There are three types of guys who are attracted to my online profile:
1) Old-enough-to-be-my-father Guys
2) Not-a-snowball's-chance-in-hell Guys
3) The Geek Squad
Seeing as the latter is least threatening, that seems to be who I end up going out with. I swear, it is not on purpose. In fact, if you know of any nice, normal men who are not socially challenged, please send them my way. I'm begging you! Until then, I am at the mercy of the interweb.
Arnold is a computer specialist from Long Island. I know this because every photo he has posted takes place in his cubicle in front of a computer. Warning sign #1??? He had messaged me early last year with "Hi, nice pictures. I really enjoyed your profile. Would love to know more about you." We exchanged a few emails about me being a writer, his job at the local cable company, how we went to nearby high schools and that we only live a few towns apart. I took some time off from fishing the online seas, thus we stopped chatting.
Arnold shot me a message six months later with the same exact opening line. Alright, I get it. We live in a cut and paste society. But at least have the decency to remember me?
And if the third time is the charm, he sent that same email just a few weeks ago but this time, I had to call him out. "We've talked already. Twice. You don't remember me?" He apologized and looking back over his inbox (which could not possibly have been that full) he said he did recall our "pleasant conversations." He's nice enough and I am trying to keep an open mind so I agree to meet him.
I regret my decision thirty seconds in the door.
We meet up at a Starbucks between our two towns. I had to message him the physical address cause he "doesn't get out that way much." Really? It's less than a ten minute drive. Turns out, he drives to and from work. That's it. Everything else he needs is right there on his neighborhood's main street. Groceries, drug store, bank, gas station, pizza place, even the local ice cream shop. He's been going to those places his entire life and sees no reason to change. I've driven four hours for lobster bisque. I sense a conflict in lifestyles immediately.
Still, I am rather intent on making the best of the situation. I walk in with my head held high, take a deep breath and greet Arnold who is already nervously waiting at a table for me. He stands to say hello and we get caught in one of those moments where you're not sure whether to hug (is this a real date?) or shake hands (is this a business meeting?) or do we avoid physical contact altogether (seems a bit sterile?) Arnold goes in for a one-armed hug (middle-ground) which is when he smells my hair.
Yes, you read that right: He took a good, long sniff of my hair. Who does that?!?!
Dear God, Please get me through this night. You can have me in the morning. Love, Kim
Once I was safely on the other side of the table (and my hair was out of his aural range) I noticed his glasses. They weren't just glasses, you see. They were bifocals. Do 33 year old men actually need bifocals?
Oh no, I'm going to hell. The bifocals were distracting me from his lazy eye. I don't know where to look now. I don't know where to look!!!
Receding hairline. Focus on the receding hairline so you don't stare at the bifocals. Or the lazy eye. Seriously, Kimberly, stop staring!
Why does he have four layers of clothes on? I see a t-shirt under a collared shirt under a sweater under a jacket. Is he preparing for nuclear winter? It's fifty something degrees out. Who wears that many clothes indoors? It's likely a gland problem. Do not think about it. Do not think about it. Do not think about it.
Ask about him. His work. His life.
"Well, I am very excited because I just moved out on my own. I got an apartment down the block from my parents house where I've been living for thirty-three years."
Do. Not. Laugh.
"I mean, it's really hard because there's all sorts of stuff I'm not used to doing on my own but it's also really fun too. I'm learning how to cook!"
Oh, that's great, I love cooking! We can talk about food. What was the last thing you cooked?
Oh, like a gourmet hamburger with herbs or special cheeses?
"No, I took it out of the package and threw it on the Foreman Grill. I put ketchup on it though."
Oh. My. God.
"I do like going out to eat sometimes."
Really? What's your favorite restaurant?
"Applebee's. Maybe I could take you there sometime."
Work, ask about work!
"Blah blah blah computer stuff blah blah blah technology blah blah blah scientific terms for things blah blah blah information is fascinating blah blah blah"
I don't understand anything he just said. Nor, I realize, do I care.
"I do have vacation this week for my absolute favorite holiday!"
Oh really? What's that?
"My birthday. Sure wish I had someone special to celebrate it with."
"So, Kimberly, you studied theatre in college?"
Yes, my degree is in stage management and directing.
"And then you lived in England?"
Yes, I worked in the West End of London on several major productions there.
"So then you came home to teach drama?"
Yes, I taught theatre to elementary school students in the afternoons.
"So then you became a pre-school teacher?"
Yes, I taught pre-school during the day and went back for my Early Childhood Education Master's at night.
"So now you're writing a book?"
Wait a second. This is sounding very interview-ish. He clearly studied my profile and reviewed all the conversations we'd previously had and is just going through them.
And that's when it happened: He'd been holding his drink in his right hand the entire conversation. But when he switched hands, the cup was covered in blue ink when he put it down.
He had a cheat sheet written on his hand.
Text to mom: HELP
My mother (God bless her!!!) called me in under a minute.
*Please note: The part of MOM shall be read with flat amusement. The part of ME shall be read with feigned horror and sympathy.*
Me: Mom, hi, is everything ok???
Mom: Hi honey, this is your rescue call.
Me: Oh no! Is he alright?
Mom: That bad, huh?
Me: Oh that's awful. Poor thing.
Mom: You really need to get out of there, don't you?
Me: I'm out on a date right now. Nobody else can come help?
Mom: I can't wait to hear about this one when you get home.
Me: Yes, of course I'll go. But you'll have to apologize to Arnold for interrupting our lovely coffee date.
Mom: Your brother wants to hear about it too.
Me: Yes, mom. I'm on my way. Yes, right now. I love you.
Mom: Love you too. Now run away from the scary man! And don't let him follow your car.
With this, the girl sitting across from us starts laughing. She shoots me a look that says RESCUE CALL. It's awesome that she and the barista mopping the floor and the guy looking up from his newspaper winking at me knows. I just really hope Arnold doesn't figure it out.
"Hey, is everything ok?"
Yes, of course. I'm so sorry I had to answer that. My mother would never call if it wasn't an emergency.
"Oh no. What's wrong?"
***Crap. I forgot to think of an actual excuse. All that time on the phone and I didn't have an escape route planned! I've literally never used a rescue call before. What do I do? What do I do?***
My brother. Locked himself out of his car and it's running.
"Your mom can't go get him?"
No, her car is in the shop. I have to go home and get his spare keys. I'm so sorry. Families. What can you do?
"That's a shame. Ok, well maybe we can do this again Friday? That's my birthday."
Ummm, why don't we talk about it later? I really have to run.
"Thanks for a great first date."
Which is when I realize he means first date ever...
I am a bad, bad person.