Judging someone by their photos is always a disaster, because you are almost always consistently wrong about who that person is, or even in fact what they look like. In photos, I look like a voluptuous femme. In person, my manner is that of a car service dispatcher having a manic episode. The man I met for my second date looked in his pictures like a bearded rogue, sweeping a woman away in a passionate tango across a dance floor. When he actually arrived, I involuntarily murmured the words, “Oh my god.”
This second date was also late. An immediate lesson I learned this week was to not bring your baggage with you into new experiences. Though he was probably only about 15-20 minutes later than our assigned meeting time, I was pissed and pacing the street in front of the coffee shop like we’d missed the last whistle for the Polar Express. Consciously, I forced myself to think, “This is a new person, this is a new person.”
When I finally sprang on him as he walked towards the doors of our meeting place, I still couldn’t stop myself from spewing some garbled story about how I thought I’d gotten stood up the night before after he apologized. That sounded weird, so I said, “I made a resolution to go on two dates a week,” which sounded weirder.
“Two dates a week?” he laughed, “You must be busy.”
It is time consuming, but I’ve been “life hacking” my social schedule. He didn’t know it, but I’d picked that coffee shop because it was near my gym and the place I buy cat food. Dating has become another errand, and I’m working it in.
When I say he didn’t look like his photos, I don’t mean he wasn’t handsome, he just was not my style at all. He was wearing a hat. I can’t explain it, but a hat with a brim that goes all the way around kills all erotic desire inside me. Or if you ALWAYS wear a baseball cap. I understand and respect that this is a part of many people’s identities, even aside from religious and cultural reasons for covering your head, but it just baffles me if you have no obligation to do it. My first impression was that he must be a bad magician, or someone who plays the accordion, also badly, and I was afraid of what the next 45 minutes would entail.
There was nothing to worry about, because it soon became clear that this man was on a friend date. Whether he decided this before he met me, or my yelling in the street when I saw him clinched it, I don’t know. We sat in a beautiful park in Clinton Hill, and just talked. This guy is an actor, in town for just the summer from Paris. A tourist, touring friendship.
All around us, lovingly-tended babies were rolling through the grass, roses were blooming, birds zipped by twittering their pointy faces off. You couldn’t ask for a more romantic afternoon setting to fall in love, but we definitely weren’t. Yet, after a little bit, it dawned on me that I was having a nice time.
My date had a very long, circuitous way of thinking and talking. He’d begin with a topic and take the scenic journey through it, a kind of free association with his own sense of reality. I sat there and absorbed. There is a voyeuristic part of me that enjoys trespassing on someone’s inner landscape, and he threw the gates right open. I walked inside. I looked around.
He also listened! Men on dates are terrible at listening. I can get someone to talk about themselves for hours, but it’s so rare to have a guy ask you a question, listen to the answer, then ask several relevant follow up questions. Most of the time, they talk and then leave thinking it was a great time. In no particular rush, my date seemed willing to let me mosey through my thoughts at the same speed he had luxuriated in. It turned out to be a very nice afternoon.
And then he had to go to a meditation class, which he sent me a link to, suggesting I try one of their one week silent retreats.