Mind you, I am not destitute. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I received a "job
So tomorrow morning I will be handing over several hundred dollars to a plumber to install a new, made-in-this-century water heater and haul away the rusty old one whose label bears the name of a department store that's been out of business since my early grade school years. If I were a glass-half-full kind of girl, I would be grateful that the work bonus came just in time to pay for this household problem. Apparently I'm more often a bitter, "I can't catch a break" sort of gal, however, so the Universe and I are on thin ice. On the plus side, at least I get to sleep in a bit tomorrow, which is a rare treat on a Monday. The plumber will be here no earlier than 8:30, and since I'm not about to take a second cold shower in two days (Sidenote: Cold showers? Not as appealing as one might think, even after an hour of yard work on a 90+ degree day. The first few moments? Lovely and refreshing. After that, not so much.), that means I need to get up around 8:20, rather than 6:30. So yay for that, anyway. Glass half full after all. I might even get to watch tomorrow's Ellen. See? I'm all about the silver linings here, aren't I?
That said, the Universe and I still need to have a few words. Remember that whole Year of Stef thing? How I decided to do what Oprah says and put positive thoughts out into the world hoping the law of attraction would bring positive things back? Well apparently the Universe did not get my message, because this year has been no more successful (romantically speaking, anyway) than any other.
I admitted last week that there was some context to that little question I posed for all of you. Again, thank you for the crowd participation on that one. As I said in my cop-out follow-up post, the explanation I started to type quickly turned into an excessively rambling and introspective post that I didn't really want to finish, I guess. Suffice it to say, there was a boy. Or, two boys, rather. Both were men I was matched with during my brief Free-Communication-Weekend foray back into the nonsense that is meMarmony, although one also turned out to be a very good friend of a good friend of mine--someone I know I've met before but apparently needed a computer to tell me was in any way interesting to me. And he was interesting... on paper (or, on screen), anyway. Like so many of the perfectly nice, respectful, smart, and genuinely decent men the mysterious Dr. Warren has set me up with, he was ideal for me in the magical world on my computer screen. We don't live on the computer screen, however (much as some of us try, anyway). Perfect on paper doesn't mean perfect in real life. And with both of those fine-on-paper men, I just wasn't feeling it in person. My gut was telling me that if I wasn't even giving more than a passing thought to either of them in between dates (much less looking forward to seeing them again in any genuine way) then neither was probably the guy for me. But the "on paper" stuff (as well as the echo in my brain of certain friends who have, on occasion, suggested I might be too picky or not be giving things enough of a chance) made me reserve judgment anyway and made me wonder if I was perhaps giving up on them too quickly.
Times like this, I keep hoping that I'll be wrong--that suddenly, on a third or fourth date something will click or a wall of awkwardness and reservations will break down and I will find myself laughing easily, willingly grazing his arm or thigh casually, saying "I had a really good time" and meaning it, hoping my phone will ring the next day and I'll see his number on the caller ID display. None of these things has happened recently, and maybe I should finally feel confident that I do know what I'm doing and that my instincts aren't failing me. I may have a hard time meeting someone I connect with, but maybe that doesn't mean I'm supposed to connect with someone with whom I simply don't.
That's where you guys came in. I was wondering if perhaps those certain friends of mine were right and I really shouldn't expect some sort of fireworks (or, at the very least, a tiny sparkler) right away. Nearly every one of you confirmed what I've suspected, though. There has to be something (aside from the on-paper stuff) to keep you interested at the outset. Whether it's a physical attraction or a mental one (or just a gut feeling telling you something other than "Meh"), something tells you "This one is worth getting to know a little more."
A lot of people my age are fond of saying, "I'm sick of the bar scene" or "I don't want to meet anyone in a bar." I'm starting to think maybe I should go back to looking in bars, however. Much as I accept the fact that meeting dates online is the norm by now, it always seems sort of backwards to me. In the old days (by which of course I mean the late 90s), I would meet someone (yes, most likely in a bar or at a concert) and we would strike up a conversation, feel some sort of connection, and because of that connection go on a date to find out more. When you meet online, you go on the date first and then try to see if there's any connection. It is absurd and backwards and it's a wonder to me that anyone ever finds a partner this way. It seems so entirely random--no matter how appealing someone might look in an online profile, no matter how promising things might seem in initial emails, you really can't tell much of anything at all until you meet face to face. Maybe the guy with the bad work ID badge photo and the horrendous grammar is actually the one I'd find myself in rapt conversation with for hours. Maybe a matching list of interests and a properly constructed email means little after all.
I maintain that all this ridiculous seemingly recreational dating must serve a purpose, however, and it's a purpose that goes beyond practice for "the real thing." This nonsense continues to be a learning process, frustrating and uneventful a process as it usually is. A year ago, two of you asked me about my relationship deal-breakers. Oddly, I wasn't entirely sure how to answer at the time. Three nice-but-too-shy boys later, however, and I finally have an answer. The obvious things still stand (no drunks, no puppy-kickers, no Los Lonely Boys lovers, etc.). But lively conversation is a non-negotiable as well. Seems an obvious one for me, but I'm not sure I've ever outright acknowledged it as such. With every bad or mediocre date, however, I still think about that first date with Jimmy-the-Pothead--how despite all the red flags and the reasons to run, I genuinely liked him, how midway through that first dinner, he smiled at me and looked up at our waiter and asked, "Can you tell this is a first date?" and the waiter replied, "No, I probably wouldn't have guessed that... you guys look like you're having a really good time." I want that again--that easy conversation, that undeniable spark of something, that certainty that yes, I genuinely had fun tonight and I really want to see this guy again, as soon as possible. I don't think it should be too much to ask.
Maybe someday the smart, lively conversationalist I'm meant to be with will just knock on my door. Maybe he'll be one of those clipboard people I'm usually so reluctant to open for. Or maybe, if Noelle's luck earlier this year is any indication, he'll be the hot plumber who comes to fix my water heater tomorrow.
What? A girl can dream, can't she?