Friday, November 28, 2008

The Scientist

Unsurprisingly, I spotted yet another guy I've already dated on Catch dot Mom. This time, it was The Scientist. Remember him? I actually liked that one! No! Really! I mean, sure, he was so buttoned up and pragmatic that I don't know whether he ever would have kissed me (fear of germs or something, probably), but I genuinely enjoyed talking to him, and my second (of three) dates with him was the first follow-up date I found myself looking forward to and nervous about in a long, long while.

The Scientist was actually the original reason I posted a profile on the site I used for a brief period last winter. I had been browsing but not making myself visible, but when his profile was sent to me in an email update, I decided I had to post something so I could contact him. In the past few weeks, I've shared a some profiles that did not win me over. Are you at all curious what one that does win me over looks like? In this case, it was something like this:

Why You Should Get to Know Me
Since there is the risk of this turning into a list, I decided to go with a list: I am a nerd. I open doors for women. I've lived in foreign countries. I dance. I don't own a TV. I've lived on farms and in major cities. I like obscure words and phrases that were last fashionable in the 1920s. I'm trying to learn cross-country skiing, but the weather has not cooperated. Of course, now that there's snow, my ACL isn't cooperating. I'm incapable of flirting. I'm immune to commercials. Sometimes I have a beard. I'm a realist and a romantic. I'm quiet but not shy. I've seen the entire Ring cycle live. (That's Wagner, not Tolkien.) I've never been arrested. I know why the sky is blue.

More About What I Am Looking For
Another list: Independent, practical, elegant, frugal, conversational, lithe, patient, confident, wears sensible shoes, plebeian, an equal, honest, direct, humorous, eclectic, tall, and well-read.

All right; I'm not much of a dancer, and I not only own a TV but am unashamed by my relatively high pop culture proficiency, but regardless, I thought that profile was written by a nerd after my own heart. I'm both a realist and a romantic! I'm independent and practical (almost to a fault)! I'm conversational and reasonably confident! Humorous? Many people think so... Honest and direct? Check, double-check. Also, the day I read that profile, I was wearing extremely sensible Danskos, and the album I'd listened to on my way to work was the same one he mentioned for the "In my CD player right now..." question. I had to contact this guy, right?

The Scientist took longer than most men to say "enough with the idle emails; we should meet for a drink." Even before we met in person, he warned that he wasn't sure he was in a dating place. Recovering from an injury; swamped at work; blah blah blah. "But your profile does stand out, so I don't think I can afford to ignore it," he said. We finally met for drinks one night.

I had little idea what The Scientist looked like before I met him. The pictures he'd posted were blurred and tiny; I was taking a leap of faith hoping I'd be attracted to him at all. Also, he was so serious in his emails. Would he have any sense of humor in person?

It's become somewhat fashionable now to call oneself a nerd. It seems we earn hipster cred by claiming to have been an awkward outcast in our youth. The Scientist was a nerd in the true and original sense of the word, however (I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd had mismatched socks and a pocket protector). His hair could have used some product; his wardrobe and glasses definitely needed an update. But he had a kind face and warm eyes, and he embraced his nerdery with confidence. Unlike Sheep Testicles Guy, who overcompensated for his presumably unpopular years with unjustified overconfidence and ill-timed humor, The Scientist had managed to hone some social graces. I immediately liked talking to him.

I've often thought that my ideal man is someone a bit different from me. I don't necessarily subscribe to the philosophy that opposites attract, but I do see the value of balance, of being with someone who's a little edgier than I, who nudges me out of my comfort zone from time to time and shakes up the snow globe I'm quietly resting in, forcing me to look at things a little differently somehow. That said, there's something so at ease and familiar about connecting with someone as pragmatic and structured as I often am, who doesn't question why I'm entertained or fascinated by strange minutia because he's just as analytical about small things as I. Maybe it would have been boring and fruitless in the long run, but for a moment, it felt like coming home.

I read once that what draws us to someone most isn't as much about the traits that person has as about how you feel about yourself when you're with that person, and I've always agreed with that. I can be an awkward dork, but I amuse myself easily. I need to be with someone who's amused by me as well. Five minutes into my first date with The Scientist, I suspected he was. I don't even remember what I said the first time I put my foot in my mouth on that date, but I know I looked at my watch and said, "Huh. It took me only five minutes to say something potentially inappropriate." The Scientist didn't miss a beat. He cracked a sideways smirk and asked, "New record for you, is that?" Also, there was the Venn Diagram of Snobbery. Would that line have been well-received on just any date? Likely not. I honestly had a good feeling about this one for a bit.

So what happened? On the record, it went back to what he'd told me from his first emails. Busy with work. Stressed about the grant that would determine if his department could pay his salary the next year and hence, if he'd even be able to stay in Minneapolis. All valid excuses, perhaps, but I suspect it also came down to that now-famous adage: simply put, as Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend told Miranda, he was just not that into me. There's a very good chance that, given a bit more time, I wouldn't have been that into him, either, but at the point where he slowly faded away, I was still up for giving it a try.

Apparently his department did get to keep him, because The Scientist is back online. I actually clicked on him in my search results accidentally, not recognizing him from the new but equally bad and blurry picture he's using now. His new profile is decidedly less charming; I doubt he would have sparked my interest at all given the words he's using to promote himself these days. Or maybe that's just what I'm telling myself, because my slightly bruised ego wanted him to see me online and say "Hey, you're still single? I have time for you now!" Nope. I'm sure that's not it. Round Two rarely ever works any differently from Round One (I say based on the one and only time I've attempted a re-do). So let's just say I dodged a bullet with a Boring Guy. Let's go with that, OK?


Angela said...

What is it about scientists...could it be that they are married to their work and afraid of having fun? Scientists have not bode us well.

Alice said...

i do love me a reformed nerd, but i think it's partly because i'm one too. i used to be SUPER HIGHLY NERDY (no, really. i know everyone says that. they don't have the photographic evidence i do.) but but BUT, i have overcome this handicap and can now interact in social situations. so i expect my nerd to be able to as well. it... limits the pool of candidates.

Abby said...

It's been a while since I did the online dating thing (that's how I met my current SO), but surely there is a way to just say HI to the Scientist? I think it's worth a shot....

flurrious said...

I don't understand why people who say they're not sure if they're interested in dating or having a relationship post profiles on dating sites. I imagine them sitting perplexed in front of their computers, unable to make the wild deductive leap from, "I joined a dating site," to "women are contacting me about dating."

Courtney said...

Huh. That guy showed such promise. But hey, if he's that married to his work, maybe it's for the best.

Mickey said...

That is one promising profile. I almost want to date the guy.