There are many who prefer the internet dating route because they feel it allows them to get to know people before actually putting themselves "out there." I am not of that camp. It is time-consuming, tiring and way too much effort when the yay/nay decision can be made relatively easy with a face to face meeting. The catch 22 is that you can't have a face to face meeting until you have decided if the person is worth meeting. It's just too much. But safe. I can understand the attraction to this method, but I have a hard time giving into it. I grow bored with it too easily and would prefer knowing right away if this is a person I want to develop a relationship with.
With Branden, the hurdle that usually comes in the middle was already, um, hurdled, because of our meeting at the dance. The alarms that had been mildly jangling in the background at that meeting, however, led to a comfortable transition of more "getting to know you" games provided via the world wide web. (And what a web it is.) And so the emails began.
From Branden, the morning after the dance:
"Laura, Linda and I broke up last night at the dance. She said it was futile for us and that I should go back to you.
"Laura, will you take me back? [See? This is what I meant by not always knowing if he was serious or joking. This would be considered a joke by a normal person, but his delivery of stuff like this was said with such glass-eyed intensity, that you wondered if he really did think that he and Linda were an item during their five minute dance.]
"I too am a systems analyst and so you may understand me better. [Ah, yes. Young love. There's nothing like a common career to spark those flames of passion, is there?]I used to work for IBM, I now work for a County. [As an inmate? Picking up trash on the 91 freeway?] In Burbank I used to work for CADAM which became Altium, there was also a Catia company there. Do you work for any of them? Do you do UNIX or NT?
Despite my misgivings, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was a great guy and there was no other woman on the face of the earth who could understand his magical sense of humor. [cough, cough.] My reply:
"Hi, Branden. I'm so sorry to hear about your breakup last night at the dance. I wonder about our future together though. Your relationship with Linda lasted, what? through three dances? Can I look forward to any longevity with you? I'd hate to get my sights set on you, again, only to have my hopes dashed to the ground and shattered in a million pieces. You've already dumped me once because of one simple misunderstanding. Can I trust that it will go further this time?
"I am a systems analyst at Company X in City Y. I design systems for our back-end office users -- mostly the planning and allocation people for the retail division. According to the Wall Street Journal this week though, we may be getting sold in the very near future.
"Which county do you work for? Riverside? What types of systems do you analyze?
"It was fun meeting you at the dance last night. I hope the rest of your weekend is fun. I'm going to Disneyland today to celebrate a friend's birthday, and I must somehow begin gathering the necessary energy for today.
"Have a great day!"
You can see I'm trying to start things off with the right mixture of humor and not taking myself too seriously, or him either. But I'm still not so sure about him, so I sent him this next missive:
"I was refreshing my memory by viewing your profile, and you may (or not) be interested in learning that according to the pre-sets that I have defined on the type of man I'm looking for, we are 83% compatible. Not too shabby, eh?
"Seriously, it looks like we have a lot in common. Hard to tell from your tone last night if you're a funny guy with a very sarcastic sense of humor, or someone with a taste for revenge (being as you broke up with two girls in one night [maybe more] and weren't interested in hearing any explanations). Hopefully it's the former, not the latter.
"Talk to you soon,"
His reply begins to argue favorably in his behalf that he's been terribly misunderstood in the past and I'm just the right person for him. Hello, Ego? Stop stepping all over Intuition.
"Hello Laura, I am still pretty shaken up about Linda. I don't know how long it should take to recover. Maybe by tomorrow I will be able to put her in the past? You can look forward to at least 6 dances with me or twice as long as Linda. You must trust, you must trust. [You have to admit, that's kinda funny. And quirky. Just the combination I usually go for. Make me laugh and have your way with me.]
"I work for San Bernardino County and do UNIX admin for them. I used to live in Burbank. So the Company you work for isn't doing so well? I don't read the Journal daily, but thanks for the stock tip. Will your job be affected? ; How recent are the pictures you posted?
"I am a funny guy with a very sarcastic sense of humor and I am full of revenge and vengeful.[Red Alert! Danger, Will Robinson!] You have to break up sometimes to move ahead.
"Do you want to talk on the phone?"
Why not, right? I mean, we've already met, we've got a lot of the formalities out of the way, we already know that we both look like our posted pictures. My response:
"That darn work thing keeps getting in the way of my social life! I wouldn't normally apologize for taking a whole day and a half to get back to you, but you've totally intimidated me into feeling obligated to write right away![Why, oh why can't I have some foresight? Why do I sound so pathetically eager?] After all, I don't want to be held responsible for the fragile state of your mind in delusionally thinking that all girls who don't respond must be out to get you. Or whatever. After all, I am looking forward to a prolonged relationship with you of 6 (or more, if I play my cards right!) dances with you in the future. [See me? I'm funny! I don't want to think you're psycho! Pick me! Pick me!]
"Seriously though, here's some answers to your questions:
"I don't know yet the impact of my job. It's been tenuous at best for the past few years, but that's the nature of retail in general, and specialty retail specifically, especially since 9-11 and whatever other stuff is going on that affects the economy. I haven't actually seen the Journal article, but everything is rather vague and speculative at best right now. Same as it has been.
"The pictures I've posted are recent -- last November was when they were taken. Just curious -- why do you ask? Did I look different on Saturday compared to the pics?
"Yes, I think I would be interested in talking on the phone. Time is an issue for me, at least until early morning seminary breaks for the summer in three weeks. What about you? What does your work/personal schedule allow for?
"Now for some of my own comments/questions: First of all, I'm glad to see that you are willing (after some initial stuborness) to realize that I really did have a good reason for not responding to your messages on (the singles site you thought I belonged to but didn't).
"How long ago did you live in Burbank? Did you like it here? Where are you originally from? What brought you to Riverside?
"Finally, if you liked my profile, how come you didn't ask me to dance? :)
"That's it for now -- it's quittin' time for me. I hope you're having a great day! Talk to you soon,"
So far, so good. His response:
"Laura, let's talk on the phone. I lived in Burbank from 1985 to 1987. I like it there. I didn't ask you to dance because I wasn't sure you liked me. After all, you never wrote back to me. Then when I met your friend, I asked her if you were really you. You don't look exactly like the pictures, your hair was lighter in them and is darker in person, although obviously I was able to recognize you. IBM brought me to Riverside.
"I like Riverside, been here 12 years. Ilook forward to hearing back from you. I can talk weeknights on the phone. Thanks,"
And since I believe this flows rather nicely and tells the story without any more interruption from me, my response:
"Ah, mystery solved. (about not dancing w/me, that is). The hair thing -- yes, I am forever trying to become a brunette, but it never "takes." Or at least, it never stays for very long. My most recent hair incarnation is pretty close to the darkest it's ever been, but in a couple more weeks, will be back to its dark blonde/strawberry blonde natural shade. No, I don't know why I appear to be the dichotomy of other women who are forever trying to get their hair lighter. So much me to psychoanalyze, so little time.
"I look forward to getting to know you better. Weeknights are generally good for me too, but I'm in bed by 9:30 - 10:00 these days. Summer hours are coming up!"
Seriously, am I stupid? Am I over eager? Well, no, not if you consider the pressure on me to date, have a boyfriend and eventually get married. To all of my married friends out there, this is your fault! Stop pressuring me!
Several phone conversations ensued, all of which entailed him talking in great detail and at great length about himself. So much so, that he repeated himself repeated himself pretty consistently. In the same converstaion. Often. I spent my time trying to figure out if he really was funny and forgetful or a sad and pathetic self-focused 48-year old loser with ADD.
Eventually, we made a date. To actually see each other. It went about the same as the phone conversations had -- him talking incessantly, me listening attentively (or pretending to) thinking, "I wish he would shut up once in a while." It really wasn't that great of a date. And I came to the conclusion that he wasn't really that great of a catch. No matter how much he tried to tell me he was.
At the end of the date, he walked me out to my car (we had met at a halfway point). I leaned in to give him a hug to thank him for buying me dinner ($7 chicken sandwich at Red Robin. Woo.), and he kept hugging me. He wanted a good night kiss, but I invoked my very flexible first-date rule of, "Are you kidding? On a first date?" and refused.
And....that was that.
He didn't call me for over a week, which frankly, was more than fine by me. I was hoping to take the non-confrontational way out by avoidance. Ladies and Gentlemen, please give it up for the return of Laura's Self-esteem and Awareness! They've been temporarily overstepped and undermined by Ego, but we hope they're back for good!
When he did call, I really had no desire to pursue things. I didn't want to tell him that; I just hoped he would get the hint. Sadly, he didn't. He called four times in a two week period. In my defense, my life really was crazy busy. My early-morning class was ending, work was busy, lay-offs were happening, and I really had no desire to make room for an unstable person in my life.
That's when things got ugly.