Monday, April 27, 2009

Chemistry; not so much

I am a sucker for a boy sporting a head lamp.  Which is how I found myself on a date last night.

Yes, that's right.  A date.  Me, and a boy that was not BB.  Remember?  That's what this blog was supposed to be about?  Dating.  Different people.  People that aren't jerks.

So, don' t get too excited for me.  It kinda sucked. has a spin-off website, (the Cosby Show's Its a Different World, as it were). As all of you know who have delved into the creepy world of internet dating, the sites charge you a gazillion dollars to be able to actually talk to people.  But for some reason, I was able to communicate through Chemistry without paying anything.  I don't know why - am I grandfathered in?  I joined up when they first started the site when I was a paying member.  Is it free for everybody?  Even if it is, it might not be worth it.

Chemistry is Match's attempt at being eHarmony.  But, it falls short of even the mess that is eHarmony.  Its cumbersome, and weird.  And, you see the same faces that are on Match, but in a different way.  It categories your personality (I think I am a "director/explorer"), but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the personalities it matches you up with.  And, as always, the boys it suggests for me are all really far away.  And too old.  Or too young.  Or too fat.  Or too stupid.  But mostly, just too far away.

So, about a month ago, I was bored and playing with it.  And I see a balding boy, with a nice smile and decent eyes.  So I click.  

Yes, that's what its come to.  If I don't like the picture, its over.  Yes, its shallow.  Its horrible.  Its reality.  

There a couple bad pictures, but then one of him grilling on a tiny tabletop grill.  Wearing a headlamp.  I loved it.  So  I "opened communication" with him.  Anyone who wears a headlamp to grill has to be my kind of person.  Right?

We went through a series of true false, matching and short answer questions.  Then emailed.  He seemed alright.  I googled him and found his website.  He's in school for his Master's part time.  He does computer/graphic design stuff.  He has a kayak.  Yadda yadda.  We are both busy, so it takes several weeks for the first big date to happen.  Plus, he lives at least 90 minutes from me, so just meeting for coffee was totally out of the question.

In an unusual move for me, I didn't do a big long phone conversation with him prior to meeting.  Usually, I want to make sure that someone can keep up conversation on the phone before I agree to drive at least 30 minutes to meet them.  Time is money baby; and if you are boring, I don't want to waste the time.  

God, I am a bitch sometimes.

I wanted to try it a different way this time.  Just meet and figure it out.  Plus, I really felt like I needed to start dating again and go through the whole awkward phase.  Its been a long time since a boy other than BB has bought me dinner.  Its been a long time since I've had to make conversation with someone who didn't know me at all.  Its been a long time since I've had to rein Susan back a bit to avoid being scary.

I'm a bit too much for some people.  I know you have a hard time believing that.

We met at a waterfront restaurant that was about an hour drive for both of us.  In yet another unusual move, I was early.  Really early.  And guess what?  He was late.  At 7:05 he called to tell me he was stuck in traffic.  He arrived around 7:20.  Twenty minutes late.  I was 20 minutes early, so I was sitting around for 40 minutes waiting for his ass to get there.  I was not real happy, but I wasn't real upset about it.  I picked the town and the restaurant - I had been there before and he hadn't.  Google maps doesn't always do a great job of getting you there on time.  So, I cut him some slack. 

The hostess though?  Oh my god.  She tore him up!  In what might have been the funniest/most awkward first meeting, the hostess asked if we were finally ready to be seated.  I said, "yup.  He finally decided to show up" in a friendly teasing way.  Hostess said to him "If you are going to be late, you should at least show up in an ironed shirt.  I mean, put some effort into it."

I wanted to fall down on the floor and roll around laughing, but I didn't.  Because of how casual and un-awkward I am in first date situations, I'm sure she had no idea that it was a blind date, first meeting kind of thing.  And his shirt was wrinkled.  And you know, good for hostess to tell him how it is. Show up on time dude.  And if you can't, show up looking good.  I joined in the fun for a couple minutes, but he was obviously unaccustomed to being verbally berated by wait staff and blind dates.  

We had a table on the water and the temperature had finally cooled off enough that sweat wasn't rolling down my back.  Note to self: when its 95 degrees, perhaps waterfront, outdoor dining isn't such a good option for first impressions.  We made half-hearted small talk while glancing over the beer list.  I got a Stella; he got a Dogfish Head.  At least the guy has good taste in beer.

I felt much better about the situation when the beer finally came.  We chatted about some stuff, but it definitely wasn't flowing.  I did most of the talking.  And it was small talk, chit-chat. Which I guess is normal, but its been so long since I've done the small talk, chit-chat date.  And we had no phone call history to rely on.  I really didn't know jack about this guy, and it made it much more difficult to steer conversation to things he could easily talk about.

We ate some food.  I had salad.  He had seafood.  I busted out a coupon I had printed out on the web and encouraged him to order something fancy.  Don't tell me its bad form to use a coupon on a date.  It was ten dollars off!!  That's a lot in this economy! 

He paid.  Although, I did contribute the coupon.  When we finally got out of there, he wanted to know if I wanted to do it again.  Of course, I lied and said, "yeah.  That would be fun."  Why do I do that?!  No, it probably wouldn't be fun, but I said it anyway.  He seemed so earnest.  And I mean, if I was really looking for something to do, or needed a pal in the Big City, I could call him up and we could do something.  I am a jerk.

On my drive home, I determined that the was what my boss refers to as "milk-toast."  Nice enough, but definitely bland.  I drove the conversation all night.  When I stopped coming up with new topics to discuss, he was silent.  Ugh.  I tried a couple games.  "Let's come up with the perfect dipping sauce for onion rings."  I suggested something with ginger.  He went with marinara.  Marinara?  You might as well douse it with ketchup.  I related my scuba diving, near drowning story and my kayaking near drowning story, then asked him for his most scary moment.  He said he would have to get back to me on it.  Then finally related a story about whitewater canoeing.  

When he was 13.  With his parents.

Mmm... Milky-toasty.

All in all, not a total disaster.  But I think I would have preferred to stay home and drink a beer on the back porch with people I actually like talking to.


kristen said...

i believe that, unless they are truly offensive, everyone gets a second chance... and there have been some awful people who got second chances... but there was one second chance - one you encouraged me not to give - that ended up being the guy sitting on my couch, so...

Elena said...

What's wrong with ketchup on onion rings? I love ketchup on onion rings. And you like me. Or at least pretend to..... :)

trish said...

Maybe he was quietly seething about the wrinkled shirt comments. I'd say he deserves another chance. Perhaps you could set up a date that requires him to wear a headlamp.

Susan said...

If he emails me, I will consider a second date. But hey, let's consider this: he may not have liked me. I'm abrasive, I curse, I'm judgemental and I'm a picky eater. But, I did look kinda hot. That probably makes up for me being a bossy bitch.

Susan said...

Elena- ketchup ruins onion rings. Seriously. It interferes with all that greasy, bready goodness!

Unknown said...

I am horrible on the phone. Unless it's a professional call. Even then I think phone calls are awkward and weird and stilted. I would much rather meet in person first. Anyway, give the poor guy a second chance if he does call. Honestly (and you don't know me so you can hate me for saying this) but I think that his wrinkly shirtness is about equivalent to your coupon usage in terms of first impressions. It's not the coupon or wrinkled shirt so much as the way the whole experience is going to seem in retrospect. First dates should be treated with the same consideration as job interviews, I think.

Susan said...

I did note before I pulled out the coupon that "this is totally wrong in every way..." But he seemed alright with it. Honestly, the coupon was kind of a test. Because that is 100% Susan behavior - I don't abide by societal norms, and I'm really cheap to boot. I didn't care about his wrinkly shirt at all, but he will probably never show up on a first date again without having ironed first.