I'm sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch 4 months after my husband's announcement that he wants a divorce when my therapist informs me that he thinks I should start dating again.
I had told myself and others that I was going to take time off to concentrate on myself for once. Between a husband and three boys, I didn't know who I was anymore. I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends, drink martinis like a fish, and let the hair grow long on my legs if I wanted. I had even gone so far as to announce to my friends that I was going to take a full year off from any kind of relationship.
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Man #31, The Defense Rests
When it comes to online dating, it’s rare for me to reach out and send the first message. I hate doing it even though plenty of guys have told me they like when a woman makes the first move. It’s not my thing. I just don’t like doing it.
Then one night I was cruising through the profiles on OkCupid and I saw a face I liked. He also had lips I liked. He had a goatee, but he had no out of control flavor saver and the lips were good. Actually, the eyes were good too. He had light brown eyes. Plus, in his picture, he was in a suit. I love a man in a suit. His profile said he was a lawyer. As far as I could tell, things were looking good all the way around.
Then I saw how tall he was. Hmm. He was only 5′-6″.
Decisions, decisions. What the hell, right?
I decided to send him a message anyway.
“Wow, you are a handsome man. However, I am 5′-10″. It appears you are not tall enough to ride the ride. Do you ever opt for just friendship? In what area of law do you specialize?”
I wouldn’t normally lead with the “too short to ride the ride” comment, but I really did not expect a reply given our differences in height and his good looks. Clearly, he would have other dating options, and if I went with a smart ass line like the one above, I could blame that, and not my Amazonian size, when he rejected me.
He sent a message back right away,
“Well, the last woman I dated was your height and I think she would say I managed the ride well. But I get that not all tall women feel comfortable being seen out with shorter men. Too bad that though. Still, who isn’t open to friendship?
I am a criminal defense attorney.
Thank you for the compliment, btw. You are quite the looker yourself.”
Hmm. Well, shit. What could I say to that? I responded,
“Actually, my husband was 5′-7″. It’s really not that big of a deal. I do like wearing my heels though.”
I asked him more about his work, asked if he enjoyed it, and thanked him for his compliment. He commented that he wouldn’t date a woman who didn’t occasionally wear her heels, and then mentioned how often he saw that misspelled as heals on online dating sites. This also scored points with me. I often feel alone in my criticism of grammar and spelling errors. It was nice to know there was a guy out there who noticed that stuff too.
As we exchanged more emails, I made reference to holding some of my cards close, and he joked that he hoped I had them near my chest so he would have an excuse to stare. We used this metaphor of a card game, and I finally said,
“Regarding criminal justice: I’ll reveal a card. Periodically, I go up to Monroe to visit with the Concerned Lifers Organization.”
I haven’t written about it here, except for the little I wrote about the Trayvon Martin case, but I have another, not so little, project I’m working on. By Monroe, I mean the Washington State Reform Unit at Monroe, also known as the State prison. This apparently scored points with Man #31. He responded,
“I like your card. If that is your opener, I anxiously await the rest of your hand.”
Overall, there was a nice mix of humor, sincerity, and intellect in our emails, and I was eager to meet him. Although I wanted to meet Man #31, however, I resisted asking him out on a date. I had already been the one to initiate our interactions, and I felt the request for a date needed to come from him.
Finally, he said he hoped he had convinced the woman running the ride that he was tall enough, and he asked me out for dinner. We agreed to meet at Quinn’s in Capitol Hill.
It was a busy night at Quinn’s, and I got there first. Man #31 had sent me a text message to say he was stuck in traffic and running late. Unfortunately, the hostess was not seating anyone unless the whole party was there, so I parked my ass at the bar and ordered a Guinness. About twenty minutes later, Man #31 arrived and we were taken to our table.
Now, there are two floors at Quinn’s, and we were seated on the second floor. With me walking in front of the attorney that meant he ended up with a good view of my big ass as we climbed the stairs. Thankfully, it turns out Man #31 is a big fan of big asses, and later, during dinner, he complimented me on the view he had while climbing the stairs.
What can I say? Even at my skinniest, ass men have always been attracted to me.
As I had hoped, Man #31 and I had a nice dinner and a great conversation. He was good at both listening and asking questions, and, of course, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from a criminal defense attorney. Dinner went so well, in fact, that I ended up feeling what one might call chemistry, and, as you know, this is not typical for me. It actually felt a little scary.
After I got home, I sent him a text thanking him for the date. He responded and told me that he doesn’t kiss on the first date. I replied that I don’t like it when men assume they can kiss me on the first date,…but we both agreed the chemistry was there.
Phew! Yowza! The second part of my dating prescription quickly came into my mind. My therapist had said,
“If you meet someone you’re immediately attracted to, run!”
Well, fuck! I can’t win. I tried to calm the butterflies in my stomach.
There were a couple of areas where Man #31 and I were different. He believed in God and felt he had been called to do the work he does, and he didn’t drink. Through our conversations we discovered that neither one of these things were really an issue. However, during dinner, he had also revealed that he came from a good, solid, traditional family where everyone for the past two generations had post-graduate degrees. His mother was a strong matriarch and his father had taught him chivalry and respect for women.
For some reason, this terrified me.
As I started to imagine future conversations and questions, I started to panic that I wouldn’t be good enough, and I feared eventually being judged by him. I didn’t come from a nice, happy family where my mother and father were still together after decades of marriage, and, for a multitude of reasons, none of them stemming from my intelligence, I was 36 years old before I got my bachelors degree.
We continued communicating via email after our date, and after a week, my defenses were up and I was in a panic. I couldn’t get my fear under control, and I didn’t want to be judged. I’ve gotten pretty good at going out on first dates, but I felt like I was drowning and out of control now that I was actually attracted to someone.
So, using the card metaphor, I threw up a block in the form of an email and told him I was folding.
“When we started our email conversation a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned keeping my cards close, and I hoped I would feel comfortable revealing more as we got to know each other. However, while I really enjoyed our date and the emails leading up to it, after our date, I ended up feeling like you would need me to be perfect, and, quite frankly, I’m just not. I enjoyed our conversation over dinner immensely, definitely felt chemistry, but all week I’ve been feeling this fear that as you got to know me, you’d realize I don’t fit in your world, the PhDs, the two loving parents, God and all that brings, etc….”
I went on to list 13 unlucky, numbered cards, or reasons, why he would not want to date me and told him that he could pick a card, any card, and let that be the reason for not going out with me again.
Um, yes, at times, I can be pretty fucking neurotic.
Whether I was really folding, bluffing, or going all in, I don’t really know. The fear was palpable and I needed to lay it all on the line.
A few minutes after I pressed send, he sent an email back,
“None of that information dissuades me from being interested but I will be damned if I ever force a woman to return that interest. I am sorry to all my friends and clients who see my life as charmed – I now know it was but didn’t feel at all that way when I was growing up. And I am a person not at all satisfied with who I am, accomplishments notwithstanding.
I think you are smart, engaging and hot. I was glad to get the email. I DO want to go out again. I am also a pretty good friend; in fact, it may be my best quality. I hope one day to be both friend and lover to some (lucky) woman.”
As I read the first sentence, I gasped and started to cry. A few seconds later, he did what I really needed. He picked up the phone and called. I was still crying when I answered the phone. He didn’t make me say anything; he just talked. He reiterated what he had said in his email, but added that, if all of those 13 things added up to the woman he had met at dinner, he was looking forward to finding out more about me.
He said he would like to go out again if I was willing, and I nodded.
“Are you there,” he asked.
“Yes,” I said into the phone…
… and with that I put some of my defenses to rest.