Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On Line Dating - II

In February, 2007 I swore I'd never on-line date again. Then in October, 2007, with the realization that forever is an interminable amount of time, I attempted on-line dating one more time. Today, I've come to the realization that maybe on-line dating really isn't for me. Am I destined to a life alone? Well, that is an unpleasant thought. And anyone ever walking into this house realizes "alone" is definitely subject to interpretation. Summer's on its way and this house resembles a zoo, or more appropriately, and insane asylum during warm weather.

I have to admit, that on-line dating has become an amusing source of frustration. My tongue firmly planted in cheek these days. And once again, God has impressed upon me His/Her warped, sick and wacky sense of humor. A very sage southern gent keeps reminding me that this whole concept of dating is a numbers thAng. Plus, it only takes one. I get all that, but my numbers seem to be seriously skewed! Per my little ol' dating website, my profile recently surpassed 4700 views. Why am I putting that number into cyberspace? Boggles the mind doesn't it? Do you want to know how many dates I've had out of those 4700 views? Two. Both dates with the same guy back in November. If this is a numbers thAng then I am seriously in trouble.

Back in November, when I was unjaded and filled with the promise of many, many dates I met Don. After a few emails, we decide to meet. He teaches architectural history at a couple of Chicago colleges. We graduated from the same University a year apart, our kids are similar ages and we had similar interests. We agreed to meet at a little restaurant in LaGrange called Palmers. Now, I should have known better than to meet there because that restaurant has bad karma all over it from my blind date with a cop. Note to self, never agree to go to Palmers on a date EVER again.

We never actually made it to Palmers because on my way into the parking garage, my car battery decided to the middle of the entrance to the garage. Ever multi-tasking, I stopped in the entrance because the lockbox to pay for my monthly commuter parking is attached to the parking garage. Since no one was behind me, I hopped out to drop off my check. Out of habit (I's the only reasonable explanation there is) I turned off the car. Fifteen seconds later, when I hopped back into my yellow beast attempting to start the engine nothing happened. CRAP!!! I looked up at the heavens above me thinking this can't be happening. It was. It did.

Yes, folks, no one could enter the garage until my bright yellow vehicle moved its butt out of the way! And my bright yellow vehicle wasn't moving out of the way until the battery got a well needed jolt of juice! Yes, God has a seriously wacky, wacky sense of humor!

So, I call Don, praying that he has jumper cables. He didn't. Neither did I. Mine were sitting on the floor of my garage. An excellent place for them, don't you agree? He pulls up behind my car. We introduce ourselves and I can tell he is a bit put out by the turn of events. I want to tell him, "Sweetie, you need to learn to roll with the punches...especially if you are going to hang with me. My life is chock full of rolling with punches." But, I don't...tell him that is...and decide to wait and see how the evening plays out.

A friend comes to my rescue who admonishes me for not having jumper cables in my car and shakes his head when he learns where they are sitting. How bad would I look if I told him that even if the jumper cables were handy, I wouldn't have a clue what to do with them? Don follows me to the dealership where I drop off my car so they can install a new battery in the morning and we go out for a drink to a little bar by my house. After a pleasant evening of conversation, he drives me home.

OK...that went well...he passed the rolling with the punches test after all. We both have a nice time and agree that we need to go out again sometime...soon. So, we do. On Friday, we meet at a bar near my office where we bump into a table of 10 guys with whom I work. Don asks if we can go to another bar. Sure. Do you not like the idea of my office-mates nearby? I rather liked the idea of them in eye shot since I didn't really know Don that well. Realizing it could be rather disconcerting for him, I agree to go somewhere else. We have a couple of drinks and great conversation. He brings up the subject of moving our relationship at a rather slow pace. Whew! I am very content on moving slow; refusing to make the same mistakes I made earlier in the year. (Offering the opportunity to make room for new and improved mistakes.) Slow...good...Mary likes slow...snail pace slow...excellent. I want to be friends first then work on the whole relationship thing. Sounds like a great plan. He drives me to my car parked at the train station. And attempts to maul me.

What the hell happened to slow??!!?!?
He apologizes.
I get in my car and drive away.

On Sunday, I get an email telling me that he has thought of me continually since Friday. He can't wait to see me again. Call as soon as I get this email. Even if we can only spend an hour together it would be great. Tempted to log on to to make sure I understand the meaning of slow...because his meaning is WAY different than mine, I email back stating I'm flattered, but gently remind him that we were moving slow. He calls to apologize for mauling me and for rushing the relationship. He suggests I call him sometime - on my terms - and we will go out. I do just as he suggests. I call a few days later, got his voicemail, left a message suggesting we go out and never hear from him again.

Yep. That went well.

I took the holidays off, but once January hit, I was back on track; seeing who I'd meet. I'd wink. Email. Respond. They all lead down dead end roads. Until I met Jim. His pictures were a little quirky, but they were definitely creative. His profile stated that he recently moved back to Chicago after being away for 15 years. He was looking for someone to reacquaint him with the city. It also stated he is a photographer which explained some of the interesting shots. I made the bold move and emailed him. Which once again proved that I should never trust my instincts.

His return email was a poem stating that I inspired him. Not sure how my short note could be inspiration, but being a muse always boosts ones ego. We emailed back and forth, yet his emails were always in poem form. Little did I know what that foreshadowed. We exchange phone numbers as I planned to be in his area the following week. When he called I realized that not only does he write letters as poems, he only speaks in rhyme...and in the third person. At first, I was intrigued. He made rhyming and third person conversation appear so easy. In less than 5 minutes, I was irritated. Jim also had an alter-ego named Mr. Positive who recited daily affirmations. Between the rhyming, third person and alter ego, I was praying the conversation would end soon. We had two phone conversations. Both were surreal at best.

My kids have a knack for interrupting the most important of phone calls with the least important crisis. Once while discussing a real estate deal with a client, Adam complained that there weren't any pizza rolls left in the freezer and wondered why I didn't hop into our car and careen off to Jewel to pick up more for his hungry little belly. Although both Kat and Adam are accustomed to my withering stares during these incidents, I too have become accustom to their popping into a room while I'm on the phone.

When they were younger and they attempted to interrupt a phone conversation I'd launch into the 1, 2, 3 checklist. They knew the first finger held up meant, "Is somebody bleeding, or is a major appendage broken?". Two fingers meant, "Is the house on fire?" Three fingers meant, "Is someone dead?" If they answered "No" to all three questions, whatever crisis they were experiencing better wait until I was off the phone. Do you think that during either of surreal phone conversations they interrupted with crisis du jour?! No! This is the first time in their short little lives they chose to respect my privacy. I'd have happily faked a house fire, broken leg, or immediate purchase of pizza rolls!

(Be careful what you wish for.)

Soon I received an email from Fred who is a governmental consultant in Iraq. He was coming home in April, saw my profile and was interested in getting to know me. His message stated that if we hit it off maybe we could go out to dinner when he got home. I read his profile, but did not respond immediately. Although intrigued by his profession, he mentioned wanting to meet someone who could pick up at a moments notice and travel. That is SO not my life! I decided to write anyway, but before I could put fingers to keyboard I received a slap across the face...all the way from Iraq. I was internationally picked up and dumped before I could even respond.

Fred's second note stated he noticed that I checked out his profile, that I seemed pretty, but my profile wasn't anything special. He compared our salaries and stated that I obviously wanted to be taken care of, but wondered why he would he want to take care of a 46 year old single mother, when he could have a 26 or 36 year old woman. Then wished me luck in my search. OUCH!!!

Fred made me crabby! I sent Fred a note back thanking him for showing me his true colors before I wasted any more time and suggested if he needs the merits of a more experienced woman spelled out over a 26 year old girl we truly had nothing to discuss.

This is just ridiculous!!

Then I met Steve. Steve is quiet. Sweet. A vegetarian Buddhist(?)/Hindu(?) high school teacher who is currently on a cleansing fast. I tend to be hyper at times, so a serene person sounded like a very good thing to me. His voice was soft, controlled and his words were carefully thought out. Someone who could ground me when I move into warp-speed. Steve and I chatted for quite a while. When we finally figure out the logistics of meeting, Steve drops a bomb on me. This is one I never saw coming. Neither will you.

Steve told me that he joined a tantric sex club. Yes, you read that right. This time I used to make sure I understood the meaning of tantric sex, "a Hindu philosophy combining spiritual and indulgent sexual practices". Yep, except for the Hindu part, I was pretty spot on that definition. In this club he is partnered with two women and they help each other "heal". Clothed or unclothed. They assist each others' every need as they "heal." Clothed or unclothed. His concerns were whether he could hold a monogamous relationship if he entered into these sessions unclothed. Ever the PR rep and being as diplomatic as humanly possible, I ask for the website (which I have since forgotten...sorry folks) to do my own research before destroying his phone number. Rather than just falling off the face of the earth, I called to say that I couldn't meet him - but wasn't honest enough to tell him that it was due to his club. I chickened out. Ever diplomatic. Ever the wimp.

Honestly, you can't make this stuff up!
Please note, the above names have been changed to protect the truly wacky.

Around the same time frame I start chatting with two men. One fairly distant, and one local. David - the fairly distant one, is from Georgia. He is charming, funny and has two teenage daughters. The local guy, Mitch, has just been accepted to grad school, divorced with a young son. I "met" them both within days of each other. It was the weekend where I successfully juggled waaaayyy too many activities in one day. A talent that I have almost honed into an art form.

That Saturday, Kat was going to her turn-about dance and Adam to a birthday party. In the morning I worked at the real estate office for a couple of hours. Mom dropped Kat off at the office so I could take her out for a manicure. After that we picked up her friend, Marina; bringing her back to our house. Alex, who's father rescued me and my dead car back in November, came by to do their hair for the dance. While she made them gorgeous, I watched Alex's 22 month old daughter, Ryan. Quickly remembering that 22 month old toddlers have the energy equal to a nuclear blast and an unquenchable curiosity. She is one busy little girl!

Once Marina was gorgeous, I drove her to a friend's house for group photos and dropped Adam off at the birthday party. Only to get home, say good-bye to Alex and her mini nuclear reactor, help Kat get dressed, take pictures and drive her to the dance since her boyfriend had to work that night. Come home make a quick dinner. Whew! Relax for a few minutes until Adam arrived home from the party. He and I chatted for a while until I left to pick Kat up from the dance. Her boyfriend stoped by from work with a custom made pizza from his job. (I like this kid!) Then a few more of Kat's friends arrive on our door step. My day started at 7AM and ended at 1AM. These are typical days for me when the kids are home. Occasionally an open house, or house showing is thrown into the mix - not to mention errands, grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc.

I've always joked that I would never date anyone out of state since I don't have time to date anyone within my own zip code...but maybe that's the whole problem. If I dated someone at a distance, I would know to take a weekend here or there to be with that person. So, that night, with that thought in mind, while a variety of high school kids and Adam were sitting at my kitchen table, I expanded my search. And I "met" David. I don't even know what I entered into my search, but there he was. His profile simultaneously touched my heart and made me laugh. Parts of it were beautiful, other parts hysterical. Although very far away, I knew he was someone that I would want as a friend. He is now someone who I hope is going to stay a friend...albeit a very long distance friend.

David answered my initial letter and told me up front he was dating someone. Normally, I'd just say thanks for the note and wish him the best, but instead I told him if they ever came up to Chicago, I'd happily be their tour guide, or give them some "non-touristy" places to visit. From there we built a friendship. His emails have made me full out belly laugh more than once. He occasionally becomes my dating cheerleader with an email question of "'s Match goin'?" Generally not well.

It's sad that the best rapport and conversations are with a man 11 hours away...who is dating someone. Once again proof that God has a wacky, warped and sick sense of humor!!! But I like my new friend and hope that one day he and his family will trek up north. I'd like to meet them.

That same evening I chatted with Mitch; exchanging phone numbers, he mentioned that he preferred to write vs. call. He thought it would be more romantic. He marveled at my busy schedule and asked if we could meet the following week - which was Kat and Adam's spring break. A few weeks prior I had injured my back. It has yet to heal properly and at the time I was busy coordinating an MRI, as well as jumping from doctor appointments to chiropractor appointments and coordinating a visit of one of Kat's friends from our old neighborhood. I explained that once I knew those logistics, I'd let him know when I was available. After looking at my calendar, I suggested Tuesday. He suggested Monday. I had an appointment that day. So I suggested Wednesday. I didn't hear from him. When I wrote again, I received an email stating that my schedule is extremely frustrating and disappointing. I KNOW!!! Babe, you are preaching to the choir! I wrote him back; apologizing for not making the time to meet him. I'll never hear from him again.

That is when the realization hit me that many non-custodial parents haven't a clue as to what life is like for the custodial parent. Kat and Adam are with me 12 out of 14 days. When they are at their dad's they are not even gone a full 48 hours and my Friday evening every other week is spent driving 1 hour north to his house and driving 1 hour home. Their dad is not faced with coordinating who needs to be where and at what time. It will ease up when Kat starts driving, but until then my life is very full - bursting at the seams full. Between working full time, a part-time real estate career, side projects and attempting to be a present parent to my children, my time is limited. Throw in an unscheduled MRI and doctor visits and the whole mix is off kilter. Is it an excuse so I don't have to get close to someone? Or is it a fact of life for me right now? I don't know the answer. How do I fit it all in? If the right guy came along would I know? I hope so. I've juggled it all before because I wanted to be with someone. Hopefully, I'd do it again.

My dating life was turning into a sieve with more men leaving than arriving. The eternal optimist keeps saying, "All you need is one."

Continually giving "the good ol' college try", I found a profile of a man who lives in the next town. He is an architect. A widower with 3 small children. His profile could have been written by me. I sent him a note. He wrote back stating the same thing. It was uncanny how similar our profiles were. Unfortunately, he felt zero chemistry towards me (which I read as, "You are not cute") and wished me well. Yep...God...wacky, wacky sense of humor!

After that, Kat announced she is glamming me up and taking new pictures of me. She says I'm beautiful. But then reminded me to make an eye doctor appointment because she needs glasses. My life is filled with irony.

So my on-line subscription expires in a couple of days. The masochist in me is very curious as to what else can befall my attempts at love and romance in the on-line dating world. The optimist wants to believe that there can't be any more like Jim, Fred and Steve. The realist is beginning to wonder if I am just an actor in God's universal sitcom.

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