36 First Dates

How do you make a 14-year-old girl extremely jealous?  Simple: Go on a date with one of her biggest crushes.  Yes.  Yes, I did.

Once upon a time, I thought it was remarkable that someone waited over a year to take me on a first date.  Not so much anymore.  This first date waited 20 years to ask me on a first date.  You read that correctly.  Two entire decades.  That’s right.  The envious 14-year-old girl is actually me… because I finally did something she never could.

A little background information:

When I was in 8th grade, I had a crush on a boy who was in several of my classes.  We occasionally exchanged notes [I still have a few of them].  We drew on each other’s legs during English [I have no idea why, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time].  We even got married once on the bus on the way home from a “Language Day” trip for school.  I think.  I don’t actually recollect how or when it happened; I just have the notes we passed back and forth frequently threatening one another with divorce [it was clearly a very healthy relationship].  I continued to crush on him into high school until the 10th grade, but nothing ever came of it…

Enter Facebook and fast forward until 2013 when I was suddenly very curious about what happened to some of my classmates.  I tracked down a number of them virtually, only to discover that my older siblings had been right all along.  They had told me to stick with the nerds and the geeks because they were only going to get better with age.  And everyone did.  Except me.  The only thing I got was new shoes.  Seriously.  I posted a picture of a group of us on Facebook from 9th grade and one of my current friends posted the following comment which illustrates this fact:

FB

Exactly the same.  Except for the shoes, of course.  To be fair, my friend couldn’t see my shoes in the picture, so he wouldn’t have known they were new.

At any rate, I made contact with Ye Olde Crush, and we casually interacted (read:  hardly at all) for about a year until we suddenly found ourselves in the same city on the same weekend…

The Date:

This may come as a shock to most of you, but I was late for this date.  I thought I was going to be pretty close to on time, but I wasn’t.  Not even a little bit.  I am, apparently, [way] less than 10% smarter than the new parking meters that were installed downtown.  It took me well over 30 minutes to make the payment.  Fortunately, he was riveted by a giant textbook, the title of which alone requires a membership in MENSA to comprehend, and hardly noticed my tardiness.  Okay, that isn’t true.  Not the part about the book, the part about my beyond-fashionably late arrival.  He totally noticed, although he did his best to forgive me.  I would have called ahead to give him notice that I was running late, except I didn’t have a phone number for him, and I was stuck using my phone to communicate with an automated system that kept insisting I don’t have a valid Canadian postal code, even though I’d conceded that point the first time she brought it up.

We met at some little restaurant that I don’t recommend unless you are really jonesing for some beet juice.  Everything else on the menu was pretty forgettable.  And not just because they didn’t serve meat.  Although that alone is reason enough for me – at least until they figure out how to cultivate steak trees.  But don’t just take my word for it; he was unimpressed by this place as well.  Looking back, you would think it would have been obvious to avoid; I mean, the restaurant was named after a bar of soap.

It turns out my school-days crush is now a vegan hippy and almost 180 degrees my opposite.  I cannot pretend to understand (especially since I didn’t ask) what makes someone walk away from red meat and bacon, but I support those people 100%.  It leaves more for me, just like my aversion to chocolate leaves more for those who love it.

After chatting for a couple of hours, we moved to his brother’s coffee shop so we could both go to work.  It was easily one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been inside (granted, that isn’t saying much because I don’t spend much time in coffee shops, but I’d bet that even if I did, this one would rank really high on the list).  His brother gave us a tour of the shop before we sat down, and I learned more about coffee in five minutes than I’d ever heard the rest of my life combined.  I still wouldn’t trust me to make a cup, though.  It sounds way too complicated to get it right.

We set up shop and immediately set to work on our individual projects.  At some point that afternoon, his sister arrived, and later his mother.  Wow.  From a 20-year-old crush, followed by a 17-year absence, to a first date, and now meeting the family.  Just look at me now, fourteen-year-old me, who spells her name with a silent “Q”.  Our date ended rather abruptly because his mom said he had to go home.  Or somewhere.  We made tentative plans to get together again the next day to go hiking.

We didn’t go hiking on Saturday.  We decided to go dancing that evening instead.  My atrophied dancing skills aside, it was a lot of fun.  I think I only stepped on his feet five or six times after he kicked off his shoes [See what I mean? Total hippy].  Conversation never lagged; it was kind of surreal how easy it was to talk to someone I never really knew.

After dancing, we drove up to the top of one of the canyons to stare at stars (oh yeah, he’s an astronomy nerd, too).  That didn’t last long.  It was cold and way past my curfew.   He drove me back to my dad’s house and helped me walk the boys.  As we said goodbye, we decided we might as well go for broke and get together one last time before he had to leave town and made plans to get breakfast on Monday.

We didn’t get breakfast.  One would think we’d have learned from our previous experience of making plans in advance, and not even bother with the formality.  But we didn’t; we pretended to solidify breakfast plans, and then we went hiking instead.  But not really hiking.  More like trail walking and rock scrambling.  It was a fun little excursion up to a bunch of rocks overlooking the valley from an angle I’d never seen.  Never one to time a good time, we sat up there way longer than our schedules permitted.  We scuttled the rest of our tentative plans in exchange for a lunch, which also lasted longer than intended.  Welcome to every day of my life.

After lunch, we found ourselves back at the coffee shop, where his mother broke up our date (again) to take him to the airport.  I’m starting to think she doesn’t like me very much.

And that makes 14.  Just 36 to go…

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37 First Dates

I’ve said before that my sexy stock is consistently on the rise, but I have never really considered myself to be an actual form of currency.  I mean, a group of soldiers may have been involved in negotiations to exchange me for a herd of goats at one point, but goat meat is such an acquired taste, and the potential husband seemed a bit sketchy, so the deal was never brokered.  I was set up on this date; however, as a method of payment for sprinkler repair.  Really.  I don’t even know what the cash equivalency would be for that, but apparently, this guy earned the opportunity to take me to breakfast by performing manual labor.  He was comfortable with the terms of payment.  I don’t want to think too hard about what that might make me because hey!  Free breakfast.

I distinctly remember making a rule about first dates which require the setting of an alarm.  But I’ve never been very good at following rules.  Besides, he worked the night shift at the hospital; I figured the least I could do was set an alarm and meet him just after his shift ended.

He chose the restaurant, and despite my best time management efforts, I was late.  Naturally.  But not extremely.  He didn’t seem too upset by my tardiness (or even at all).

He recommended a dish called “The Pile” which was basically just a hodge podge of breakfast foods thrown on top of a plate.  I read the first few ingredients from a list that went on and on and on, and it sounded good to me (although it was way too early for me to be eating breakfast; I typically don’t eat until several hours after I wake up).  I ordered it based on his recommendation, and when it arrived it really was just a large pile of food.  To be honest, it was a bit on the bland side.  It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with it.  At first I was thinking that it might just need salt, but then I realized, there was no bacon.  Or sausage.  Or meat of any kind.  That’s not breakfast.  I probably would have done well to read the entire ingredient list before I placed my order.  Then I would have known that I needed to order a side of breakfast meat.  I finished about half of it, and boxed the rest to take home.  Only I didn’t go home.  I went to my sister’s house to train her dog and fell asleep on her couch.  But she was kind enough to cook bacon for me so I could finish my breakfast as it was meant to be eaten.

This was actually a double date (with the couple who set us up).  I seem to be doing that lately.  I think it’s because people read about how much fun first-dating is and they want to be a part of it.  Who can blame them?  I certainly can’t.

Apart from his terrible taste in breakfast food, it was an enjoyable experience.  We all laughed a lot, and we each laughed a lot.  He offered to be the couple’s personal handyman in exchange for more dates.  At the time I wasn’t sure if he meant more dates with me, or just more dates in general.  He followed up with them later, and apparently it’s the former.  While I’m flattered by the offer, I don’t particular want to be payment for unclogging an overflowing toilet.

That would be a lot of dates.
That would be a lot of dates.  Photo shamelessly taken from here.

That makes 13.  Just 37 to go.   That’s  still a lot of first dates.

 

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38 First Dates

I thought I knew what I was getting into with this date.  I mean, I knew he was a pretty conservative Afghan Muslim, but I really could not have foreseen what unfolded on this particular date.

Among the more conservative Muslims I know, dating is really not a standard cultural practice.  Meetings are typically arranged and chaperoned.  Marriages are frequently the result of negotiations between families.  So, I figured that while he might be conservative in his religious views, since he was open to dating (and living in America), he might be a little more socially progressive.  I was wrong.

I busted out my headscarf and Afghan clothing for the first time in probably three years – I’d forgotten how comfortable they are, especially when it’s hot – and drove to meet with my date.

The first thing he did was lecture me for not having a proper escort.  He didn’t say anything specific about the fact that I drove, but did insist on driving on our date.  When we got in the car, he threw a burqa at me and told me to cover up.  I did.  He mumbled something about how shameful it was that I was showing my face to everyone (he lives in a smallish rural town).

He called ahead to a local Indian restaurant where he ordered some naan and mango lassi, informing me himself of what a gentlemen he is because he purchased naan rather than making me bake it.  We picked up the bread and drove to a nearby field where we sat and watched a small herd of goats.  Really.

We sat on the grass, eating our naan, drinking our lassi, and staring at goats.  Sitting in my burqa was like having my own private tent.  I couldn’t see much, but he seemed to enjoy the view.  We posed for a couple of pictures and then traveled into the mountains so he could teach me to shoot.

Room with a View
Burqa with a View
Say goat cheese!
Say goat cheese!
You would not believe how difficult it is to aim through a burqa, but I did hit the target
You would not believe how difficult it is to aim through a burqa, but I did hit the target

 

It’s hard to find words to describe this date.  It was over before I knew it.  It was truly unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.

12 down.  38 to go.

 

 

 

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39 First Dates

Unique may not be a sufficient adjective to describe this first date.  This first date proves that it doesn’t matter what activity one chooses, it only matters that you have fun doing it.  Even if that activity is working until your hands are blistered in a sweatshop manufacturing bike tubes.  Yeah.  That actually happened.

Seriously.

My date picked me up in time for me to experience a good hour and a half of rush hour traffic with him as we made our way to pick up another couple to join us for dinner and our date.  It was my first double date (unless you count the race date where I found myself on a date with both my friend and his wife [now my friend, also] instead of the fellow I was set up with).

We went to a restaurant where there was an extreme shortage of menus (even though the place was almost completely empty), so the four of us were forced to share one.  Except for the “Chef’s Specials” menu.  I guess they over-ordered on those because we each got our own.  The forced sharing theme continued throughout the evening as we found ourselves sharing a single salad and, eventually, a single dessert.  We each received our own entrees, though, so that was good (even if the food wasn’t).  Actually, my steak wasn’t awful, but I have no idea how my date managed to eat his.  Who orders a steak well-done?  Ew.  To clarify, the sharing of food was the restaurant’s doing as well.  Apparently they only randomly and sporadically provide dinner salads with dinners in order to foster a “sharing is caring” environment.

The conversation was a lot of fun, although my date did spend more time talking to the other couple than to me.  It’s understandable, really.  My date and I each knew the other couple independently, but really did not know one another.  We met once about 100 years ago, I think, but I don’t actually remember any concrete details from that evening.  I recall only vaguely that there might have been some conversation about cycling.  That is also not at all surprising because all three of them cycle pretty regularly.  Which is probably why what happened next is not much of a stretch.

We took a brief tour of the Razik Bicycles facility (I know a guy who knows a guy) and then proceeded to wind and consolidate bike tubes for the remainder of the evening.  That probably sounds like a lot less fun than it was.  The air conditioning was out (see?  sweatshop), but it didn’t stop us.  After all, bike tubes aren’t going to wind themselves.  We listened to music, and laughed, and told stories, and worked.  At the end of the evening, I had completed less than a third of one tube, and my thumb was completely blistered.  I gained a whole new level of respect for those who make handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bicycles for a living.  There is a lot of labor that goes into each and every one.  It also made me want one even more than I did before this date.  I wonder how many additional dates it would take to earn a bike.  If the date had gone poorly, I would have asked for one as a consolation prize.  But it didn’t; it was a lot of fun.

My date and I hard at work; isn't he handsome?
My date and I hard at work; isn’t he handsome?
Intricate work is difficult when your gloves are two sizes too big
Intricate work is difficult when your gloves are two sizes too big
Putting my degree to work.
Putting my degree to work.

After “work”, my date drove me home.  Even after the long night and the nearly 60-mile drive to drop me off, we still stood on the porch and talked for almost two hours.  I think we said goodbye about eight times, and I know I turned the door handle to go inside more than once.  Finally, when we realized it was nearing 0300 – and knowing we both had work in the morning – we said goodbye one last time.  My date then clotheslined me with his arm in an attempt to give me a quick [one-armed] hug.  Awkward goodbyes are getting to be a habit with me.  All in all, it was another fun experience, though.  I would totally do it again.

Incidentally, I actually had an opportunity to test ride a Razik Vortex a few weeks ago.  They aren’t kidding when they say these bikes are light, fast, and strong.  I could pick one up and hold it out using only two fingers.  My two fingers.  And I have weak hands.  I think it weighed all of 14 pounds.  And most of that was pedals.  Plus, they look really freaking cool.  I mean really cool.  The one I tried was trimmed with orange (although it wasn’t yet painted), but they had a really awesome yellow one, too.   Maybe if enough Hitchhikers order bikes, they will send me one as a way to say thank you.  Quick!  Everyone go order one today and tell them Stubbs sent you.

unnamed

11 down.  39 to go!

 

 

 

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50 First Dates – Where are They Now (1-10)?

Occasionally I receive questions about my first dates from people who wonder what ever happens with these guys after our first date.  So here are the answers to the first ten:

Flexor the Fl-expert in High-Pressure Dating Tactics:  Seriously?  Does anyone actually care what happened with this guy?  He continued to text me regularly with emoticons for a couple of weeks after our first date.  I politely responded as time permitted because I am not completely heartless, but his interest eventually waned as I did very little to encourage him.  My guess is that he is back in his home gym, flexing his muscles in the mirror and practicing his very best lines with which to impress the first girl he can find with low self-esteem and questionable morals.

The Awkwardly Awesome Exception:  I didn’t write much about this date until several weeks after it happened.  Mostly because he completely derailed me in the most unexpected ways.  I totally would have given up the rest of my 50 dates for more with this one, if he’d asked, but he didn’t, so I bravely pressed forward.  We actually had a second date, which I wanted to write about as its own first date because he grew a beard.  Some readers said a beard counts as a secret identity, while others told me it was cheating.  I didn’t end up writing about it.  Unfortunately, he recently made the acquaintance of a young lady whom he erroneously seems to fancy a wee bit more than awkward little me (crazy, right?).  Unrequited love… It feels so good when you start out.  My head is screaming GET A GRIP, GIRL!

And Then What Happened?:  I like plain bagels with plain cream cheese.  And plain potato chips (kettle chips, in particular).  Original Pringles.   Whole milk [organic or raw].  Water.  A naked steak.  But not all the time.  I also like curry, jalapeños,  garlic, salted butter, bacon, and chocolate milk [among other things with flavor].  Oh, and I like stories that keep me engaged.  I suppose this date is one of those stories with a cliffhanger… except that the writers went on strike before that episode aired and nobody even noticed.  I have no idea what happened to him.  He left town.  Then I left town.  We exchanged a couple of texts and then… nothing.  To be fair, it was probably me that forgot to respond (it usually is).  He was a genuinely nice guy even if he wasn’t a great storyteller.

Bob’s Big Boy:  We’ve stayed in touch over text, but I’ve been traveling when he’s been home, and he’s been traveling when I’ve been home.  I’m sure we’ll get the dogs together again sometime… I am just not sure when that will be.  And it’s getting less and less certain by the moment.  Life is funny that way.  Mine in particular.

Arnold Palmer:  This poor guy.  I’ve been meaning to write him an actual message for weeks going on months.  We exchanged a couple of texts, and my life has been insane.  I haven’t even logged onto my Match account (which is where we met) since this date happened.  I just don’t have the energy for it.  Someday I would do well to remedy that.

The Professor from the Three-Hour Tour:  This is still one of the best conversationalists with whom I’ve had the pleasure of spending time.  After our first date, he went on a first date with one of my best friends.  He complained mentioned to her that I had talked about some of my other dates on our date.  He may not fully appreciate irony.  And to be fair, he also talked about many of his dating experiences on our first date.  His dating life just wasn’t organized as formally as mine.  We have not been in contact since he flew back home.

Farm Boy/The Doctor:  We text quite regularly.  He even invited me to join him in Iceland for a few days this month.  Unfortunately, time and funds being in short supply and high demand, I was unable to accept the invitation.  We will see each other again.  He appeals to my inner geek in a lot of ways.  He is also way smarter than me, but he doesn’t act like it.  That makes it fun.

Dr. Egon Spengler a.k.a. The White Rabbit:  We are still in contact and will probably get together again.  He recently graduated his final SF course (language training) and is preparing to relocate to his assigned group.

Spiderman vs. the Bulbous Bouffant:  Considering we were friends long before this experiment ever started, and further considering I was not a whiny little girl on our first date, we are still friends.  He actually came out to visit me again recently and I took him on a whirlwind tour of my childhood stomping grounds, he lead climbed Mount Olympus so I could check that off my bucket list, and I subjected him to Crochet Sunday with the ladies.  Oh… and we met Sean Astin at Fantasy Con and he totally high-fived us three times.  No big deal.

Run, Forrest, Run/The Flash:  Who knows?  Last I saw he was a giant blur running as quickly as he could in the opposite direction from me.  But hey, I’m sure he’s winning and looks good doing it.

And there you have it.   Can you believe that is only the first ten of 50 first dates?  We have a long way to go, Hitchhikers.  Stay tuned for more mayhem and madness.  The next two dates will be quite unique, I assure you.

 

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