Sunday, April 30, 2006

The aftermath...

There's a period of time after a date where things are exciting and hopeful, but anxious and nervewracking at the same time. Where you begin to imagine what might be, while fearing it could crash and burn without going any further, leaving you dejected, rejected and sad.

In the 'old days' (my late teens/early twenties), this used to be a difficult time for me. I'd be freaking out if I didn't hear from the guy straight away and could think of nothing else. I would literally wait by the phone, willing it to ring. Ah, those were the days... But now that I'm a mature woman of 30, self assured and confident of my worth, things are... exactly the same!

So here's the run down of the post-date-with-Tim period:

Friday: Date night.

Saturday: I'm feeling good, doing my own thing, not really thinking about how or when we'll next speak. 8.30pm I get a text from him asking good day? I'm pleased to have some contact so soon, and text him back.

Sunday: I think about seeing him again, and wonder when we will. Not worried yet...

Monday: I have no plans for the day and want to see him, so I decide to initiate contact. I text him asking if he wants to do something later on. No answer... for a couple of hours... I figure he's off doing something and get on with my day.

Later I get a text saying sorry he missed my text, he was driving up north to visit his parents and was staying there overnight - unfortunately (his word). Plus a smiley face :). I'm sorry we don't get to meet up, but feel reassured.

Tuesday: Back to work, I sit at my desk and think I'll probably hear from him today
. Nope...

Wednesday: I keep my cellphone perched up by my computer and look at the screen every 10 minutes to see if anything's come through. Nothing has and nothing does for the whole day. I think about calling him, but I figure it's his turn - I put myself out there and asked him out, now he should get in touch to arrange another time. I don't want to seem too eager...

Thursday: Still no word, and by now every feminine sensory system in my body is screaming "man overboard!". Something in the pit of my stomach tells me Tim's a goner and I'm not going to hear from him again. But I look back to the signals - that goodnight kiss, a text the next day, a hint that he would've liked to have taken me up on my Monday offer - and I decide to throw out one last feeler to see if I can prompt a conversation.

10am, I send him a casual email asking him about his week and telling him about this team building thing we're doing that afternoon. By the end of the day, I haven't heard back and I take a minute to reflect on the end of a very brief relationship... Barring some highly unlikely turn of events (eg: Tim's untimely death) I realise that he's gone AWOL and has completely shut me out. I'm really surprised and confused - didn't see that one coming!

Friday/Saturday/Sunday: I ping-pong between sadness and anger. Sad because I'd genuinely wanted to get to know him better. Angry because I can't believe he just stopped replying - what a shitty way to treat someone! So disrepectful and incredibly thoughtless. Not to mention cowardly. A quick dumping by text would have been far preferable - and more humane.

I think about telling him about how I feel and go so far as to draft a bitter and angry text - but I show some rare restraint and don't push send. I do begin to write him an email though. I'm not sure if I'm going to send it, but I want to put my feelings into words. I save it as a draft and think about whether to send it or not. In the end, I do. Mainly I want to bring things to a definite close in my mind. But I also want to remind Tim that people's feelings are at stake here.

Hi Tim,

Well I’m guessing from your silence that I’m not your cup of tea. It would have been nice to get to know you better but that’s okay. It also would have been nice if you’d just said something to let me know, but I guess that’s an awkward conversation to have. For the record, it felt horrible to be left hanging this week and wondering why.

Thanks for the nice night out anyway, I appreciated it, and no hard feelings - I hope things work out for you.

Take care

And so a disappointing end to my first internet dating experience... Back to the drawing board!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Very first internet date...

Fast forward to Good Friday and life is looking good... Four days off work, a cupboard full of Easter eggs, and a hot date with someone I'm looking forward to meeting.

I potter around the house until it's time to get ready, at which point I take my time. I have a good long shower and choose an outfit and jewellery and put my makeup on. Now this is a part of the date I really like, where you're making a special effort to look (and feel) good while fizzing with the anticipation of what's to come.

Fully scrubbed up, I drive to Ponsonby, allowing myself enough time to get there and be on time, but not enough time to get there too early and be the one sitting there like a wally waiting for the other. I sit in my car for a couple of minutes, trying to calm the butterflies (and further reduce my chance of being the first to arrive) until I finally step out of the car and head towards the cafe. I walk in and look around - he told me he'd be wearing a red shirt. Can't see any red sitting out on the patio, or at the bar, or at any of the inside tables - damn! I beat him here... I decide to head to the toilets to regroup and fill in time - and bump into a tall fellow in a red shirt on the way there.

Caught a little off guard, our initial hellos are slightly awkward and we make our way to a little table beside the window looking out onto the street. We start talking and I think we're both nervous. Conversation stops and starts and we look out the window in silence as we think of the next topic. I drink my juice, he's drinking beer. This soon gets sucked down and for the next hour or so we sit nursing our free water which the styley waiters frequently come round to top up - we're not going to be their biggest tab of the night, that's for sure!

During conversation he tells me some interesting tidbits about himself, but holds back on all the details. For example, he tells me his brother married one of his girlfriends, someone he saw for two years and lived with for one. I'm curious to know how that panned out - did they break up and then she got together with his brother, or did she break his heart and switch immediately from one to the other? I decide it's bad form to grill him about something that must have been painful on some level, so I let it pass - but I want to find out more.

After stretching out our drinks as long as possible, he asks if I want to carry on and do something else. I say sure so he asks me what we should do - which I hate being asked, I'd far rather the guy take the lead on a first date - but I suggest we take a walk outside. It was an unexpectedly nice day, sunny with an edge of crispness. The sun was just beginning to disappear and we walked up Ponsonby Rd towards one of the parks, where I learn yet another intriguing nugget about Tim - he's been arrested once, but got off whatever the charge was with diversion (NZ's 'clean slate' policy for first time offenders) . He doesn't offer any information about what it was he was doing but I conclude it's probably minor.

We walk a little and then decide to get something to eat. We take his car into town and hit Tanuki's Cave, an awesome yakitori bar in town. We walk down the stairs and it's got this great atmosphere - small room, dark and cosy. The Japanese staff all yell out a greeting in Japanese as we enter and I figure this is just the thing to put us at ease and open up a bit.

We sit side by side up at the bar and order some skewers. I love this place (even though it's the first time I've been in) and stop worrying about things. The food arrives and is delicious and we happily dig in with our chopsticks. We eat leisurely, talking more about bits and pieces. As we finish up our meal and go to leave, I figure our evening's coming to an end, which I think is fine as we've pretty much exhausted conversation. But Tim suggests we find something else to do and I can't figure out a nice way to wrap things up so agree.

We walk up to the movie theatres but nothing starts for an hour or more. We try the smaller arthouse theatre by the library but they only have one screen and likewise don't have anything starting soon. We walk around aimlessly for a bit, then head back to his car. At this point I'm thinking, surely now we'll wind things up, but no - Tim suggests we find something else to do and I'm still too polite to suggest otherwise. So we end up back in his car and on our way to Mission Bay, which admittedly is a pretty romantic date location. We wind up at a near empty cafe and get coffees.

By now we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel conversation-wise, and mostly sit quietly, people-watching. There's a constant stream of people walking past us on the main drag, plus there's an asian couple sitting at one of the outside tables and the guy is fiddling with his digital camera and taking photo after photo of himself. So it's a great place to people-watch, but at this point we're 5+ hours into our date and I'm ready to head back home, crack open an easter egg and curl up on the couch to watch a bit of telly.

I wonder what Tim's thinking of all this. Is the silence as awkward for him as it is for me? But it seems not, he makes some comment about how fun it is to people-watch, and I agree - and then he suddenly says "oh no, you're not bored are you?", as though it had just occurred to him that I might be. I give him a little smile and say "no, not at all" but I don't know how convincing I am.

Finally, we make a move and leave the cafe and there's no suggestion of going anywhere else - he's taking me back to my car which is still in Ponsonby. I'm relieved, not because I had a horrible time (I didn't) but because I feel a little drained after 6 hours of date-anxiety (am I boring him? Oh my god, we're not talking - what can we talk about now?) and I'm more than ready to call it a night.

As we drive back, I think about how to end the night and decide to go for a warm kiss on the cheek, or maybe a quick smacker on the lips if the approach goes well. But as he pulls over in front of my car, he beats me to it and leans in and gives me a real kiss. It surprises me but I'm not unwilling, and the kiss - my first in quite a while - is very, very nice. Warm and soft and lingering and all around lovely. I pull away and smile at him, finger his gorgeous curly hair for a second. Out of nowhere he says "I'm quite shy", and I'm not sure what he wants to say with that. We kiss again, and then I pull myself away and say good night.

I have a lot to think about as I'm driving home and dissecting the night. I worry about the disrupted flow of conversation - things were so much better by email and text, we were zinging all over the place! I'd thought it would be more effortless than it was, and I worry that running out of conversation on the first date doesn't bode well for the future. But then I think of his admission that he's shy - I am too - and I think that maybe it's just a matter of getting to know each other better and feel more comfortable.

I think about the kiss too. It was really a great kiss and already I want more of them. I get home and as I take my cellphone out of my bag I see I've gotten a text message from him. I look at the time and realise he must have sent it right after we said good night. It says your lips are delicious, and good night, and to drive safe. It makes me smile and it makes me decide that this is definitely worth a second chance...

Bringing you up to speed...

Okay, it's now been a full three weeks since I've been online so I really need to fill you in on how it's been going so far - this is going to be a long post.

After a long period of procrastinating, I finally got my sh*t together and did everything I needed to make my online 'debut'. I got my girl H to come around one night and take some pictures for me, trying to get that perfect mix of sexy but not slutty, friendly and open yet still a little mysterious, well posed but not contrived, and generally just gorgeous and not in any way desperate looking.

Let's just say as good a photographer as H is (and she rocks behind a camera), we struggled to get some good shots. Got plenty of me halfway through a blink or with some moronic expression on my face, but that wasn't really what I was going for.

We gave up and H and I went back to our business of eating pizza while indulging in some episodes of our fave Sex & The City on DVD. After H went home I touched up my lip gloss and took a zillion photos myself, doing the old stretch the arm out in front of you trick. I took so many and smiled so hard for so long that somewhere along the way I began to feel good and my smile became genuine and I got some really good shots, including the money shot which ultimately made it up online. Phew!

Now with the photo, I could write my profile. This wasn't so hard as I'd been working on it off and on for several weeks, after I first began to look at some sites and consider it as an option.

I uploaded my photo, chose a great username (nope, not telling, sorry ;), submitted my profile and sat back for a moment, wondering what can of worms I was opening up. I got a message saying my profile needed to be approved and that it could take 2 days. In the end it only took twelve hours, and as soon as it went up and became visible, responses started pouring in.

Mostly they were 'virtual kisses' - god I hate how lame that sounds, but it's a way for people to say 'hey, I'm interested', without actually writing anything personal. If you like the look of the person, you 'kiss' them back and they know they're probably not going to be rebuffed when they email you. If you get no kiss back, it's less of a rejection than if you sent an actual email.

The very first guy to contact me was a chubby fellow living in Whangarei. Hmm, not the most auspicious start. I wrote back saying thanks, but letting him know I'm limiting my search to guys that live in my city.

Several middle aged, divorced men living in rural towns followed. Then the foreigners started contacting from places much more far flung than Whangarei - Mexico, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Italy, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Japan, UK, Peru, Norway, Colombia, Australia, India - all over the place!

I was dumbfounded, I really hadn't expected that. What are these people doing looking for people in other countries? What do they want, what do they expect? I had a creepy feeling that maybe it was about cybersex (ew!), either that or they want a meal ticket into clean, green NZ, or maybe just a bit of escapism from daily (married?) life. Whatever the reasons, I find it absolutely bizarre and ignore all foreign virtual kisses.

So things were getting off to a somewhat weak start. I was surprised at the quantity of responses - it started to feel like work, all the administration involved with reading emails, looking at people's profiles to see if I wanted to contact them back - it reminded me of what it's like when you're hiring new staff. Some of the initial emails even sounded like cover letters you get with resumes (Hi, I am honest, straight and a gentleman. I also enjoy coffee and a walk on the beach. I am looking to carefully build a relationship with soulmate, wife, partners for life as the ultimate result. I look forward to your response...). Funny stuff.

And then I got one email that I liked the look of, from 'gotim5698'*. He said that he liked my profile, that he slipped under my age criteria (he's 27, I listed 29-39 as my bracket) but that he'd never had a girlfriend his own age. He said he had a funny photo up (a shot of him sitting at his desk from a distance, so you couldn't actually see his face) but that he could send a proper one through. He said a couple more things and then he signed of with a couple of kisses xx, cute.

I liked it, it was casual and light hearted, it wasn't a lame-ass virtual kiss, and he sounded nice. I looked at his profile and liked what he'd written. So I wrote him back an equally light hearted email, saying he sounded interesting and that I'd like to see his photo. Asked him a couple of questions based on his profile and signed off.

The next day the photo came through and lo and behold - the man was cute! Yes, I say this with some surprise because I tend not to trust a profile photo that doesn't actually show your face. What's so bad with it that you can't show it? But not Tim, he'd taken his own photo the same way I had and had a nice smile on his face, a cheeky gleam in his eyes, thick curly dark hair, trendy thick black rimmed glasses and was wearing a very cool shirt. In short, yummy! He joked that he thought he looked like Beaker off the Muppets which I thought was funny (and so not true!). But funnily enough he did remind me a little of the lead guy from Weezer (he wears the same black glasses), who coincidentally did a music video with the Muppets once.

I responded, saying it was a relief to see a good looking guy, and continued on our email conversation which was going really well and highlighting some things we had in common. It was coming up to Easter so I asked if he had any plans and shared that I would be generally resting and relaxing and partaking deeply in the eating of Easter chocolate.

He wrote back the next day telling me about some of the things he was planning, and then he said "Well I must say, you're the only person I've talked to, or have seen on-line that I would actually like to meet in person. :-)" which made me smile. And he suggested getting together for coffee or something over the long weekend, leaving his contact details at the bottom of the email.

I was delighted and excited at the prospect of meeting him. I texted him to say it sounded like a good idea, and after a fun, flirty text exchange, we made plans to meet at one of my favourite cafes the next afternoon. I went back to my work with a big smile on my face, feeling good and looking forward to tomorrow...

* names all changed to protect the innocent

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stop the madness!

So here's the deal: I've been single for nigh on 18 months now with no prospects in sight. To get you up to speed, here is the full run down of my love life during this time (don't worry, it won't take long):

Circa October 2004 - broke up with boyfriend.

March 2005: I asked out the guy who re-painted our office (by text, because I'm a wuss). I got a message back almost a week later (a week!!!!), which of course meant the answer was no - he said he had a partner. Shamed, I now can't look him in the eye when he comes by to touch up our paintwork... Thankfully, I moved to California for a four month assignment shortly afterward which gave some welcome distance to that awkward situation.

May 2005: Now working in California, I had a maybe-date with the IT guy that looked after our serviced offices. Okay, so it wasn't really a date so much as a bribe for doing a lot of urgent changes for us when his guaranteed response was 48hrs. But it was my first lunch in a very long time with a member of the opposite sex that could potentially, with a bit of imagination, be considered a date. I was super stressed by work at the time and was really lousy company. He said we should do it again sometime, yet he never asked - how strange.

June 2005: I developed a schoolgirl crush on the beautiful winewaiter at my favourite restaurant in Newport Beach, Gulfstream. For a start he looked like Hugh Jackman - the man was HOT! But what really charmed me was when I asked him about a particular wine on the menu one night and he waxed lyrical for a full five minutes, comparing it to the grassiness of New Zealand sauvignon blancs.

The combination of his obvious passion for wine, his male model looks, and the fact that he was familiar with something to do with my obscure little country was just enchanting and made me weak at the knees. I ate there at every chance I could get after that night, but alas never worked out a classy way to hit on the bar staff, leaving my love unrequited - especially since I soon moved back to New Zealand, home of the grassy sauvignons.

September 2005: Two extremely awkward dates with a colleague. I know, I know, I never should have gone there - but I took what I could get at the time. He's actually a really good guy, but he's one of those people that gets nervous in social situations. I don't hold that against him - I'm exactly the same - but put two awkward people together and that ain't the best love match in the world.

I stuck it out for the second date 'cause we hadn't kissed yet and I wanted to see if that might magically spark some sweet chemisty. Unfortunately this was not the case - we finally kissed after literally hours of skirting around it and edging closer together on the sofa, and, well, it was just the strangest kiss I've ever had.

Now this is clearly not good - when you think to yourself "what the hell is he doing?!", you know it's time to give up the ghost. I made the speediest possible departure and a couple of days later told him I wasn't ready to be anything more than friends. And then I avoided walking by his desk for a full six months... Now that a little time has passed, I can bring myself to look him in the eye and this is certainly helpful for those times when we have to do some work together...

And since September? Bubkis, nichts, nada! Zero romantic action of any kind and zero prospect of getting any in the course of day to day life. It demanded drastic action. So what did I do? I took two bold steps:

1. I booked myself in for speed dating, and
2. I put my profile up online and subscribed as a member

And in the two weeks since I've done this, I've certainly come into contact with plenty of single men. I've also developed a nervous twitch - my upper left eyelid now spasms on a regular basis, directly in proportion to the amount of stress, distress, confusion and frustration these romantic antics cause me.

Hence the birth of this blog, to document my experiences, vent the tension and try to make sense of the whole damn thing! Stick around, it's going to be a wild ride...