A couple years ago, I put my book into a cryogenic freeze. See, finishing it became a problem- one I couldn’t solve. So I began to solve others, like my stage fright. Since May 2012, I’ve been getting on stage and performing short stories. And in April 2013, my partner in crime, Jill, and I started a live lit show called Story Sessions. I’ve recently landed a new job, one that fits me perfectly. It’s all coming together. Except for one now frostbitten memoir.

So I’m thawing it out and have committed to finishing it this year, with the help of Story Studio. And in the meantime, to keep the wheels spinning, I will be sharing notes and blurbs from my writing (and dating) journey. This date was long after my dating project but it’s a gem…

BMWDating is always an experiment. Some pieces of the formula are certain, because they always work, like wearing my dark jeans and black wrap shirt on a first date. And when I say work, I don’t mean that the date is successful- there is no way to ensure that. But I feel confident going in, as well as leaving two hours later. Staples like these are necessary in situations where everything else is up to chance.

Sort of.

I may have been feeling generous or more trusting of the universe or in my ability to judge character through online dating profiles. I agree to go out with a man whose profile only has one photo. And that one photo is only a corner of his face. One eye. For all I know, he only has one eye. And no limbs. But some things you trust, like that this would be in his profile somehow- witty banter in the “First thing people notice about me” section… “I’m just a stump. I often get confused with coffee tables, so I wear a lot of hats”.

In addition to me agreeing to go out with “the eye”, I also agree to meet him downtown. I hate going downtown when I don’t need to go downtown. If I had a rulebook, it would state that the man should ask me where I live, in a non-creepy way, and then find a spot that is convenient between the two of us or maybe just for me. But I decide not to be so crotchety, poking myself with a familiar jab, “If you weren’t so closed-minded, maybe you would actually be dating someone right now”.

So I get on the el and head to some hotel bar I have never been to. I get there early and wander around- it’s swanky but comfortable. I sit in the lobby alone, feeling a little “lady of the night”. He texts me that he’s on his way. He does this because he had initially pushed our meeting time back. And why did he need more time? Because of this earlier text:

“Stuck at the BMW dealership. Hope to be done soon”.

Is this part of his courting? Asking what kind of car someone drives is so gauche. And TELLING someone who hasn’t asked is dreadful. Even more so for me, because I have a hand me down Toyota Corolla and I could care less what a man drives. In fact, if his car is too nice, I assume he’s overcompensating. It is for this reason that I love men with ho-hum cars.

So he is already at a deficit. But I’m an optimist and I can easily flash forward to laughing with my sisters in 10 years, saying, “OH MY GOD, remember what a douche bag I thought my husband was before our first date?”

So I wait. And I try not to look like I’m waiting. But in fact, I am waiting. I take it all in because moments before a first date are like those before the entree arrives. They are almost better than the entree itself. It is hope, wrapped in certainty sprinkled with excitement with a sprig of “I’m hungry so let’s do this.”

He seems to appear out of nowhere. “Shaloooom!”

Did I miss that he’s Jewish? Or is he just trying to speak, “my language”. Trying too hard…Strike 2. He is shorter than I expect and kisses me on the cheek. I am skeptical. He has both eyes and all his limbs and his lower limbs are covered in dark jeans, darker than mine and they have intricate stitching on the back, way more stitching than men’s jeans should have on the ass or anywhere. Also, rhinestones. Strike 3.

He wants us to sit on the couches by the fire. There is already someone sitting on one of the couches which means we will be sitting next to each other, across from a stranger. I suggest a table by the window. He deflates when I choose this alternate direction. Perhaps this is his go-to. This place. This couch. I am part of his formula now. And I don’t want to be.

We sit down at a table. I am not attracted to him- it’s something I am conscious of right away and I mask it with an overcompensating smile and pretend eagerness. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

I begin with my usual questions, kicking it off with “How was your day?” You can tell a lot about someone from this question. To my surprise, many people I meet don’t have a lot to say in response to this. I want to shake them and say, “BUT IT WAS A WHOLE DAY”. He begins his questions with:

“I’ve exchanged so many messages so I’m not sure exactly…which one are you?”

Which one am I? My gut response is “THE ONE WHO IS LEAVING RIGHT NOW.” But dating requires patience and some second and third chances, even if those are all in the first 10 minutes. I take a breath.

“The writer.”

Had I been interested in him, this would hurt my feelings, or at least my ego. But I can’t be interested in someone who would ever ask something like that.

The rest of the date allows him time to mention his car again. And tell me that his relationships haven’t worked because he’s gotten bored with them. I smile and sympathetically offer, “That’s such a bummer!” Because when nothing it at stake anymore, you can say ANYTHING YOU WANT. But I am still polite, because I believe in karma, especially in dating. He orders food and eats it all- I’m not interested in eating with him or drinking a real drink. I don’t want him to pay and feel I owe him something. He is that kind of guy. A wealthy, snarky, full of himself guy who will clearly be bored in every future relationship as well. Because HE IS UNINTERESTING.

Two hours in, we have completed the satisfactory bare minimum of first date stuff and settle the check. He pays for my tonic water. Because no one has ever said,”Well I felt like I had to go out with him again/kiss him/whatever because he bought me all that tonic”.

He offers me a ride home. NO THANK YOU. I mean, (smile), “No thanks! The train is right here!” I’m so easy! I take the train with a smile! But if he reads between the lines, he will see that this girl would rather sit in urine soaked seats on public transportation than spend any more time with him. But his ego consumes him and he texts later that week that he’d like to go out again.

I respond, “I’m afraid I would bore you silly. But thank you so much for the offer. Good luck in your dating adventures!”

Yes, I am still single. No, I will not go out with a man who can’t put his whole face in his profile. No, I will not go downtown. Yes, I am still optimistic. And my Toyota is going strong.