On Friday night I met my date at one of my favorite restaurants. The Naam is a hippie hangover establishment, all-vegetarian fare, mismatched wobbly wooden chairs, sitar-heavy soundtrack playing between live sets by a folk guitarist. To be sure, it’s not for everyone. My sirloin-loving best friend becomes surly whenever I dare mention the place. It’s a chancy choice for a first date, but every so often I stop playing it safe and go for what I really want. Being a quasi-vegan vegetarian, it is a rare pleasure to be able to scan an entire menu and make a real decision about what I want to order instead of waiting to ask the server what dish the chef can de-carnivorize.
Okay, so my meeting place wasn’t particularly bold. According to his Plenty of Fish profile, Jim is also a vegetarian. It was one of the indicators that led me to be cautiously optimistic about how the date might go. There were other signs of hope. His messages were exceptionally polite and warm. He grew up in the city my last date referred to as the world’s “most hideous place”. Yep, Los Angeles, the city where I’d lived for five years and the place I am hoping to return to, if someone could every spur the immigration sloths into reviewing my file. And not once did I squirm while reading his messages, feeling a need to find solace in this favorite book of mine.
Jim showed up making a wonderful first impression: stylish coif, designer glasses, fashionable outfit. I know there is a stereotype out there about gays being style experts who give straight guys makeovers, but gay men in Vancouver rarely exhibit any sense of how to dress to impress. Vancouverites would not find that remark a poor reflection on themselves; rather, it would show that I have my priorities out of whack. Sorry. My shallow concern for my appearance blossomed while I lived in that Most Hideous Place and I haven’t quite shaken it.
The date with Jim turned out to be one of those rare occasions when conversation flowed easily and more and more connections surfaced. Everything clicked. I had no doubt that the interest was mutual and, as we hugged goodbye on the sidewalk, Jim mentioned getting together again. By the time I’d reached the ferry, he’d texted me to say again how much he’d enjoyed the conversation. Some who follow dating rulebooks might find that contact too soon, too desperate, but I found it a perfectly natural extension of a pleasant dinner out.
We texted back and forth a few times as the ferry was late and Jim asked for my last name. “It feels a bit tawdry only knowing you on a first-name basis,” he wrote. That told me two things: (1) He has an odd definition of tawdry and (2) He wanted to Google me.
I should not have been surprised. Such is dating life in a virtual world. We’d met online. Why wouldn’t he conduct an internet search as well? I have a very common name. Perhaps he’d find some scandalous bits about a few of my namesakes. As an author, I get Google Alerts whenever my name appears in the Google search engine. Among other things, I have died twice this year. The obits were very kind.
When I awoke Saturday morning, Jim was on my mind. The conversation had been that good and his background proved truly impressive. Was he too good to be true?
Google got the better of me, too. I have never come across his last name before so the links that surfaced were direct hits. Sure enough, Jim did earn a degree at Stanford. And Harvard. Yes, he worked as an executive for all the major companies he mentioned. There were references to his time in Amsterdam, in Portland, in San Francisco, Chicago and, of course, L.A. As well, I found links to affirm that he’d actively campaigned for an iconic Democratic senator, worked on California’s campaign against Proposition 8 and served in a prominent role on a national minority rights organization in the U.S.
Checking Jim out online proved as fascinating as chatting with him in person. Intelligence is a sexy quality to me, as is political activism when it is a cause I also believe in. For now, let’s say that Jim is too good, but totally true. Wow.
One oddity did surface during the search. He graduated from the same L.A. high school as my alcoholic, former coke-head ex. (Why name him. Alcoholic Former Coke-Head Ex has a nice ring to it.) They attended at the same time with Jim finishing a year before AFCHE. Do they know each other? Now that I live in a different country, I’d say that commonality is plain weird. Thankfully, high school was oh so long ago.
It’s all a go after the Google. Apparently my deaths didn’t scare him off either. We’ve arranged for another dinner date next week. Only so much can happen online.