I snagged my first Match.com date based on a slightly blurry photo of him and his chocolate Lab. Kneeling beside a smiling dog, the trail ablaze with autumn color, Mark looked my type- tall, skinny, dark haired and from what I could make out, big nosed. My Jewish man fetish doesn’t extend to tefilin or beards, but glasses and a big nose is a must. The invention and adoption of Lasik was a sad period in my life; the increasing absence of beau’s in glasses can only be mitigated by a working knowledge of Woody Allen comedies of the 70s and a full head of thick black hair. The photos were somewhat blurry, but Mark seemed to have the physical profile down. We exchanged winks, tentative emails and then discovered the immediate gratification of IM. Within a week I was excitedly pouring out my heart while I looked at photos, typing like a crazed person and sucking up every smart comment, every quip as fast as he laid them down.
Finally I couldn’t take it any longer. Three weeks of intense emailing and IM had resulted in carpal tunnel in my wrist and a permanent state of arousal which nothing could curb. I had to see him, move past the smiley icons and suck him up for real. Since he didn’t seem to be pushing to break free of our online infatuation I asked, well begged, him to meet me more wine and ‘maybe more’. What can I say, I was out of practice and horny as hell.
I practically sprinted into the bar and spotted a tall, dark stranger sitting alone at a dim and intimate table with a bottle of wine and 2 glasses. It couldn’t be anyone else but him. I practically shouted ‘Hi Baby!!!!!’ and dodged chairs to get to our table. As I slide into my seat, my winning smile froze.
Have you ever seen a truly cross eyed person? Both eyes, completely detached from each other?
It’s truly quite alarming.
Eye #1 was completely at war with Eye #2. As Eye #1 swung wildly towards my ear, Eye #2 was off examining the wall art. I grabbed the bottle and poured a slug trying to generate an appropriate ‘non reaction’.
Looking up and asking him how his day was, I tried to follow Eye #1 thinking – ‘it’s looking in my approximate vicinity, maybe he’s actually looking right at me?’ But Eye #1 had other ideas and took off around the circumference of my head. Eye #2 meanwhile was fixed on my chest. Well that’s not unusual except it was getting really hard to decide where to look and frankly, I was starting to develop a bit of a headache, chasing his eyes around, trying to make contact.
As Mark started to regale me with a story about his drive, I decided to settle my gaze on his nose. Middle of the face, doesn’t move. And I do love myself a big nose. Only then did his true blessing become apparently. A mole. A mole to end all moles, sitting smack in the middle of his nose.
Wow, his karma really must have been shot in a previous life.
Mark’s mole had not 1 or 2 hairs, but a positive rainforest sprouting from its depths, (and there was texture to it – waffled and crustaceous this thing was more than three dimensional). I swear you could have found Jimmy Hoffa in that mole. It was mesmerizing. It was hideous. And I couldn’t look away.
As Mark continued to ramble (who knew a 25 minute drive would take 25 minutes to recount), I sipped my wine and took stock of the situation;
On the ‘con’ side, he’s cross eyed – unfortunate and a little hard on the concentration – but not a killer. His mole, while decidedly scary, is removable. On the ‘pro’ side, he is tall, he’s skinny and on the basis of our emails, he COULD be my destiny.
Maybe, because of his unfortunate physical ‘challenges’ Mark was an unpolished gem. Someone overlooked by shallow women that had recoiled from the moon pie on his nose or skittered away from his detached retinas. Maybe I would be the first to fall in love with his inner perfection. After all, someone who’s had to fight hard in life to be taken seriously, to be respected, has to have strength of character, a winning personality, the smarts to take him outside of the realm of the physical. He HAD to be the nicest person in the world.
I’ve never drunk so much, so fast, in my life.
I figured that fortification would only help bring to light the delights of my new love. So he wasn’t perfect, but Mark GOT me, his intellectual sparring had kept me in front of my computer until 2am and we had so many things in common. Music, art, movies, eating out, dogs…
‘So Mark, I loved that photo of you and your lab on the trail. How old is he?’
‘Actually he’s not mine. I can’t remember his name. I was just looking after him for the weekend and I thought girls like dogs, so I had someone take a photo for my profile’
‘Oh… (pause).. But you like dogs?’
‘Not really, dogs are too much hassle. I prefer birds’
In his profile, Mark had mentioned his passion for remodeling and we’d chatted online about the pain of Home Depot runs on the weekend. The curse of shower curtain rings and grout. I knew we’d connected over our desire to make a home…
‘So how’s the remodel coming?’
‘Well my Dad is being a real pain about the new toilets’
‘Toilets? How many bathrooms are you remodeling?’
‘All of them. And with 24 units that 48 toilets’
‘Oh you didn’t mention that you owned an apartment block. I thought you were remodeling your house?’
‘No. Its actually my Dad’s apartment block on Martin Luther King Avenue. I’m actually kind of the caretaker/ maintenance guy’
‘Oh wow… that’s… cool. So you are helping him remodel the whole thing? What a project!’
‘Actually he’s letting me live in one of the apartments rent free while I help him out. Plus he paid my bail so I owe him’
Evidently, one little omission from Mark’s romantic history was his 7 year relationship with a married woman, Cheryl. Whose husband filed a restraining order to keep him away from his wife. An order that he later broke – on Cheryl’s request of course – that eventually resulted in him having to leave the state of Ohio.
Booted from a state? I thought that was only possible in Westerns and mafia movies. It turns out that if you are a person of such sterling character and reputation, and you piss off a judge enough times, you can be banished from bars, cities and yes, in rare cases, even states. It seemed that Mark was quite the overachiever.
I kept drinking. It was the only way to close my gaping mouth.
I was on a date with a man who was not only a felon, but a felon of such character that he was evicted from a state. A whole state! All of the Woody Allen movies in the world hadn’t prepared me with any retort for this scenario. So I drank.
I drank through his work challenges, his financial woes, his troubled relationship with his mother, his love of online gaming and pro life protests. I learned about how his father abused him, kept him tied to the apartment building by limiting his salary and therefore his drinking. I learned about how, even after the restraining order and the eviction from Ohio, he still loved Cheryl and believed they’d be together one day. And I learned that online profiles and 950 emails tells you absolutely nothing about someone. And that fuzzy profile pictures have a lot to answer for.
A bottle of wine only contains 750ml and I consumed 90% of them in 35 minutes. As Mark excused himself to the restroom, I excused myself by necking the remaining 10% of the bottle and calling for the check. Paying before his return and bolting for the door, it was abundantly clear that dating wasn’t going to be as simple as I thought. And love wasn’t going to be knocking any time soon for either of us.