Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day, Part Deux (The First Date)

Joel and I met on eHarmony. A lot of you have been around since the Adventures in Internet Dating Follies, but if you're new to Idiosyncratic LIfe, the short version is this: I dated a guy from 1998-2005. He was my college boyfriend. He was an actor. I thought we were going to get married. We didn't.

In case you missed it, I started Internet dating like it was my JOB. Frankly, and I mean this with all respect to my ex (who reads this often, hi!), it was either work the free trial periods on as many as five different Internet dating services at once or poke my eyes out with a fork. My ex left me for a woman with whom he had performed in a play. In said play, she had an onstage sex scene or two. Not with him, actually; he played her father. :::pauses while readers contemplate that for a moment::: His character was also a quadriplegic Elvis impersonator :::pause while readers contemplate THAT::: so he spent the majority of his time on stage either slumped over in a wheelchair, (sometimes with a staged erection, sometimes not), or singing and dating like Elvis, complete with sequined white body suit, sideburns, sunglasses and fog machine. Ah, memories. :)

Meanwhile, the sight and sound of my ex's new girlfriend (now fiancee! whee! no, really! it's all good now!) having sex, albeit onstage and so not at all "real," were seared into my memory. Hence, the poke-eyes-out-with-fork vs. Internet-date-for-blog-fodder-and-sanity's-sake debate. Since I sort of need my eyes to do my actual paycheck-earning job, I went with serial Internet dating. If you've never done eHarmony, let me tell you right now that they make you jump through a LOT, and I mean- a LOT- of hoops before you start emailing back and forth with someone. On other services, you send a "wink" or "ice-breaker" message and then it's all Peach Pancakes* after that.

*If you've never read the Peach Pancakes entry, it's one of my all time favorites.

My mom was curious about how Internet Dating worked, mostly because I don't think she liked the idea of some enchanted evening ending with my corpse bouncing around in some guy's trunk 'til he could dump my body out by the Rockaways any more than I did. So one night while we were at the beach, we sat down with the laptop, and I showed her the ropes. She *LOVED* Joel's profile. Like, she was excitedly pointing at the screen, saying "Pick this one! I like this one!" and I was all, "I'm trying, we're only at the 'Must Haves/Can't Stands' stage. It's not like I can order him off amazon. He has to want to meet me, too."

And he did. For the record, Joel only had one other eHarmony date before he met me. They met for coffee at the Starbucks in Bryant Park. They sat an outdoor table and all was going swimmingly until a pigeon shat on his head. Or was it his shoulder? Whatever, head sounds funnier. In either case, he says getting pooped on "killed the mood after that," and she never called him again. (Yesss!)

We chatted on the phone first, during which I put him on hold for 10 minutes while my mom gave me bad news about Brad (who is doing quite well right now, by the way). Joel was still there when I finally clicked back on call-waiting: a good sign. We tried to figure out a time to get together, but he was leaving for Moab in a few days, then I was going out of town on assignment, then he couldn't go out on Labor Day Monday evening because of having to get up before the asscrack of dawn to teach on the first day of school the next day, then I was shooting a wedding on Cape Cod, yadda yadda yadda. It was kind of a "now or never" situation, so we decided to meet for drinks the next day.

I suggested we go to Seaside Johnnie's, an overpriced beach shack on Long Island Sound where you can blow $16.95 on a cheeseburger if you aren't careful. Ordinarily, I wouldn't suggest it for a first date if dinner is involved, but since we were only going to have drinks, I figured it wouldn't be too pricey. Also, I was afraid he might mistake me for a Scary Chestwester High Maintenance Kind of Girl who picks a lobster joint on the first date and expects him to pick up the tab for her manicures and designer handbags after that. :::shrugs:::

Still, though... dating in Stepford is a whole different ballgame. The bars are crawling with skinny chicks with $400 highlights and French-manicured toes, and I was trying to walk the walk, just a little bit. I was running late getting ready for the date, because HELLO, I'm me, and I always think I can squeeze in just one more thing. Also, I was still using dial-up and my land line wasn't ringing and my cell phone was muffled and long story short, he was waiting for me on the porch. (I rent the third floor of an old Victorian.) I *just* pulled myself together and was all set to leave when Fred- pokey lardass cat that *never* hustles unless there is food involved- dashed down the stairs and proceeded to wedge himself behind the radiator.

Picture it, will you? I come downstairs to the porch, he jumps up, we shake hands, and I announce that we can't leave yet because my cat has decided he needs to dash down the stairs where he is most likely rubbing his head on the neighbor's bike in the hallway. To Joel's credit, he didn't miss a beat. He just popped right up, followed me up the stairs, climbed over the railing and try to scoop up the cat while I was all, "Um, Fred doesn't really like to be touched...but... oh, God... see, actually, all I have to do is feed the dog? And he runs right back up the stairs?" If Joel thought it was odd that the cat likes dog kibble, he didn't say much. We shooed/lured Fred back into the apartment where Bella just about lost her damn mind with glee. She loved Joel like he was Heaven on Earth at first sight. It was a good sign.

We started with drinks and then decided to order dinner. We kept lingering over refills and coffee until the check gradually topped $60. I didn't want him to have to pay for all that on a first date, so I grabbed the bill when it came and threw it where he couldn't reach it. Good times. Then we decided to walk on the beach for a little while, which led to kissing, which led to him driving me home, which lead to me asking him if he wanted to see my portfolio, which led to us geeking out over PhotoShop (hubba hubba), and finally kissing some more until he really, really had to leave for the airport or risk missing that flight to Utah.

At one point when we were driving back to my house from the restaurant, we were chatting about our families and my sister's then-recent wedding (very elegant, beautiful, traditional, big poofy white dress-tastic and Catholic). I started to tell Joel, "We're not having ANYTHING like that at our wedding, by the way." ON OUR FIRST DATE. I managed to stop myself in time, because- GAH. Scary! I got as far as, "We're not having-" and ultimately covered with "-sex tonight." Smooth, no? Still, the thought of marrying him felt like the most natural thing in the world from the very first date.

Bleh. I just threw up in my mouth a little. Sorry, dudes.


Michelle said...

Don't apologize for being in love with your fiancee from the get-go!!! I do have a question though, about eHarmony. My sister is seriously desperate to find someone and, over Christmas, I think we finally convinced her that internet dating would indeed not kill her or be the end of the world as she knows it. But, she is very reluctant to pay for anything so right now she keeps sending "pokes" or "winks" or whatever the hell they're called back and forth to people on m* But I honeslty know of about 5 people who got married using eHarmony and I was just wondering if you think eHarmony changed your life or that you could have met "the one" using some other service or using nothing at all...?

cindy w said...

Michelle: I met my husband on m*, if that's any endorsement for it. I tried eHarmony, but the whole back-and-forth process of filling out questionnaires really irritated me, so I never got past the one-week free trial. And I heard that they're owned by the church of Scientology, but I don't know if that's an urban legend or not. :-)

Peach Pancakes is one of my all-time favorite online dating stories. I sent it to my sister when she was having Online Dating Despair, and she thought it was hilarious too.

Joel said...

Actually, I had 2 eHarmony dates before Angie. The first was the pigeon-shit date. The second was one with a young woman from Canada who worked for the NYC Medical Examiners office. I digged her and wanted a 2nd date. She didn't. So Angie was the definition of the
3rd time being the charm.

gwen said...

PEACH PANCAKES. Oh god, I had forgotten about that. Passionate kisses, sweet spot. Ahahahaha.

Anyway -- here's an endorsement for the Spring Street network, which has its personals ads on the Onion and Salon, among others. J. was a "third time's the charm" for me, too, after going out with 1) a very shy librarian who thought kissing on the fifth date was moving too fast and 2) a Republican who lived in his parents' basement and contacted me a year later to call me on the fact that I had said I needed a break from dating and then went on to have a long-term relationship... with a guy other than him. Oy.

Also, I didn't know the "we're not having--" story! Cuteness. And I love Bella as a personality gauge. You should loan her out to friends on first dates.

gwen said...

I should add, Michelle, that the "J." I am referring to is my boyfriend of two and a half years, since that isn't clear from the context. We actually met within like 72 hours of Angie meeting Joel.

Also, for historical accuracy: The librarian, the first guy I dated in the summer of 2005, was actually from J-Date, the Jewish dating service. I found that site way more annoying than the Spring Street Network, but I have several friends who have found serious relationships from there too.

Carl said...

Gwen, I had lots of fun with Spring Street but it seems to have changed for the worse. The edgy, fun girls that used to be on SSN (around here) are now gone. They're all now.

What the world needs is, where all the people are screened beforehand to make sure they're cool and fun and all that.

Osk,MinionOfCthulhu said...

When I got back from my first date with Mitzi by best friend at the time asked me "How did it go?"

I replied, "If I don't marry that woman there is no justice in the universe."

In case anyone wasn't sure about the matter, there is justice in the universe.

We've been married for sixteen years

Anonymous said...

I had a feeling that Angie was going to be the one after our first date. I remember thinking it while in Moab in those days following.