A Is For Alfredo

Man, I can’t believe January is over already!

Truth be told, though, the new year has been a bit … off-kilter.

It may have started on New Year’s Eve.

Things were “typical” enough. I attended a friend’s house party, which was completely packed, but still fantastic – just as New Year’s Eve celebrations should be. Some new friends of mine stopped by from another party, and we merry until about 3:30 a.m.

When we left, I presumed we’d either go grab something to eat, or go our separate ways.

Instead, we ended up at this other party (where they’d been earlier). I must say, the vibe, the ambience was unbelieveably random and just … weird.

A couple of us made conversation with this one guy. And a couple others came up to me.

I ended up making conversation with one of them for, like, five or six minutes. From what I could recall, it was small talk. Nothing remarkable.

At around 5 a.m., we finally decided to leave for our friend’s condo. We wished each other a happy new year … and he piped up that we should keep in touch.

Before I knew it, numbers were exchanged, and I was out the door with my friends … and a feeling I was all too familiar with.

If you know about me or anything I’ve written about in the past, it’s that (a) I’m not consistent with the word “no” and (b) I have this problem with NOT being … nice?

After my initial annoyance with myself, I sort of brushed it off, rationalizing that, if anything, he probably wouldn’t call for at least a few days.

Less than 12 hours later, I was puttering around at home, when I noticed a message on my voice mail.

It was the stranger from the party, calling to wish me a happy new year, and hoping that we’d speak soon.

Um. Huh. Ooops.

Just as I was trying to figure out how to suss out the situation, I was hit with a nasty cold virus that had been circulating, a couple of days later.

Before I felt my cold’s full phlegmy fury, though, I turned to a male friend to get a his opinion.

His verdict? This guy wasn’t looking for friendship.

Hmmmm …

Fast forward eight days later. I was alternating between working and keeping my nostrils unblocked. All I wanted to do was sleep. Social texting was the last thing I felt like doing.

Then, The Stranger texted. He was hoping I was having a good year so far.

I texted back that I hadn’t been feeling well, and apologized for not responding sooner.

And that was that. For about two weeks.

Last week, he texted. How was I doing? Was I back to work? Had I seen the movie Haywire?

Last Saturday, he texted while I was out working. He wanted to call me. When was a good time?

And on Sunday evening, he called.

We spoke for about an hour. The conversation was decent. It wasn’t horrible or weird. There just wasn’t anything remarkable about it.

At its conclusion, he suggested we should go and catch a movie, and that he’d call later on in the week.

I don’t know. I mean, he’s a nice guy. And I’m trying to give him a chance. But whatever he might be thinking or feeling, I’m not sure if I’m on the same wavelength.

I brought this up with a friend of mine the other evening. She didn’t think I was leading him on in any way (presumably because we hadn’t gone out yet), and that I should just stop communicating with him, cold turkey. No calls, no texts. Period.

I’m not so sure that’s the right way to handle this. But perhaps I should go to the movies with this guy before I decide for sure what avenue I want to pursue next.

Siiiigh.

Worst. Tactic. EVER.

Picture it: Scarborough, last Tuesday afternoon.

As mentioned previously, one of the bathrooms in our household is (STILL) undergoing renovations.

On this particular day, I’d been accompanying my mom, who was trying to find a bathroom vanity that (a) would fit a space of 42 3/4 inches and (b) that she wouldn’t look upon with regret every single day.

We pull into this little industrial-ish area -the kind where these little businesses have unit numbers affixed to their doors.

As we’re making our way towards our destination, I see two dudes in my peripheral vision come out of another unit. And although I didn’t look at them, I’m getting the weird vibe that they were looking in our direction. More specifically, at me.

Fast forward about five minutes later. The place we went to yielded no fruit, so we went to one of the other units to check. The door’s locked.

In the meantime, there’s this dude parked next to us, engine running. But he’s not going anywhere.

It’s only when when we’re making our way back to the car that he blurts out something to my mom about her nice car.

(Background: my mom owns a 1986 Dodge Colt. It’s still in good condition and – thanks to numerous upgrades by my mechanic dad, whenever a car part fails – still runs fairly well. Concidentally, this is the second time in as many days someone stops her because they are in awe of her “ancient” ride.)

She stops and goes over to talk to him for a few minutes. I warily follow, keeping my distance.

He notes how well it looks for its age. I occasionally peer at him, and the Guyanese flag/air freshener hanging off his rearview mirror.

At one point he says, “I’ll buy your car off you. I’m serious. I’ll buy it right now.”

My mom explains it’s probably not worth more than a few hundred dollars. He’s trying to be insistent about it, saying, “I’ll even drive you home.”

(This is when the red flag in my mind starts waving more briskly than usual.)

Eventually – and FINALLY, ’cause at this point, I’m feeling like a piece of fried bacon just standing there in the heat – the conversation ends and we amble over to the Colt as The Dude In The Car starts his engine.

Even as we get ready to pull out of the parking lot, The Dude still has his engine running. He hasn’t moved since we left him. Which I find completely creepy.

And actually, as my mom mentions aloud how weird the conversation was, I actually take a look to make sure he’s not following us.

I knew exactly what he was doing. And it’s not until several days later that my mom comes clean and says what I was thinking the entire time.

SERIOUSLY. Who DOES that?

And has this actually WORKED on other women?

Because where I come from, that’s not only off-putting, it’s a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Stalkerville.

SHEESH.

A Thursday Night Wing-Ding

Okaaaay …

So you know that coffee date I had a couple weeks back, where the guy (known from here on in as Coffee Date # 2 … or CD 2 … not to be confused with the very last guy, who’s actually Coffee Date # 3) asked me if I wanted to go out for wings?

Well, true to form, it happened. Last Thursday night, actually.

Because I worked downtown and we had to go to Scarborough, there wasn’t a way out of turning down an offer of a drive there.

(I know many of you think I could. But seriously, I’d like to see you try. And YOU getting to Malvern in less than an hour. Not easy. I did draw the line of him coming to my place of work, opting instead to meet at a subway station.)

Anyway, the conversation on the drive over was not as painful as I thought it would be. It was actually decent.

After a missed highway exit, we arrived at the place in question.

While the wings weren’t the best, a fair bit of our conversation early on was … okay.

But as the wings and celery sticks disappeared, it began to get awkward. It didn’t feel as if it were a normal conversation – to me, it felt as if we were having two different conversations, which just didn’t FIT together.

CD 2 was trying to get deep and philosophical, and most of the subject matter was about dating and relationships. (Again to remind you, we only had ONE other face-to-face meeting … that being the coffee date from late November.) All of it felt way to intense for a first … whatever this was.

So … why did I think I was still single?

Did I think I would ever go back to school? (Harmless enough question.)

When was I planning on having kids? (Um, what?)

What did I think were things people did on dates, to make them fail?

And so on.

He then said I wasn’t asking enough questions. (Which was probably true. But then again, he was asking a lot of questions, a few of which I wasn’t sure were appropriate at this stage.) And then when I tried, all his answers were odd.

At one point, he leaned in and asked, “Okay, I’m going to ask a question. Do you think we … click?”

And then, after what was probably a strained look on my face, as I tried to answer, he cut me off saying, “Don’t answer,” and laughed.

I felt like I was undergoing some sort of interview. I’m surprised he didn’t ask me if my family had a history of mental illness or any other major health problems.

To be fair, I suppose I was so sensitive to the questioning because I wasn’t as into him as he was into me. But STILL.

And it only got cheesier.

As we sat in the booth, in our coats, waiting for the bill …

He asked me if I could read palms and if I knew what the lines meant. Then he asked me for my hand so he could look at the lines, and started gently tapping and grazing his fingers across my palm.

“Can you feel the electricity between us?” he said in his quiet voice.

I don’t think I even concealed my “Are you FOR REAL?” face.

After we left – which took WAY too long for my liking – he drove me home … And the painful awkwardness continued.

He had Latin-styled instrumental music was playing from his car … and he said he hoped we could go out dancing sometime, ’cause he wanted to show me his moves. (I don’t think that was a euphemism.)

Then he wanted to “dance” with me. In the car. And held out his hand.

At first I humoured him, hamming it up a bit.

But then he started up again, when we turned onto my street … and he just SLOWED the car DOWN.

And then we had some strange conversation about my house …

EVENTUALLY he got me to my house and I got to leave the car. And the night FINALLY ended.

Am I going to see him again. Um, no.

In fact, I finally sent him an e-mail about it this evening. I’m sure he’ll take it any number of ways. Likely, I’ll never hear from him again. And that’s fine.

Yes, I could have avoided it. But you know what? I feel it was something I needed to do for myself.

And it helped me to understand myself a bit better.

So. On to the holidays … time with friends and family … and perhaps in the New Year, on to the next.

If there is a “next”.

A Tale of Two Coffee Dates

In the last installment of The Sitcom That Is My Personal Life, I introduced myself to – and was quickly annoyed by – the world of online dating.

But, boys and girls, fear not. Following a few weeks of sporadic visits to the Web site, I took a semi-deep breath, resolved to begin round two,  and four people contacted me in the span of about a week and a bit.

Two resulted in meet-ups, which happened just last week. While not completely disastrous, I supp0se they were … well, edcuational.

Thursday. My first “coffee” date in about two months. What I know about the guy – whom I’ll call H – is minimal. He works for a medical device company. And he likes to ask random questions in his e-mails (“Do you believe in optical illusions?” and “What did you eat for dinner?” among them).

As soon after work as I can, I hurry towards Queen Street, and just miss a streetcar.When I finally catch one about five-ish minutes later, I call to let him know I’m running late; he tells me the place we’d planned to meet at is closed. So I ask him to wait until I arrive. About five minutes later, in front of the closed coffee-shop, I see him cross the street.

H is … how do you say … petit. (As I’m now learning, whatever height is displayed on a person’s profile page, be prepared to subtract a couple inches.)

We end up at a Second Cup just down the street. When the conversation finally starts, it’s … okay. He’s a bit soft-spoken; I almost think I sound loud in comparison.

Turns out he’s only been in the city for about five months. Before that, he survived two years’ worth of winters in Winnipeg. And before that, he lived overseas. And has family all over the place.

Beyond that, I find the conversation borderline-strange in spots.

Online, he’d asked me what my favourite country was. When I divulged and then asked him in kind, he wanted to save it for when we met in person. So when I ask him again, he says Cuba, mainly because of the music. When I ask him if he’s ever been there, he says no, not just yet – he doesn’t want to spoil the image he has of the country in his mind.

“Well, you’d better go soon,” I said. “You don’t have much time.”

I also remember asking him what his holiday plans are. I figured he’d say he would spend it with relatives in Montreal.

Instead, he replies, “I was hoping you would invite me.” I think he’s kidding. Kinda. Maybe.

Gulp.

He asks me if I like downtown, to which I reply how I’d like to live closer, and I like it since I work and play down here. THIS is when I find out that – despite working right downtown – he absolutely HATES downtown. At first, I figure it’s because he drives, and the downtown core isn’t entirely car-friendly. Which is completely understandable.

No. He REALLY hates downtown. When he decides he wants to leave his current job, it sounds as if he wants to get the hell outta Dodge and move to a suburb. He even asks me why I don’t leave my current job and work closer to where I live. Eeesh.

To be fair, some parts of the conversation are easier than others. But just barely. And it’s the silences – when he’s just looking at me, blinking – that make me feel awkward.

He asks me how old I am. I tell him and then ask him point-blank in return. Apparently we’re the same age. I say apparently, because if he’s 32, then he must be an OLDER 32, despite being born in March.

When our coffee date ends, he offers to give me a lift. I say, sure, just drop me off at the closest station. Instead he wants to drive me home – because after all, it’s so far. So, gauging my instincts – and the logic, considering how far away I live – I agree.

Driving along, he tells me he didn’t even read my profile at first – just looked at my picture and, because he liked my smile, sent me a message.

He asks me – in the QUIETEST voice possible – if we could meet again. He tries taking it back, but I’ve already heard him. I say, “Maybe. We’ll see.”

A couple of minutes down the road, he asks me, out of the blue if I want to have children someday – and how many. Because, NATURALLY, this is perfectly appropriate small talk to make with someone you just met a two and a half hours ago.

(And for the record, he wants four or five – he “likes to dream big”.)

As things presently are, he has my phone number, on which he left voice-mail on Saturday evening. And he wants to meet up. Again. For wings. In Scarborough. Most of you reading this may likely write, “drop this guy”. And it’s likely I will, because I don’t really think we’re on the same wavelength. But I also signed on to this site for the dating experience. Finding a boyfriend this isn’t my main objective – it’s a possible bonus.

Saturday. Coffee Date Number Two is way the hell up at a Starbucks at Yorkdale Mall. I’ve literally talked to this guy – whom I’ll call M – via e-mail for probably the same amount of time as H, maybe less. But I get the impression that he wants to meet right away.

Arranging the day is not free of organizational annoyances. M wants to make plans for Saturday afternoon; I explain I can’t meet because of work. He responds that maybe we could meet Thursday or Friday afternoon instead, and then maybe dinner and a movie on the weekend? Exasperated and almost ready to stab my cellphone with a sharp object (which I partially attribute to PMS), I text back that, again, I cannot meet him at those times because of work, and suggest either (a) sticking to the original plan or (b) suggesting lunch, because I’m actually off that day. In the end, we sort it out.

Saturday turns out to be THE Hairiest Work Day I’ve had in a while. So by the time I leave the building, the last thing I want to do is travel a half-hour northwest to meet a complete stranger at a coffee shop. But I can’t back out now – I’ve already agreed to it.

Despite texting that I would be a bit late, I arrive at the mall on time, and find the Starbucks about 10 minutes later. As it turns out, HE texts back to say he’s going to be a bit late, as he’s stuck in traffic. So I end up ordering a chai latte and a cookie and sit.

I’m about to text my friend about coffee date bailing etiquette should he not show up by 9 p.m., when the man of the hour appears, around 8:45. He gives me the kind of hug one would give an acquaintance, removes his jaunty hat and sits down.

M is physically the opposite of H – taller and bigger. He only seems to resemble one of the pictures he’s displayed up on his online profile – which later, he tells me, was set up for him by one of his friends. His profile says he’s 29; he’s actually 31.

The conversation feels a bit more comfortable to me than the one on Thursday, but it wasn’t completely devoid of odd moments.

At one point he asks me, “So, why are you still single?” Huh? Perhaps he was inferring that he was surprised that someone else hasn’t snatched me up yet. But it didn’t come across that way. Funny, though, ’cause H asked me a similar question on Thursday.

(Apparently I have issues I don’t know about, which I need to deal with.)

This meeting is odd – not so much in conversation, but in other ways. For one, he doesn’t order anything. Okay, fine. But if that was going to be the case, we could have just met outside the Starbucks and then gone somewhere else.

But then it’s also his body language. He doesn’t take off his coat the entire time we’re talking. And I can’t tell whether he’s just a laid-back person but just a bit nervous, or disinterested – when he talks, he seems to be looking all over the place. I know people don’t tend to stare at someone they’re talking to. Their eyes wander. But it’s noticeable enough for me to – at one point – try and figure out WHAT he might be looking at.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, he asks if I want to go for a walk. So we leave the Starbucks and basically walk back through the mall the way I came, over to the subway entrance.

He says maybe we can meet up sometime; I said sure, since my schedule allows me weekdays off. But to me, he seems more of a friend than three-plus-dates material. Who knows? He may not decide to call ME back, either. It wouldn’t be a great loss.

Yep, yep, yep, yep.

And thus ends my epic for now.

THIS Works on the Ladies?

For lack of a better posting …

Boys, please take note:

If you’re trying to figure out what NOT to say to someone you’re thinking of dating –  and you’ve only talked to them once –  add the following to the list … part of an IM conversation I had over Thanksgiving weekend last month (I edited out the boring parts):

Me:  how’s it going?
Dude : good and u
Me: fine thanks …
Me:  i’ve been working a lot
Dude: nice
Dude: how is the kids
Dude: and how was your turkey day long weekend?
Me: what kids?
Dude: future kids lol
Me: that’s funny (Ed. Note: No, not really.)
Dude: dont you wanna have kids in the future?
Me: sure … but why are you asking about them now?
Dude: because when , we mixed something i have and something you have , i know we could make kids
Dude: that is why i was asking you
Dude: hehehhehe
Me: oh …
Me: ha ha
Me: ??
Me: you’re being very optimistic
Dude: people who are not optimistic , comment (sic) suciede (double sic) at the end lol
Dude: hehehehhehe

Um, yeah.

Seriously.

“Hi, How Are You?”

So a couple of you have asked whether I plan on keeping you up to date on my “adventures” with the online dating Web site I joined a month ago.

I said unless I had something funny to write about, I wasn’t planning on chronicling it too much.

I’m not sure if what I’m about to write counts as being “funny”, rather than a peeve I’ve developed while using the site (which, as of lately, isn’t very much, due to my intense work schedule).

As with most of these sites, if someone’s interested, they’ll send me a message, via the site’s e-mail service.

But in my experience so far (with two exceptions), the first e-mail consists of the following:

“Hi how are you?”

That’s it.

Possibly a variation or two.

But that’s generally the entire message.

I usually try to send more than a line in response. ‘Cause I’m a talker. That’s what I do.

But sometimes I’m just tempted to write back, “Fine, how are you?” And then just stop.

I don’t MIND if someone starts their conversation with, “Hi, how are you? My name is _____.” But at least add a few mores lines or somethin‘.

One guy that wrote me actually said, “I noticed that we have some of the same things in common …” And then he asked me a couple of questions.

THAT impressed me.  That’s PROBABLY how you’re supposed to do things on that site. I dunno. But THAT makes me want to write back to that person, to offer more information, y’know? And I did.

But others – to me, it seems – apparently need a bit of work.

I exchanged numbers with one guy I talked to, based on a Hi-how-are-you e-mail.  A day or so later, while walking to work, I heard my phone beep. The guy had sent me a text.

“Hello,” he wrote. Period.

After making fun of him out loud, I wrote him back. “Hi,” I texted. “How are you?”

“I am fines,” he wrote. (Not a typo.)

After a deep breath and rolling my eyes, I texted back, “So, what’s up?”

“Nothing,” he responded. “What are you doing?”

“Going to work,” was my short reply.

“Ok then,” he responded. And that was the end of THAT conversation. To be fair, we did talk later that week, but only because I ended up calling first, just to avoid any more four-word texts.

Another time, guy wrote me a message while I was logged onto the Web site. His first e-mail was “Hi how are you?” as his first e-mail. I looked at his profile and crinkled my nose. But I decided to give it the old college try.

And Lord KNOWS I tried my best to get a conversation going.

By the third exchange, he was all like, “Give me your MSN please.” Just like that. All he offered up in conversation was that he was about to go to bed, because he had to work the next day.

Needless to say, I responded to his MSN request by asking, “How about e-mail instead?” He never wrote me back. (Which is fine by me. Aggressive little man.)

Look, I’m not looking for poetry or a  life story in the first e-mail.

But I don’t think I’m being completely unreasonable when I say it WOULD be nice if besides an opening line, there were another two or three lines to go with it, because I’d be more likely to engage in conversation … possibly more.

I also realize that, if it bothers me so much, I can just ignore these one-line messages.  

But I’m still at the stage where – at least until I meet them – I’d like to give them a chance. 

And hey – perhaps in real life these guys are actually very talkative. 

But if I’m doing most of the work in a conversation where only typing is involved …

Am I wrong in thinking I’ll be the one doing the work in a face-to-face conversation?

So Yeah, I Caved.

So, earlier this year, a friend of mine suggested I  join a dating site for “practice”. 

And, just shy of nine months later, I have broken down and joined one.

It was a bit of a tough decision. Ever since the early days of online dating, I have been DEAD SET against joining one. And you can bet I have been judgy about it.

I was – and still am – a huge snob because I like fan of The Organic Meeting – hanging out with people at house parties, social functions, sitting at pubs, on patios, whatever.

But it took hearing from friends about someone who is going through something similar, to make me realize that I need to get off the Couch of Complacency and actually explore the other side of singledom.

So after crawling out of bed Saturday afternoon, and puttering around for a couple of hours … I sucked it up, went to the Web site my friend recommended, and created my profile by early evening.

In the space of 16 hours, five people have e-mailed me – the first, a mere 20 minutes after I finished my profile.

It’s a bit overwhelming for me, to say the least – trying to keep up with all the e-mail correspondence, gauging whether or not to e-mail them through personal e-mail, and what not.

I’m also just trying to get comfortable with putting myself out there and answering questions asked by complete strangers. I keep having to tell myself, they’re just questions, they’re just trying to get a sense of who I am.

(And of course, also telling myself, stop judging their poor spelling and sentence structure – it’s the person behind the effort that counts.)

One guy I’ve been e-mailing actually asked me at one point, “Are you single?” (I’m pretty sure I selected “Single” on my profile … Hoo, boy.)

I mean, it’s only in the preliminary stages. For all I know, I could have a coffee date at the end of the week.

Or not.

I am also trying to prepare myself mentally for going on dates with people I may not mesh with.

I just want to go at a not-so-breakneck pace. Unlike some of the people on this site, I’m not going partner/spouse-shopping.

Perhaps I’ll meet someone cool in the process.

Or maybe it’s just good practice for when the person I really want to get to know, is finally free and clear … whomever that may be.