Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Any of the Glens'll Do

In 2004, I was a never married 35-year-old single white female, once again facing a familiar predicament: how do I meet men? I didn't attend church. I had taken classes in swingdance, winetasting, and Klingon, and was running out of hobbies to investigate, and the last guy I'd dated that I met in a bar had a blue mohawk and turned out to be a cocaine dealer. (The bouncers in every bar in GloSo waved us on through the door, and I thought, "Wow, he sure knows a lot of people!")

I started asking some friends about their experiences with online dating. One guy said his female roommate had tried it with mixed results. Sometimes, she'd show up for the date, and the guy would be deaf or missing an arm -- not things that were deal breakers, just things that, you know, might have been nice to know about beforehand. Another friend, Tammy, had gone on several dates with varying degrees of success. Both friends told me that it's best not to have too high expectations and treat it as fun and I'd be ok. Tammy suggested that I log onto Match.com just to take the quiz that helps you narrow down the type of guy you're looking for.

One day when I was bored, I took the quiz. At the end of the quiz, it asked if I wanted to create a profile. It would be totally free, unless or until I wanted to message someone. I already had a profile on Friendster.com (like a precursor to Facebook), so I thought, what the heck. So I transferred most of my interests and a photo or two from Friendster and created my Match.com profile. On Friendster, all my friends seemed like they were trying to outdo each other with cleverness and interesting photos. So when I created my Match.com profile, I had snarky little answers to the profile questions. For example, I said I was interested in short Latvian men who can do splits, a reference to the goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes. And I used a profile picture of myself that I had taken with a cell phone, bending over, upside down, so my hair was flying all over the place.

Well, as it turns out, Match.com is not like Friendster. I think I had created my profile on a Friday at work (I had never owned a computer at home), and when I returned on Monday and logged in, I had over a thousand viewings to my profile and dozens of "winks." I guess my wacky photo must have stuck out in the crowd. I was overwhelmed and flattered. I got numerous emails from guys as far away as England and the Caribbean, and some of them were so flattering and nice. And some of them were even cute! The thing is, I couldn't respond to any of the emails without becoming a member of Match.com.

But I was persuaded by the free, three-day trial membership. I figured I'd sign up just so I could respond to some of the emails that were so flattering, just to say thanks. Then I guess I started browsing the listings, finding some cute and interesting possibilities, and started seriously considering that I could actually do this, could actually meet one or some of them, if I wanted to.

I saw my future husband's photo early on and thought he was cute. But he hadn't been one of the guys who "winked" at me. I think I thought maybe he was out of my league. But after a few days, he winked, and I winked back, and we started emailing. We seemed to share interests; he was into hockey, and he was Wiccan. Huh? That was weird, and by weird, I mean interesting. There were one or two other guys I emailed who seemed interesting, but Sean was the first one who wanted to meet me in person.

I gave him my phone number and he called me on my way home from work on a Tuesday evening. At the time, he was working several jobs, but he thought he could meet me after work around 8pm or so. He said he'd be hungry and wanted to meet somewhere that he could eat. He suggested Denny's, which was near to his job.

"Denny's?!" I thought. What kind of dork takes a date to Denny's? I guess he wasn't thinking of it as a date yet, but as a first meeting. Still, this was total craziness to me and I knew I was going to need a heap of courage to get through this, so I responded, "Do they sell alcohol?"

I made a counter offer to meet at the Hibernian, an Irish pub in GloSo. He liked that idea.

So I spent the next couple of hours stressing out, panicking on the phone to my friend Jill. Jill and I are introverts. This was complete craziness, what I was doing. Of course I gave her all the bits of information about my date that I could, in the event that he turned out to be a serial killer and I was never heard from again. I was on the phone with her right up until two seconds before I walked in the pub door.

"I can't do this," I'd say as I sat in the car on the street outside.

"Yes, you can," she'd say. "It'll be fun. You'll have stories."

"Shut up," I'd say. "You're just living vicariously through me."

So I walked in the door.

I saw Sean right away, sitting at the bar. He saw me and nearly fell off his stool. I was relieved that he actually looked like his photo. And seemed to have all his limbs. I took the stool next to him, and all I could think was that this was crazy and I needed a shot of something quickly, something like liquid extroversion.

Meanwhile, Sean was thinking he liked what he saw, and he was wondering, "How am I gonna do this? I better not screw this one up." He was nervous and was reminded of the movie Swingers, in which Vince Vaughn keeps telling Jon Favreau that Jon is "so money" in order to boost his confidence with the ladies.

"You're so money, and you don't even know it," Vince tells Jon. They are watching a cute girl at the bar, and Vince is trying to convince Jon to go and talk to her. "You're like a big bear with claws and fangs.... Yeah, big effin' teeth on ya. And she's just like this little bunny, who's just cowering in the corner."

So Sean is sitting there at the bar, imagining that I'm the bunny and he's a bear, and what comes out of my lips but a strange synchronicity. I had asked the bartender for scotch on the rocks, and the bartender asked, "Any particular brand?"

Unable to resist the setup, I answered, "Any of the Glens'll do," a quote from Swingers. And Sean thought, "Oh, it is ON." It was a sign from the Universe and a boost to his confidence.

Well, I was mildly surprised that we seemed to have no problems talking about a myriad of subjects, yet I was still hesitant, still on guard. I was having a decent enough time, and he wasn't a creep, so there was no need for an SOS call to Jill when I made a trip to the restroom. When I got back to my seat, Sean figured he was doing well enough to take a chance.

"You know, I wear a kilt," he said.

I had specifically not mentioned liking men in kilts anywhere on my profile. And his out of the blue admission threw me for a loop.

My only response was to bury my head in my arms on the edge of the bar. For like a full minute. This was too much, too weird for me. And it was even weirder for Sean, who was thinking, "Crap. She either really liked what I just said, or not at all."

When I finally came up for air, I simply told the bartender, "I'll have another."

And that's how I met my husband. He was the first and only guy I met in person after meeting online, and I ended up marrying him two years later.

By this point you may be wondering what the photo has to do with this story. He was eating fish & chips that night, six years ago today. Happy One-of-Our-Anniversaries, Sweetie! I wear these earrings in honor of you today. I didn't have a bear and a bunny.

1 comment:

  1. How odd that (1) Cris and I went to a Denny's for our first date, (2) my thoughts were also running to "I had better not screw this one up". Score one for the Terror Twins!