The verdict is in

I suppose you are wondering, How’d that date go?

My Reaction: NOPE NOPE NOPITY NOPE NOPE!

Did I mention NOPE yet?

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via GIPHY

So the verdict is in: RUN AWAY.

He forgot to mention the photo he sent is about 20 years old. Which is extraordinarily substantial when you are 60 years old.

And the missing teeth. And how little hair is left compared to that photo he sent.

I realized that his brashness at the restaurant (not downright rude, but more assertive and bold than I care to have company with) reminds me too much of my father (who can be downright rude). I’m also not sure he left an appropriate tip, given how demanding he was. Having worked in customer service for many years, I pay attention to these things.

He does have a pleasant voice. The kind you’d expect on NPR, and that’s the first thing he talked about, listening to Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and Car Talk. It’s got that Minnesota Nice quality to it.

But…still nope. It got worse.

He wanted to drive down to the marina for a nice walk with the sunset. He made the assumption that I drive and could follow him down there. Nope! No driver’s license here, and I felt much better about not having a reason to go down with him to the marina.

If things had ended right after dinner, that would have been fine. I would have thought, well, we can be friends. Interesting friends. Why not?

But nope!We took a quick walk around a block before he headed out. We talked along the way. Politics came up. He said something that was unforgiveable. Heartless. Unkind. It was so terrible, it tore apart every precious moment, bit of laughter, and pleasantry with him that I had.

I don’t think he realized what a grave mistake he was making–or perhaps he did, because after delivering that line that made my heart drop, he immediately said, “Well we’ve come this far without talking about politics, sex, or religion, so I suppose we should keep it that way.”

He was dismissive of Bernie, but at least he wasn’t a Trump supporter. It was clear he was going to vote for Hillary but didn’t think she would change anything. “I like Bernie’s ideas,” he said, “but he could never accomplish any of that in 4 years.”

“How can you say that?” I said. “I never thought I would see gay marriage legalized in this country, but that happened. Sometimes the amount of progress that can be made in a short amount of time is surprising.”

“That’s no big deal. How many gay people are there in this country? 1%?”

“No, it is much higher. I think it is closer to 8%?”

“Well you might be right,” he said. And then came the line the tore it all asunder: “Anyway, what’s more important is a minimum wage of $15 an hour. That affects way more people.”

My thoughts went to Orlando. My thoughts went to the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people in this country who have been disowned and rejected from their families and live homeless. My thoughts went to the many of them who have suffered insults, injury, or death because of who they are and who they love.

You don’t know what it’s like to have someone hate you because you’re different. You don’t know what it’s like to be scared that you are not safe to walk down the street because people may be irrational and want to hurt or kill you for who you are and what you cannot change. You don’t know what it’s like to wear a mask at work and hide yourself because you need to our of survival. Real, physical survival.

By the numbers, sure, income inequality does impact more people and would be a significant change that probably would greatly benefit minorities who suffer the brunt of income inequality. But to put down any form of progress towards equality as not as important, to put down gay rights as not important, especially when the mass-shooting at Orlando was not so long ago, I can’t forgive that. In that one line, he immediately became the perfect image of an old, white, privileged male.

The Set Hour Cometh

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” – Oscar Wilde

My date with Patrick is tonight. We agreed to meet for dinner at 7. The butterflies are fluttering like mad. I am excited. I am nervous.

I am not a girly girl, and yet I kept changing clothes to decide what to wear. (Usually it is whatever: jeans and T-shirt.)

I keep telling myself: calendar date, not date date (as he put it), but these butterflies are practically running a marathon ballet here.

I read over our emails, I think about our phone call… what will it be like to meet in person?

By the end of our phone call, I felt relaxed talking to him, but now the thought of meeting him in an hour or so is throwing me back into feeling in complete disarray. So many thoughts! Feelings! Questions! What-ifs!

And I wonder if he is in his car now, driving here, having these same thoughts too.

Sunset or Fields of Gold?

Today our team had an offsite event. For team-building, we took a painting class together.

Inspired by a photograph Patrick sent, I painted something he had shown me. However, when I finished and put the painting upside, I couldn’t tell which way I liked it more.

Is it a sunset or fields of gold? Which one do you like best?

Where I’m Calling From

I emailed Patrick that if he would like to meet me, my schedule will be busy starting in July, so we should meet up soon if he wanted to get together.

He replied with how he felt at the thought of meeting me:

So here’s what I say.  If you’d like to get together sooner rather than later, I am good to go. Here’s the funny part – I’m getting all nervous about it.  “What will I say?” – that doesn’t seem to have been a problem so far.  “What if she doesn’t like me?” – too late for that, you dumbass.  It’s like I’m going to the Junior Prom; it’s absolutely ridiculous.  I WILL NOT be bringing a corsage.

He had one condition for us making it a calendar date.

One more thing (and this was going to be a short, quick note).  I’d like to hear your voice.

So to figure out the details, I needed to schedule a call. I, too, felt nervous about calling and meeting. Butterflies. Butterflies in my stomach. Everywhere.

I was supposed to call yesterday morning after returning home from my Aunt’s house. But my cousin scheduled a last minute morning hike that took longer than expected. I tried to make the hike more adventurous and interesting for my 7 year old nephew by imparting wisdom about metamorphic rock. As one can never hurry a 7 year old who is excited about rocks, the hike took longer than expected: intrigued, my nephew wanted to stop and ask me about a different rock every five steps on a hike.

In the meantime, Patrick sent the following email:

Dear F-

Just before you call, I would like to point out that what we are doing is the very essence of romance.

Patrick

When I finally called, he grumbled,  “You’re late!” But he laughed immediately, so I knew then that it was only feigned anger.

We talked for nearly 2 hours.

I felt both relaxed and confused by the end of it.

During our call, he said, “You are less than half my age. There can never be anything romantic between us.” 

He also said, “I knew you weren’t expecting this out of your Craigslist posting, nor was I.” (But doesn’t that mean some feelings are there?)

And before we hung up he said, “I was very nervous about the idea of meeting you, but now I can’t wait to see you.”

M thinks perhaps Patrick is downplaying the romance to avoid setting expectations before we meet. He did say something in a previous email about that. Along with he gets the importance to “strike while the iron is hot” in response to my availability diminishing in July.

I don’t know what to think. I guess I will find out soon. Our date is Saturday.

Cathedral

His name is Patrick. He has a son who is 3 years older than I am. C and J had Biblical names (Caleb, Jacob), so I guess you can say I’ve moved on from the Old Testament to Saints.

Yesterday I started re-reading our whole chain of emails. As Raymond Carver writes in “Cathedral”: “It’s really something.”

Even if things were to come to nothing, if we meet and decide friendship is the only course forward, this collection of emails is precious to me. There is so much kindness, sweet words full of heart and sincerity, true thoughts. It is, of itself, something beautiful–each email, a petal on a blossom that still grows.

There are still a number of questions left unanswered. As we lay out all our cards on the table, there is more I want to ask him. But I know I must be patient; things have a way of unraveling over time. If there is too much, too quickly,  it can be overwhelming and scare a person off.

I spoke with my own father yesterday to tell him about the theater tickets I got him for Father’s Day. He was very pleased with what the show was and is looking forward to it. During our conversation, he said, “You sound happy. I haven’t heard you laugh like that in a long time.”

I thought about Patrick. I thought about how wonderful it is to feel connected with someone, to want to know and share more with a person, to have someone who can make you happy even at a great distance. 

We are all blindly drawing in this life with other people, trying to construct our own cathedral in the dark.

A fire in your heart

I like him. I feel all the physiological symptoms of it. Just the thought of calling him was exciting. And at the same time I was terrified, hesitating, requiring deep breaths before pressing a button, and I questioned how to even start the call.

“Hello, Patrick.” 

“Good morning, Patrick.”

Are they the same? Do I jokingly add, “Should I call you gramps or dad?” How long should I pause to make that joke? Do I make it?
I didn’t know he was 60 until over halfway through our exchange of 30 emails thus far. He wrote that he hoped he had not been deceitful in any way of this fact. I knew he had to be older by his song choice and his jokes, but didn’t know how old until he said it. And I liked the jokes.

My heart sank when I read that line. I felt depressed. I felt lonely and I cried.

But, after thinking it over, speaking my heart as I have with other messages, I wondered why should anything be different?

We are both mature, competent adults well over 18, so why should age matter? I am not blind to what differences and conplications such an age difference might bring. My own parents were 11 years apart, and it did rise to the surface over the years.

Our correspondence continued. Why should anything be different just because of age?

I want people to enjoy my life with. I want to be with people who make me laugh. I want to share my life with people who make me happy.

Reading his emails before bedtime makes me happy. Reading my saying so made him happy.

I dialed. Voicemail. Damn.

But I like his voice. I hung up and dialed again. I really do like his voice. I left a brief message that time, nervous and unsure what to say. It’s not like I had prepared for this. I hope he likes mine.

Is it terrible that I want to dial again just to hear his voice again?

Deep thoughts before bedtime

Did I just fall in love with a 60 year old man? Shit.

He joked I should call him for Father’s Day. He has a son close to my age.

The number of emails we’ve exchanged in a week’s time is higher than anyone else. When I see a new email him just before bedtime, my heart beats faster.

He is a romantic. I laugh at his old man jokes. He sent me a photo of the sunset outside his home. He adores my emails as much as I his. He gets it. We get each other. 

Did this really just happen?

The Fall Out

How quickly feelings can change! It is funny to me to see my post on jealousy now. I had started it a few weeks ago but have had so much to do these last few weeks that I didn’t get around to posting it until much later, and the same with this post…

Things have ended with C. Is it temporary? Is it permanent? I do not have the answers this time. What I do know is that any feelings for him have been replaced with pity. I feel sorry for him.

He won’t talk about feelings, any kind of feelings, and keeps me in the dark. We’ve had moments where I feel he is drawing me in, and then when he seems to realize what he’s doing, I am cast back out again. It has been very confusing. He will feel comfortable around me and let slip something personal, but once he realizes how deeply personal it is, he clams up.

We had a real nice time together, chilling and listening to music at his place on Tuesday. I haven’t had that pleasure in a long time, not since a college roommate and I would play vinyl records together and chill.

But on the same day, we had our falling out. Our humor slipped past each other, and there may have been hurt feelings both ways. Maybe my joke was too much; maybe a double entendre with a 42 year old is a bit much and hurt too deeply. It’s possible that he’s never been in a relationship before, and if he has, he never let slip any details or mentions of them. So a joke about lack of sex may have hit home for a 42 year old virgin, at least that’s the only explanation I can fathom.

Or he just became upset at me for unearthing feelings, and he doesn’t know how to handle feelings. Or he doesn’t even know his own feelings and how struggles to understand them himself.

I guess there are many possibilities.

I asked him to be direct to me and tell me if he was upset or angry with me. At least then I could apologize, but he just became silent and refused to answer. I tried to make light of the joke with a fitting set of gifts that had been in our conversation. 

When he saw me for an event we had previously planned to go to together, he returned the gifts. I felt an anger, a deep-rooted, buried anger in him. And it hurt my feelings to return a gift. If he had dropped it off at Goodwill, I would have been none the wiser. Maybe I know too much about Vikings and gift-giving, but to refuse a gift, to give it back, is practically a declaration of war and hostile intentions.

I spent a week writing an email to him. I am here for him if he needs a friend. If he doesn’t, then he can continue as he was before I met him and go back to his life as if we had never met. It is terribly sad though. As they say in the sagas, “there are few words between us now.”

He responded to the first paragraph of my email and said he was still digesting the rest, that I read too much into things. I have heard nothing else, and it’s almost been a week.

I really did like him. I had fun with him. But I guess that’s how it goes sometimes.

Wading in the Sea

After that event, I tried to recover from the pains of jealousy that still tugged at my heartstrings, the vibrations of which felt like a guitar whose strings have been plucked with the notes seeming to last an eternity.

I am not a dating app girl. I admit I have never tried one, but they all strike me as so unappealing. I want to get to know people as who they are, not a selfie. So much of my attraction to people comes from how intelligent they are. If the impression a person gives me is that they are an idiot, I would never date that person.

It’s like I have a sign you see at amusement parks: intelligence must be this tall to ride.

As I wondered if I needed to change and if I need to take more risks (my cautiousness is almost a 100% on the IPIP-NEO personality test), I began trolling (or is it more trawling?) through the dregs of what Craigslist has to offer. I found mostly dick pics (definitely not interested in meeting the face of someone who puts that in their post), and then one pictureless post that stood out among the sea of dicks, like the sight of some beautiful tropical island within one’s reach who would otherwise drown in all that effluvia.

We exchanged a few emails. It was interesting and exciting. His name was David, and we asked questions back and forth about music relationships, bucket lists. Our exchange lasted about a week before he fell off the radar. “Fires at work” he sent a few days after my last email. I responded with a short note, he did the same with more news about needing to travel for some time, and I couldn’t tell if it was a polite way of ending the exchange. It was unfortunate.

But his posting inspired me to write my own. I held my breath and posted an ad on Craiglist.