Let's just call it a housewarming
Life was finally going really well -- my new performing career was taking off five years after a painful midlife crisis at 39, including losing a job, and the incredibly painful breakup of a 16-year on-again, off-again relationship. Finally out of the woods, I sat down one day and admitted that my tough-guy "I'd rather have a cat, and cats make me sneeze" attitude toward men was really, truly total B.S. I posted an ad.
I received several replies, most of which fell into the traditional categories: the guy who dazzled me and then stood me up, the guy who looked good on paper but bored me stiff in person, and a hellish assortment of those whose spelling and grammar labeled them as at best flaky and at worst criminally sociopathic.
Then I got one from a guy I actually recognized and had always considered amazingly handsome, but had discounted as date material because 1) he was way out of my league in the looks department, and 2) I knew he was an attorney and therefore probably obnoxious. But the e-mail was charming and witty and plus he recognized me from a tiny part on a television contest and called me handsome and talented!
We met for coffee, hit it off, and went on to a movie matinee. He asked me back to his place, and I agreed. As we mounted the steps to his house, I realized that I HAD BEEN THERE BEFORE. I recalled a nice guy that I had hooked up with a couple of years earlier who was housesitting for a friend. Now I knew who the friend had been.
The fact that the sex was great made the issue of disclosure even more thorny. Did I come clean as an unregenerate horndog, unsuitable for any kind of serious relationship? Did I play it cool, and risk the awkward moment when he introduced me to his good friend and occasional housesitter? I decided I'd had enough suspense for one lifetime already and told the absolute, unvarnished truth.
He laughed. I laughed. We both laughed, and have been laughing for a year and a half now
-- Ken B.
Heartbroken at Houlihan's
I was 22, waiting tables and tending bar at a local Houlihan's. One night a cute blonde sat at my "four tops," alone. Trying not to seem snippy at a single person sitting at my largest table, I gathered her drink order and discovered that she was waiting for someone.
When asked who I should keep an eye out for, she said she didn't know, it was a blind date.
When you are waiting tables you build up a rhythm and each table gets a beat in that rhythm. Since she wasn't ordering, and her date hadn't showed, I would take the few seconds to stop, chat, refill her drink, and flirt a little bit. She was cute, and blind dates suck.
Twenty minutes passed. An hour passed. An hour and a half. I could see that she was ready to leave, and I was truly amazed she had stayed that long, when her date showed up. Yeah, he was handsome, but he was also a prick -- rude, loud and stupid. He insulted me twice in the course of the appetizers and insulted her once in my presence during the entree. He either didn't notice or didn't care.
There were no desserts, no after-dinner coffee and conversation. The bill was paid, and he only tipped me 5 percent.
Like I said: He was a prick.
As I was cleaning up the table I found a folded-up piece of paper under the sugar packets: "Give me a call sometime, if you want. Laura."
How bad is a date when you try to pick up the server?
The loser who wasn't
I pick him on the basis of his picture, not noticing his love of television (which I despise) or the fact that he has two boys (which comes as a surprise). And now I'm waiting anxiously for him at the bar, on a dark wooden two-seater, in a bar I've chosen because the light was flattering and it was fairly noisy, so if the conversation wasn't any good, I could at least listen to the ramblings of mid-afternoon drunks. I was not looking for anything serious, hence the reason I picked a man by his photo.
He walks in wearing a business outfit: tie, slacks, button-down shirt and leather jacket. Halfway through the lunch, him eating a steak sandwich, me munching a veggie sub with no mayo or cheese, he brings out his wallet and shows me pictures of his boys. He then explains to me how he lives in a "spacious" home in one of the better parts of town. I find myself looking at the clock and hoping that he'll tell me he has to go back to work.
After 59 minutes of him telling me about his stuff and children, he awkwardly stands up and tells me he has to go. As we are leaving the restaurant, I attempt to hug him. (I was raised in the South and I am a touchy-feely person. I will hug almost anyone.) He barely pats my back and then runs off across the street.
As soon as I get home, I call up another guy I'm dating to tell him how horrible it was and how I plan to never see this man again. Almost all my friends get to know about the guy with the "spacious" home, and I write him off. Funny thing, though: He doesn't write me off. The person who was so tense in person writes very personal, interesting, funny e-mails, and I find myself going back to read them and every once in a while responding. He stops becoming a joke among my friends and starts to take on his name, Richard.
On our second date, we go to a vegetarian restaurant and an art-house film. Right before the film, I reach over to kiss him because I tell him, "I just want to get that part over with." But it's really because this time, when I look at him, my skin tingles. After the film, we get into his gold car and start to kiss and touch -- he asks my place or his, and I say his.
The first night that he and I spent together, after the sex on the carpet in the living room and after even better sex in his bedroom with the scent of a Tahitian vanilla candle in the air, I considered running away. But I didn't -- and now even though every night has not been a candle-lit romp, and even though his sons wake us up early almost every weekend, I feel I have found true love, a family, everything I thought I had lost. And yes, we do live together and we are engaged.
-- Miriam and Richard, Richmond, Va.