I cannot to tell you how much I appreciate my fiancee, Melissa.
Yes--there are weeks like this one, where we have been so busy that we haven't seen one another, and we miss our interactions. And she's nice and cute and whatever...but that's not what I'm referring to this time either.
No--where I really appreciate her is when I'm reminded how painful being single was.
And that's not to imply that we're settling. Absolutely not the case. In fact--I wouldn't have gone out with every woman in Western Washington if I wasn't looking for someone specific. Now I've found her and I never have to deal with the single fiasco again.
That's not to say that the road to finding her was a smooth one. Far from it. I've been on more bad dates than a fallen palm frond. (You know...because dates grow on palm trees?) (And the ones on the ground would presumably be bad?) (And the fronds would have fallen on top of them?) (Dates.) (You know--DATES!) (The fruit that looks like it is dehydrated, that isn't actually dehydrated, and instead is just gross?) (Dates man! Come on!) (That was a great joke and you missed it.)
So in an odd celebration of how wonderful my future bride is, I offer you my six favorite Ms. Wrongs before I met Ms. Right...
(Why six? Because five doesn't tell the story.)
6. The One that Didn't Show (Denver, CO--2004)
I'd known this girl--clearly not very well--for a little while, and we finally decided to have dinner. Feeling daring, I decided to cook. So like any straight man's man, I set a full table--napkin rings, salad forks and all, and cooked a--I don't mind saying--fantastic rack of lamb and and risotto. I think I even had garnish on the plate.
And I ate it alone.
Three days later, I got a call that went something like this:
"Hey. Sorry I didn't call you. (STRIKE ONE!) I got in a big yelling match with my baby-daddy (STEEEEEEEERIKE TWO!) about something and had to go over to his place. When I got there, his girlfriend jumped me, but I totally kicked that b****'s a**. Even ripped out her extensions!" (STRIKE THREE! YOU'RE OUTTA THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
5. Don't Drink and Text (Seattle, WA--2009)
I'll spare you the setup story, because they are all ridiculous and this story is long enough. This time a coworker had lined me up with someone, and it took about 3 months for it to come together. So we met. For dinner.
And it went amazingly well.
Fun conversation. Lingered. Was honestly one of the better setups I'd been on. (And at this point--I'd been on A LOT of them.) I walk her to her car and realize that I had tickets to the Lion King (on stage) and didn't have a date. Very suavely, I lead the following exchange:
Me: "Do you have plans next Friday?"
Her: "I work until seven, but no."
Me: "Okay. I'll pick you up at seven. Dress about like you are dressed now...and maybe grab something to eat, because we probably won't have time."
Her: "Mysterious--I love it!"
That was Friday.
Saturday, she sends me a text or two. I respond. This goes on here and there for the remainder of the day.
I'd planned to call her Tuesday, but I realized that we were going to be tight on time to get there by 8:00, so I called Monday.
No call back.
Tuesday? No call back.
Wednesday night I'd decided that I didn't have a choice but to call her again (these tickets weren't cheap!) and just before I was going to, I get a text from her that read:
"Hey--I had fun the other night, but I don't think there was much chemistry, so I won't be able to make it Friday."
I went about my night, knowing I'd be crawling over to a female friend of mine and begging her to go so I wouldn't have to a) go alone or b) take a dude (who probably wouldn't makeout with me anyway...)
Then it hit me.
Flashback to Saturday when I'd drank way too many beers, way too early in the day and mentioned that I was boldly taking a second date to such a big event. My friend Nick said, "Shoot--if you're going that far, you may as well send flowers as well!"
And I did.
I've never dialed so frantically. I get "Proflowers" on the phone and the conversation goes like this:
Me: "I ordered some flowers on Saturday for Friday delivery and I need to cancel."
Woman on phone: "No problem." (Two minutes of hold time.) "Sir, these are set for February 13 delivery. We can't cancel anything within 3 days of Valentine's Day."
Me: "Okay--just change the address--I'll send them to my mom."
Woman: "I'm sorry sir--we can't do that either."
Me: "Okay--just charge me for them and don't send them."
Woman: "No sir--you don't understand. This is the only week that we ship instead of have local florists deliver. They've already been sent."
Which led to the following text exchange between the cancelled-date and I:
Me: "You're going to receive flowers on Friday that I can't cancel. If you'd be so kind as to throw away the card, you can do what you like with them."
Her: "That was sweet, you didn't have to do that."
Me: "Yeah...no s***."
4. Creative Photography (Seattle, WA--2009)
Online dating is a weird animal. There is true strategy and science to it, and I did it for a long-enough period of time that I became pretty good at it. What to look for, what to avoid, etc.
There was only one time where I was truly duped.
No need to get into detail, but our email (and then text) exchanges went on much longer than I normally like. (A lot of people fall victim to 50-email exchanges, so your kids have names before you've even met!) And in these exchanges, I realized that her pictures--while seemingly good--were always taken at weird angles.
And then we finally met. And I understood why.
Her head was roughly the size of an Oldsmobile.
I've got a big head. A VERY big head. And next to her's mine would have looked like a jelly bean.
It was enormous.
Indiana Jones outran it in the Temple of Doom.
Three ballooners tried to attach baskets to it and float it around the world.
I saw Neil Armstrong walking on her forehead.
So what I'm trying to say.
Is that her head.
3. The Fortune Teller (Denver, CO--2003)
It was literally my first night out after moving to Denver after college and I got a girl's phone number. Now--keep in mind that I had no idea what she looked like--but I had a phone number.
And when I say that I had no idea what she looked like, I mean you could have lined her up with Serena Williams, a Storm Trooper and Papa Smurf and I couldn't have told you which one she was.
But I'm new to town, why not?
We meet for drinks and apps at a place that she suggested.
Not cute. But her head was at least proportionate.
I'm looking over the drink menu and trying to convince myself that she's good-looking enough and the waitress asks for her drink order. She orders wine.
A BOTTLE of wine.
I'm no cheapskate--but that's bold.
I went along with it, but as I'm taking my first sip, she says, "You're a Libra, aren't you?" She was somehow correct in the pre-facebook-era and continued, "You're very much about things being in balance. We really need to work on that."
And on my first post-college date I did something I never had the courage to do again.
I picked up the winelist and checked the price of the bottle. I then filled my glass all the way to the top and drank the whole thing down in one swig. She sat shocked and was even more shocked when I reached into my pocket, threw down the appropriate amount of cash for the wine/tip and walked out of the restaurant.
Quite easily the toughest thing I've ever done. (Which is why I don't go looking for bar-fights on most weekends...)
2. My Shortest Relationship (Seattle, WA--2008)
This girl I've subsequently become friendly with--so I'll protect her identity and call her...I don't know...how about "Tephanie"? That will work.
I'd just moved back from southern California, and I when I say "just moved back", I mean that I'd literally just driven 1200 miles in fifteen hours, parked my car, taken a shower and headed to a bar to meet up with my friend Brett, who'd thrown a party that night and was out with a few people for a few dozen post-game drinks.
Well--he wasn't with a few "people", it was him and about 9 of his wife's sorority sisters. Great ratio--but we hadn't seen each other in such a long time, we barely spoke to anyone but each other.
Despite that, I got an email from Brett's wife two days later, saying that her friend..."Tephanie"...met me and apparently wanted the two of us to be set-up.
Like a doctor's mallet to the knee, my immediate reflex was to email Brett an email that could have been shortened to three words: "Is. She. Hot?"
He responds "For sure. Broke up with a guy about six months ago and hasn't been out since. Go for it." And I agree to call her.
I do a day or two later. She doesn't answer. I leave a message.
The next day, she calls back at about 2:00 in the afternoon---clearly trying to get my voicemail--but I'm in sales, so if the phone rings, I answer. The conversation went something like this:
Tephanie: "Oh...hi...this is Tephanie."
Me: "Oh hey, how are ya?"
(3-5 minutes of uncomfortable back and forth...pretty normal.)
Me: "So--free at all this weekend?"
Tephanie: "I could meet up Saturday night?"
Me: "Okay, dinner it is. Meet me at ______."
Tephanie: "Okay, sounds good."
(We start working out the details and then she pauses.)
Tephanie: "You know...I haven't done this in a while. Sorry...dinner seems kind of "datey" to me. Could we just meet for drinks?"
Me: (Thinking---woohoo! Just saved $40!) "Sure, yeah...whatever, that's fine. Want to do the same place?"
Tephanie: "Yeah, that's perfect."
Tephanie: "Actually...maybe not drinks. Could we meet for coffee instead?"
Me: (Now feeling a little strange about the whole thing) "Yeah...I guess? If that makes you more comfortable. That afternoon maybe?"
Tephanie: "Sure, that would be perfect. Thanks for being so understanding. Again--I haven't done this in a while."
Me: (Laughing) "No problem...this can be stressful."
(A bit more silence.)
Tephanie: "I'm sorry, I'm not ready for this. I feel like I'd be cheating."
Tephanie: "I'm sorry...I've got to go. Bye."
What is most-amazing about that story--despite being an introduction and break-up all wrapped into one, it somehow wasn't the last time it happened. Am I really that bad over the phone? 18 months later it happened again. That time I drew tears from the girl...for some reason the second time isn't nearly as laughable...
1. Armageddon (Seattle, WA--2010)
My last online date. Actually--my last first date before I met my bride-to-be...and fittingly so.
It began innocently enough. We'd emailed four or five times and decided to meet for a beer. Perfect.
Me being me, I got there about 45 minutes early and cell phone Tetris just wasn't going to kill the time. So I decided to go for a walk that I will never forget.
It was only 3 blocks between my car and a drug store (where I needed a couple of things anyway). Little did I know that it was 3 of the most terror-filled, plague-ridden blocks a warrior has ever trodden.
But off I went.
"Hey look--a new Thai place!" "Why are there so many Volvos in this neighborhood?" "Better get under the awnings...it is starting to rain."
Blowing right by me without noticing was a girl I'd dated years before and hadn't spoken to since. I'm not saying she was a drama-queen, but her post-alcohol tears actually shift the tides.
If a black cat is bad luck, seeing her moments before a blind date would be like a swarm of black cats kidnapping you and throwing you under a ladder, directly into a shattering mirror.
But like a ninja, I ducked into the bank next to me. Phew.
Cold-sweat was overtaking me. So I took in the deep breaths of the gloriously air-conditioned community bank.
Remember in Top Gun when Maverick and Goose are goofing off and then realize that someone has "missile lock" on them? It kind of felt like that. My eyes darted across the bank to the other entry and I spotted a girl I'd gone out with about six months before and conveniently forgot to call.
I'm not certain that I actually hit the deck, but my moment of relief in the bank's cool air was over and I was back to the sidewalk. I glanced back, breathing heavily and am pretty sure she spotted me. So I kept moving down the sidewalk.
Feeling safe, I stopped at a deli and grab a bottle of water to calm myself down. Keep in mind--it is only about 65 degrees out, but I'm sweating as though I've just done P90X on the surface of the sun.
The water hit my lips and trickled down my throat. My body absorbed the cold, wet relief as if it had never tasted something so sweet.
But I need to compose myself.
And I'm running out of time.
I've got fifteen minutes to walk another block (yes--this happened in about a 200 ft.-stretch.) to the drug store, walk back to my car without being spotted, and then meet the potential girl-of-my-dreams for a beer? IMPOSSIBLE YOU SAY! But I wasn't about to back down now.
Breath calmed, sweat stopped, nerves quelled, I take my first steps onto the sidewalk. Step one, clear. Step two, clear. Now I was moving. I could feel the tiny muscles in my feet firing to keep me moving forward and the strength was returning to me. But the moment I began to relax, directly in front of the drug store, staring directly at me is...
The first bullet had struck my abdomen and the next my left-thigh. This was a kill-shot, directly to the forehead. It left me lying on the sidewalk, bleeding as I let out my final breaths. A cold end to a man that just wanted to meet a girl who was sane...
My body made it to that date, but my mind was nowhere near. Any hope for success in that relationship had died bravely on that sidewalk moments before.
Thankfully, a month later, I met the girl of my dreams. No violent baby-daddy. No run-away texts. No palm-reading. No mid-call break-ups. So what if her head is slightly larger than normal? It's mostly hair! And compared to my dome, it looks tiny.
Thank you Melissa for never making me go through this hell again.
This blog is my voice in the wedding planning process. If you ever have questions, comments or complaints, please don't hesitate to contact me.