“So you got a girlfriend?”
“Why have a girlfriend?”
“So you don’t live alone.”
“I live alone.”
Ambitious. But then again, they all are.
“Ech,” I shrug, ” People will talk. This town? They all up in everyone’s business.”
The corner of his mouth lifts, “I don’t live here.”
We high five.
Moments later, he returns to my cafe table holding a piece of paper, which is ceremoniously placed beside my wine glass before he struts off. I lift it and observe a phone number, written in his own hand, circled, with his actual name under it. I’ve been calling him something else for over a year! I laugh into my glass while thinking, I was 17 when he was born.
Ardent. Overconfident. Of the Generation of the Oversharers.
Borrowing my friend Waiting For Satan‘s blogging style, I pose to you the question: what should BA have done to work the situation to his favor?
[Writing Prompt: Revisit a famous book title, time = 30 minutes]
NOTE: I actually got choked up writing this. Dayumn.
The tea shop seemed the ideal place to have Brian meet me. After all, it’s where he was Skyping me from all afternoon two weeks ago. I sat, legs pressed together tightly, with two chai teas, one for him, one for me.
And hark, along comes Brian.
This time around I’m going to approach the opportunity for a relationship thusly: don’t be too abrasive up front, let him drive the conversation, and, by all means, don’t roll out the ultimatums before the check is paid. He smiled his shy smile of relief, and I complimented him back with my appreciative, wide grin.
Brian proceeded to chastise me, accusing me of avoiding him these past few weeks. Although I tried to defend with thoughtful retaliations, his peaked eyebrow of disbelief suggested I give it up. He reached across the table, motioning for one of the teas, when he stopped and asked which one was his. I flirtatiously suggested he check for the lipstick smudge. Brian sneered at my sarcasm. I like that he likes that about me.
He knows what I do for a living, he’s read my blog. We haven’t talked much about him, other than where he lives and what his plans were for the holidays. So now, I ask him, what do you do? Surprisingly, he doesn’t give the straightjacket answer of his employment, but offers a sigh, then, “I like to drive the Carolina coasts, go camping, fishing. Sometimes, just hang out in the woods for hours on end. Oh wait, you asked me what I do? Like, for work? I’m a truck driver.”
The first part of the answer was the answer.
The next day, same tea shop, different Brian. Why I parsed out these dates like this, I don’t know. Zealot for ironic entertainment, I suppose. And entertainment for Christine, the tea shop owner. She’s happy to see me not only up and about, but courting the boys. Christine, no children of her own, dotes on me like a child. I love her for it.
This one walks in the place like he owns it. Brian’s tie has flitted over his left shoulder due to the gust he passed through. We met in an old school fashion; he saw me loading my car with groceries, stopped to compliment me, and in a classy, keeping-it-together fashion, handed me his business card, suggested I call whenever I can, shook my hand, and walked off. High school hunk cool.
I won’t get into comparing the two. Physically already, they differ greatly. I’m trying to stick to the ol’ Dr. King adage, judge a person not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character. Seated in the same corner, same table, I motion to leave my seat and meet him at the counter. Brian bellows across the small shop for me to keep my seat, and asks what I want to drink. Dealer’s choice is my response, and he offers a crooked smile as he retrieves a leather wallet from his suit jacket.
Same tea shop, same table, same question. Brian launches into his resume: undergraduate degree from THE Ohio State University, graduate degree from Stanford, been in banking since he graduated, member of such and such fraternity, such and such business society, and is considering running for local council. I attempt to be playful and ask, “But what do you do, Brian?”
He looks as if he saw a ghost. I’m forced to explain it was a joke. The laugh he offers in response is as stiff as his starched buttoned-down shirt. I sip my honeyed green tea to fill the awkward silence.
The first Brian noticed me across the room at our mutual friend Gary’s house party. He observed someone cool, collected, happy where they were in life, but also, lonely. That he saw my loneliness from across the room made me think twice about my own perception of comfort. When was the last time I engaged anyone for other than a feature or a human interest piece? I realized I was keeping the possibility of a relationship at a strong arm’s length.
The second Brian saw me in that parking lot, then again in the downtown Tampa commercial building pretending not to be looking for him. He’s very present, that Brian, very hard to avoid his energy. He smells of power and vigor. Brian is very much in control. Yet he sends me the wackiest, soft-hearted text messages throughout the day, sometimes just a, thinking of you. I imagine he’s sitting in a meeting somewhere on the upteenth floor texting me when he should be paying attention. This Brian brings out my insecurities. What does he want from little ol’ me?
Both tea dates were very successful, and so I call for a second round with each. This is no dating show, but this is the first time in years I’ve had more than one suitor, and, let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken. If there is such a thing as a possible commitment out of one of these Brians, we’re going to figure it out now.
Second Brian goes on about his recent weekend on South Beach, making sure to cut in a, so wish you could’ve came with us! every few sentences. My local coverage doesn’t allow much distance travel, but I enjoy listening to him talk with an air of relief. He’s got a high-stress job, it’s a rare moment when he gets to leave the building, let alone the county, for more than one day. Even with his effort to include me, I get the sense he’s trying too hard. As if, he’s only doing this for show, until he’s certain I’m willing to be his and his alone. The possessiveness sneaks out in just these tea shop interludes: the way he orders for me, the way he calls over the other patrons to have Christine service us, the way he frowns when I take a quick call from my editor. Makes me wonder; what’s it like with Brian when there’s no audience, behind closed doors?
First Brian meets me at the tea shop an hour before closing. I’m nervous because I want to decide between these two wonderful men today. I’ve already ordered our teas, but he motions towards the counter case and picks a coffee cake for us to split. Christine asks if he wants it warmed, and he charms her with his silky, Southern-drawled, yes ma’am. I shake my head as I watch the old bird gesture a 20s era swoon. First Brian is filthy, and he notices me noticing his appearance. He enters into a rapid apology, explaining he spent the day helping his landlord repair a step on her patio. I am endeared, but keep my frown.
Here goes nothing, I think as I kick out, pull up my jeans, and show Brian my prostetic legs and matter-of-factly explain how I lost both when our Humvee rolled over an IED in Iraq.
When I did the same move to Second Brian, he gasped and said, “I’m so sorry, Kenneth. I didn’t notice you were crippled.”
First Brian stared a bit, then asked, “That’s not gonna stop you from going hiking with me, ain’t it?”
Perhaps you need to look busy right now. Perhaps you have a relative in the vicinity you need to avoid. Whatever the reason, let me offer you a pleasant distraction, in the form of the top 3 popular blog posts of last week:
Happy Thanksgiving All!
Original Post Date August 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM
How can an author date when she works in solitude? Use an online dating site, of course! This is part one of a two part observation on dating in the digital age.
I toil daily at refining my manuscript for your future enjoyment. Hours and hours on the computer, who has time to socialize? But the reality of it is, too much seclusion can negatively impact the quality of your art, unless you intend to pull a Secret Window.
So I decided, okay, let’s consider our options here. Nightclubs? The whole Skrillex, Deadmau5 movement literally makes me want to rip my head apart. How does one dance to bandsaw passing through corrugated metal? No go there. Pubs are cool, but I’m not that much of a drinker anymore. In the last two years, I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight. I shouldn’t drink more than two Guinnesses…Guinnei?…in one outing. So that’s out too.
I crowdsourced my friends for their experiences with dating sites. They warned, it is like a second job. The girls had their opinions, but everyone said the same thing: you don’t know if it’ll work unless you try it. So I did. I invested in a 3 month membership, starting Father’s Day weekend, naturally, as it’s the one time of year men with children are reminded of their status with women. I launched my profile and let it sail the uncharted waters.
For the statisticians in the room, here’s the figures: for the 71 days my profile was live, it was viewed 2090 times. Of those instances, I received 86 personal acknowledgments. From those 86, I went on six dates. For the demographers in the room, here’s your variables on the dates: age range 40-57, median age 42. Five Americans, one National (European). There’s your quantitative data.
Qualitative was eye-opening. I figured by engaging more established members of society I could avoid the gawky, vacuous, perverse expressions of the guys I messed around with prior to joining the dating site. I also figured, because they’re advanced in their professions, and most had children in their teens and 20s, these guys are more confident than the lower minded guys who are just gunning for you to touch their peapod.
With a large, pained sigh I announce that touch my peapod! is a universal truth. It occupies the mind of the fisherman, the attorney, the janitor, the engineer, the city administrator. Touch my peapod! Chris Rock was so right.
I can’t be upset with these guys, because they have plenty of women at their fingertips who are on that touch my peapod! as well (Think about a peapod. Closed peapod. Open peapod. Yup, you got it. You’re welcome). I went out with an associate a few months ago and was horrified to watch her straddle the first man who acknowledged her and let him grope her breasts. We were less than an hour into our evening. How am I supposed to look appealing next to that?
My problem was, I was using this dating site as a conduit towards similarly educated, similarly inspired, similarly driven individuals of the opposite sex. Silly me.
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