47 First Dates

I am now three for three for dates who would like a second date.  This trend could get complicated.  If only I wasn’t so likable.

I was feeling hangry on Friday night; drama between Mister Spacely and Dr. Claw at work all week had taken its toll on me and I was not particularly thrilled to be going on a date at all.  I ditched work that afternoon and took myself to see Captain America:  The Winter Soldier.  [SIDENOTE:  If you haven't ditched work to see a movie lately, I recommend this one.]  Unfortunately, for all it’s awesome (and the added bonus of The Monkees playing on the theatre speakers in the lobby), it still wasn’t quite enough to rejuvenate my spirits completely.

When my date originally asked me out for Friday evening, he offered dinner or “something”**, but by the time I was available, dinner was the most viable option.  It took twenty minutes to coordinate our meet-up because he was [apparently] terrified of selecting the wrong restaurant.  We didn’t play a game of I-don’t-know-what-do-you-want-to-eat tennis or anything, he just wouldn’t commit to a place.  I could only be so helpful because I was completely unfamiliar with the area where we were meeting.  It was a little like pulling teeth, and I hate pulling teeth.

[Actually, I've never pulled a tooth.  I was that kid that waited until my loose tooth fell out on its own (and didn't sleep at night until it did because I was perpetually afraid I would swallow it or choke to death on it).  I have seen a tooth get pulled, though.  In Afghanistan.  I will never forget the sight (or the sound) of that event.   *shudders at memory*]

Recognizing my mood was not conducive to having a great time, I turned on Pandora to my Golden Oldies station and had a dance party in my bathroom while I got ready.  It helped.  It usually does.

My date was a gentleman, and as I sat at dinner, I realized that I would have a very hard time writing about it.  He was not polarizing.  He was just a good ol’ country boy who had a difficult time letting loose.  I wondered if he was in his own element, if things might be different… and considered if I wasn’t on a quest for 50 first dates whether I’d give him a second date.  And then I wondered what possesses people to go out of their element on a date in the first place?  Why not just invite someone to do something you enjoy?

I learned a lot about the technicalities of wild boar hunting in Florida on both public and private lands.  Walking seems to be the primary difference.  Also, boars smell bad.  And boar puns are easy to make and totally wasted on some people.

What's wrong?  You seem boar-ed.  Image credit here.
What’s wrong, deer? You seem boar-ed. Image credit here.

He and his friends drew tags last year to hunt alligators.  He showed me the pictures of the one they caught… at 11 feet, nine inches; it would have made a really nice hoodie for Sultan Kösen.

I asked him to tell me the story of the alligator hunt.  I received a technical description, right up until the exciting conclusion when the gator was being pulled onto the boat for the final death blow and his jaws snapped shut, barely missing the arm of one of the hunting companions!

[I might have made the very last part up, but that's because it makes a better ending than "we put a stick near it's mouth and he clamped down sharply".  If your arm is holding the stick, then that gator barely missed your arm.  That's all I'm saying.]

But hey, now I know where to drop off an alligator for processing post-hunt.

[There is a shed next to Dinosaur World in Plant City for which you need a code.  Incidentally, Dinosaur World itself could be a fun venue for a first date.]

At the end of the evening, I made up my mind to give him another opportunity someday (when/if I can find the time).  Or thought I had.  Until his suggestion of a second date involved grabbing something to eat.  Again.

**Let it be said [again] that when given the choice, I will always err on the side of “something” because dinner dates just aren’t my favorite thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love food, but dinner dates are reminiscent of that dark time in human history predating the invention of the snarfblatt, and I prefer eating at home anyway [fresh food prepared at home always tastes better].

 

 

 

 

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49 First Dates

One down.

A mere 49 to go.

I keep asking myself why in the world I decided to try to go on 50 first dates.  Besides the obvious reference to the movie title, I really can’t figure out what I was thinking on this one.  That’s easily one date a week for a year (if I take Christmas and Thanksgiving weeks off).  Of course, there’s always the option of the twofer in a single week, but that’s hard to do unless they are both local and incredibly flexible with my sometimes demanding schedule.

The first first date I scheduled actually fell through due to work schedule misalignment… and my would-be date wound up in St. Maarten (And I thought I had an awesome job).

The next-on-deck, and official first first date had the potential to be a lot of fun.

He was quite persistent with his attempts to convince me to break any number of other plans I had scheduled, constantly informing me that I would “have more fun” with him.  I asked him how he felt about something other than the standard dinner date as the first meeting, and he was quite amenable to the idea.  He certainly sounded like more fun than a lot things I had going during that time.  We talked about the possibility of going go-cart racing, to the shooting range, mini-golf, and a few other activities that I can no longer recall (and am far too lazy to go through my phone history to find).  I left the details of planning to him.

He sent a picture of himself at the range holding his Uzi.  I wrote back and said, “That looks like fun.”  He wrote back and said, “It will b.”

Most of his texts were in text speak and emoticons, which is somewhat irritating to me, but since I am now texting on an old-school device, I can sort of see the appeal of text speak, and I occasionally find emoticons useful.  It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when I was really good at texting from a number pad.  Based solely on his texts, I would have set his age in his late 20s.  It turns out he was 41.

SIDE NOTE:  Seriously, how did we survive before smart phones?  It is so irritating to go back through the inbox and sent folders trying to figure out if I already responded to a message… Spoiler!  I probably didn’t, but there is likely a partially composed message in the drafts folder.

Finally, the day of our first date arrived.  I sent a request for details and was given the address of a local restaurant.  So… all that build up, and he opted for the safe (if boring) dinner date option.  I forwarded the details of our meet-up to my friend (to provide the police a starting point for their investigation should it be required), and set off to meet Mr. Most-Fun-You-Can-Have-on-a-Monday-Night-in-Florida.

He arrived at almost the exact moment I did.  His first words were, “You drive a Jeep”.  I’m not sure if it was a question, a judgment, or merely an incredibly astute observation.  He reached out for me and leaned in… I assume for a European peck hello on the cheek, but just to be certain I turned my head as far as it could go so there was no an alternative landing zone.

yeah.  kind of like that.
yeah. that seems about right. (image credit here)

Okay, so the parking lot meeting was a little on the awkward side, but I chalked it up to first date nerves.

Determined to have a great time getting to know this fellow human being, I sat down and smiled.  I guess I met with his approval because he nodded at me a number of times (or maybe just looked me up and down), and asked, “So what do you think?” while he gestured to himself.  Considering we’d now known each other an entire forty-five seconds, I suppose it was a fair question.  I didn’t really have an answer, though.  It was clear to me that he takes care of himself physically, so I think I stumbled through a statement to that effect.

Fortunately, it did not matter that I lacked a decisive answer to his question… He was courteous enough to give me the opportunity to answer it six or seven additional times before the night was over.  And just so I could feel comfortable with the depth of the conversation, he was sure to tell me [often] how [superficially] well he liked the look of me.

He immediately made a comment about how busy my dating life is and asked about the possibility of second dates.  I said that although I do not discount the idea of a second date with someone who interests me, I am really quite focused on meeting and getting to know as many people as possible right now.

We flitted around a few “getting to know you” topics for about five minutes or so before he informed me that if I want to have children he is happy to volunteer his services as their father someday.  Um.  Yikes.  I really wasn’t sure how to respond graciously to that one as he hadn’t exactly sold me on his qualifications at that point.  But hey, the night was young, and there was still plenty of opportunity to talk.

We finally found and settled on a topic that yielded more than a one-word or sentence response from him.  I listened while he enthusiastically told me all about his guns and shooting experiences.  He showed me pictures and videos of himself at various training events (actually, I think it was just one event, but it was clearly significant to him).  He pointed out that his hair was shorter in the pictures than it is now.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to prefer one look over the other as I really couldn’t see the difference.

I like to listen to people when they are enthusiastic about something.  I enjoy shooting, and even though it’s not one of my top ten hobbies, I can follow along in conversation and appreciate listening to someone who loves it.  That part of the conversation was easily the best part of the entire evening.

After he finished his plate, he excused himself to wash his hands and when he returned he sat himself beside me.  Right beside me.  He flagged the waiter down and asked him to take a picture of us together.  He was not pleased with any of the results (I think there were six) and wanted to bring the waiter back to take more.  I talked him out of it.  He was keen to set another date immediately, but I (quite honestly) told him that between work, other obligations, and first-dating, I do not have time during the foreseeable future (I left the lack of desire out of it as I don’t think he was listening anyway).  He tried to hold my hand (which made me supremely uncomfortable) and again leaned in for a kiss.  When I informed him there would be no kissing, he claimed he was just going for the cheek again.  He wasn’t.  But I let him believe for that moment that I believed him.  He made one last-ditch effort in the parking lot (seriously?!), and then I was happily on my way home.

It was a long evening… and yet it wasn’t.  I was home in time to watch an entire four-part episode of classic Doctor Who and still get to bed on time.

If all 50 are like that, I won’t have a problem getting through a bunch of firsts.  Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, depending on your perspective), I foresee more than one that I’d like to see again already.

Stay tuned for the next installment…

 

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50 First Dates

I realized several months ago that I had never actually dated for fun in my life.

I was like Scarlett O’Hara in the first four seconds of this scene from Gone With the Wind (sub the word “dating” for “marriage”):

“Dating, fun?  Fiddle-dee-dee.  Fun for men, you mean.”

I was raised that you marry the people you date, and from an early age that seemed to be what dating was all about.  Talk about pressure.  There was pressure to find an eternal mate, and pressure to not hang out.  Date.  Date.  Date.  It felt like a chore.  Worse, I felt like I was holding down the worst Human Resources job in the world.  Here I was trying to find  and interview for a new CEO, but holding applications for guys that were just looking to get their foot in the door to earn some extra cash.  Not that there weren’t some great CEOs-in-the-making among the applicants…

So during times in my life when I wasn’t particularly interested in settling down, I didn’t date at all.  It seemed disingenuous.  Wasn’t everyone looking for marriage?  Isn’t that why they were dating?  As a result, nearly every date I’ve ever been on has resulted in a relationship (and not necessarily a good one).  There has been the odd exception here or there, but those cases were rare.  The exceptions that proved the rule:  I didn’t know how to date for fun.  Once.

Until now.

This year I decided would be different.  I changed my mindset and decided to make it all about having fun.  50 times over.  No pressure for a second date (not that I wouldn’t welcome one; that just isn’t the goal).  The goal is for both of us to have fun.

So I posted the following Facebook status update:

it recently occurred to me that i have NEVER dated just for the fun of going on a date… and now i really want to x50. my goal is to go on 50 first dates this year. i am perfectly willing to travel.

i am sorry, but if we have ever been on a date before, or if you are married or otherwise in a committed relationship, you are not eligible for this limited time promotional offer. everyone else is fair game… so if you’ve been harboring a secret crush on me for years, now is your chance!

In less than ten minutes, I had two genuine offers for dates.  And so it began…

… Until I hit my head and wound up with a concussion.  Just as I was getting excited, too.  I had to put off my quest to find 50 first dates until I healed.

1 – Nobody wants to go on a “light-duty” date.  Sorry, no movies, loud noises, bright lights, roller coasters, zip lining, or anything that involves physical activity beyond walking.  Ugh.  That would pretty much leave the job interview/interrogation date.  No, thank you.

B – I couldn’t line up dates if I’d wanted to… I couldn’t look at a screen for more than five minutes during the first two weeks without getting a massive headache.

As it turns out, I had more than 30 emails awaiting responses on my two online dating profile accounts.  Whoa.  That took up an entire weekend.

But, I’m ready now.  Let’s do this!

Behold.  The Little Black Phone.
Behold. The Little Black Phone.

FAQs:

Are you going to blog about your dates?

Of course, I will be blogging about the dates.  However, to protect the identities of my dates, I will change whatever information I choose.  They know who they are, but that doesn’t mean they want the rest of you to know.

Are you accepting blind dates/set-ups?

Definitely.  I have to make it to 50 somehow.  But please don’t set unrealistic expectations for either of us… “OMGoodness!  You have to meet so-and-so.  They are perfect for you!”  Clearly, if that’s true, we’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

Who is paying for your travel?

I expect that I am.  Not that I wouldn’t be perfectly willing for someone else to foot the bill, but I intend to cover my own travel expenses.  They have enough to worry about with planning an awesome date, right?  Travel dates will probably be a lot less frequent due to the added costs and complications.  I already have three pending; one is set, and two are trying to coordinate schedules.

Even international travel?

If someone is brave enough to ask, and I can swing it with my schedule and finances, I don’t see why not.  One of the greatest first date experiences I’ve ever had was Istanbul, Turkey.  That one probably won’t be topped.  It’s probably best not to try.  I can have just as much fun building a model rocket as long as there is good company to be had.  Oh yeah, and my passport expires this year, so I’ll definitely be out of the international travel game until the new one shows up.

Istanbul, Not Constantinople
Istanbul, Not Constantinople

What about Josh Groban; I thought you guys had something special?

We totally do.  Bonus points to anyone that convinces him to take me on a first date this year.

Can I share this post?

Do chickens wish they could fly?  Only always.

I'm Waiting.
I’m Waiting.
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Angels Among Us

It’s been a while since I last posted.  Writing has not come easily for me recently.  I have had a very difficult time getting myself to sit still long enough, and then there was that whole concussion thing.  That made it even more difficult.  With that, I feel very fortunate to be writing tonight.

About three weeks ago, I was out running with one of my dogs (probably not the one you think), and he spotted a squirrel.  He made a run for it, but because of the rate at which we were traveling, and our positions relative to one another, somehow my legs were swept out from behind me, and I landed on the pavement, the back of my head breaking the fall.  I honestly cannot remember now if it was his legs or the leash that did it; it’s all kind of a haze.  But I can still remember the sound my head made as it struck the concrete, and it makes me cringe, I feel a little bit ill, and my legs still tingle when I think about it.  The pain was instantaneous.

I dropped the leash, but the dog wasn’t leaving my side.  That squirrel was long gone and forgotten.  He began licking at my arms and legs (I’d like to think it was by way of apology and provision of comfort).  Fortunately, another runner was out that morning, keeping pace about twenty or thirty steps behind.

“Don’t move.  That was a really bad fall you just took.”

I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted to at that point.  Not without help, anyway.  The most I could do was put my hands to my head and try to apply some pressure to stop the bleeding (and I hoped, the pain).  He flagged down a passing motorist and briefly explained what happened.  They called for an ambulance.

She introduced herself.  I didn’t recall her name, but later came to learn it was Donna.  She was wearing a necklace.

“I know you don’t know me.  But I’m a good person; I was just on my way to church.  I am going to take your dog for you.  I have a daughter who loves dogs; he’s going to be fine.  Is there someone we can call for you?”

There was no one to call.  My family lives out of state.  I couldn’t think of a single person to contact.  At least not immediately.  Eventually I was able to provide the name of a friend, and instructions for how to access her contact information from my phone.  Which required providing access information to my house.  All of which I gladly dispensed.  To a complete stranger.  As I lay bleeding on the sidewalk, unable to move, and having an increasingly difficult time thinking or speaking coherently.

Another driver stopped.  I don’t recall her name either.

“I’m ___________.  I’m a doctor.  What is your name?  Do you remember what day it is?  How many fingers am I holding up?”

I blinked and the paramedics were there.  They asked if they could take out the braid on the left side of my head to get a better look at my injury.  They washed the wound, apologizing for the pain.  All I felt was refreshing, cool liquid.  And pain.  But not from that.  This pain was emanating from inside my head.  And my arm.  They noticed the abrasions and cleaned and bandaged the arm.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?”  “No.”

“You are an adult.  We can’t make you go.”

“I think you should go and get checked out.”

“Do you want us to call someone to take you to the hospital?”  “No.”

“Do you want someone to take you home?”  “No.”

Honestly, I just wanted to lie there on the sidewalk until the pain went away.  But the pain wasn’t going away.  It was getting worse.  Every minute it seemed to be worse.  Only now it wasn’t the pain in the back of my head.  It was pressure building in the front of my head.  I wanted everyone to stop asking me questions and trying to make me make decisions for myself.  I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry.  I wanted to go to sleep.

It felt like there were about thirty people gathered around.  I couldn’t keep the voices straight.

“Do you think you can stand up?”  “No.”

Because I’d stated that I didn’t want to go to the hospital, there was one attempt to get me to sit up (in preparation to stand, I assume).  As soon as we tried, I knew I was going to the emergency room.  The whole world looked gray, and I felt sick.  I would not be upright again that day.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?”  “No.  But yes.”

As they were getting ready to put me in the ambulance, I remembered something important.

“I have another dog.  He hasn’t been outside yet.”

“I’ll take care of him.”  That was Donna.

“He will bark, but he is really friendly; he just doesn’t know how to communicate.  He loves people.  He hates other dogs.  Except for that one.  They are fine together.”

I thought about trying to explain how to feed them, and where the food was, but I couldn’t make the thoughts coalesce.  If I could just take a nap, I’d be fine.

It is really uncomfortable to be strapped to a board.  I mean, beyond the general discomfort created by a throbbing skull.  It puts a lot of pressure on your lower back to have your legs strapped down with no way of bending your knees.  They tried to give me oxygen.  That was uncomfortable, too.  Clearly no one in that ambulance was worried about my overall comfort except me.  They kept talking and asking questions.  I wanted them to stop so I could drift off to sleep.  But they didn’t.

“We’re about ten minutes away.  I just called the hospital; they are expecting us.  We just have about seven minutes to go.  We will be there in three minutes.”

Time was passing really fast.

“Is this your name?”  Something was wrong with it.  I don’t recall what, but I must have figured it out because the wrist band was correct when I saw it later.

“Can you please turn off the lights?”

I blinked twice and my friend was there.  She had my purse.  But my new insurance card wasn’t in it.  It was sitting on my desk.  She read to me.  I couldn’t focus.  There was too much pressure in my head, but it was comforting to hear.

“I’m going to stitch up your head.”

“Really?  You are going to stitch it before you take her for a CT scan?  Does that even make sense?”

“Hold on.”

The nurse left the room.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that’s very smart of them.  Your head is still swelling.”

I honestly didn’t care what they did to me, but I was glad to find I had an advocate when she spoke up.  I had clearly thought of the right contact.

“You can stitch a water balloon, too, for all the good it will do.”

The nurse came back.

“We’re not going to stitch.  We’re going to take her for the CT scan first.”

“Good.”

They took me for the CT scan; I was shivering, and it was hard to hold still.  Just when I started to drift off, it was finished and they were taking me back to the room.  I was so cold.  I couldn’t get comfortable.  My eyes wouldn’t stop watering, and I couldn’t make myself stop whimpering.  I was so hot.

They gave me Vicodin, and something for nausea.  I expected the discomfort to ease, but it didn’t.  And the pressure kept getting worse.

“On a scale of one to ten; how would you rate the pain?”

“Not…pain… Pressure.  There’s so much pressure!”

Results came back.  Soft tissue hematoma; no subcutaneous bleeds.  Concussion.  Follow-up with a specialist in a week.  Discharge instructions.  Mumbling.  Prescriptions to be filled.

“When can I run again?  When can I go back to Krav Maga?”  Yeah.  I have priorities.

“You’re sending her home?!  She lives alone.”

“The CT scan was clear; she just needs some rest.  She should start to feel normal in 24-48 hours.”

I didn’t.

The drive home was a nightmare.  Why did they pick the new hospital?  It was so far away from my house.  Wave after wave of nausea washed over me.  I wanted to tell my friend to pull over so I could throw up and lie in the grass.  All I could manage to say was that I felt sick.  I tried rolling down the window; surely fresh air would help.  It didn’t.  The air was hot.  I asked her to blast the A/C, and I reclined the chair and blocked my eyes from the sun.  Why are there so many speed bumps in my complex?  Why do I live on the second floor?

My friend and my home teachers from church helped me to my house.  I collapsed on the couch.  My friend busied herself making arrangements for me.  One friend came and stayed the first twenty-four hours, diligently waking me every hour or so to ensure I was still conscious.  Donna brought my dog back.  The women from church brought in meals all week.  Freshly baked bread, chicken pot pie, salad, pizza, enchiladas, bagels… only I couldn’t taste or smell any of it.  People took turns walking my dogs.  My co-worker came every day with his daughter and walked the dogs and brought me lunch.  My neighbor came in every morning before work and took the dogs out.  My dad came to town and spent several days with me, and took care of my boys.  Not quite the vacation he’d envisioned.

My blinds were closed and blankets hung from the windows to block out the light.  I couldn’t watch television or look at my phone or computer.  It hurt my head too much.  Sometimes I listened to television with my eyes closed just to pass the time.  For the first week, I just wanted to sleep all the time anyway.  I averaged 18 hours a day for about four days.  My speech was slow.  My thoughts were slow.  Apparently I knocked the ADHD right out of my head (temporarily).

When I walked my dogs for the first time, I noticed signs of spring growing in the grass and catalogued them as “white purples, and yellow purples, and blue purples, and purple purp…”  Uh oh.  That’s not right.  Flowers, not purples.  Flowers was the word I was looking for, but didn’t notice until I doubled up on the purples.

Thoughts that seemed clear in my mind were impossible to articulate.  Even simple thoughts.  I almost gave up trying to schedule a follow-up appointment because it was so difficult to express myself.  Fortunately, as I was calling the concussion center, they were quite adept at filling in the blanks.

Strangest of all was the effect on my senses of smell and taste.  I could smell bacon cooking, but I could not taste it.  I could taste bleu cheese in my salad, but I could not smell it.  Both senses were extremely muted.  I could typically identify whether I was eating something sweet or savory, but I could not identify any subtleties of flavor.  It took all of the fun out of eating.

A week later I followed up with a specialist.  He administered some tests, which very clearly confirmed that I have a brain injury.  It’s not my first.  The last one did not have the extreme physical symptoms and affected very different regions of my brain.  Follow-up testing since has shown that my brain is healing, and the doctor expects a full and complete recovery.

It’s been about three weeks.  I still have a knot on my head and I’m still pulling dried blood out of my hair.  Sometimes I still get lost in the middle of a sentence or my thoughts stutter.  Too much light can occasionally create headache waves behind my eyes.  My reaction scores are still too low for me to drive safely.  But I am beyond fortunate.  Not just in my recovery, but in the entire sequence of events.  I have run that route many times before and never encountered another person.  I would not have been visible from the road where I fell, so unless they’d noticed the dog and stopped to investigate, it’s unlikely a driver would have seen me.

I can write thank you cards to the many friends and neighbors who provided service and assistance to me, although words alone are hardly sufficient thanks.  I simply could not have taken care of myself or my dogs on my own.

But it’s those first strangers I wish I could meet again to express my gratitude.  Sadly, I would never recognize them.  I could see them when I am out on a walk with my boys, and I would never know it; maybe I already have.  They were my guardian angels that day.  Good Samaritans who set the wheels in motion that allowed me to get the care I needed so I could heal.  I didn’t know them, but I trusted and relied on them; I had no choice.  I needed them.  They are very special to me.  Even though I cannot remember what they look like, and I don’t know their names, I will never forget how they helped me.

Thank you, Running Man.  Thank you, Donna.  Thank you, Doctor.

 

 

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