For a matchmaker, nothing is so frustrating as a match gone awry. You wonder where you went wrong. You question your instincts. You begin to doubt your time tested talents.
Fortunately, my Colleague's Nona was already six feet under, so I'm hoping that she never knew the match she made for me didn't go according to schedule. Six months passed without a word from My Future Husband. Either he knew I existed and didn't bother calling me, or he didn't know I existed and it simply wasn't meant to be.
This was not good enough for my Colleague.
"I can't believe him! I can't believe he hasn't called! What's wrong with him that he hasn't called!" (I'm using all exclamation points here because she's Sicilian. Every sentence ends with an exclamation point, even her questions.)
"Forget that guy. I will find you a new guy, a better guy." I thanked her but said she'd have to wait in line. By this point, every woman in my office was fighting to set me up with their thirtysomething year old son, their son's friend, the nice man who owns the bagel place down the block, or the florist who serves our building. "He'd always bring you home a nice bouquet!"
My favorite offer from a co-worker came when she mentioned "quite a handsome gentleman I saw on Jeopardy last night. He was very smart and well dressed, and now we know he has money too. Want me to call ABC and find out if he's single?"
*Note: ABC does not release the relationship status of any contestants on their shows. Trust me. I've tried.
The only thing more determined than a pit bull with a new bone is a Sicilian matchmaker with a wedding on her mind so there was no use trying to stop my Colleague from setting me up again. She came back a few days later with "the perfect guy" for me. "He is single, never married, loves his nieces and nephews, wants kids, has his own business and just bought a little house around the corner from me. It's a great school system. You can move in and we'll have neighborhood block parties and by the time you have babies, my kids will be old enough to babysit them and we can go on double dates with you and your husband."
It was both reassuring and terrifying that she had recommended teachers for my kindergartener before I had a kindergartener. She practically bought my imaginary children backpacks for their first day at school before I married this man, or went on a date with him, or even knew his name. I tend to try a guy's last name on for size on the first date...you know, just to see how it fits. But she took the future planning to a whole new level. Thank God there is someone else out there as crazy as I am! (Again, you can see why I love her?)
I asked my Colleague how she knew this man and she admitted she hadn't actually met him herself yet "but he came very highly recommended from a friend of a friend." I asked for a more detailed explanation. "Well I was talking to my neighbor about how great you are with my kids and how sad it is that you're single" (I chose to ignore this sentiment for the time being) "and how you want kids of your own and I asked if she knew any available men! She didn't know anyone but she said that her friend is always on the lookout for a great girl for her brother because he's very successful and doesn't want to settle for anyone less than amazing and that's perfect for you!"
Just so you followed that: He's my Colleague's Neighbor's Friend's Brother. We shall call him CNFB for short.
Colleague took a few more days to send me his photo with the text "He's so tall! I am totally feeling him for you already! Have fun!"
I, sadly, was not "feeling him" for me at all. I know it's harsh to judge a person based on one image. It seems unfair as a photo can be deceptively flattering or truly awful. But why would my Colleague's Neighbor's Friend send an awful picture of her Brother on purpose? He wasn't smiling, he was kind of slouched, and he just looked generally miserable despite the fact that it was a picture of him on his birthday. There was even cake! Colleague was right that he was tall, but I couldn't find a single redeeming quality about him besides that. Also, his arms were covered in barbed wire tattoos.
1994 called. They want their ink back.
Texting CNFB was a total dead end. He would reply with one or two word answers to anything I asked which frustrated the crap out of me. When we finally spoke on the phone, he had about as much personality as a wet mop. He was clearly roped into this date just as much as I was (thanks to pressure from his undoubtedly overbearing sister) and he wasn't thrilled at the prospect of going out with a girl he'd never met.
CNFB is a plumber with his own business which keeps him pretty busy. When he's not plunging toilets, he's fixing his hot rods in the garage, hitting the gym for an hour and a half every day, hanging out at car shows, or watching football. He is very close with his family and lives next door to them. No, seriously. That house he bought in the great school district? It's literally next door to his mom and dad (aka the house he grew up in), around the corner from his sister, only a few blocks away from his brother.
CNFB tells me that he is better looking that his photograph. He doesn't know what his sister sent me, but not to worry, he's really good looking in person. (Who says that???) He says that he saw my picture and I don't look Italian. I explain that my mother is German, so I'm tall with blonde hair like her. What he really wanted to know about was my Italian heritage, my family, and how I made my lasagna. (He likes meat sauce and lots of it, in case you're wondering.) He knows how to cook but he doesn't do it for himself. What's the point when his mom and sister are so close and always have leftovers?
Red flags, red flags, red flags!
Not wanting to appear ungrateful to my Colleague for the set up, and knowing I would never hear the end of it if I didn't show, we met for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. She called me three times that morning but I let it go to voicemail. I figured I would call her back when I had something to tell her.
He suggested we go to TGI Friday's near his house, a half hour away from mine. At least it isn't Applebee's. (Don't even get me started!) I agreed partially because I just want to get this date over with and partially because I love Sesame Jack Chicken Strips and Mozzarella Sticks. (Who doesn't?) I planned to drown my blind date sorrows in fried foods and sticky sweet sauces while pretending I was remotely interested in a man who has nothing interesting to say.
First of all, CNFB shows up to our date in a t shirt. Not just a t shirt. A t shirt that's at least one size too small, dirty, and has sweat stains on it. He admits to not having changed after hitting the gym that morning. "Wanted to keep things casual." I use all of my energy not punching him in the gut.
He ordered more food for himself than I could eat in a whole day (and it's only lunchtime!) He told me that he picked Friday's because he "wasn't that hungry. Just came from pasta at my sister's where we were all watching the game." I really love when guys refer to "the game" as though I know which game they're talking about. It's the crossover between lingering baseball season and just starting up football season so how am I supposed to know which game he's talking about? Also, I realized that he chose Friday's not just for his supposed lack of appetite (which is a blatant lie by the way) but even more so for their big screen televisions showing "the game" on all four sides of the room.
I could count on one hand the number of times he made eye contact with me. When he wasn't watching "the game" past my head, he was being rude to the waitress or scarfing down massive quantities of unhealthy meat and carbohydrates. Also, CNFB has a glaring distaste for napkin use. He prefers to lick whatever drips onto his hands off to clean them, or wipe them on his jeans. Who wants to lick plumber hands?
I ask CNFB about his job, which launched him into a list of commercial "gigs" he has going on at the moment. Most notably, he has plumbing contracts with a few gyms he belongs to and some night clubs in the area. This segues into a conversation about the worst things that he's had to plunge out of a toilet or a sink, and how a nightclub bathroom looks on a Saturday or Sunday morning after the crowd leaves. I will spare you the details and wish he had done the same for me. Suffice it to say that I do not enjoy any date where vomit is a topic of conversation.
Wanting to get the hell away from that debacle, I ask about his tattoos. He has a symbol on each arm. He points to one and says "That means pride" and points to the other one and says "That means respect." He then takes a minute to say "Or the other way around. I don't really remember." Wait, you don't know what the permanent ink on your body represents??? "They're Chinese or Japanese or something. I wanted tattoos with meaning."
He wanted tattoos with meaning but he doesn't know what they mean? Somebody please shoot me.
I then ask about the barbed wire around his forearms. "Oh yeah, usually barbed wire means you served prison time. I never did prison time. I just thought they were cool." Yeah, cause felonies are totally enviable! "Everybody was getting them around their biceps, but I wanted to be different. That's why I got them around my forearms." His logic is impenetrable.
He tells me about the full back tattoo he has, a few on his calf, and one across his chest. He's really glad he got talked out of "the neck tattoo [he] always wanted." The last one he shows off is peeking out at me from under the short, tight sleeve of his dirty, sweaty t shirt. What's that one? I ask. "Oh, it's a monkey in handcuffs." I don't even want to know.
Just when I think he's finally finished stuffing his face with greasy fast food, he (rudely) asks the waitress for a coffee with milk and sugar. I ask him if he has any questions for me. Is there anything you want to know about me? "No, I have a pretty good idea of who you are," he replies. "How do you make your lasagna again?"
I go to the bathroom and send out the rescue call text to my besties. "Stuck at Friday's with rude moron who has a tattoo of a monkey in handcuffs. Send help."
One friend writes back "Hell no. I wanna see how this one plays out. That is a writing gold mine right there!"
Another friend writes back "He took you to to Friday's? He's not getting a second date!"
And my third friend writes back "Monkey in Handcuffs? Think I just found the inspiration for my next tattoo!"
I return to the table at the same time as our poor waitress (who I plan on leaving a sizable tip for, poor thing.) I watch CNFB spill half of his coffee into his empty coke glass, fill the mug with milk, and dump in seven sugar substitute packets. SEVEN.
I have to know. I can't hold this one in. Why the fuck would anyone dump SEVEN sugar substitute packets into a half cup of coffee? "I don't really like the taste of coffee. I only drink it because I like all those flavored creamers they have now at the supermarkets. But they don't have any flavored creamers here, so I figured really sweet with a lot of milk would be about the same. It's not."
But if you don't like coffee without creamer, why did you order coffee in the first place?
"I wanted to stay a little longer. It's almost halftime."
I do not have the heart to call my Colleague on the way home and debrief her on the date. I collapse into a pile of laughter induced tears on the phone with my mother as I drive out of the parking lot. My streak of dating losers will clearly not be broken any time soon, but at least it's blog material.
In the office on Monday morning, my Colleague rushes up to my desk looking panicked. "Are you okay!" she asks me. "Tell me you didn't go out with him! Please tell me you didn't go out with him!" I tell her that I did, in fact, go out with him and thank her for the set up but I will not be going out with him again. "I tried calling you! I tried warning you!" she exclaims. Warning me??? "I ran into another friend of the friend of the neighbor and told her I set you up with him and she told me he's the biggest A-Hole she's ever met and how could I possibly do that to you! I'm so sorry! I feel terrible!" She takes a deep breath as I laugh at the memory of our awful, awful date, deciding to spare her the details. "I'll do your work for a week!" she promises. "Just so I know though, what was the worst part?" I tell her that he has a tattoo of a Monkey In Handcuffs.
"Forget it," she says, "I'll do your work for a month!"