Wednesday, December 17, 2014


If there’s been a theme in my befuddled dating life this year, it’s been that distance does not make the heart grow fonder. Not in the early stages, at least. And if there’s been a theme for the past decade it’s been that it’s always early stages.

I do hear of couples retelling their “When Harry Met Sally” beginnings who speak of first dates that never ended. “He invited me up and, basically, I never went home.” Lovely. That’s just not me. Guys don’t invite me up on the first date. I seem to convey a solid sense of fuddy-duddy-ness. And generally I’m okay with that. An awkward, yet affectionate wave is endearing. A warm hug even, well, warmer. Add to that quick peck and it is all the more alluring—even if, in that startled moment, our lips are askew. Lip to upper chin. That’s as on target as I get in that nervous overture.

When that first date ends with that gawky promise of what’s to come, it is exciting to think about just that. Something to come.

If only.

And that’s where my rural nest becomes all the more the curse. I am certain I have had many decent dates, particularly this year. (I can easily distinguish these from the dead ends. “Keep in touch,” for example, means “Let’s pretend this never happened.” That’s when you walk away and do whatever it takes to salvage the day. Start with ice cream.) Often the promise is punctuated with a thoughtful text—“Did you make your ferry?” Yes, sometimes that blasted boat isn’t such an omen; instead, it provides an excuse for a clear sign—let’s keep the conversation going.

But then there’s the prolonged pause, the buzz killer. If I lived nearby, a second date might come in a few days, a week later at most. We’ve passed the coffee test. The logical next step is dinner. But that gets glitchy. There’s no chance for a leisurely meal and a conversation that flows with the wine amidst a candlelit ambience. If I go to Vancouver, I have to head back to the ferry terminal by 8:15 to catch the last ferry. If it’s dinner, it’s a rushed affair that artificially ends too soon. There’s always lunch. No wine, no candles, no sexual tension.

There just isn’t such an eagerness to schedule lunch. It’s the throwaway meal of the day. Meaningless. There’s a reason “Let’s do lunch” became the equivalent to “See you around.”  No intention whatsoever.

There is no spontaneity in setting up that second date. Weekdays are out. And weekends can get crammed with obligations and social routines—not mine, theirs. It becomes an effort to schedule the follow-up. There’s no natural flow of yearning making things fall into place. For various reasons, a week becomes two, then three. In the meantime, other online prospects wedge their way in. The chance for seconds passes.

I can make a good impression; just not that good of a first impression. I’m not a love-at-first-sight beacon. My exes would attest to that. It takes time for me to shift from polite and reserved to funny, affectionate and open. I’m working on it, but it doesn’t help to have added pressure on a first date. Good isn’t good enough.

Currently, I’ve got a couple of decent first dates that haven’t been completely snuffed out. But as time ticks by, it feels like an uneventful fade-out will be the logical conclusion. I’ve traveled on weekends and so have they. Two weeks now approaches three. Opportunity mocks. Despite a good start with Saul, I expect nothing more to come of it. The occasional message becomes more detached. I’m not as interested and, no doubt, neither is he.

There is one persistent fellow: Wade. Date Number 1 was six weeks ago, maybe longer. We couldn’t fit in a second date before he left for a trip to Lebanon and Israel. Since he’s been back, I spent a weekend in Seattle and he spent the next in Victoria. Let it go, my inner voice says. But he keeps texting. And it looks like we’re on for next Sunday. Maybe. Unless something else gets in the way.

It’s a hell of a long way between first and second.  

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