I’m Dating My Friends

So, life is taking a new turn for me.  I’ve decided to take myself off the shelf and get back into the dating market.  It’s been too long.  But I’ve had things I had to do.  That’s all in the past now, and though they were exactly what I needed to do at the time, I’m ready to live life in the present.

I made a decision that I need to play and have some fun.  By nature, I’m a serious person who is focused and determined.  I know what I want (and what I don’t want), and that usually serves me well.  But it hasn’t worked as far as dating goes.  Part of that is because I’m picky.  The other part is that I teach high school.  There are NO available men in a 3 story institutional building that pushes you through the day with bells.  You walk through a sea of crowded hallways, run past a stinky cafeteria, and push past shouting teenagers who jostle you as you clutch your books to your chest trying to get to your classroom.  The classroom where you spend your entire day, stuck to a desk, a podium, a computer, or students’ desks answering questions, revising papers, or taking away cell phones.  Any male interaction is between you, married men, gay men, young men who are your students.  And the occasional attention you get is from your married male custodian who awkwardly tells you that you’re wearin’ some smokin’ hot boots with your dress.  (By the way, Bob, thanks.  That made my day.)

Long story short, I let my hairstylist talk me into signing up on match.com.  Honestly, I wasn’t too keen on the advice, and really thought it embarrassing that I had to resort to looking for love on-line amongst a sea of strangers who had cheesy pick up lines and awkward photos of them posing shirtless in front of the mirror with their cell phone in hand.  But, after some serious thinking, and a nudge from a good friend who also signed up and met a handsome fella, I decided, “Why not?”  It wasn’t like I was meeting men left and right at work.  I don’t travel, and my lunch hour is spent inhaling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and yogurt while I sit at my desk in the office bitching and commiserating with my female friends and co-workers.

So, I took the plunge.  My friend Mary was the first to express interest in this whole dating scene.  She found it “fascinating” and was “intrigued” by all the possibilities and stories out there.  I, on the other hand, was (and am) blase about the whole thing.  I figure it is just a playground.  A place where I can practice dating and get my groove back.  I have been on a lot, and I mean a LOT of miserable dates over the year (see my post titled “Straight Up Liz Lemon With a Twist” if you want to know more).  My whole mentality is to not take this part of the dating scene seriously.  I think it’s a healthy way to look at it.  If I’m going to meet my equal, then I just have to go out into the world and be seen looking hot by a lot of people in hopes that one day he’ll discover me.  And, if he sees me on match.com, or at The Bread Company, or the Art Museum, or in the grocery store, then at least I’ll know how to talk to him, to be confident, and act flirty and ooze feminine energy because I’ve had all that practice.

The morning of my date, my friend Sarah (who also is my yoga instructor), asked me if I wanted to go to a yoga workshop/kirtan music fest in the STL area later that evening.  When I told her I had plans to go on a date, she jumped up and down and hugged me.  She laughed and said, “Oh, I’m so proud of you!” and then I told her I wasn’t that excited to go out with my date because he seemed pushy, blunt and hard to read.  I told her he was German, or so it sounded by his heavy accent, and told her that I couldn’t figure out if he had a sense of humor or not.  He had vetoed my choice of location (he apparently had a bad dining experience), and he told me that he wasn’t accustomed to eating at 7:30 p.m., and that wouldn’t work for him.  I was very nice and diplomatic, but asserted myself because I was thinking about my safety.  So I told him I wasn’t accustomed to eating so late.  We did agree on dinner at a nice restaurant at 8p.m.  Sarah winced and said, “Oooh, Megan, I don’t know. . .”  My old fears of bad dates came bubbling up to the surface and I said, “I know right?  Maybe I should cancel the date, or change it to a wine bar or coffee shop so I can make a quick escape?”  She advised me to go on my dinner date and just be breezy.  She started to laugh and pulled up this video on her phone:  

For the rest of the day, I had this image, this voice, and this bizarre poop question in my head.

In the afternoon, my friend Kelly called me to discuss what I was going to wear for my date.  Kelly talks a mile a minute when she’s excited, and there were times she was in super-sonic speed that I couldn’t tell if she was excited or ready to implode.  I heard her take a few drags and puffs on her cigarette and wash it down with a Diet Coke, so I knew she was in “super excited mode”.  We laughed and giggled, and conspired, and bemoaned the dating experience.  While I was on the phone with her, Mary called my cell phone.

I returned Mary’s call, and gave her the scoop on what type of guy I thought I would be going out with.  Mary tried to justify his cold demeanor and lack of humor, by saying, “Maybe he’s just off the bus.”  I was certain in less than a 5 minute conversation with him that he just wasn’t my match.  I would just sit through a date that was probably going to be pleasant but dull, and just smile and replay the video clip in my head that Sarah played for me earlier.  And sing, “La la la” in my head.  Mary waxed philosophical on all the reasons he could be the way he was, and I listened, loving the fact that my best friend, a woman who is an old soul like me, loves me so much that she wants me to be happy and find romance.  My equal, she said.  The one that will discover me.  “A Renaissance man,” she said.  “Damn straight,” I replied.  “‘Cuz I’m a Renaissance woman.  I mean, I like art, music, and shit like that, you know.”  Mary kept repeating, “Oh, I’m so nervous for you.”  She sounded almost near tears, and I had to be the one to cheer and pump her up.  I had to talk her down from her anxieties, and told her that it would all be ok, and that it is just a date, and nothing more.  I even related my life to Diane Lane’s character in Under The Tuscan Sun.  I reminded Mary that Francis (Lane’s character) in the end got so much more than she expected because she just went out and lived her life.  That’s what I am bound and determined to do.

She told me Jon, her husband, was curious about this date too.  “He wonders if it is safe,” she told me.  She reminded me to call her if I needed anything. “And I mean anything, Megan,” telling me that if I needed to spend the night, or if I had a flat tire to call, or if I needed a shoulder to cry on that I could come over any time that night, no matter what.    I genuinely thanked her and when I got off the phone I had tears in my eyes.  Not from being scared about going out on a date after a 6 month hiatus, or worried about the possibility of a bad date scenario, but because I realized that on a Saturday afternoon I already had 4 friends who had supported me and shown me unconditional love in the most endearing  way.

I called my mom later to tell her that I was going on a date (they say to tell as many people when you meet a date for the first time – safety in numbers I suppose).  My mom laughed when she found out I was going out with a real German.  “Who knew?  Here you have a German last name, German heritage, grew up in a German area, and now you’re going out with a real German.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha.”  I laughed more at the fact that mom was enjoying this far more than I was.  (Remember, I was -and am- being blase about all of this.)  I told her that he apparently made an insulting / confusing remark about unhealthy Americans that were at this retirement party at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton.  “You know,” mom said, “he has a point.”  I said, “Yes, I know.  But seriously?  Is it a conversation starter when you’re talking to a complete stranger?”  I mean, I couldn’t understand it, and it was weird when he laughed and said, “So many anorexic gurls.”  I couldn’t figure out if it was his attempt at humor, a sarcastic commentary on America’s obesity problem, or if he was disappointed that American fraulines aren’t fattened up by beer, schnitzel, and pretzels.

Mom told me to go out, have fun, and she said, “Eat with your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right, and don’t switch it.  Show him you can eat European style too.”  I now had so much advice (and the constant replay of “Jennifer is a party pooper” video in my head) that I was overwhelmed.  To maintain my sophisticated apathy, I decided to take a nap.

Let’s skip ahead:  past getting ready, past getting a little nervous before going into the restaurant, and even past the date.  He was nice.  He was cute.  He was a gentleman.  He met my expectations and wasn’t Euro-trash although he had a penchant for techno-music (don’t they all?)  And, he was Polish, not German.  A fact I had apparently looked past when I glanced at his profile.  He was the right guy, but just right for another woman.

When he got up to use the restroom, I checked my phone.  I had 2 text messages and 1 voicemail.  I read the texts, 1 from Kelly reading, “Go to the bathroom and text me how it’s going.  I’m serious.”  And 1 from Marnie, another yoga girl and sweet friend that read, “We left you a message.”  My date came back to the table and I went to the restroom.  I texted Kelly, “Boring.  Boring.  Boring.  And Boring.”  She immediately texted back, “Oh damn.”  I listened to my voicemail and heard Sarah’s voice along with two other yogi pals: “Meeeggaaan!!!!!  It’s Sarah. Edie.  And Marnie.  We’re calling to see if you need rescued.  Um. . .I broke my ankle and I need a ride to the hospital.  Or, I have a flat tire.  Or somebody pooped at the party, and we need help!  [Add fake German accents and giggling in the background:  Uh, yah, I pooped at de party] Call if you need us.  We’re on our way home.  Bye.”  Though these wild yoga women are about 10-12 years older than me, they sounded like giggly 20 year olds leaving a drunk college party.

All of these antics were hilarious, and made my boring date seem less so.  Little do my all of my friends know, I am the one who has more love in her life than they could ever imagine.  This inconsequential date stirred something in me, and showed me that I am no longer the poor, lonely single girl who has to face a scary dating world all alone and feel sorry for herself.  I have the best, most loving, cuckoo bird friends who support me, love me and want only the absolute best for me.  My love life isn’t out there waiting for me.  It has been surrounding me constantly through emails, phone calls, text messages, fierce loyalty, motherly anxiety, insightful advice, and childlike giggling all along.

I arrived home, and played Words With Friends on my iPhone before going to bed.  My hairstylist is one of my opponents on this game.  She had left a message:  “So, my friend Amy saw you at the restaurant on a date.  She said he was cute.  I hope you had a good time.  Glad I made you get on match?”  Oh, gees.  It’s a small, small world.  I sent her a message back (and played a kick-ass word that scored over 30 pts, putting me in the lead) thanking her for her suggestion, and told her I was ready for another date.  With another man.  Who just sent me an email today asking me out (yeah, I got more than just smokin’ boots goin’ on).

After talking to my mom (who made Polish jokes when I corrected my error on his nationality), I went out Christmas shopping.  When I got back home, I checked my Facebook page.  My mother’s status report was:  “Hey Megan. . .How Many Poles does it take to go out on a boring date?  Lol.”  My reply?  Apparently more than one.