Archive for Blind dating

Stillborn blind date

He seemed more promising than most of the other online candidates. A good-on-paper guy.

The man identified himself as a New York writer. Now, it’s not as if I am looking for a carbon copy of myself. If anything, I might actually prefer to be with a pygmy biochemist or an Inca porter or a Mongolian builder of yurts rather than somebody who is brooding and befogged like yours truly. Self-contempt you say? Maybe. I am always running away from people I might have something in common with. Mutuality should be a sign of comfort, but for me it is often cause for panic.

New York Writer responded to my online profile with a genial offer to meet for coffee. In my brooding way, I examined his profile. It gave me pause. He seemed to hold himself in some esteem, styling himself “well educated and traveled.” He wrote about his recent career as a “successful manager of renowned musicians and attractions,” which came to an abrupt end on 9/11. I didn’t see an obvious connection between the end of the entertainment industry and 9/11, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was one of those guys who lost his last job and never looked for another one. I mean, New York is still so rich with entertainments and diversions that the greatest culture hound would not find enough hours in a long day to indulge in even one-tenth of them. But maybe music and theater reached a state of ruination that I, stuck interviewing computer scientists about parallel processing, simply hadn’t noticed. When it comes to my not really getting the zeitgeist, anything is possible.

Toward the end of his 500-word “About Me,” New York Writer said that he began writing after 9/11. Writing, he said, was the fulfillment of a promise made to him in high school, college and — specifically and abstrusely — in ’02. Did New York Writer have a book contract? Or — and this is where I am totally jealous — did the Literature genie rise up out of his Word Doc program and promise him literary fame and fortune in exchange for his soul? Sounds like a pretty fair trade to me. But what I really worried about was that he had given up trying to earn a living and had turned to writing the way other lost souls turn to Lotto. What were the chances that writing was going to pay off?

I decided I was being a jerk. I sent him a note saying that we had some things in common and it would be nice to talk. He wrote back asking which I preferred — that I call him or he call me? I thought about it a bit and then requested that I call him. I named a date and a time.

His response was a rather long note about his online dating experience, including a recent “thing” he had with a woman who was quite a bit younger. They became familiar, as he put it, via e-mail, but never actually spoke by phone or met in person. When they finally arranged to get together, she didn’t show. As a result — but who knows what the sequence of events really is here — he is “reassessing” online dating. I shouldn’t take it personally though. I am still the lovely woman he sensed me to be when he first contacted me.

I had to read this note over a couple of times before I understood that he didn’t want to get together. I can see how I might have missed that point: In his last sentence, he asked me to keep writing to him.

I did write back — a friendly little note about my own experience with online dating, limited as it was to only two in-person meetings. He sent back a note with more details about his blind dates. The women he met didn’t look like their photos. One of them asked if he would be a sperm donor. Another surprised him with the news that she had three children. The rest — how many were there? — left him intellectually and physically cold.

He concluded by saying that speaking by phone would be awkward because “I am not footloose and fancy-free.” He is staying with mutual friends of his and his (ex?) wife’s. He has agreed that he will not arrange to see women while he is under their roof. If I gave him enough notice, maybe he could arrange to speak. “Nobody has ever found this situation troublesome,” he assured me.

Were men always this weird?

There’s a story here. I don’t know what it is, but I think that if you get to be fifty years old and you can’t figure out a way to have a telephone conversation, and in all your successful career you didn’t save up enough money to get an apartment in the event that you might get divorced — I’m bad at math, but I think I’m putting two and two together.

Do you think the ex threw him out?

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Blind dating: Triumph of hope over experience?

Studying computer science. Blind dating. Studying computer science. Blind dating.

I weigh the relative merits of each again and again and I am hard-pressed to decide which one is preferable to waterboarding.

The best I can say about studying algorithms is that it is behind me. I wish I could say the same about blind dating. If I hope to find a mate to grow old with, visiting sites such as — God help me — JDate, and then consenting to meet the anonymous and tattered exemplars of the aging Baby Boomer cohort is just about the only avenue open to me. It’s horrible. Horrible.

Let me begin by saying something nice about the gent I agreed to meet at Chennai Garden on 27th and Lex in the city. He was generous enough to suggest dinner. It’s true that at $7.95 an entree he wasn’t exactly a major league risk-taker, but dinner anywhere is still a step up from Starbucks. Definitely a plus, and I applaud you, sir.

Next let me say something nice about myself (I don’t always, you know). Despite my not being wowed by the guy when we spoke on the phone, I gave him a chance. That’s what my friends are always telling me to do. “Give the guy a chance. Nobody sounds great on the phone.”

As somebody who has interviewed hundreds of people on the phone over the past ten years, I know for a fact that that’s not true. People excited by a deal they closed or by the poker games they use to test game theory can sound thoroughly engaging over the phone. A dean of computer science in Scotland I interviewed last week — a total stranger — offered to send my son money when he lost his passport in Edinburgh. The man was willing to do that based on the rapport we had established while talking about the “challenges confronting a maturing workforce.”

Details, please
The guy — I’ll call him Philip — was already seated by the time I ventured into bad-hair-day Chelsea and then into the restaurant. Imagine my shock when he looked nothing like the kayaking outdoorsman portrayed in his online photo. Some women really like large protruding teeth. It may just be me, but I prefer somebody a bit more orthodontured.

Can you believe that people actually fudge their pictures on JDate? Thou shalt not lie! Of course my photo isn’t very recent either. And — the wonders of the Internet Age — I am five years younger than my actual age!

You must believe me when I say that if Philip had been rollicking good fun or seriously ministerial, I would have overlooked the less than handsome face. Some of the plainest mugs in all of creation have become dear to me when accompanied by wit or great intelligence. I used to fantasize being married to the corpulent and brilliant man who hired me into my current job. Blind dating is a drag, but love is blind.

Over the course of an hour and a half, I learned a lot about Philip’s three sons: Where they went to high school and college, what languages they speak, where they went traveling. But I don’t recall much Philip said about himself. I know he is an ABD in Jewish history, but I don’t know what period he was drawn to. I know he likes movies, but he didn’t say if he likes the Coen Brothers or Spielberg. Who knows if he reads anything other than the Times. He didn’t say.

I also discovered nothing about Philip’s life with his parents, both of them Holocaust survivors. The historical event that shaped his life and mine never came up in conversation. I guess there are other things to talk about, but those things didn’t seem to come up either, is what I’m saying.

He did mention that he had been hit by an SUV several years ago.

“You yourself were hit or the car you were driving was hit?” I asked.

“I choose my words carefully,” he said in what I think was a stern tone. “I myself was hit.”

By the end of our meal, I asked Philip if, in fact, he is divorced, and if his wife received a get (Jewish divorce) from him. Ah, now I hit upon a subject that sparked some moxie! He said the divorce from his wife, a lawyer, had been acrimonious, and he had made the get a critical part of the negotiations. This last Philip retailed with some pride, as if to say he had gone up against a lawyer and pulled out the one stop he knew would win him the victory he was looking for.

If he were smart, he would have said, “Of course I gave her a get right away. I would never compel another human being to stay in a marriage she wanted out of.” But his vanity revealed him to be petty and vindictive. Scary.

Ah, I got it. That was his ex-wife in the SUV.

When we walked out to the street, I watched to see if Philip limped. Maybe the only reason he told me about the SUV was so that I wouldn’t ask later why he limped. In other words, he revealed only what had to be revealed about himself: The obvious. In any case, I didn’t notice anything. And a limp wouldn’t have mattered much to me. I don’t expect to find a nice man to grow old with who dances salsa too.

The day after the date, Philip sent me a note saying that I was brainy and sexy — an allusion in my JDate profile to the qualities I desire in my former Summer of Love mate. I thanked him for saying so, but had to tell him I didn’t feel a connection with him, etc.

The best way to avoid blind dating is to get married young to the love of your life. Look for him wherever he might be: In a classroom, at a Met game, on a hike, in a hospital waiting room. Persevere. Keep your eyes open or you’ll end up going blind.

Incidentally, I’m not so sure he left thinking what a classy dame his date was. I took my leftover tamarind rice home with me. I guess we both got what we deserved!

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