My friend Gina says she likes telling me things because I’m a good listener. My theory is that this means that I’m overly interested in other people’s business, and fully aware that I have no idea what anyone should do in any situation, so I don’t offer much in the way of advice.
Another reason I don’t offer advice: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any that I really wanted to hear, especially if it was right. For example, when I was single and blue, a lot of people told me that I would meet someone when I least expected it. And then I would roar like King Kong and pull their underpants over their head and tie a knot in the waistband. I mean, doy, right? Just try not thinking about that shit when you’re lonely.
However, just because it sucked to hear it doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. Recent evidence of this: the Marine, aka Sgt Lucky. (BTW, the new nickname is a pun on his real-life last name, not an editorial comment on his good fortune in snagging yours truly.)
We met on the Match.com, as you do, and agreed to go get some coffee. I was in the midst of an “oh, fuck it” dating spree. I had told a friend, a few days before, that I was actually sort of enjoying dating, and didn’t really feel like I even wanted a boyfriend.
Her response? “Ha, ha, ha! Now you’ll fall in love.”
Sgt Lucky showed up apologizing for being late, due to traffic and parking. I assured him that was fine, probably stammering. My very first thought was, “This guy is way too good looking to be after anything serious, and that is totally OK.” I am not kidding when I tell you this was the single best-looking guy I had ever been on a date with, never mind one set up through Match.com. I figured he had to be out for ass, or possibly some sort of military-themed male prostitute hired by Coworker Dennis to cheer me up. Just in case, I started thinking about really nice presents to get Dennis for his upcoming birthday.
Lucky sat down and looked at my green tea, and then at the bar we were sitting at, and then at my green tea. “Do they … serve alcohol here?”
“Oh. Yeah. They do.”
“Do you want an actual drink?”
Did I. I needed it. The other option was to start blurting out, “You have a terribly dashing scar under your left eye, and also, I commend you on having just a touch of silver hair, which is quite distinguished. Incidentally, could you, say, bench press me, if you needed to? I know! Let’s try that out right now and see.”
So, actual drinks commenced, and actual conversation. I remembered that the reason I’d agreed to break my rule about dating younguns had to do with the charm of his emails, not his pretty pretty face, and started to relax. The emails had included wide-ranging subjects such as zombies and phrenology (of which my nephew is a skilled practitioner) and were so well-written and enthusiastic that I found it hard to believe he was even on Match to begin with.
Thanksgiving arrived just in time for my panic attacks. Several dates in, I was in that state where you’re thinking that it might be a good idea to get on a bus and move to another state, and also wondering if he has decided he hates you, because it’s been an hour since his last text.
“I need serious drugs,” I told Gina. She lives in the same town as my folks, conveniently enough, and we hung out on the last day of my break, mostly to talk about boys and read tarot cards – which amounts to talking about boys, when you and your friend are both dating new people.
Gina flipped over a couple cards and smiled at me. She tapped one of them, a knight. “Dudes are usually kings, but I think maybe this is him, because he’s younger than you are and because he’s a soldier. And, oh, I like this guy.”
“Yeah. Me too. That’s why I really have to move.”
“No, I don’t think you have to. No, I don’t think you do at all.” She squinted at the cards again, touching each one in sequence. “I don’t think this guy is going to want to own you.”
Believe in this stuff or don’t, it makes no difference to me, but I’ll tell you, there’s no denying the smartitudinousness of your friends who’ve seen you through several dating iterations.
“This is a very romantic guy,” she went on. “Wow. Very romantic. And not bullshit, either. He’s a gentleman, like gentlemen used to be.”
“He is. He’s a door opener and a flower bringer. It’s so wonderful, I’m totally sure that he’s a narc and doesn’t know I can’t smoke pot or I have to go the hospital.”
“That’s the real thing: It’s all just fear. But no, this is a good guy. I like this guy. Maybe you can calm down and give this a chance.” She looked dreamy for a minute. “What would it be like to date a guy who treats you like that? I think it would be the most wonderful thing.”
Some weeks later, I can tell you that it is. For example, I just received the following text: “Re: Wednesday night, why don’t I just prepare dinner while you see [your shrink]?”
If any of you hired him, don’t tell me. Just let me live with my illusions.