New Romances, Part II

August 8 – August 14

So I was dating again. Or at least looking for dates.

After getting over the complexes that plague my ideals of love and my ideal love interest, I was ready to dive into the never-before charted realm of online dating. Eager to just see what came up. I was good enough and interesting enough of a catch, and the app I decided roaming on, Coffee Meets Bagel, guaranteed its users at least one match a day. So after the first day, I wasn’t discouraged by these doubts or insecurities. I had to mentally shine and polish myself if I was going to end up with anyone, if I thought I was worth it to anyone. Because with the wrong attitude, you could end up with the wrong person. Wrong was not was anyone was looking for. So bring on another two weeks, fourteen days, of these guaranteed matches.

I averaged 6 matches per day.

I’ll give CMB that much credit– if you are specific, they will listen. My matches from the second day onward were by far an improvement compared to how discouraging the first day was. And still, in that Discover tab, was the never failing hoards of interested profiles that sadly I could not reciprocate. So this was the scene, THIS was what Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg were talking about when it came to Modern Romance. First hand, here it was: I was getting a plethora of choices. And did that feel good!

LEARN YOUR LESSON, WOMAN

I won’t go into the specifics of all that I matched with, just a few highlights. And in the beginning it was, surprisingly, more of the same. The first guy I ever talked with had a great smile, more on the scrawny side, and proudly displayed a photo of himself uncontrollably smiling as he sat next to a famous talk show host on the set of her phenomenal daytime TV show. That was eye-catching, but not as much as where this lad was from– not the Bay Area.

With the paradox of choice that Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg explore, I do see a benefit to this search for The One while trying to obtain as many “choices” to choose from for being the One, and yet being ultimately unsatisfied at settling from having so many choices. For me at least, the notion of dating outside of your geographical range is the most exciting. I’m no stranger to this, having two exes living in different time zones above 3 hours from mine, one met via social media. But as proven from my experiences, it’s not a likely way to find love; still, it’s a visibly unique way to globalize, on an intimate level that really connects the world. Silly as it sounds, but I’m grateful for at least that aspect of modern dating– dating outside your norm, when your norm is just whatever’s within a 30 mile radius. So a man from Australia would just be another fun prospect.

Naturally, when all else fails, the weather is here to save the chat. It was a rather nice week that day, much to his chagrin– he was just coming from Dolores Park, and a pretty bad sunburn was imminent. I suggested some Aloe Vera, made some corny joke, and then nothing from him for two days. Then he came back– still picking up the convo. where we left off. How I wish we could have left his sunburn behind on Day One. If you can’t even find a way to get out of a mundane conversation to something more interesting and natural, then I guess it’s just not a fit. When our day of reckoning came up, I told the app I would pass. All the charms of globalization failed to redeem themselves. With this Australian, I too would pass on any future matches that would mean long-distance, ever again.

He never even told me why the fuck he was on TV.

FISHERMAN (LITERALLY) AMONG FISH

This match was too good not to discuss. And yet too terrible to ever think about how I THOUGHT about giving him a chance.

A subtle closed-mouth smile that echoed Mona Lisa mystique and a decent haircut, dark brown blazer over what I vaguely remember as a striped sweater. Worked at Google, played guitar. What he was looking for in a girl wasn’t that impressive with his one-word answers:

My ideal date is someone who: INTERESTING.

I gave him a shot because yes, he was cute. But he looked familiar. That name looked like I had read it before somewhere. And it was not just any common name for a guy, at least nowadays. Mr. T we’ll call him, moving forward. It was only an after hour I first accepted him did it all become clear.

He had applied to my work. For an opening on my team.

Just a month before Mr. T was the talk of my work team’s Gchat group. How could he not….he was the first guy ever to make it to an onsite interview for my team, an all girl task force endearingly dubbed the Content Convent. Could Mr. T break through the barrier? He seemed promising– definitely something else. I would not say overqualified, but if you were an English major from Portland and had previous experience as a park ranger and saved a man from drowning in a commercial crab fishing accident, you undeniably have something going on for you. Really, this was all on his resume.

But where he lacked in personality– and perhaps a soul– he made up in these adventures. His onsite was terrible, and no more was heard of with Mr. T again.

Until…

MR. T: It’s fate!

I applied to your job a while back. I saw your photo on the blog and thought “She’s hot.”

I should have known/regretted this whole decision immediately at just those first words. But maybe he was just awkward. If we found each other on fucking CMB, it didn’t hurt to entertain the situation. I responded something a bit indifferent yet comical–it only got worse. And I was forgetting whether or not I had signed up with CMB or Tinder. Because it was all feeling like the latter.

Just because I have since deleted the app, I won’t recite most of these conversations verbatim– but they were cringe-worthy enough just to remember without referencing the original messages.

Mr. T:

  • If we were working together, we would have gotten each other fired.
  • I was an English Major too! Are you trying to become a teacher? (only later did I realize he was being sarcastic)
  • What are you doing tonight?
  • There’s a party going on, think we should meet up. It’s in my pants (WHO USES THIS LINE ANYMORE)
  • You busy tonight (the next day)

Good riddance, Mr. T.

NONDRINKERS AND NO-RESPONDERS

He had dark brown curly hair, piercing big blue eyes and his main profile photo was winning as he smiled innocently and candidly. He was also a recent USF grad, and we rejoiced in fondly recalling days of Dons past. But he didn’t drink.

He seemed really sweet and very interested in my time as a Don. But he didn’t seem interested in where I was now, the city at least. He worked and lived out of San Mateo and he seemed very content there. He was, as he said, “over the city.” Maybe I’m thinking small, but with the frustrations and hate that I may find myself having for San Francsico– never have I been over it. And the fondest memories made here, still to be made, have admittedly involve good company– and alcohol.

At the end of our road, it would have been because of me, not you.

And then the ghost. You would have thought that the blonde from my second day seemed interested that I had just come back from the Stanley Kubrick exhibition over at the CJM that afternoon with all his exclamation marks used. But nothing. It’s OK. I had barely any sleep from an anxiety attack the night before and I was dead at 4PM in a heavy sleep. Waking up to nothing except a better peace of mind was all that was needed at the moment, not a response.

AND THEN, PROGRESS

I really enjoyed his company, truly. Yes, with this one, he was my first CMB date.

His initial photo had him looking perplexed at the camera, the Pacific Ocean looming vastly behind him. He had a beard, which I never was really into, but damn it did look good on him. A few scrolls over into his other photos revealed a lovely smile and some humor by the way he mockingly looked at an art exhibit with such pretension. He was studying dentistry here in the city, but upon matching I was very excited to learn that he was not just an English major– but asked about my favorite books. One dream had come true when John Steinbeck could become my perfect wing man.

After much discussion of our influences, his passion for really helping others in an exciting hands-on field as being a dentist, and how he was looking forward to the upcoming Outside Lands that weekend, we knew we wanted to meet. At least, that’s what he asked me about after nearly three days of conversations that just seemed to flow naturally. Even if it took hours in between responses, we always got back to each other. He seemed very receptive to my own pursuits and read my blog, and even gave great feedback. I was swooning before that Thursday afternoon we would meet.

The original plan was to meet at the cafe across from the Duboce dog park, but friends and my sister thought something closer to a bus and less out of the way for me would be an easier escape route should things go south. Fair enough. So the bar and restaurant for some drinks at the top of the Yerba Buena Gardens– my favorite lookout– would have to suffice. Plus, he said, it was definitely more convenient as his campus was just a few blocks away.

It was cold that Thursday, and in the crowd that poured out from the restaurant I spotted him from the window reflection bundled up in a windbreaker and wide-eyed. He had a pleasant voice that I thought would be deeper– maybe the beard made me imagine a more burly tone– and I can’t recall whether or not we shared a hug. It was obvious that our restaurant of choice was not ideal for being that packed. Back to Duboce Park it was.

I got to hear about his family and early days of transplanting from UC Santa Cruz to SF and his family, all while we waited for a delayed N car underground. I think in that time there was no better way to really get to know each other than rush hour– when your true colors would be tested to come out. Though I think he handled it well– as did I, despite holding on for dear life to the railing in that sea of disgruntled, fatigued humans. I was just all smiles.

That was the thing. With this young man, it was so natural to smile lots and just carry on the conversation from one topic to another– about each other’s quirks and political views (me laughing as I declared being ‘woke), to his outlook on life helping others, and feeding into my quirks (“DON’T FORGET THESE” he said referring to the napkins as to move tables away from the hoards of fruit flies drowning in our glasses of red wine. I am a shameless napkin hoarder). Down to earth, quick on my humor, and most wonderfully, fascinated at my ideas and pursuits.

Mostly, it was the dogs. He was quick to note by liking “anywhere near dogs” from my CMB profile which led us that moment there at the top of the grassy knoll, a bench damp from the looming fog and looking down onto the dogs and their owners passing through, playing, taking poops. Oh, yes, he could get why I loved being around these silly, happy-go-lucky creatures we’re glad to call Man’s Best Friend. It’s all you could want. Someone to watch dogs with and convince to participate in next year’s Sexy Jesus Contest down at Dolores Park. I mean, with that beard, I assured him, he had as good as a chance as being crowned as the other contestants.

The N car was approaching again, this time to take us back into the city with its headlights flooding the dark streets around us in Duboce Triangle. The dogs were gone, the cafe was closed, but there we both were. Still talking, still laughing, and me still smiling. At the end of the night as we both parted ways to our respective bus stops– him to the Richmond and I to Pacific Heights– we were both off the dating app which had first connected us, his number with a Central Valley area code lighting up my screen with the hopeful yet simple suggestion to meet up once more.

But he never got another date, sadly. Because I was soon to be taken over in a series of dates that lead to the moment I had been waiting for. With someone else.

Meet Him in NEW ROMANCES, PART III.

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