presumptuous to put a name in for a table when I got there before him? How should we greet each other? I’ve actually only met him in person once, despite two years of phone calls, emails and, most recently, Facebook messages.

There is, like, no precedent for this when you’re in your mid-30s. You feel like a teenager who just arrived from a third-world country. You’re past the part of your life where you feel like appearances are everything and you have to play it cool, but you still don’t want to demonstrate the very high likelihood that you’d just about kill for a relationship that works out.

Fit that into 140 characters. With the appropriate emoticons.

But when he threw open the door and ushered in a gust of frigid wind, made late by a traffic jam, he didn’t hesitate to come right up and give me a big (but not too lingering) hug. “How long’s the wait?” he asked. I hadn’t inquired, but had been just about to. It turned out we had just enough time to order a bottle of wine at the bar before the hostess came and found us as the bartender popped the cork.

Honestly, though? We were totally comfortable from the beginning. I guess that’s because we have communicated for nearly two years – albeit for somewhat professionally-driven purposes on his end and lobbying purposes on mine. But we stayed in touch when that effort had ended, talked job hunting, traded the occasional inconsequential tag-up, like a base runner making sure to tap the bag before taking off.

Rick recently broke up with someone, and I’m moving past Jack, so we’re both dealing with a little trepidation mixed with excitement at the prospect of something – and someone – new. His circumstances are trickier: he moved out of the place they were sharing and is now staying – horrors – with his parents. Sleeping in his old room.

Which has been converted to his nephew’s room for sleepovers.

Which means a 34-year-old man is sleeping in a bed made to look like a pirate ship.

I found his telling me this, hanging his head in mock shame and full awareness of the difficulty this could pose on a possible new relationship, endearing.

But we had a really nice night. We spent five hours talking and eating, drained the bottle of wine but paced ourselves. There were pink-faced confessions that, indeed, this had always been meant as a date, that indeed there was mutual attraction from the first time we met. There was wonder at the circumstances that had brought us to this table. And we laughed. We laughed a good bit. (Happily, I didn’t spit out my food even once.) Neither of us wanted dinner to end, and he asked where else we could go; in the cold, we only bore walking half a block before we spotted a dive pizza joint and ducked in to down hot chocolate before they turned the lights off on us. Standing outside my car, we hugged goodbye and agreed to get together again soon.

I drove home grinning like a fool. He texted me a thank you and reminded me to let him know when I was free next. I grinned more.

And now I’m back to being the third-world teenager, navigating a day of text messages infused with flirtation and possible days for the next meeting.

Smiley face.

 

Why Doesn’t He Like Me?: The Job Hunt

Looking for a job is like dating. The number of similarities is astonishing.

I’ve been looking for a job for nearly two years (while still working at the one I have, fortunately). For the most part, this endeavor is now performed almost exclusively online. (The job hunting, I mean. I don’t do the internet dating thing.) Which means you send your information and deepest hopes and also a bunch of crap about how you’d be great at — insert job title here — for — insert name of company here — out into the cosmic void, and you get back…

…nothing.

Sort of like when you meet someone you like, and you get kind of excited, but it freaks the other person out, and they start avoiding you.

Not that I do that.

Sometimes (like, four times out of 85 applications – and yes, that’s the exactly correct proportion for yours truly), you get someone who’s interested. It’s very exciting, but you don’t want to overplay your hand too early. You stay cool instead. Well, cool, but interested. “Sure, I can meet you for lunch.”

And it goes really, really well.

When you leave, you’re kind of psyched. You know you’re going to hear from him again.

And then… crickets.

And you sit there at night, thinking, But… I liked him. And he really liked me. I mean, he was totally into me. He practically said I’m exactly what he’s been looking for. I thought for sure he’d call.

Sometimes, they call. They want to see you again. Wow, you think. This could actually work out. Still, you don’t want to act all psycho about it, so you decide you’re not going to ask about exclusivity (aka salary) unless they move to seal the deal. After all, it has to be his decision. If he doesn’t want me, I’m not going to beg. So you go for the second date, and again, it goes really, really well. By the time you leave, you are convinced that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

You’re cool even though he doesn’t call for several days.

After a week, you check in, you know, casual-like. Just to say hello and see how he’s doing. You leave a breezy voicemail.

Days later, you’re starting to sweat it. You’re doubting yourself. You realized that, when he asked you about your work-life balance, maybe you didn’t give exactly the right answer. Maybe you could have said it better, so that it flattered him more, but was still the truth. Ugh. The agony.

Finally, at like 4:15 on a Friday, he calls. Your stomach flips when you see the caller ID. It’s him. Oh, it’s him. Deep breath.

“Hello?” (Easy… take it easy…)

“Hi! I’m so sorry it took me so long to call!”

“Oh… that’s alright,” you say with forced brightness, like it hasn’t been torturing you.

“Yeah, I really enjoyed our last meeting,” he says. “You’re so great. You have almost everything I need.”

Almost? You wait. You can’t tell where this is going. Where is this going?

“I’m sorry,” he says. “It just didn’t work out.”

But… but…

You quell your urge to ask why… after all, it’s not like you had more than two dates. You just had such high hopes… all the signs were there… he was what you’ve been looking for. Not perfect, but you know, no one is. So with tears in your eyes, you steady your voice and act like it doesn’t hurt. You end the call as friends, with promises to keep in touch. Maybe he’ll set you up with this other guy he knows…

That other woman he chose, she’ll never be as good as you, anyway.

Whore.

Heartbroken, it takes you some time before you feel like you can go through it again. You avoid the advances of other companies, flirting with you, trying to seduce you with their titles, their (blanket) interest constantly coming through your email. You leave it unread for days. When you think you can handle it, you open it and look through, but… they’ll never be the one you really wanted.

Slowly, you get your strength back until one day you’re willing to take another chance. And when it all happens again, you feel like a fool, unwanted and cast aside.

But there’s a foot for every shoe. So you keep hoping. And you keep trying. Because someday, you’ll find the right one.

A Delicate Situation

A spider told me something I really, really didn’t like.

This was not a sweet little Charlotte’s Web moment, with some word delicately woven into an intricate creation that glistened with dew.

But if it were, the word would have been “Nope.” Apparently.

I have a lot of dreams. Not as in aspirations and hopes and future plans… as in crazy, wacked out, completely ridiculous nocturnal psychodrama. And the latest one has me not the slightest bit amused.

I dreamed that a relatively large spider spun her way down from the ceiling to my bed – my bed, people – on a thick thread of her own silk. I regarded her almost exactly the way I would regard any spider that made her way into my bed. I regarded her with disgusted, creeped-out scorn.

I hate spiders.

Then I woke up. And when I looked up what this dream might mean, I learned of more reasons to hate spiders.

Spiders, according to dreammoods.com, can indicate that you are feeling like an outsider in some situation.

In my own bed? Where I was sleeping alone? Jeez, how sad is that? I don’t even want to think about how depressing that is.

They can indicate that you want to keep your distance and stay away from an alluring and tempting situation.

Oh dear. Charlotte’s on to me. You see… oh, how do I not put too fine a point on this?… the day I dreamed this, I may or may not have been fleetingly pondering the appeal of a certain fellow whose appeal I really should not be pondering. And I suspect he’s pondering as well. He’s too young, he’s sooo not my type, and oh yeah, we work together. Really fun in theory. Disastrous in reality. And I do not do disastrous.

Staying away from an alluring and tempting situation. In my bed. Damn you, Charlotte. How did you know?

But that wasn’t all. No, no… there was still more prophecy to be revealed. Spiders are symbolic of…an overbearing mother figure in your life.

Oh, hello. Yeah, jackpot. Mother + bed = very, very bad. Catholic kind of bad.
An alluring and tempting situation involving my bed and a particular fellow who’s totally the wrong man for me (and is not my husband) basically screams my mother’s voice in my head.

And avoiding the alluring and tempting situation involving my bed and a particular fellow who’s totally the wrong man for me, with my mother’s voice in my head, means that Charlotte’s web would say “NOPE.”

In case you’re wondering, my mother’s name is not Charlotte. That would just be too much.

Ugh. I really hate spiders.