Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

November 22, 2011

Take Off an Inch

This week, I gave an inch. Literally.

Height has always been one of my dealbreakers. I think it started in middle school when I realized I'd rather slow dance with a boy while resting my cheek on his chest, smelling the fresh Tide detergent on his Local Motion surfer t-shirt (still my favorite "cologne"), instead of gazing down at the top of his head feeling like an Amazon freak.

I guiltily recall spending one 7th grade dance trying to avoid little JT as he rustled up the courage to ask me to dance. Eventually all that evasion led me right into the arms of the 5'9" new kid from "Wis-kaan-sin" wearing a freshly washed white t-shirt and enough new-to-California innocence to accept my dance invitation disguised as an escape plea because he still hadn't figured out that a boy of his caliber could skip right past the brunettes and land himself a cute California blonde. (He ultimately figured it out.)

At this point in life, I'm humbled and realistic enough to know that arbitrary boundaries such as these are never helpful, and may be potentially harmful. So, while I continue to seek out men in the higher altitudes, I still give every guy who seeks me out a fair evaluation.

And that's how I ended up going out with two men in one week who fell one solid inch below my previously stated 5'9" minimum. Without that bit of unfortunate data, both men seemed interesting, smart, funny, and attractive enough to jump to the top of my (very small) pile of emails. This is not a town where men of this caliber present themselves frequently. The "cream of the crop" in San Diego is a shirtless outdoor enthusiast looking for a 26-year-old blonde to go jogging with before they head to a Chargers game. God help me. Am I supposed to let a rare non-Diegan get away because of one lousy inch?

Sunday I had brunch with Globetrotter, a boyish father of two, who's clearly enamored by intelligent, expressive women (also a rarity in San Diego) and who's managed to make a respectable living doing something for the betterment of society. Oh, and he's half Indian. Award: Bonus inch.

Last night I had ramen and sake with Fuzzy, a mid-40s Midwestern Jew with a sarcastic streak and a soft spot for his hairless dog named, you guessed it, Fuzzy. Oh, and he's tried out every hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant in town and is willing to give me the highlights. Award: Bonus inch.

Both dates went fine. Well, fine enough to know I didn't hate them, which is all you should realistically expect to find out on a blind date. You can also gauge any immediate sexual chemistry, though I have to admit that, for me, a strong sexual attraction to a complete stranger usually means trouble.

I have to say, both men were very different, and each brought out a different side of my personality. Globetrotter had me trying to be my best. Not trying to impress him necessarily, but not plopping down and putting my feet up either. Subtlety has never been my strong suit, so it's strange when I find myself trying to behave with any shades of it. So this was an change for me, and not an entirely unwelcome one. After all, prematurely claiming familiarity hasn't exactly gotten me very far, has it?

Fuzzy brought out the New Yorker in me, long buried under California surf and sand after all these years. We made wisecracks. We swapped war stories. We drank strong sake and slurped ramen. Not exactly romance novel material, but the rapport was something I missed from my New York days, even if it only seemed to generate unhealthy relationships for me at the time.

In all honesty, I hadn't thought too much about either date until I sat down and started writing about them after a few too many swigs on the sake bottle. First dates with complete strangers don't deserve too much analyzing. At this point I'm viewing them as successful attempts to get myself out of the house and practice my conversation skills, maybe make a friend or two. If I'm lucky, I'll get lucky.

In other words, I'll start overanalyzing after the second dates, both of which seem to be a strong possiblity -- as is a first date with an honest to God six-footer.

Happy Thanksgiving! Dismissed.

November 4, 2011

Indian Redheads

I had every intention of meeting up with Wisconsin Red tonight. Especially after being cheered on by several persuasive readers in my last post (thanks pollycharlie, bella and mimi). But when I woke up this morning and saw it was blustering rain outside, I wondered how much I really wanted to rush around on the wet freeways, first home from work to walk my dog, then back across town to the bar he picked (a good one).

But I was still ready to rally throughout the first half of the day, until I had to walk from a distant parking lot on to campus with a crappy umbrella. I had stayed home from work the day before and still wasn't feeling well, so by the end of the day, soggy and chilled, I reconsidered my plans.

Welcome to my perfect Friday night. I stopped at the killer ramen place for a heavenly bowl of spicy miso tofu pork noodle goodness, brought it home to my happy pup, hopped in my flannel PJs and caught up on my Thursday night shows on Hulu (thank you "Modern Family" for "The Gift of the Vagi"--best line ever).

But before it could be a truly perfect evening, I had to come here to confess my cowardliness. Yes, all that stuff about me not feeling well, the rain, etc was true, but I also got scared -- and I don't get scared often.

It's not that I haven't gotten over Wine Guy, but that, for the first time, I feel protective of myself. Of my life. Of my freedom. Before I was more than happy to give it all away just to have the "marriage and child" box checked on my report card. Clearly I didn't value my own existence all that much.

Apparently I do now, a little. And since I've never dated under these circumstances, I'm afraid that I might once again compromise myself away so I can still make it under the "normal" wire. I don't want to do that, but judging by how upset I got when I found out Wisconsin Red wasn't a realistic option, I still don't trust my instincts.

Basically, I kinda freaked out and let myself off the hook. I think I'm OK with it. Hope you are too (not that care what you think, dammit :-)

The good news is, OKCupid is still coughing up some interesting possibilities, including a 27 year old, 6'1" Indian guy who asked, after telling me how much he liked what I said in my profile, if I would consider "dating a younger guy." Oh, and he actually lives here. Uh, hell yeah. (If I could just find an Indian redhead, I'd be in love).

Thank you for your patience.


November 2, 2011

Lighten Up

I get that love is fleeting. But can't it at least last longer than "The Daily Show?"

Upon the advice of friends and a few of my faithful readers, I waded into the world of free online dating -- OK Cupid. The first few days were refreshing in that at least a few men contacted me. Granted, they were with messages from shirtless creeps who felt compelled to say, "Hey sexy"-- and nothing else, but at least it was some acknowledgment of my existence.

The distasteful attention tapered a bit once the sleaze bags realized I wasn't interested, so I decided to do a little tinkering with my profile. Mostly I wanted to lighten it up. Sure, I'd love to find "the one," but right now I really would be happy with the right here, right now. Someone to flirt with, have a drink with, maybe smooch. Once I did the necessary tweaks--and changed my answer for "Want kids?" from "Yes" to "Not sure"--I got a few bites. But still, nothing firm.

Tonight I decided to do some browsing and found the closest thing to my dream guy in years. Tall, moderately nerdy, in constant pursuit of knowledge and discovery, funny bordering on dorky, etc. He even has red hair, something I kind of have a thing for (I blame Richie Cunningham).

Before I even realized it, I was sending him an email and he replied shortly thereafter. Within 10 minutes we had a date for drinks this Friday night. After another 5 minutes he responded to my very first email in total surprise. It seems we both thought we'd emailed each other "first" and the other person was just responding. In reality, we probably emailed each other at the exact same moment. He saw my initial email only after we'd made a date.

The kind of story to tell the grand kids one day right? I was so excited (a feeling I haven't experienced in relation to dating in more than four years) that I called my mom to tell her some good news for a change. Suddenly, Friday night was something to look forward to again.

I finally settled down to watch last night's Daily Show and, when I got bored with the Condoleeza Rice interview, I picked up my phone and saw a new message from my red-headed cutie. In an earlier email he mentioned he was leaving town on Saturday so a Friday night date would work. In passing, and mostly as a joke, I responded "I assume your trip is for vacation or work and you're not moving out of town?"

His answer was even worse than I jokingly predicted -- and apparently in his profile all along, something I clearly missed while eagerly reading his charming self-description. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is here on business, just for the week.

It's my own fault. In my attempt to "lighten up" my profile, I pretty much say, "Hey, what's the harm in meeting for a drink and having some good conversation?" He took me up on that suggestion and seems sincere about it (and too dorky to be just looking to get laid while he's in town). Before Stephen Colbert could crack his first joke, my dating mojo was left in a burning heap.

But I think I'm still going to meet him for that drink. It's not like I have a lot of other offers from eligible local men. Any thoughts out there from the troops?