Five

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Just marked the five year anniversary of my blog.  Wow… I can’t believe it’s been that long.  I’ve come a long way since I started this, although in some ways I still feel like I’m in the same place.  While I’ve finally shaken the albatross of virginity, my sexual experience is still frustratingly limited.  Another year has ticked by with little to show for it.  However I did have a flurry of dates after my experience with Jane.  Unfortunately they were all a bust and I consigned Bumble to the rubbish heap once again.

#44
First one up was a 37yo nurse.  85-90 percent of the women I see online are teachers, nurses or social workers, so she fit right in.  And once again I seemed to hit it off with someone older.  Only four years older, but still.  She messaged me saying my pictures were awesome, that I seemed like a fun/funny guy, and that she’d love to chat.  So we chatted, and before long things were pretty flirty.

We met a few days later during her work break.  I’ll be happy never seeing the inside of a Starbucks ever again, but it was quick and convenient.  We were also keen to meet and didn’t want to put it off any longer.  I liked her and thought we got on well, despite her dropping a bomb about being married before.  I had no idea.  She had to get back to work at the end of the hour.  She gave me a quick hug, and when I asked about seeing her again she said “we’ll see” and trotted off.

I knew what that meant.  Sure enough, she went from texting 24/7 to complete radio silence.  Didn’t respond to my follow up either.  Apparently that date didn’t go as well as I’d thought.  But I had an old violin I’d wanted appraised and the violin shop happened to be right across the street, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.  They told me they could fix it for 300, or buy it from me for 100.  I went with Option B, and that’s another item off my longstanding to-do list.

#45
I double-booked for the second time in my life.  A few hours after I met Nurse Ghost, I went out to dinner with a 32yo who worked for a nature conservancy.  It was nice to talk to someone with a unique career, and in a field of great interest to me.  We also had much in common with our musical and artistic backgrounds.

She warned me that she was shy and awkward, but that she was also very forward and didn’t have a problem making the first move.  Shy and awkward, but forward?  Uh… okay.  However when we met she was neither shy nor awkward nor forward – just disinterested, evidenced by several glances at her phone. I’ll admit my own interest was dampened when she disclosed that she was a single mom.

talk to girl with kids

Buzzkill.  I did my best to keep things light and fun, but I didn’t seem to be making any headway.  She asked little about myself in return, and by the time the check came it was clear neither of us was keen on prolonging the evening.  Afterwards we hugged good night went our separate ways.  By the time I got back to my car I’d already removed her from my contacts.  I’ve added and deleted more girls’ phone numbers than I can count at this point.

#46
I was almost ready to throw in the towel but I had one more lined up – a young hot 26yo.  I almost couldn’t believe she was interested in me.  She was a teacher (the number one profession of online daters).  We had a shared love of animals, the outdoors, being adventurous and trying new things.  We compared our to-do lists and decided to try an escape-room challenge together.

We settled on the “Killer Countdown.” She joked that she scared easily and might be clutching onto me.  Then she wanted to FaceTime to make sure I wasn’t a psycho before we got locked in a room together.  I’d never FaceTimed before.  It felt a bit weird but it was cool at the same time.   We chatted for ten or fifteen minutes and expressed our excitement about meeting.

The next night I met her outside the escape room place.  She came round the corner already looking less than enthused.  Turns out she reread the description online and learned we started the challenge chained to the wall, and she didn’t like that idea.  Before I could worry about that, we still had to figure out how to get into the building since the doors were locked.  I joked about that being part of the challenge, but she didn’t make a sound.

We ended up having to go around the back, and she was even more uncomfortable when she discovered we were the only ones there.  It’s common to be part of a group, but it was just the two of us.  You should have seen her face.  Well, I’d bought the tickets online and they were non-refundable.  There were five other rooms to choose from so I suggested we try a different one – maybe something less scary like the Game Room?

Nope, she didn’t even want to do that.  She grimaced at me and suggested we go somewhere and for a drink instead (which had been the plan for afterwards).  Sigh.  So I talked to the guy there and managed to switch our tickets to the next night, but I already sensed she wouldn’t be joining me.  As we walked out of the building she hinted that going for drinks would have been a better way way to get know each other than an escape room challenge.

I felt like a total ass when she said that.  Was this really a bad idea?  Then I was annoyed and bewildered, because I had included her in the decision-making.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise.  I didn’t spring this on her out of nowhere.  And what happened to all that jazz about being adventurous and trying new things?  What happened to the bubbly, energetic girl I had FaceTimed with?  She was walking along with a somber expression like we were going to a funeral.

I tried cracking another joke to lighten the atmosphere.  I’d stalked her Facebook and knew she was political, so I said, “meanwhile there’s a real life escape challenge going on in DC – they locked 100 Senators in a room and they have until midnight to prevent a government shutdown.”  Still nothing.  Tough crowd.  We made small talk and then we were accosted by a homeless person.  I didn’t understand any of his rambling speech except for his last sentence when he asked for some money.

I was in a charitable mood – plus she was watching me – so I fished out a dollar and gave it to him.  Then she gave him a 20-dollar bill.  “Wow, that was really generous of you,” I remarked as we continued down the sidewalk.  That finally animated her.  She launched into an impassioned speech about how she doesn’t judge people for their circumstances and it’s hard to ask people for money and why shouldn’t he have enough to get a meal, etc. etc.  Okay, I get it.  Just tell me I’m stingy then.

Before we met the homeless guy I was already wondering why I was bothering with this chick.  Apparently she was wondering the same about me, because she was texting every two minutes at the bar.  Each time I’d stop talking and wait for her to put the phone down.  I asked her about her teaching and her eyes lit up as she gushed about working with developmentally disabled kids.  Otherwise she was a bit clammed up.

Another text came in.  She picked up her phone yet again and I was stunned when she asked if I minded her friend Zachary joining us.  Apparently he lived in the area. Say what?  Were things going that badly that she needed the phone-a-friend lifeline?  I was so caught off guard that I didn’t know what to say besides, “um, no, I don’t mind.”  I figured she must have been really uninterested to pull a stunt like that.

In retrospect I should have just said good night, but I stupidly sat and continued talking to her.  I had a tall glass of beer I didn’t want to waste, and a small and silly part of my brain that thought I could still salvage things.  As soon as we finished our drinks she asked if we could cut things short so she could go meet her friend elsewhere.  Fine, whatever.  I waved her off, and erased her from my phone before she even reached the door.

Thus concluded one of the weirdest and worst dates I’d ever been on.  At least she bought her own drink and gave me the money for the escape room ticket, so I didn’t spend a single dollar on her ass.  I’ll give her credit for that much.

***

I was in a bit of a funk after three bad dates in a row, but a good night’s sleep cured all.  But upon reflection, many of my online dates went like that.  Either I thought they went well but apparently didn’t, or we got on well in text but there was a disconnect in person.  I’m sure most of those dates would have flopped regardless, but at the same time I can’t help think I should have had a little more luck out there.  Especially when I read about the online dates other bloggers are going on.

Of course, dating is harder as a guy.  I’ve also had more success offline than online, as I’ve noted before.  I’m still convinced that I’m better served getting off the apps and putting in the effort meeting people the old-fashioned way.  Half of what we communicate is through body language.  Chemistry is best figured out in person, without pretense or expectation.

So I’m shifting focus back onto the real world:  I went to another jam session, talked to some new people and may potentially join a new band.  I attended my old band’s fundraiser.  I’m getting back on the open mic circuit (I mean it this time).  I signed up for a Habitat for Humanity build.  I’m volunteering at my friend’s animal sanctuary next weekend.   I’m scouring Meetup for new activities.  Things are happening.

Kiwi

Fortunately my escape room tickets did not go to waste.  I had a do-over the following night with a friend visiting from New Zealand.  Second time was the charm for the Killer Countdown, and this time we were part of a group.  Of course.  And it wasn’t scary at all, nor did they lock the door or really chain us up (fire code regulations).  Not to mention we were on camera the whole time.  It was a hell of a lot of fun.

Afterwards Kiwi and I went to the same sports bar on the corner (returning to the scene of the crime).   It was trivia night and we got in on that after missing the first few questions.  (Too bad, because they were about musical instruments and I would have gotten them all right.)  Finally we went to a really cool place across the street for brews and board games.  I had a good time, but it was almost like being one of my online dates.  Kiwi said she had fun but seemed so flat and bland.

Was she always like that? Then again, this is the same chick I watched Planes Trains and Automobiles with and she didn’t find it funny at all.  A weak chuckle at most.  I’d asked her what she thought of it and she was like, “I thought it was annoying, but I understood the point it was trying to make.”  Jesus.  Between that and Bad Santa, I’m thinking I should compile a list of movies to watch with potential friends/girlfriends in order to vet them properly.

Our next outing proved that it wasn’t me – at least as far as Kiwi was concerned.  I met her and her mother and her friend (also from NZ) and we went into the city together.  If it weren’t for me talking or asking questions, there would have been near silence in the car.  We were munching on pretzels when someone pointed out St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I was seized with inspiration.  I did a bit on Jesus and The Last Dessert that I thought would have killed, but I was greeted with more silence.

Of course, stand-up comedy isn’t my thing… I know because I’ve tried that as well.  I seem to be funnier when I’m not trying.  On the ride home I kept my mouth shut, but they still said hardly anything.  When Kiwi’s brother called from Alabama, their mom put him on speaker phone and it was nothing but one-word/one-sentence answers back and forth for ten minutes.  Christ.  Are all New Zealanders like this, or am I just too New York for them?

But it was a nice change of scenery for a day.  And while Kiwi was here we went ice skating, to One World Observatory, and to the Shake Shack (it was awesome).  My goal for the winter is to cross as many things off my to-do list as possible.  Items keep rolling over from previous years and it’s getting rather lengthy, but I’ve been making good progress lately.  Next up I’m going to try some new recipes and burger joints, explore some local history sites, and do some painting.

Instagram Girl

Even after she flaked on our date, she’d message me every once in a while and we’d chit chat.  Eventually she made noises about getting together so I took that opportunity to ask what happened.

Me:  “I know we were supposed to go on a date a couple of months ago but then you said you couldn’t make it… I didn’t think you’d be interested in meeting me after that.”

IG Girl:  “I’m sorry, I have issues hahah.  I really overthink a lot when it comes to the opposite sex.  Negativity consumes me.  I always choke up at the last minute.  What if he didn’t like me?  What if he finds me annoying?  What if I’m not cool as he thought I was?  That kind of stuff.  I’m working on that, though.  My confidence with myself is slowly getting better.”

Then she apologized because her hormones were all out of whack and she was feeling lonely.  Good grief.  So I still feel like a dodged a bullet.  If nothing else she sounds like work.  I’d rather be involved with someone with more confidence and less issues.  Otherwise… been there, done that, didn’t work.

I haven’t heard much from her since, nor have I reached out.  I’ve moved on.  And that’s the round up.  So there’s nobody else on my radar, no prospects in the pipeline, and I look to be sexless and single for the near future.

But, as I’ve found out, things can turn on a dime.

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Independence

While my neighbors were busy blowing shit up and lighting things on fire, I thought it would be a good opportunity to sit and reflect on things.  It’s been a year since my breakup and I’m single and loving it (for the most part).   My current status doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon, and prospects are nil since I jettisoned online dating.  (Good riddance).

A fellow blogger is preparing an anthology on handling breakups and recently asked for my thoughts on the subject.  I’ve been rejected countless times, but I’m 4-0 when it comes to dumping vs. being dumped…although it was a close call with Rebecca.  I ended up blocking her on Facebook.  I’ve tried being friends with exes in the past, but it never seems to work.  I don’t think I’ll bother trying in the future.  Cutting off all contact seems to be way forward, otherwise it’s hard to move on.

I was supposed to go on my first Meetup in months this past weekend, now that work has calmed down and I have free time again.  I’ve been absolutely killing it at work this year.  The past two months were my biggest months ever, financially.  I’m on track to make 10-15K more than I did last year, and my goal is to earn a similar increase next year as well.  I’ve certainly worked long and hard enough for this and my efforts are finally paying off.

However, the Meetup – a group hike on the beach – was canceled due to questionable weather and nesting piping plovers.  Better luck next time.  There are plenty of other upcoming Meetups and I’ve already signed up for goat yoga (which is the latest craze).  I’m not really into yoga, but who doesn’t love baby goats?  Besides, it looks like a lot of fun.

In the meantime I continue to work on myself and do my own thing.  I’ve made progress on some of the items listed in my last post.  I booked my trip to California in September.  I bought a new car.  I donated four bags of clothes and picked up some new ones.  My new bed is on the way.  Half my living room is full of stuff for a garage sale.  I completed a couple more landscaping projects around the house. I’m even looking ahead to October and planning a Halloween party.

And while I’ve been slacking on the blog front (namely Descent Into Dadness), my journal is still going strong.  There are some sizable gaps here and there, but I try to write in it every day and it’s been going strong for 25 years.  That’s right, it goes all the way back to 1992.  I’m still in the process of transcribing all my handwritten entries into one big Microsoft Word file.  At last count I have over 1.5 million words – the equivalent of two Bibles.

It’s a real trip going back and reading old entries.  One of my favorite things to do is read entries from the same day last year, then five and even ten years ago.  It’s interesting to see what’s changed.  One thing I have noticed is a greater maturity of expression than I had two or three years ago.  I give more thought to what I say now and how others may perceive it.  And while I’m still a raging horndog, I don’t converse about sex and dating as much as I used to.  I cringe reading some of my old online conversations.

Anyway, that’s about it for now.  I’m busy doing my own thing these days (as if I know anything else).  I’m excited for the summer and all the possibilities it holds.

Stay tuned.

Feelings

I’ve kept a positive, upbeat outlook over the course of this blog, but I was in the doldrums a while ago.  Just a little bit.  It’s passed now.  Part of it was standard winter blues, but another part was my perpetual singleness.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with myself and my life.  I don’t need “my other half” or someone to complete me. But I want more.  I want someone to share the good things in life with.  Food.  Drink.  Laughter.  Music.  Travel.  Sex.  Just to name a few.

For a short while – nearly two glorious months – I got a taste of what that was like.  I had sex (some of it).  I lost my virginity.  I finally felt like I was in the know, part of the club, part of the world, “normal.”  I stopped feeling those pangs when I saw couples.  I did things that come so easily to most people:  hugging, kissing, cuddling, massaging, holding hands, or just sitting on beach watching the sunset – things other people take for granted.  Until I slept with Rebecca a few times, I had no idea just how warm another human body could be.

Now it’s been ten months.  I couldn’t help but peek at her Facebook and I saw she’s been with the same guy for the past eight months.  Oh really.  So what happened to all that jazz about not wanting to date or be exclusive?  How come she didn’t push him away and sabotage things like she did with me?

Well, let that be a lesson to me.  And I’m leaving her in the past where she belongs.  I’m doing my best to not to dwell on negative thoughts and remain forward-looking.  Therefore I’ve been filling up my time with hobbies and activities to keep my mind on other things.

I’ve been hitting the gym hardcore for the past three months.  It’s a great outlet for my pent up sexual energy and frustrations.  I continue to set personal records in deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.  I’ve stacked three, four, or even five 45lb plates on the weight sled and pushed it back and forth across the floor until my legs gave out and my arms shook.  My buddy and I tried a class last weekend that nearly wiped us out.  But my body is responding and I’m tipping the scales at 187 pounds – a number I dreamed about for years.

The gym is not my only arena of success these days.  I’ve been out there marketing myself and I gained ten new clients, so this should be my best year financially.  I had a great parade season and a triumphant return to solo performing.  I’m practicing several instruments a week and I sound better than ever. (I find playing music as cathartic as going to the gym.) My passport arrived and I’m planning some more travel.  And I’m giving my life a complete overhaul – new car, clothes, furniture, appliances – everything.

#41
Throughout all of this I’ve had Bumble running in the background.  The last app standing.  There was that one awkward date a couple months ago, and since then I canceled on two more because I’d decided I’d rather go to the gym instead.  I just used the always popular, vague line of “something came up.”  I felt a bit shitty doing it, but deep down I felt those dates would have ended up like all the others, so why bother?

But there was one final Bumble date.  I tried to keep the online chatter light and flirty and save all the getting-to-know-you questions for in-person.  As Matthew Hussey says, “if you’re using texting to ask, ‘How many brothers and sisters do you have?’… you’re doing it wrong.”  So I gave that a shot, but it didn’t matter.  Once again I met a girl who checked out of the conversation after five minutes and I was the only one left making an effort.

I’d talk, I’d ask questions, she’d respond… and I’d wait.  Nothing.  Nothing asked about myself in return.  Scratch that – she asked literally two questions, almost as afterthoughts:  what was my job, and did I live alone?  When I realized she kept glancing at her phone on top of her purse on the chair next to her, I bade her farewell.  I know a lost cause when I see one.  And thus concludes my online dating efforts.  Permanently.

After so many years, I’ve come to conclusion that it’s a supreme waste of time.  There’s always the anecdotal success story, but I could never get it to work for me.  It never felt right – always forced and awkward and unnatural.  Personal experience and informal polling of friends and fellow bloggers tells me that meeting people in real life is the way to go.  Not to mention that I had more success with Rebecca than all the girls I met online put together.

Now that spring is finally here I’m compiling a bucket list, which includes several upcoming Meetups.  I’m trying to get to that same sweet spot I was in last year, where I found the perfect balance of doing my own thing and not worrying about finding someone.  Then BAM, it literally happened when I least expected it.  In the meantime I feel I’ve grown content with the status quo again.

I also continue to work on myself.  It’s almost comical… I’ve had thirty years to work on myself – how much more time do I need?  There’s always room for improvement, I guess, like with my conversation skills.  That’s partly why I’ve been filling up my calendar with things to do – gives me shit to talk about.  I’m doing my best to be more social and to fight reverting back to my natural introverted state.

So I guess that’s all I have to say for the time being.  I’ve had this blog post drafted for weeks and weeks and I kept revisiting and revising as my thoughts and feelings ebbed and flowed.  Now I’m finally ready to publish, and we’ll see what happens next in life.

Stay tuned.