“active geeky girl seeks active guy with manners”
Ok, it’s taken me a long time to organize my thoughts around this one. This crazy thing, going on a date, was actually completed in August but here it is in January and I’m finally writing about it. The thing is, it doesn’t really have an ending.
I took myself out of the dating pool years ago for various reasons and I thought maybe it would be time to dip my toe back in the water again. The problem is I meet very few single men in my life. I work primarily with women, my library patrons are either beyond creepy, happily married, or over 90, and I’m not a person who goes to bars. I just don’t meet a lot of guys.
Just as I was figuring out how to approach this a friend had some success with online dating. Now, I was the first person to criticize online dating at the time, and for many years before this. I know a lot of people who have tried it and I believed it was a meat market for desperate people. I went into it with an open mind, however, and I was pleasantly surprised. As an introvert, my happy place is online where I can mingle from the safety of my own home. Online dating is perfect! It’s almost like online shopping but there’s no shopping cart.
I decided to check out Plenty of Fish. I wrote up a profile, rewrote it 10X, got my friend Tammy to check it over… perhaps not my best choice, added some pictures, and once I stopped shaking, I made my profile active… for about five minutes before I hid my profile again in absolute horror.
I immediately got a long list of matches and the contents of this list made me promptly rethink the whole dating concept…. and my lot in life. A convent suddenly looked pretty good.
About 40% of my list looked like they were regulars on Duck Dynasty (click link to see what I mean). They all wore camo, were proud of their ATVs and their hunting skills, had long beards and beer bellies. They probably didn’t like Shakespeare. My heart sank. This was not looking good!
The next 40% looked like they were auditioning for Sons of Anarchy (click link if you don’t know). I have a lot of very good friends who live for their motorcycles and even wear leather and all the Harley gear. I’m not that person. I did ride on the back of a motorcycle for one of my crazy things (blog post to come), but it’s not really my thing. Plus, they ride touring bikes, these guys rode bikes with the wide handlebars, loud engines, riding low, all leather and tiny helmets…. definitely not my thing. My heart sank just a little bit more.
After that it got scarier, 10% were just downright creepy. A few library patrons (not the good kind) showed up. Guys who take bodybuilding, and their love for steroids, a bit too far also made an appearance. Then there is a special list I’ll describe later… I call these the all stars. Even if I found the right guy and was in a relationship I would keep my account hidden so the writer in me would have access to characters nobody would believe really existed. These guys are a goldmine for a writer!
The final 10% on my initial list actually gave me hope for humanity, and most of them live in either Vernon or Kelowna. Kelowna must have a serious lack of single women because easily 50% of my most interesting matches are from the Okanagan.
Thoughts on the Dating Process
Rejecting isn’t easy – It never occurred to me that I would have to reject men who asked me out. This was not really a part of my existence before, so the realization that I had absolutely no skills at rejecting people was really shocking. When I first had to start doing it I made a commitment to be kind. It’s hard to put yourself out there and I of all people should know that. Each time I’ve had to do it I feel a little ripped apart inside and it’s almost physically painful. To the guys who have actually read my profile and approached me I have been kind. The other guys, however, the “hey baby how’s it going?” guys, who admit to using drugs in their profile and obviously didn’t read the part in my profile that says any kind of drugs are 100% out of the question… I don’t have as hard of a time rejecting them. I consider my profile to be a bit of a literacy test… if you can’t read and don’t make it to the end of my profile, you have no chance and I’ll pretty much know right away.
Am I too picky? I’ve also put a lot of thought into what were the characteristics or qualities that made me dismiss someone outright based solely on a profile. Sometimes I noticed I would dismiss someone because of his height (too tall or too short… I’m 5’4” so I really don’t have any room to judge). Sometimes it was purely because they liked watching MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). I mentally eliminated someone because he was too good looking. Sometimes the writing snob in me reared her fiery jaws and I eliminated someone because they couldn’t string two sentences together. I went through a brief phase where I eliminated every one of the guys who had a dead fish in their profile picture – easily 50% of my list! Come on, guys! I don’t care if you fish but it almost looks primitive… “Look ladies, I can provide food!” I couldn’t believe how many of them had a dead fish in their profile – big fish (marlin, sturgeon), little fish, salmon, all kinds. It was like show and tell, but smelled like fish. Is this really their best selling feature? I’ve had to let that one go a bit and get over it, but seriously… pick a different picture!
Many of the reasons I rejected men were completely unreasonable. I find this fascinating and it’s really made me look at my interactions with strangers and how people get through my minefield of defenses. This is now an ongoing quest to understand myself better. I’d like to try and figure out why I can like one person instantly, and dislike another person just as fast… and what those opinions are based on. How often do I reject someone really awesome based on a trivial detail like not having a grip on ‘There, their and they’re’? Even the guy I eventually went on a date with… I rejected him right away because he said his idea of roughing it was when room service ended. I figured if he even considers room service I’m not in his league.
The All Stars
Now, remember that 10%… the All Stars? Fodder for writers hungry for original characters? Here are some examples of creatures I’ve encountered on the dating journey thus far. These people have been matched to me, many have viewed my profile, but only a few of them have actually contacted me.
Creatures I’ve encountered…
- 20 year olds pretending to be 45 (creating a fake profile with the wrong age) because they dig older women – the first time one of these guys contacted me I was dumbfounded… no, I’m not your Mrs. Robinson… and you don’t even know who she was!
- Dominant seeking submissive … I’m gagging just a lot!
- Submissive seeking dominant… get a backbone!
- Man looking for ‘discrete’ companionship – his status says he’s not single / not looking. This guy still views me at least once a week. Because he doesn’t have a picture he can’t contact me… To contact me you have to have a picture and have to be between 43 and 55 years old (unless you’re lying like the 20 year olds – see above). If he does contact me my “be nice” button will definitely be malfunctioning at the time.
- Guy looking for immediate company, just in town for the night – profile picture shows jeans with the fly undone and Calvin Klein underwear – seriously??? Get a life!
- A couple seeking a threesome – just… NO!!!!!
- A guy seeking a threesome and companionship for his wife while he’s away on business – do I even need to explain how much this grosses me out??
- A woman to man transsexual – actually looks like an interesting person to know but definitely not what I’m looking for as a date.
- Conspiracy theorists – my favourite! One step away from a tinfoil hat… trying to convince me through their profile of government secrets, Hollywood mind control, blah blah blah.
- His headline says, “I guess all the good ones aren’t on Plenty of Fish” – seriously dude, what does that say about the person who bothered to read your profile… let’s just think about that!
Friends of mine have encountered guys who look nothing (I mean NOTHING) like their profile picture. One guy sent a friend a recent picture and he went from cute and fun in his profile picture to serial killer in about 2 milliseconds. She also got a “dick pic” from another guy … yup… an erect penis as a guy’s profile picture…DELETE! Another friend was chatting with a guy she liked when he finally told her his marriage had recently broken up and he was actually into cross dressing… would that be a problem with her? …. PERHAPS!!!!!! She also sent me a screaming message when she was matched with her cousin – ah the perils of small town online dating… I was crying I was laughing so hard!
The Rosie Project
When I started my crazy things last February it was on a plane to Florida with Amanda. I was listening to the audiobook of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. This is a brilliant and hilarious book about a man with some unique views on the world who has recruited his friends to find him a wife. He has a very special list of criteria and a multipage questionnaire to quickly eliminate women who don’t meet his criteria. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong. I actually burst out laughing on the plane, which made Amanda look at me like I had four heads. She read it after and also burst out laughing. I highly recommend this book. It gave me a perspective on dating that has kept me thinking through this process. Of course, when I listened to the audiobook I hadn’t yet added dating to my list of crazy things.
My first contact
I wasn’t going to write about this guy but since he’s shown up again I think I’ll add him for your reading entertainment. Right after I put my profile up he sent me a message. We chatted for a bit. He seemed OK although I couldn’t see his face in his pictures (too far away). His picture showed him on a stand up paddleboard so at least he liked being outside. His profile said he was 51 and he liked a lot of the same activities I do. He asked for a picture of all of me because he could only see my head. All of my pictures were from the shoulders up. Fair enough, I thought, but I could see where it was going. I was very honest in my profile that I still had some pounds to lose. I sent a fun running picture and said he’d need to send one that included his face. He promptly disappeared. It was actually a good thing it happened. I then added this to my profile:
…And if you’re looking for a tall thin super model good luck with that. While I am super, I am not tall. I am curvy and very fit. If you’re my age and looking for mature life experience and conversation wrapped in a 25 year-old body then please keep looking.
The reason I’m including this loser in this blog posting is because he gave me one of the greatest gifts I could ask for. After our conversation and the picture incident he started changing his profile picture almost by the hour – some had his face, some didn’t. I kept him on my ultra match list (the list I could delete from) because I obviously got to him and it was pretty entertaining.
Then he removed his profile and I forgot about him. He reappeared a few weeks later with a different user name. Now this was getting really interesting. He messaged a friend of mine (close to my age). I told her about my experience so she ignored him. Guys, women talk… you’re in a small town… might want to think about that! Then he checked out another friend, she just turned 30, and I told her. She said he was seriously creepy. She had also signed up on another dating site and told me he had a profile there too. That profile said he was 55, not 51. So all this was mildly entertaining when one day he messaged me again. By now I had some good full body pictures on my profile so he knew what I looked like. He was on his third or fourth user name by this time. His message was, “How’s your day going?” Elated, I responded that my day was pretty awesome. He wanted to strike up a conversation. He didn’t get what he was bargaining for!
“You know you’ve message me before right? And you disappeared after you asked for a full picture of me.”
“Oh, I…. uh…My account got deleted.”
“Actually, we were messaging by email, which has nothing to do with your Plenty of Fish account. And I could see you online for weeks after as you changed your profile picture multiple times to include your face. And you have another profile on another site that says you’re 55.”
“I uh… so, what do you do for a living?”
Perhaps my “Be Kind” rejection button was malfunctioning that day… actually I turned it off but I took the high road and didn’t say what I really thought of him! I still keep him in my ultra matches because he’s still pretty entertaining and he has a new username almost every week.
I think every person, male or female, should have that Pretty Woman moment at least once in their lives. It’s the moment where Julia Roberts walks back into a store that refused to help her, dressed to the nines. She says, “Remember me? You wouldn’t serve me… big mistake…big… HUGE!” and then she walks out. I’m pretty grateful to this guy because he gave me my Pretty Woman moment. … big mistake… big…HUGE! I had a big huge grin for the rest of the day.
Crazy Thing Completed
To meet my criteria for a crazy thing, I only had to go on one date before my 50th birthday – my cousin suggested I should have to go on 50 dates … not sure I could handle that. I’ve actually been out with four guys since I started the process. Two of them have become very good friends. The first one I went out with is one of those friends. I’m not mentioning names, careers, or other details. Instead, you get to just sit back and enjoy the high standard I’ve set for ‘excitement on a first date with Vesta’. Let’s just call my first date in decades… Fred.
So Fred messaged me. He said, “I’ve read your profile….,” this was good, he passed the literacy part of the test, “and I’d like to go out for coffee with you.” We chatted for a few days while our schedules worked themselves out and then met for coffee downtown.
In online dating terms, this is considered a first meeting before you go on an actual date. This is where you make sure the profile fits the person, determine they’re probably not a serial killer, there’s no Cyrano action happening with a friend and an earbud microphone dictating the conversation, and usually there are plenty of exits for easy escape. I was nervous, and at first we couldn’t find each other… he was outside and I was inside. Eventually we got it all figured out and had a great time chatting on an outdoor patio over coffee and tea for a couple of hours. We really enjoy talking and have lots to talk about together. We decided to walk around downtown and it was awesome.
When we said goodbye and agreed to go out again he hugged me and then we went our separate ways, and immediately a friend, Tomena, who I hadn’t seen standing nearby grabbed me and asked how I was… busted! She totally knew. It was pretty funny.
A few nights later we met downtown and as I was walking to where we were supposed to meet I walked right by him (doh!). Both of us were tired. He’d had an unexpectedly stressful day at work and for me it was Wednesday… my busiest day of the week. Dinner was good and we finished early. There was still plenty of daylight and it was a nice summer evening so we walked around downtown, still enjoying the excellent conversation. I should add at this point that I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be a couple – too many things we didn’t have in common, but I really liked him as a friend. You can’t underestimate the value of great conversation.
We ended up in Riverside Park and stood and watched Music in the Park for a few minutes before we continued on with no destination in mind. Heading back downtown there was a train coming so we walked over the pedestrian overpass.
Now, this is where I will trump most people’s stories of their first dates. As we walked I was watching Fred while we were talking. I did notice the two young guys we walked past who were sitting on the top level of the overpass. Remember, I walked right past Fred when I was going to meet him – I am at times easily distracted and don’t notice key things in my surroundings… this is important!
As we were walking down the stairs on the other side of the overpass, he pulled out his phone and started dialing. I asked what he was doing, and very calmly he said, “Calling 911!” I was, to say the least, stunned.
“Why?” I asked.
“Didn’t you see? That guy had a gun!”
Now, what I observed was a guy in a white hoodie and another guy playing a harmonica… that’s it! I didn’t even see the gun because I was looking at Fred, and apparently I only notice clothing and musical instruments.
For a guy who says he was scared to death, he looked exactly the same as he had ten minutes earlier. We walked into a parking lot, out of sight of the overpass, and he gave the information to the dispatcher. He was still on the phone when we heard multiple sirens coming from multiple directions. Now, this was getting really interesting.
Not wanting to be seen as the ones calling the police, we walked around the block and came back down third, ending up in the alley between the Bank of Montreal and the old Burris Clinic. We watched as two police cars, lights on, had the end of the overpass blocked off and they were hauling the two guys off in handcuffs. Then Fred’s phone rang. It was the police. They were sending a police car to us so we could give statements.
So, the police car, and the very young and handsome RCMP officer, pull up and Fred has to get in the car to give a statement while I wait outside. My phone then beeps with a text. It’s my friend Marianne. I tell her I’m on a date and my date just got into a police car to give a statement. Marianne was, understandably, excited and we had some serious fun texting when I told her how cute the cop was. I wish I had secretly taken his picture and sent it to her.
Then Fred got out of the police car and I got in to give a statement that basically said I saw nothing. The police said that one of the guys they arrested had assaulted a police officer a few months earlier and they were pretty happy to be able to get them off the streets for a little while.
After this Fred walked me to my car and we had some laughs about our first date. I knew there were no fireworks but I had a big grin. I’d broken the ice and survived my first date in decades. I had a great time, and I had the BEST FIRST DATE STORY …. EVER!!!!
If there aren’t lights, sirens, and handcuffs on a first date it just doesn’t measure up… the bar for my first dates is now pretty high.
Why was this crazy?
Let me count the ways!
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. The thing with online dating is that it’s not much different than the old fashioned way of meeting people. The people I meet online are the same people I would meet at a grocery store, in a bar, on a bus, and in all the other places people who fall in love first meet. Admittedly, online dating in a smaller town like Kamloops is different and more difficult than it would be in Vancouver or another larger city. It’s particularly hard if you grew up here and know half the town.
I’ve always been happy on my own. I’ve never been one to go from relationship to relationship, or suffer because I’m not in a relationship. I’m not willing to settle for someone just for the sake of not being alone. I’m pretty fine alone and very happy. I want someone who enhances my already excellent life. I’m sure there’s a cross country skiing geocacher with a love of Shakespeare, cello music, and sushi out there for me… and if there isn’t, I already have two new friends that I didn’t have before. That puts me firmly in the win column.
By going on my first date, and having the experiences I’ve had so far, it’s really taken the pressure off going out with a guy. I don’t get those nerves anymore – or, not as bad. I don’t take things as personally. This also puts me firmly in the win column and not just for dating but for life in general. I’m much more confident and much less worried about what others think of me.
I haven’t shared all of my dating experiences here… I’ve only scratched the surface, but don’t think I’m letting this gold mine go to waste. There is some pretty awesome material here for a novel or a screenplay and I am keeping meticulous notes! Plus, who knows… I might just meet a keeper… or some more new friends.