Sunday, June 22, 2014

TORTOISE DATING

             Even the photo downloads slowly!
Among foodies, slow is trendy. Slow cooking, slow eating. Let that soggy Cheerio dissolve on your tongue. Okay, foodies probably don’t consume boxed cereal. What do I know?

And, really, let’s go broader with that question. What. Do. I. Know?

Not much. At least with regard to food and that oversized mysterious element…dating.

Case in point: Tim.

I was smitten with him, I messaged him and on Friday we had our first date.

All good.

But let’s backtrack. Way, way back. My first smitten moment occurred eighteen years ago. Yes, same Tim. Yes, eighteen years.

I am the ultimate tortoise. S……L…….0…….W……..

No chance of whiplash.

Eighteen years ago, Tim and I played in the gay volleyball league, showing up on Friday nights for novice play. I noticed him and he, well,…maybe he noticed my errant bumps sending the ball flying onto his team’s court, interrupting play. That was before I became skilled at yelling, “Yours” during every point. My best volleyball maneuvers involved athletic minimalism.

Unfortunately, I carried that minimalist ethic over to my hopeless crushes. Over the years, I saw Tim at many volleyball events. He didn’t last long at the novice level. Most guys improve their skills and move up. As is constantly evident, I am not like most guys. Novice was my niche. But there were tournaments. He’d be there, a stunningly handsome distraction. I always felt that if a marketing executive from Crest or Colgate ever strolled into Vancouver, Tim would be scooped up to be their television spokesman. He has a million-dollar smile and then some.

So how does a tortoise actually land a date that is eighteen years in the making? Well, Tim’s profile has been on Plenty of Fish for a while. A rather long while. It proves how ridiculously obtuse Vancouver gay men are. Or maybe I am not the only tortoise.

I leave shortly for an extended vacation and I plan to delete or deactivate my online dating profiles. Still, I continued to see Tim’s profile pop up. I have had dozens and dozens of Fish Dates, but there seemed to be one piece of unfinished business.

Yeah, why not?

I messaged him. I went for broke. I mentioned the volleyball days and that dazzling smile. What’s the worst that could happen? A delete, a block, a restraining order. I don’t get over to Vancouver that much anyway.

He messaged back.

Let me repeat that: He messaged back!

It took weeks to finally meet for coffee and that almost never happened. Twice I sent messages that went unreturned. I waited a week, agonizing over the silence, and then dared to message again. He claims he texted but perhaps his words got lost in space. Sometimes I miss the days of plug-in phones and answering machines.

With any other guy, I would not have sent another message. But pride can be overvalued. And lonely.

It seems fitting that we finally officially met on yet another Friday night. He greeted me with that mesmerizing smile and a big hug at the café counter. Normally, I would be a jittery mess, but I immediately relaxed.

In the first five minutes, I’d revealed my inner geek with a reference about “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” when he mentioned Minneapolis. And he stayed. Within ten minutes, we were recommending various books. (How refreshing!) We chatted about our common experiences working in elementary schools and the fact that we recently worked in the same school district. We had plenty in common. More importantly, we engaged in real conversation, a true back-and-forth.

This is going well, I thought. But I have thought that before only to be messaged later about the lack of a spark. I tried to stay in the moment and block out any notion of a disappointing Day After brush-off message.


He suggested we go for a walk along the Stanley Park seawall. As I returned the coffee mugs, he scooped up my jacket and stowed it in his satchel. After half a block, he offered me his extra pair of sunglasses. Smooth,…and classy.

That’s when it became official:  he swept me off my feet.

Still, I kept grounded. The conversation continued to flow easily. We laughed frequently, nothing forced. Several times, he put his arm around my shoulder and somehow I did not literally melt.

As he walked me back to the car, Tim provided the closure. “I’ve enjoyed this.”

“Me too.”

“You’re very attractive, we have lots in common and I’d really like to see you again.” To be clear, those were Tim’s words. Tim’s!

We parted with a big, prolonged hug and, as soon as I drove away, I was overcome with the shakes. A good date. A great date! It really happened.

And to think it only took eighteen years.

8 comments:

Rick Modien said...

Oh, dude. I'm tingling all over, and I have tears in my eyes.
I know, I know, it's too early to tell. But this one…this one sounds INCREDIBLE.
I assume we're talking about last Friday. I can't wait to hear what happens.
Tim sounds amazing, and there's obviously something between you.
And, hey, eighteen years? Who cares? It wasn't right then. But it sure sounds like it might be right now.
How good do you feel?
I hope this is meant to be, you know I do, RG. You deserve to have a great man in your life, and Tim sounds like a great man.
All the VERY best.

Rural Gay said...

Hi Rick,
I can feel your excitement in your comment. It almost matches mine. Almost. (Okay, not even!)

I am certain things would have gone nowhere eighteen years ago. I lacked even a shred of confidence and, if ever there had been a date, I would have spent the entire time talking--actually, mumbling--to my shoe while sweat dripped from my forehead. Yeah, not a pretty picture.

Somehow I am not intimidated with Tim now. I just want to be me and to finally get to know the guy behind the smile.

Right now, I am savoring a great start. Our second date is set for Saturday. It's an out-and-about occasion, based on my suggestions. (Normally, I sit back and let the other guy make all the decisions. Who is this new me?!)

Saturday seems so far away, but it's only a blink when one compares it to a ridiculous eighteen years.

Rick Modien said...

A second date? RG, I'm absolutely thrilled for you. You'd think I was going on the bloody date myself.
I just have the sense this is so meant to be. As you write, you're different now, the new you. And how exciting it must be to discover who that is.
My thoughts will be with you. Fingers crossed and all that stuff.

(Can I make just one tiny suggestion? Really be in the moment of all this. I look back on Chris and me, when we first met, and remember how anxious I was that everything turn out between us–even to the extent that I didn't fully take in everything as it went on at the time. I wish I had. I wish I had worried less about how the future would turn out, and really allowed myself to live in the moment. Does that make sense?
Take the pressure off, and have an awesome time. This could be the beginning of something BIG, that you'll want to cherish forever.)

Rural Gay said...

Good advice. It is hard to keep the brain and the nerves in check. I do have my share of wonderings, but they are rather useless at this point.

Countless people these days are telling me I need to be in the moment. It hasn't entirely made sense, given that I am a high achiever. Perhaps the advice has just been waiting right for the right context. Ready to give it a try!

Jack said...

Such good news! Good for you. Good for Tim. Best wishes to you, James.

Rural Gay said...

Thanks,Jack. Fingers crossed. (I'm working through the hand cramps.)

oskyldig said...

This is worthy of a "D'awwwww"

Well you know what they say, the tortoise does sometimes beat the hare. After some time people tend to have changed perspectives and look at situations differently. Or in some cases they start noticing the things that they didn't before that were right under their noses. :)

Rural Gay said...

Hi Oskyldig. Thanks for the comment. It is encouraging to know that some things do change with time. When I was younger and wanted to take a risk, I had a long list of responses to "Why not?" As I get older and ask, "Why not?" sometimes I just kick that annoying inner voice off my shoulder and do it.

Yes, sometimes the tortoise wins!