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.
Read more here.
I apologize that it has taken me so long to recap my date with Man #24, but I felt I needed to give you the back story about how we got set up and how I was getting pressure from my friends for this to, not only be a good matchup, but to also provide good material for a romantic comedy. (Hence Man #24′s tag – The Leading Man.)
To be honest, I anticipated that The Leading Man and I would have a good date. The friends who set us up happen to be very intuitive about these kinds of things, and I usually trust their judgment. Like I said, however, I was extremely nervous. The last time I had seen Man #24 had been before I had gotten married, started feeling depressed and trapped, and started drowning myself in emotion-deadening amounts of food and red wine. Therefore, he was not going to see the thin, sexy woman to whom he had last spoken. He might not even recognize me.
Oh dear god.
When we set up our date, The Leading Man said he was willing to meet me somewhere near my neighborhood, and I appreciated this a lot. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have strong feelings about the things guys can do to make themselves look considerate from the very beginning, and offering to meet a woman on her turf is just one of them. By this, Ladies, I do not mean meeting a man at your house. (Geez, that would be scary.) What I mean is, if a man lives a half an hour away, he should not expect a woman to drive out to see him sight unseen. I’m okay with meeting a man halfway between his place and mine, but it’s always appreciated if he will make the extra effort to allow me to stay in neighborhoods in which I feel comfortable.
Sorry, guys. Maybe this doesn’t seem fair. But, your gender isn’t the one getting raped every 60 seconds in this country, so I don’t want to hear any whining and this is not something on which I’m willing to compromise.
Anyway, sorry for that tangent/soap box moment, but I just wanted to say how pleased I was that The Leading Man was willing to let me pick our rendezvous point without any pressure.
He mentioned that he was hungry for Thai food, and I was trying to think of a good Thai restaurant that had the right “first date” vibe somewhere in the U District. Unfortunately, there is a plethora of Thai restaurants in the area, but none of them have the kind of ambience I thought was comfortable for a first date/two people catching up after a long time kind of date. Most of them have these little, vinyl kitchen chairs to sit on, and I felt we really needed a booth. After himming and hahhing for a couple of seconds, I asked him if he would be willing to forego Thai in exchange for meeting at Schultzy’s instead. (Yes, I realize this is my third date in 24 that has been at Schultzy’s.)
He went for it, but then I felt bad for bulldozing his Thai food desires.
Although he said it was fine, I was conscious of what I had just done and felt I was not off on a good foot.
On the night of the date, I put on some dark-washed jeans, a brown top with three-quarter length sleeves, cute leopard spotted shoes, turquoise, brown, and gold necklace and bracelet, and gold earrings and headed out the door. Again, if you’ve been reading from the beginning, you may have noticed that I’m less anxious about sucking everything in these days. LONG gone are the Spanx! I still care about my appearance, but I am no longer willing to wrestle with compressive undergarments when I am out on a date.
The Leading Man and I met and talked for a few hours over beers and fries about everything from our friends and their crazy ideas to dogs to the legalization of marijuana to Ken Griffey Jr and beyond. The conversation was really fun and easy and I enjoyed it a lot.
At the end of the date, The Leading Man walked me to my car, gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug and said we should definitely go out again. I said, “Well, next Saturday I’m invited to a party where everyone who comes has to perform a talent. You’re welcome to join me.”
I admit; that would be a lot of pressure…
… but maybe we can go have Thai food.
So, in the romantic comedy that is my life, I anxiously awaited my date with Man #24. I remembered the last time I saw him. We had both been at a party at our friends’ house. It was summer and I remember what I had worn and what he looked like. I was in a turquoise linen skirt that I had purchased in Italy and a wrap-front halter top that probably showed a bit too much cleavage, and he had been in a light-colored pair of pants and white shirt and had his hair in a long ponytail. It was 2006, before my emotionally turbulent relationship with STBex, and I was about 80 pounds lighter than I am today.
This last fact had me extraordinarily nervous to meet him again. I’m sure that’s the me he remembered, and I dreaded the thought of the first moment when he saw me again. What would he think? Various scenarios and self-critical thoughts went through my head. I really didn’t feel like being rejected again because of my weight.
I talked to my friend again, and ask her what she thought he might think about how much weight I’ve gained.
“His weight’s gone up and down too. He doesn’t seem like someone who judges people like that.”
This didn’t really bring me any comfort. Anyone who has done any online dating at all can tell you that even the fattest guys on Match.com still want a woman who is “athletic and toned.” I went into a brief period of self-loathing and grief, mourning the woman I used to be, the sexy one in the halter top and skirt.
Perhaps as a way to put my guard up, I said, “You know, I’m not usually into guys with ponytails.” (The only exception had been a Mexican tamale with a ponytail like Antonio Banderas in Desperado, and even that had been short-lived…but yummy.)
“Oh, he doesn’t have the ponytail anymore.”
“Oh that’s good.”
“Well, our phone conversation went really well, so I’m looking forward to our date,” I said. Secretly, I was thinking it was SO much easier to stay fat and introverted instead of going out to meet someone who had seen me in my former hotness.
But I did it. I screwed up my courage, put my big girl panties on (really big), and went to meet him at Schultzy’s in the U District.