Wednesday, July 6, 2011

MAKING THE COFFEE ROUNDS

Twenty years ago when I was first trying to figure out the dating scene, I might have agonized all day waiting for a phone call that never came and then scrawled my desperaton and despair in a journal that I stored underneath a stack of t-shirts in the closet. God forbid anyone should read it.

Now I blog. That only makes it slightly more public--people have to want to read what you post--, but it's still odd. At least I'm not killing a tree.

I have been single now for seven years. It's my longest streak since I first walked into a Dallas gay bar at the age of twenty-four. That night, I abruptly left, frazzled and perplexed, after an inebriated guy skillfully spelled his name (D-A-R-R-E-L-L) and kissed me on the nose. My first thought at the time: "Huh?!"

Since then, I've fallen in and out of love three times. The first time, I was too closeted, too insecure. The second time, I got involved with someone I knew was wrong for me from the first date. The third guy seemed perfect for the first nine months before the cracks started to show. I stupidly remained committed for another six plus years. I was relieved, even exhilarated to finally regain my freedom.

Now I'm just bored, restless, impatient. And I continue to walk away from every dating episode with the same thought: "Huh?!"

I've had three coffee dates in the past month. Dud, dud and double-huh.

First came Ward, an earnest TV documentary producer. At 53, he was seven years my senior. Not a big deal, except I noticed age spots on his tanned hand as we introduced ourselves at his local Starbucks. I should recall more about his line of work, but what stands out from that meeting was him taking and explaining frequent pee breaks because he drinks eight liters--yes, liters, not glasses--of water a day. He texted me before I got home, eager to meet up again. My work and his work made the next two weeks an impossibility. He agreed to contact me after returning from a business trip in Banff. Never heard from him again. I'll assume he got maimed by a moose while refilling his water bottle at one of those pristine freshwater springs.

Next was Darius, a 25-year-old law student. I should never have responded to his first message, but curiosity got the better of me. No, it was not ego. I don't need to feel some sense of affirmation by having a guy twenty-one years younger than me by my side. I wanted to know why in the world he'd contacted me. Daddy issues? Looking for a financial supporter? It turned out that he desperately wanted to connect with someone he perceived as educated. My three degrees, including one in law, fit the bill.

I showed up at a downtown Blenz, thinking I'd at least have something to write about. Turns out Darius only gets two paragraphs. For an hour, he knocked the Canadian education system and everyone his age. They were all beneath him. I am guessing (and hoping) they surpass him in the area of social skills. He messaged me the next day and I didn't for a moment feel the urge or the social obligation to reply.

And then there's Ross. Of the three, he's the only one I initiated contact with online. Our date was only two days ago and I'm still feeling raw from the experience. He was the date that mattered. I felt uncharacteristically nervous driving to Delany's coffeehouse on Denman. As he'd included a "must love dogs" line in his profile, we'd agreed to grab a coffee and walk along the seawall with my dog in tow. At first glance, I thought it was another mismatch, but then he took off his sunglasses, smiled and I knew something was possible.

Beautiful day, fairly smooth conversation. It was a Fourth of July without fireworks, but something to build on. The only sticking point I could detect was the fact I had unexpectedly moved out of the West End a week ago. Yep, I'm a ferry ride away for the next two months. I didn't sense it was too big of a deal as Ross is from Victoria and is accustomed to ferry travel a couple of times a month. He did say that the last guy he dated was from Surrey and his friends questioned that distance. I know the type. Life beyond the West End? Unthinkable!

As we parted, Ross mentioned "next time" and said that he would program my number into his cell, a rather daring statement I thought. I keep numbers on Post-its since deleting a cell phone contact would require me to upgrade my tech skills. As I headed home, I felt relieved, even elated. At last I'd get another chance at the Holy Grail of gay online experiences: a second date. I sent him a message later that evening, indicating I'd enjoyed the walk and suggesting a bike ride or meal should he want to meet again.

No response. I don't know how many times I checked my email yesterday. Damn you, Air Canada! Don't tell me about your 10% off offer. Curses to string of emails from my writing group listserve! My inbox was filled with clutter. No new messages from Plenty of Fish.

So I'm right back where I started from. "Huh?!" At this point, maybe I'd even welcome a misguided kiss on the nose. Something is amiss. So far, I've coped by wondering What's wrong with online dating? and What's wrong with Vancouver guys? At some point, I may, however, have to regress to wallowing in What's wrong with me? Oh, don't make me go there!

2 comments:

Rick Modien said...

Wow! Nicely done. Thanks for sharing this part of you, for allowing us to get a little closer to the person inside.
You've reminded me of what it was like to meet men, so hopeful each would be "the one." And I have to admit I don't miss it. Not one bit.
I give you a lot of credit, though. At least you're putting yourself out there. At least you're making the effort. At least you haven't given up.
Never give up. You know it will all be worth it when it happens. And it will.

Rural Gay said...

Thanks once again for the comment, Rick. You are the perennial optimist. I once was, but reality keeps knocking me down, deflating me. Try again? Maybe.