Not Quite Romeo and Juliet
Back in January of 2004, a friend of mine insisted that I put an ad on Yahoo! Personals, a now-defunct online dating site. I had been single for a few years at that point, having offloaded my first husband after three mostly unhappy years of marriage. (My friend Emma once asked me how I knew I should get a divorce. The answer: when you would rather spend the rest of your life alone than one more night with your husband, it’s time to end your marriage.) In any case, I decided to give the internet thing a try. After reviewing some of the rambling ads that discussed everything from the importance of astrological compatibility to the necessity of athletic (or even acrobatic) bodies, I wrote my ad. This is, as best I can remember, what it said:
“Tall quirky writer seeks someone who can laugh at himself and the world. Must be at least 6’0” tall. Sorry, no cats – I’m allergic.”
There were probably a few more words, but that was the gist of the thing. Alongside it, I posted a picture of me standing next to my grandparents’ Rottweiler. The dog might have been a deterrent to potential suitors. In any case, over the course of the next four months I received a grand total of three notes from men who were interested in getting to know me. All three of them started with “I’m not quite six foot, but…” I wrote all three polite notes that basically said the height issue was not negotiable.
Then, in April – right after Easter, as a matter of fact – I received a note that read, “I believe I meet your specifications. Please review my profile to confirm.” (Again, I’m paraphrasing, but this is close to right.) I laughed and checked his profile. Six-foot-three! Yes! Funny and tall!
We exchanged two or three emails before I sent him my phone number. He called me for the first time on April 15th. I remember because I was driving my parents’ tax return to the nearest late-night post-office drop off. He was even funnier on the phone than he was in emails. After some discussion, we set our first date – miniature golf and dinner.
Now, to be fair, this was not Dan’s first choice. He would have preferred dinner and a movie, but I think that movie dates are the worst. This is probably because many years before I went on a movie date with a guy who then decided to lay the worst kiss of my life on me – way too much aggressive tongue action. Bleh. I did offer a zoo option for the first date, but Dan later told me that he wasn’t driving that far or spending that much for some girl he didn’t know. Can’t blame him – he’d already been on a few bad dates through his Yahoo! ad.
When we met at Castles’n’Coasters, he seemed like a nice guy. However, as soon as we started playing, he stopped talking, other than to complain irritably about the woman and two teenagers who were crowding in on us from behind. Finally, we let them play through; then he complained about how slow they were. By the time we finished, I was pretty sure this relationship was DOA. I called my mom from the car to let her know I was going to dinner with him (I intended to pay, since he insisted on paying for the mini-golf game), but that I would be home in no more than two hours.
We drove our separate cars over to Mimi’s. As soon as we sat down at the table together, our conversation began to flow more smoothly. Soon, his impressions had me laughing and we discovered a shared fondness for Britcoms and Shakespeare. We talked about our first marriages – he was still a little bitter about his – and our childhoods. Before we knew it, we were the last patrons in the restaurant.
As he walked me to my car – the back of which was plastered with Christian bumper stickers that might have scared a weaker man off – my phone rang.
“Are you okay? Are you in the trunk of a vehicle somewhere?”
“I’m fine. Dinner went well.”
“Are you telling the truth? Can he hear you?”
It took me another minute to convince her that everything was okay and that I was getting into my car to drive home right then. I think Dan and I hugged good night.
The very next day, Dan called and asked me to a Shakespearean play. I guess you could say he had me at “Wilt thou…”