It hasn’t been very long, but somehow it feels like long enough: I need to dive back in.
I don’t need a man, but after the amount of time I’ve spent without one – married but disconnected, sleeping apart – I want a man. Just now and then, though. I definitely don’t want a marriage: Divorces are expensive, I already have a pair of them, and perhaps most important, my lawyer refuses to give me a punch card.* I’m not convinced I want a commitment, either. I’m just not there yet.
What I want is just some conversation with someone who isn’t female. Dinner at a nice restaurant. Someone to flirt with on a dance floor.
Cripes, I know a lot of women.
Anyway, I have a theory about life: No experience is wasted if, at the end, I have either a had a good time or gained a good story.
Match.com it is.
*Yes, I asked.
Quick synopsis of my first match.com date:
We met at Starbucks. I ordered, and paid for, a cup of tea.
There was a brief, strained conversation, mostly about how little luck he was having on match.com.
I attempted other conversations, but they seemed to lead nowhere.
He spent his time checking his watch. Now, if he had a nice Swiss watch or some cool Inspector Gadget-type watch, I could see him checking it – but it was a pretty regular Swatch deal.
Similarly, if he had a job, I could see where he might have somewhere else he needed to be – but that wasn’t the issue either.
So, as I had somewhere I suddenly remembered I needed to be, I was off.
I wasn’t too upset about date #1, because a) he was boring, and b) I already had a nibble from a second prospective candidate. He emailed me with:
Cute pics with an intriguing profile, hmmm…….. I enjoyed reading your various interests and activities. You do bring diversity to the table. So what did happen to your grandparents in the Holocaust? I am curious.
If I’d known it was this easy to get a date, I would have filed for divorce several years ago.
I thought it was a little odd that he opened with a query about my Holocaust research – which was mentioned in passing in my match.com profile under hobbies (genealogy). But his profile mentioned some things that were interesting to me: specifically, his involvement in the Jewish Film Festival – I studied film in college, and my father would die of happiness* if I showed up with a nice Jewish boy by my side. So I replied.
He got right back to me:
I was raised in what is known as “Messianic Judaism”, meaning we include a belief in the Messiah into our cultural and traditional practice of Judaism. My parents were never asked to deny their faith in the Messiah during their conversion, so it still remains as part of the family fabric.
I’m confused and intrigued. Messianic Judaism? I had no idea there was such a thing. So what I have here is a Messianic Jewish Tax Accountant who volunteers at a film festival. He mentions that he enjoys writing, which may or may not be a plus, because I note he’s managed to use the word “passionate” in his profile and each of five emails, so I’m wondering exactly what it is he writes.
We agreed to meet for coffee at Starbucks.
I arrive and he looks just like his pictures. I have trouble deciding whether this is a good thing. We chat awkwardly for a few moments, and he starts telling me about his kids, who sound relatively trouble-free (always a good thing), and his fabulous relationship with his ex-wife, which should probably be a good thing, but it sounds a bit too good to be true which leaves me … vaguely skeeved.
I fiddle with my ring – a sapphire ring I am now wearing where my wedding ring used to be, because a) I own a sapphire ring and b) I’m used to having a ring on that finger. He stares at said ring, searching the facets for hidden meaning.
He doesn’t ask. I can’t believe he’s even wondering. Dude, I’m half Jewish – why would I leave perfectly good jewelry in a drawer?
I inquire about work, which seems like a safe enough topic – and it is, because there’e nothing to talk about. He’s unemployed.
Okay, on to the important stuff then: Please explain Messianic Judaism, I say. I’ve never heard of this before.
He starts to tell me about why his family converted: Basically, if you really want to be a Christian, you have to do it the way the Bible tells you to, which is the Jewish way – the orthodox way.
He has no yarmulke (nor hair to which to attach one), and doesn’t keep kosher. I make further inquiries along these lines, and then decide I’m hopelessly confused.
Since he had mentioned he went to Israel, I ask about that. He becomes very enthusiastic. He goes there every other year, apparently, and always makes time for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial.
He makes lots of time for Yad Vashem.
I want to explain to him that I am familiar with Yad Vashem, since I myself have placed memorials there – for my great-grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, and my cousins, all of whom perished in about 1941. I don’t get much past, “I know it -”
Oh! He wants to know – have I seen the hall of children? It’s so moving.
Well, I’m familiar with it – what with having young children in my family who perished at Auschwitz, sure. “I know it -”
Oh! He tells me – you must go! You cannot really understand the Holocaust until you’ve been to the Holy Land and Yad Vashem and seen what they did to our people.
No, sir – my people. I have nothing against religious converts – in fact, I’m all for it. I think it’s great that someone has spent time and mental energy on religious matters and made an informed decision. But, from what I have gathered, his people were in New Jersey in 1941, the same time my people were being buried in mass graves.
What mean you we?
It’s a bit of a challenge, but I move him on to another subject – right before it’s time to go. He concludes with a lengthy speech on “taking it slow.” He’s concerned that I am only recently separated – I should have been a bit more upfront about this, he says.
I would have mentioned this earlier, I think, but we were busy discussing your job – the one it turns out you don’t have.
He mentions “taking it slow” again as I reach to shake his hand goodbye, and he hugs me.
*You know, plotz.
I was on the fence about #2, although maybe not as on the fence as I think I was – I got home from Starbucks and almost immediately logged in to match.com to see what else might have appeared in my inbox. Someone had added me to his “Favorites,” so I shot him a quick email, and went to bed, thinking, “Well, #2 could be interesting to go catch a movie with.”
You know, “take it slow.”
The next day, I receive an email via match.com:
Thanks again for taking time to talk yesterday, i enjoyed the visit.
A few minutes later, I receive a similarly worded text message on my phone.
And a few minutes after that, a similarly worded email.
Dude, I’m thinking.
The day after that, I receive another email via match.com:
I was hoping to chat further with you. Is that something you are interested in?
Well, it might have been, but it isn’t now.
I wandered through the match ads and found one with a photo of a man – slightly older, but nice looking, with what was clearly a Thoroughbred horse. It’s hard to look at all these men’s profiles and think of something to say on a subject that matters to me. I drink wine, sure, but I don’t converse about it – wine seems to be a big topic on match. I cook, and cook well, but so do lots of people – in fact nearly everyone, if match is any gauge. I don’t camp – at least, not willingly – and although I might go on a hike or bike ride from time to time, I’m not sure I’d want to make that my opening volley. I could end up with someone who would be sadly disappointed to discover that not only am I not outdoorsy in the least, but I prefer to spend my Saturday nights cracking jokes MST3K-style about vintage movies with a crew of twitter friends*.
Horses, though, I can talk about. One of the more redeeming aspects of my childhood is how unwholesome it was – my mom loved horseracing and I spent many a weekend at the track. I saw Seattle Slew win the Triple Crown and watched Affirmed nose out Alydar the following year. I had a crush on Steve Cauthen and asked the groomsmen to give him notes from me.
So I fired off a note to Mr. Horse Lover. And he replied the next day:
Thanks for the note. Too small of a world… I was at the Seattle Slew/Affirmed race as well. It’s a vivid memory for me. I lived up in Westchester at the time. Horses are a big part of my life especially during racing season of course. I see you’re from Kirkland at present – that about splits the difference from where I work and live. Your job must be interesting to say the least the last couple years being stock market related!Would love to get to know you more. Keep in touch!
I must be mis-reading. As with wine, I don’t consider myself to be expert about horses – but Seattle Slew did not race Affirmed at the Triple Crown. Different years. Different races.
Maybe his grammar just sucks, and he needs an editor. He meant to say “Those are vivid memories …” That must be it. I can do that. I edit people all day long. I used to return my dyslexic cousin’s letters to him with the spelling corrected.
So I reply, ignoring the error and making friendly inquiries about where he keeps his horses, where he races them, and the length of his commute which sounds … painfully long.
My horses live at the track when they are in training, but board up at a friends farm in Granite Falls when they are on vacation or still growing up.
My office is in Bellevue and I live up in Mill Creek, so commuting isn’t the best part of my life but I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule so thankfully I can often avoid the worst of it all!
Always enjoyed following the markets so I’m sure your job would still be interesting to me, although my savings and investing these days is mostly in the hands of my 401k people… for better or worse!
I hope you holiday is going well too!
Hey you? xo? And I’m supposed to answer this … how? There is literally nothing in his bizarrely affectionate reply for me to respond to.
I spend two days trying to come up with a reply that doesn’t leave me feeling annoyed, and then decide that annoyed is perhaps not the best way to kick off a relationship of any sort.
Back to the search results. Too bad about the horses, though.
* aka, tweeple. There, I said it.
It gets tiresome poring over picture after picture and profile after oddly similar profile on match.com. I send winks. I send quick emails. I receive a few, some of which I respond to, but most of which I ignore.
I calculate a 10% response rate.
I get bored.
Then I get a random “like” – you know, like on Facebook. Someone has “liked” my profile picture and posted a comment to me: “What a gorgeous smile!”
Well, flattery will get you everywhere, especially when you’re a handsome, successful, upper-40’s male who likes theater and wine. I decide to overlook that in his profile picture, he’s wearing a turtleneck sweater of the sort that went out with Dieter and his monkey. I’ve always had a weakness for eurotrash. There, I said it.
So I reply with a polite Thank You and an inquiry about his wine activities.
He replies the next day explaining that he volunteers at a winery, and would I like to share my radiant smile with him over a glass of wine, perhaps?
Sure, I reply. I suggest some dates.
And though I can see he logs in to match daily, that is the last I heard from him.
I waited a couple of days for The Winemaker to follow up with plans for a date, and when that didn’t materialize*, I went back to the trenches: the endless, repetitive profiles of either seemingly awesome or terrifyingly repulsive men on match.com.
Suddenly, there is something new. Someone has added me to his “favorites” list.
Someone, obviously, with very discerning taste.
Someone who has not contacted me, though.
Maybe someone needs a little encouragement.
I can do that.
I read his profile and he likes to travel and wants to do more of it (me too!); he likes to cook and wants to learn to do it better (me too!); he read The Help (me too!). I fire off a quick email.
He replies really, really quickly. He has lots to say … about his cheesemaking classes, about every single topic I mention in my profile, about The Help, about traveling by cruise, and please write back.
I do write back, a day or so later, but really only have the energy to address about half – or less – of the ground he’s attempted to cover in his response to me.
He writes back, again, quickly – and again, at great length. He tells me about how he makes ice cream all the time and asks my favorite flavor. He tells me how he reads a lot because he listens to audiobooks in his car during his commute, which is an hour each way. He tells me about all the groupons he’s bought for various adventures and he’s just dying to use them – with someone.
He’s about to start a two-week vacation over the Christmas holiday – more of a staycation, since he isn’t actually going anywhere, nor does he seem to have any plans, although he makes some passing remarks about finishing up his divorce paperwork.
I verify that his wife has moved out, and learn that he lives out in the country – on five acres in a town with … not much in it. He owns a tractor. He and his wife tried to sell the house, evidently, for a couple of years, but what with the market the way it is – and not a lot of people want five acres in the country.
Myself included, I think.
*That was over two months ago as of this writing. He still logs in daily. What I can’t figure out is, why?
The emails between myself and Bachelor #3 go back and forth, back and forth. It’s almost Christmas, and it’s quiet at work, and I can’t quite concentrate anyway. He’s taking a two-week staycation, but has no plans, so he has lots of time to email back and forth, back and forth.
Match has an IM system, which he catches me on. We chat back and forth, back and forth.
My daughter is bored. She’s on staycation, too, and not getting a lot of attention.
He’s still chatting, late into the evening. I say, I have to go watch Glee with my daughter now, and when he does not stop chatting, I simply walk away.
When I return, I see he’s been attempting to discuss the various plot points with me via IM.
I resume the conversation, and he finally, hesitantly asks, How soon is too soon to meet someone you’ve met on Match?
I think: the sooner the better – why waste all kinds of time getting to know someone in a virtual world only to meet them and discover they’re stinky or something?
I say: If you are trying to ask me out, send me an email and try your luck. You never know.
Then I go to bed.
The next morning, I have an email in my box that he has sent within five minutes of receiving my IM. It reads:
I’ve really enjoyed our conversations. You’re smart, funny and have a pretty smile. Would you like to meet up for coffee or lunch? As you know, I’m on vacation…Not that I’m trying to rub it in. 😉 I’m busy with my son on Saturday but I’m free after 8 on Saturday or any other time you’re free. I can meet during the week if that works better for you. I can promise good conversation and at least 5 laughs. More if you have a good sense of humor. What do you say?
I’m a little concerned – I feel like I have no life at the moment, and yet I am not free any time someone else is free. Not by a longshot.
But I say, fine. That sounds great.
Now that I’ve agreed to go on a date with Bachelor #3, we exchange actual email addresses and make plans for our date the following week. In the meantime, he sends me emails. Lots of emails. I reply.
86 emails in one day.
I give him my phone number. He calls me and we talk – for two hours or so. Late into the evening.
It’s all I can do to get off the phone, even at eleven pm.
When I’m off the phone, it’s all I can do to remember what his voice sounds like, except that it’s the voice of a boy – unnervingly young. It troubles me that I cannot remember the sound of his voice.
I’ve read books and articles about how memory works: first things go into your short term memory, and from there they are filed away into your long-term memory. But if you don’t have time to process them properly – like, say, you are in a car accident and lose consciousness – then they don’t get filed away in your long-term memory. They are gone forever.
Or, if for your every waking moment, your attention is consumed by something else. My daughter had observed this phenomenon when I was married to The Departed: I repeated myself constantly, asked her the same questions over and over, sometimes minutes apart during the car ride home from school. My life felt empty, but my brain was engaged, constantly – elsewhere.
But at the time, I don’t think of this. I don’t have time.
I get a wink on match.com, and check out his profile: decent-looking, age 44, and like me, interested in cooking.
The one flag here is that at age 44, he lists himself as “never married,” which in my universe means, “I have commitment issues.” But that’s okay because I’ve developed some commitment issues myself recently and wouldn’t mind just hanging out for a bit.
So I wink back.
I hear nothing for a couple of weeks. I also don’t give it much thought past, What was the point of that? And then an email appears in my box:
Thanks for returning my wink. I see we both have a strong interest in food. Any favorite cookbooks you would give your endorsement to? Any interest in meeting for a conversation? I hope this does not sound harsh but if you work for Bank of America I’m not interested in meeting.
Now, I had mentioned in my profile that I work at an investment bank, and in an attempt at humor, added the request that prospective matches please not picket my house. If you’re that upset about the evils the big banks have inflicted on the 99%, why are you answering my ad in the first place?
And another thing, maybe I need this job. Maybe I’m a single mother with no other way of paying my bills and the only job I could get to feed my child was with an evil empire? Would it be wrong then? Think carefully.
I debate with myself for several days about how to respond. I come up with a long, involved story about why I work for Bank of America so my child won’t starve but am actually a whistleblower helping to uncover their abusive practices and send regular reports to the Attorney General.
I don’t bother to reply.
I get a message via match: He’s clicked the “Sorry, but I’m not interested” button. Match sends me an automated email telling me not to feel discouraged, with helpful suggestions as to who else might be more interested.