Like School in July… No Class

Although I’m still relatively new to the whole dating-after-40 thing, I do believe that a first date should be a best-behavior date. I’m not saying the guy has to be in a suit and tie and arrive with flowers for me, but at least be on time and dress like you have some sense.

After reading Perpetual Prude’s woes about an inconsiderate date, I was reminded of some of the less-than-classy guys I’ve been out with.

There was the guy who gave me a specific time and place to meet him for lunch, then showed up nearly a half hour late looking like he had just gotten done playing basketball… sweatpants, wave cap, baggy sweatshirt. He pulled out his tablet as soon as we sat down and pretty much talked about work the whole time, while eating his way through a two for $20 deal at Applebee’s {1 Appetizer + 2 Entrees for $20} by himself. He seemed a little surprised later when I said I just didn’t feel a connection.

Then there was the guy who managed to turn a nice lunch date into the definition of awkward. We’d had a great conversation while we ate, but when he walked me to my car afterward, he… poked me. I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I wasn’t going to say anything, but he looked at me with this creepy look and said, “You can see I’m kind of excited. Are you excited, too?” Ummm…not so much. He then went on to say {in the same creepy way}, “It’s too bad you have to get back to work, I’d love to get you in your backseat right now.” I’m assuming the look on my face said it all because he quickly said, “Not like that, I just wanna make out.” Sure, pal. Your little friend downtown says otherwise. I’ve never been so happy to get back to work in my life.

There was another guy I had met online who asked me to meet him for dinner. I wasn’t terribly familiar with the area, and I ended up semi-lost. When I called him to figure out where to go, he said he had to drop his cousin off and would come to where I was so I could follow him. He showed up a minute later wearing sweatpants {WTF is up with guys coming to a first date in sweats??} and looking like he just woke up. He had another guy {the cousin? some hoodlum? who knows!} in his car and said to follow him so he could drop the guy off. Against my better judgement, I followed him. We drove farther and farther from where all the stores and restaurants were, and when I realized we had been driving for 15 minutes, I got more nervous. I slowed down and hung back enough that another car was able to get between us {thankfully it was dark, so I was hoping he wouldn’t notice}. At the next intersection, after the guy went straight, I turned right and drove like a bat out of hell. For all I knew, he was leading me to some secluded storage facility where God knows what would’ve happened. Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut.

Probably the best {or worst?} example of a date with no class was a guy who really needs his own blog post. That’s a story for another time. But trust me, it’s a real doozy and worth the wait.

Advertisements

When I Was a Catfish

catfish [kat-fish] verb
To pretend to be someone you’re not online by posting false information, such as someone else’s pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.

Yikes.

I recently discovered this term and the TV show of the same name. Only then did I realize, I used to be a catfish.

About six years ago, I was unhappily married and felt trapped in a dead-end marriage. My {now}ex-husband was working crazy hours and I found myself online more and more, playing games on Yahoo. After a few very flirtatious and enticing conversations with random guys I was playing Scrabble against, I found myself drawn into the world of chatrooms. I liked the attention I was getting and liked that I could have actual conversations with people — something that was occurring less and less frequently at home. More often than not, when I did try to have a conversation with hubs, he was too busy on the computer or watching TV to even look at me while I was speaking. He forgot most of what I said, or just wasn’t paying attention in the first place, so I gradually just stopped talking.

At night, while he was at work, I would get online. I always used a fake name and lied about where I was from, mainly to protect my privacy. After all, I was a married woman. I had no intention of meeting anyone in person, but I loved having someone to chat with at any given time. With some of the guys I chatted with, it was just great conversations. I would mention things that were going on in my marriage, and was able to get insight and advice from a guy’s perspective without worrying about what they’d think since they had no idea who I really was.

I don’t think I really knew how far my marriage had deteriorated until I started having these interactions. They made me laugh, made me think, and gave me a glimpse of how I wanted my marriage to be. Some of the guys I chatted with led me down a much different path…flirtatious chat, cyber sex, and even sex chat using a mic. I couldn’t get enough of it and soaked it up like a sponge. This random collection of guys provided something for me that hubs hadn’t in years, if ever. They actually remembered things I said in conversation and genuinely seemed interested in what I had to say. They made me feel sexy and beautiful, which I desperately needed at that time.

One night, I met Lance in a chatroom, and we hit it off right away. When he wanted to see what I looked like, I sent him a few pics I had found of a Russian mail-order bride. She looked young {20-something} and fun, with long legs and wild wavy hair. I made up an entire persona, saying that I owned a flower shop and came from a big family. The reason I gave for not wanting to talk on the phone was that I was separated and not sure where things were going with my husband. Semi true, I suppose.

We became extremely close, chatting every day and sharing our innermost thoughts. I never intended to launch into a relationship with anyone, but I found myself falling in love with him. I felt extremely guilty, the longer things went on. I actually thought of possible ways that we might be able to meet {he lived in another state}, where I “accidentally” showed up where he worked or something. It was totally out of control. Over time, I began to distance myself somewhat. I just didn’t feel right misleading him but I didn’t know how to get out of the situation without hurting him. We gradually stopped talking altogether, but every once in a while I peeked at his Facebook page and saw that he had gotten married and had a baby. I was happy for him, but was shocked to see that he named his daughter the same name {spelled slightly differently} that I had used when we were chatting. That still blows my mind.

There were other guys who I got involved with online, never as myself. With one guy, I was a young dance instructor. With another, I was a yoga teacher. I fabricated a whole new me, partly for privacy, as I said earlier, but also because it felt good to kind of recreate myself in the way I’d rather have been. Instead of an overweight, miserable wife and mom in her 30s, I was a young, fun, vibrant 20-something with her whole life ahead of her. It was an escape from the reality of my life and I craved it for a time.

I pretty much stopped cold turkey when hubs found out what I was up to. Apparently, he was suspicious and installed some kind of spyware on the computer. He saw several of my conversations, including some pretty racy stuff. I was very embarrassed, and he felt betrayed that I had been talking to other guys. I tried to explain to him that if things were ok in our marriage, I never would have fallen into the world of online chatting etc. He was angry that I was discussing our marital problems with strangers, but I asked if he would have preferred that I air our dirty laundry to our close friends.

Looking back, it was actually a good thing that that he busted me. It really brought things to a head in what was left of our marriage. It forced me to see how truly screwed up things had become, and it convinced me that I would rather be alone than in such an unhappy relationship.

I’ve thought about trying to find some way to contact Lance and come clean about what I did. I wanted to tell him that even though I lied about who I was, my feelings for him were genuine. But I don’t think anything would be accomplished by that. He’s happy and married now. That’s enough for me.

I’m not proud of what I did, and I certainly never intended to get emotionally involved with anyone. I’m just thankful that the Catfish show wasn’t around back when I was chatting. How embarrassing would THAT have been if I had been found out?

Yikes.

Mrs. Robinson Strikes Back

Things have been fairly quiet on the dating front of late. I’ve been out with two or three guys, but nothing much to talk about. One guy was very skilled at taking pics of himself in such a way that you’d never know how round he was. Imagine kind of a human light bulb. Combine that with the fact that he wore man Spanx {or Under Armour? Some kind of containment device that was in constant danger of failing catastrophically} and smelled very much like he just lost all control of his bladder, and it was just too much for this girl to deal with. Ain’t NOBODY got time for that! Another guy was very sweet and charming one-on-one, but in public {or, at least, in Facebook land} he was vulgar, rude, and downright adolescent. Ain’t nobody got time for that, either.

So I was kind of in dating limbo, when Stacy suggested that I contact this guy from one of the groups we’re both in on Facebook. I checked out his profile and he seemed decent enough and kind of cute, so I took a chance and got in touch with him. We started chatting and seemed to be getting along pretty well, but then he casually said that he was 28. 28?? {brakes screeching}

That didn’t end so well last time, so of course I was hesitant to continue. He insisted that age meant nothing and he really wanted to meet me. I finally agreed and we met for dinner later that week. He was sweet, funny, and easy to talk to. He had an odd way of eating tortilla chips with two hands, but otherwise he was pretty normal.

We went for a walk after dinner and did a little smooching. It was nice and simple… just what I needed. He worked kind of crazy hours, but he made a point to try to see me whenever he could, which was refreshing. He was very attentive, texting every day and calling almost every night. I mentioned his age to Stacy, and we started referring to him as Finch {as in the guy with a thing for Stifler’s mom in American Pie}.

Stifler's mom has got it goin' on

Stifler’s mom has got it goin’ on

After we had been talking for two or three weeks, he called me one night and said he was on his way to the hospital to see a friend who had just been in a car accident. He ended up staying in the ER with this person until well past midnight. I found out later that the friend was female. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that but I let it go. A few days later, he said he was on his way to meet a friend who had asked him to help “them” go shopping for a new car. I immediately knew it was a female friend. Otherwise, why not just say he was going with one of his buddies? I didn’t immediately say anything about it, until he called back after he was done car shopping. He said, “I hope I don’t regret what I did today.” I jokingly asked if he had bought a car. He said no, but he had financed his friend’s car. What the hell? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any of my friends would consider financing a car for me, no matter how close we are.

I said that I knew he was talking about a female and told him that after he spent the wee hours in the ER with this girl {it was the same one, by the way} and now financing her car, I couldn’t help but wonder where I could possibly fit into the equation. He insisted that they were just friends, nothing more. Hmmmm…now where had I heard that before? He also said that if I had a problem with this friendship, then he guessed we’d go our separate ways. Umm…what? He’s supposedly so interested in me, but if I’m not comfortable with his involvement with this girl, I’m the one who gets kicked to the curb?? Needless to say, I saw it as the beginning of the end for Finch. We did talk later, and cleared the air a bit, but I was still apprehensive about the whole thing.

At this point, we’d been talking and sort of seeing each other for about a month. Nothing beyond some making out had ever occurred, mostly because we hadn’t had any real privacy yet. He had gone to first base a couple of times, so I was under the assumption that he’d welcome some actual fooling around. One weekend, I knew my daughter would be with her dad, so I asked Finch if he wanted to come over. I said I would fix supper and we could watch movies. Sounded like a nice evening in, right? We watched two movies, and other than a little making out on the couch, nothing happened. I had asked if he wanted to stay over, and he said he couldn’t because he had to run errands for his elderly mother in the morning. It sounded like a lame excuse to me. After all, what errands could he possibly have that would be hampered by him staying at my place? But I let it go.

It was getting late, and we were both getting tired. I asked if he wanted to lie down, and he said he was fine on the couch, then quickly said we could go lie down if I wanted to. So I got up and walked into the bedroom, and he followed me. We laid down on the bed and at first nothing happened. I kissed him, and then we started making out. Long story short, there was a handy J {not to completion}, and he gave me a handy J {to completion but only semi-satisfying}. Oh, and after he was done, he wiped his hand on my leg. Yes, really. What the hell is THAT about?? Shortly after, he said he had to go, and began getting dressed. I felt like some horny old broad, throwing myself at him. It wasn’t quite like that, but I initiated everything that happened that night, and he hardly seemed into it. Not great for the old ego, you know?

The next day when he called, I knew I was basically done. I said it really hadn’t seemed like we were on the same page the night before. He claimed that it had only been a few months since his last relationship and that I was the first girl he’d fooled around with since then. I later spoke to my friend Ace about the whole incident, to get a guy’s perspective. Ace said that if he was on the bed, going to 2nd, he was sure as hell rounding 3rd and heading for home, whether he had to leave or not. Stacy asked if Finch was a virgin when I told her about it. I would assume he’s not, since his last relationship had lasted for several years, but what do I know?

He continued texting here and there, mostly making small talk, for a week or two, and I didn’t see the point of continuing with it. When I said I had given it a lot of thought and really didn’t think we were right for each other, he didn’t seem terribly upset. He said he’d like it if we could stay friends. Fine, whatever. Now run along and play, little Finchie. Mrs. Robinson is going to stick to boys her own age from now on.

Bittersweet

Tomorrow is my birthday. And as difficult as this is to write, I think it’s a good time to talk about the best first date I’ve ever been on.

I met Sonny on Tagged, which I originally thought was a dating site. I quickly learned that although there are some people who genuinely seemed interested in relationships, most of the people I talked to on Tagged were out for nothing but a hookup.

Sonny messaged me and seemed very sweet. We started chatting, then exhanged numbers and started talking on the phone. He seemed like a big teddy bear. He was in culinary school and had aspirations of becoming a chef, and ultimately wanted to open his own restaurant.

When he asked me to meet for lunch, I reluctantly agreed. Not because I didn’t want to meet him, but because I had a bad cold and was hardly at my best. He didn’t care, still wanted to meet me, so I accepted his invitation.

I got to the restaurant and texted to let him know I was there. He didn’t answer for several minutes, and just when I thought I was about to be stood up, he called me. He said he was running a few minutes late because he’d had to stop at WalMart {which was across the street} for something. I was a little annoyed that he was late, but I let it go. A minute later, he pulled in. He was a big guy — around 6’3 and very stocky. I walked over to him and he gave me a big bear hug.

When we got inside and sat down, he reached into his jacket, pulled out a pink gift bag, and set it on the table. I looked at him quizzically and said, “You didn’t have to get me anything!” He smiled a bit sheepishly and said it was no big deal, just a little something. As I reached for the bag, he said he had gotten a pink one because he figured girls like pink. I smiled, looked inside, and very nearly started crying.

He had bought me a can of chicken broth, a pack of kleenex, cough drops, a little bottle of orange juice, and a Reese’s peanut butter egg, which he knew I really liked. I was speechless. I immediately got up, walked around to his side of the table, and gave him a big hug. He seemed totally taken off guard by my response. This guy, whom I had only just met, showed more thoughtfulness in five minutes than my ex-husband had in much of our marriage. He shrugged when I exclaimed at how sweet it was for him to buy all these things for my cold, and he said it was no big deal. But it meant the world to me.

We had a very nice lunch, and when he walked me out to my car, he lifted me right off my feet and hugged me tight. I was worried he’d hurt himself lifting me but he laughed and said, “Naw, you’re little!” Such a sweetheart.

When I was feeling better, we went out to dinner one night. On the way there, we stopped at a used music and movie store because he wanted to get the movie Friday for us to watch {I had never seen it}. In the store, I spotted something up on a shelf that I thought my daughter would like. I commented that I’d have to come back and get it for her. He immediately went over and got it from the shelf and bought it. I protested, saying he didn’t have to do that, but he insisted. I couldn’t get over how sweet he was.

The night before Easter, my daughter was with her dad and I was on my own. Sonny came over and ended up spending the night. The next morning, I remembered that I was supposed to bring something to my mom’s for Easter dinner. We stood side by side in my kitchen making deviled eggs. He showed me how to quickly chop the chives the way he’d learned in culinary school. He loved texting me pictures of food he had made. He was so proud of his work.

He constantly commented on how little I was. My hand disappeared in his large one. But although I really liked him, the sexual chemistry just wasn’t there. Also, it bothered me that he still regularly talked to girls he had met on Tagged. When I brought it up, he said he wasn’t going to just stop talking to them. I was too insecure to be ok with him talking to these other girls, so I decided to step back and just be friends.

I don’t exactly remember our last conversation, but I do remember that we argued. I ended up hanging up on him and didn’t answer the next few times when he called. A month or two went by, and we hadn’t talked at all. We were still friends on Facebook, and I would peek at his page from time to time to see what he was up to, but otherwise we were not in contact.

When my birthday came, I wondered if I would hear from him. I didn’t. My feelings were a little hurt, but I couldn’t really blame him, since I had been kind of a jerk when we had last spoken.

The day after my birthday, I was on Facebook and something made me look at his page. I was shocked to see message after message saying, “RIP, big guy,” and “I’ll never forget you.” I found out that Sonny had died of a massive heart attack the day before, on my birthday. I was stunned, and felt terrible that our last words had been in anger. I was filled with regret that I had shut him out the way I did.

I kept an eye on his Facebook page to find out when the funeral would be. Even though I barely knew him, I really felt that I needed to go. I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t. I needed to say goodbye to Sonny properly. The day of the funeral, I was very apprehensive. I had never met anyone in his family and had only met one of his friends. I sat in the back with a handful of kleenex and the program someone had handed me, with Sonny’s picture on the back.

The funeral was beautiful and heartfelt and incredibly sad. He was only 38 years old. I couldn’t bring myself to go up to the casket. It was too real. I sat in the back row and cried my way through all my kleenex. I was surrounded by his family, friends, and classmates. Some who had known him since childhood and fondly recalled old memories, some who knew him more recently and shared funny stories. I got a better picture of who Sonny truly was. A gentle giant with a big heart who always tried to take care of everyone around him. Always willing to help people out, always sharing his time and giving of himself. It was a true celebration of his life, which had ended way too soon.

When it was over, I saw his brother walking his mom down the aisle and she just looked broken. I wanted to hug her, or say something comforting. She had been living with Sonny because she’d been in poor health. I wondered who would take care of his mom, and what would become of his cat. A month or two before he died, many of his friends graduated from culinary school. He had gone to the graduation, saying, “Next year, it’ll be my turn!” So many loose ends.

Tomorrow, it will be two years since he died, and not a week goes by that I don’t think of him. I still feel terribly guilty about how things were left between us. I hate feeling that I could have handled things differently. I still can’t quite forgive myself for the way I acted. I actually dreamed about him twice, and it gave me some comfort. He didn’t speak in either dream, but we were surrounded by bright light, and he was looking intently into my eyes. I’d like to think maybe it was his way of telling me it was ok, and not to beat myself up over it.

Whenever I happen to check the time and see 7:04, I smile and think of Sonny {7:04 — 7/4}. I can’t bring myself to remove him from my Facebook friends list or the contact list in my phone, and I still have that pink gift bag. On his birthday, I leave a note on his wall, and tomorrow I will leave one, as I did last year on the anniversary of his passing and probably will continue to do so.

I will always remember Sonny fondly but sadly… the gentle, thoughtful, humble giant. I’m blessed to have known him, even if only for a short time. God bless you, Sonny. I miss you still and I’ll never forget you.