After rotating through Match.com, Chemistry.com, eHarmony.com and yes, even jDate, I decided to quit the online circuit and go it ‘au natural’. I’d meet a man the old fashioned way; in the grocery store, running at the park, at work, heck maybe even walking my dogs in the neighborhood. I committed to clean clothes, clean hair and a winning smile at all times. Maybe it would just ‘happen’ if I stopped looking.
Fast forward 8 months; I was in the biggest ‘dry spell’ of my life and my 40thbirthday was looming. Apparently ‘stopping looking’, that old mantra of the married and the recently hooked up doesn’t always result in the arrival of ‘the One’. In my case it resulted in the arrival of a case of wine and a new vibrator.
Halfway into a bottle of Chablis on a Friday night I decided to admit defeat and return to my spiritual and sexual home, Match.com. Now that my vision of ‘finding the one’ had long been replaced by ‘finding a regular hook up who can fix my garage door opener and pays for dinner on occasion’, surely Match.com could find something along those lines for me?
Cue Eric. Tall, dark, skinny with a witty profile, that exuded self effacement and modesty with profile pictures of a wilderness man – bearded, backpacked and beaming. And the photos were crystal clear. No wonky eye or mole in evidence. In fact, he looked just my type and a good ‘friend’ candidate regardless – our hobbies matched and he said he ‘loved other people’s dogs’. Well it was a start.
Cutting to the chase, I emailed him to get the ball rolling and a ‘casual coffee/ interview’ was scheduled within a few weeks. Over the years I’ve come to hate the ‘cup of coffee’ interview. You’re being assessed, you’re over caffeinated and it’s typically daylight. You can’t dress up or you’re ‘trying too hard’, you can’t dress down or you’re ‘not making an effort’. Add to that the sign that magically appears over your head ‘On a First Date’ to everyone in the coffee ship and it makes for an uncomfortable hour for anyone. Plus, unlike the evening ‘drink’ option, you know no-one is going on a coffee date and getting laid, so any excessive flirtation feels seamy and anything other than a handshake, too forward.
Back to Eric. We arrange to meet for coffee and a ‘walk in the park’, a suggestion I give him props for. Walking and talking is always more relaxed. You’re not staring into each other’s eyes and awkward silences can be disguised as ‘taking in the scenery’. Plus he offer to ‘walk a dog’ if I needed to. Since walking my dogs is about as relaxing as water-skiing (and feels somewhat similar), I declined but appreciated the dog friendly approach. Maybe this was going to be the start of something good. Not great, but good.
He approached me standing in line and I was shocked. He was exactly as he’d looked in his photos. Twinkling eyes, beaming smile, dark hair, skinny and tall, tall, tall. Yum. We sojourned to the park and walked for an hour, jumping from topic to topic with ease and laughing at the usual oddballs enjoying the park.He was charming. He didn’t talk about himself and yet conversation was fun and easy. I was thrilled when he asked me out on a real date, ‘for dinner’ the following week.
Our second date morphed from dinner to a ‘home cooked’ dinner. In agreeing to host, I envisioned us laughing over wine, leisurely picking through the courses and then retiring to the sofa to watch the fire, maybe make out.
Opening my front door, I was surprised to be greeted by a handshake and an empty handed one at that. Trying not to be mealy mouthed, I put Eric’s lack of wine or flowers down to his lack of artifice, which also explained his crumpled lumberjack shirt and unshaved face. He was comfortable with me. He didn’t need to impress. And this was just a casual dinner – nothing fancy. Of course a welcome gift would have been nice, or even a ‘lovely home’ comment .. but hey, he was a guy. Maybe he wasn’t brought up that way?
I welcomed him into the kitchen and we chatted while I opened the wine. Surprisingly he waived his hand and declined with a frown;
‘I don’t drink wine’
‘Oh. Can I get you something else?’
Actually I don’t drink alcohol’
‘Oh nothing like that. I don’t like the taste and it makes people stupid’
Oh boy. Good job he hadn’t met me on a Friday night out. Or during my 20s. Or last week. Actually this wasn’t going to be easy. I’d never been on a date with someone who didn’t drink anything. It seemed unnatural. And not something I was planning on adopting. Suddenly my movie of the evening was revising itself… never mind. No wine, but we still had delicious food, a fire, Miles…
‘Can you turn the music down?
‘Sure. Would you prefer something different?
‘Actually I don’t really like music’
Damn. I’d been so focused on checking for moles and detached retinas that I hadn’t noticed his lack of music ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’. Who doesn’t like music? Its like saying you don’t like birdsong. Or laughing. Or wine.
As Miles was silenced I moved back to the kitchen. Eric asked probing questions about my countertops and tiling, commenting on their unusual nature without offering any opinion. I was reminded of my mother’s comments before I left the house on a teenage date ‘Mmmm that’s an interesting outfit’. My countertops were ‘interesting’, my kitchen was ‘interesting’, my house was ‘unusual’ and I was ‘interesting’. Hmm that couldn’t be good. I like to think I’m interesting, but not alongside my countertops and tiling. After all, I don’t want to make out with them.
We ate in silence, only punctuated by his requests for more tap water and my litany of questions intended to regain the banter and ease of our first date. His work, his hobbies, his friends… it all petered out and I found myself back on the subject of my kitchen. That had seemed to stir his interest, maybe that could put him at ease and get things going again. He didn’t seem to want to talk about himself or even ask me about myself, but maybe I just needed to get him going.
20 minutes into his soliloquy on faucets (stainless steel or brushed nickel), I regretted my tactic. As he informed me that he’d spent the last 4 weeks traveling around the state choosing his new shower faucet I realized that while Eric might not talk much about himself, he sure could talk a lot about faucets. And flooring. And tiling. And grout.
I know that everyone has the aptitude to get a little obsessed when you’re working on a project, but this was insane. 20 minutes on faucets. 45 minutes on grout colors and consistencies.
I tried changing the subject. I mean everyone likes to talk about themselves right?
‘So I saw in your profile that you recently went to Costa Rica. That sounds amazing. What did you get to do? Were you diving?
‘Actually funny you should say that. I had the most amazing shower in Costa Rica. It had these really cool pebbles inset on the floor and you’d think they’d be uncomfortable but actually……….. and guess what, I’m going to have those very same pebbles inset in floor of my shower!.. its amazing the colors you can get and you can arrange them in any design and I’m thinking of going blue and some pink….. but you know its really hard to make a decision about the size and the degree of smoothness, but because you have really smooth but then you might slip but too rough and its like having your feet loofah’d every time you shower and who wants that right….’
Pebbles for his shower floor. For 35 minutes.
I yawned. I stretched. I didn’t refill his water glass and he continued on. Moving from faucets to flooring, from kitchens to paint. Time took on new meaning. I felt the Botox leaving my forehead. I could hear dust settling. But without stimulus and in the quiet of my living room and I realize Eric’s downfall. He was a bore. He might be tall, skinny and good looking. His eyes might twinkle and he might have outstanding taste in home improvement but his personality was DOA. Along with my hope of a new beau.