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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Love stinks...and splats.

Last week Groupon advertised a deal from a company that specializes in matchmaking.  For a mere $65, Washington area singles could buy a month's worth of the company's expertise in arranging targeted introductions.  I deleted the offer but then wondered whether I'd dumped it too soon as I reviewed my relationship resume.  The entries from 1996 - 2009 revealed a tendency to pursue men whose availability varied inversely with their charisma.  The most recent blurb is a marriage of such misery and brevity that it can only be labeled a "non-starter."

For the last year or so I've sat on the sidelines of dating, essentially on injured reserve.  Yet this status wasn't enough to shield me from an ugly crash last November with a player who stepped out of bounds and didn't stop running even after he collided with the bench.

I had made plans to meet my friend, M, for dinner at a nice restaurant in Fairfax, preceded by a dreaded hair appointment.  The haircut took far less time than expected (and the stylist produced superhuman results), so I found myself with 45 minutes of free time.  I decided to go to the restaurant early and start reading a guidebook I'd bought in preparation for an upcoming trip to Germany.

The restaurant's rectangular bar had four empty seats in a row so I made a beeline for that section, grabbed the stool furthest from other patrons and opened my guidebook.  I hadn't even reached "Berlin" in the Table of Contents when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Excuse me, can I sit here?" asked a man of average height and build with thick, silvering hair and blue-green eyes.  He pointed at the stool right next to me.  I didn't want a neighbor but had no right or reason to say "no."  I nodded.

"I'm Rob," he said.  He appeared to be nice, as much as you can read that from looks alone. Perhaps because of that I made the rookie mistake of introducing myself using my actual first name. I realized my blunder and immediately attempted damage control by re-immersing.  I felt certain this gesture would cut off the conversational airway.

Rob forced it back open with that quintessentially Washington D.C. chestnut: "So, what do you do?"

Something about the way he looked at me as he asked this set off my Creep-O-Meter.  I should have said, "I'm a sprinter" and made a run for it.  But instead of heeding my instincts, I let my auto-polite take over and I answered.  Rob volunteered that he's in construction and does windows and siding.  He thrust a business card in my direction.  On realizing he might just be trying to sell me some vinyl, I felt a brief euphoria that I hoped didn't register on my face.

I took the card and tried again to kill the conversation, this time with expectant glances cast alternately in the direction of the door and my phone, which sat on the bar.  He asked me for a card. I claimed not to have one on me, which could have been true if you distort the concept of "on" sufficiently.

He sallied forth.  "Well, I see you have a phone so why don't you just text me your number?"  I should've seen that one coming.

My reflexes rescued me.  "Oh, sorry. I'm actually still married."  I felt certain this would finish off our chat but he breathed life back into it with a litany of relationship questions.  I explained I'd been married less than a year.  I added that I was now living in my sister's basement.  This two-pronged defense would have repelled most suitors, kind of like the time when my sister and I were at a crowded bar and she broadcast the fact that she had a raging case of pink eye to everyone within eyeshot.

Rob didn't relent.  Eventually I ran out of steam and gave him my number, thinking I was making a bigger deal of it by continuing to refuse.  He punched the numbers into his phone.

He said he liked my "look."  I informed him I didn't usually look like that while silently cursing my stylist.  Then he began to show me photos on his cell phone.  The first ones depicted his English bulldog.  My face must have conveyed my disinterest accurately, because he switched from pictures of live animals to snapshots of cooked ones.  The screen of his phone was suddenly occupied by a veritable field of scored chicken parts arrayed on a grill,  and then by a photo of the seared veal chop he'd ordered at a restaurant weeks prior.

Unless you're a restaurant critic or doing an expose on animal cruelty for "60 Minutes,"it's best to assume that people don't care about your food photos. I was about to say as much when M finally arrived so I forced out a "nice chat" instead and rushed off to meet her.

A few minutes later Rob materialized at our table. M and I dropped a series of leaden hints that we wanted to be left alone.  When one of these finally found its mark he left.  But apparently Rob still hadn't been ready to let the conversation die, because a post-dinner glance at my phone showed that he'd texted me seven times over the course of an hour.

I perused them in order.  The first four were benign and banal.  The fifth asked whether I was wearing a thong and if so, what color.  In the sixth he wondered if he'd done something to offend me.  With number seven he said I had issues and noted that it was a shame because he'd been hoping to take me to his favorite place.  (Based on the meat photos, I assume he was referring to his freezer, and it wasn't hard to imagine myself chopped up and ziplocked in there along with the pork loin.)

That experience sent me running off the field and straight for the locker room, where I've been hiding ever since.  I think I'm ready to suit up again, and to make a coaching change.  I just might have to go e-trash diving and rescue the matchmaking deal.  For $65, it may be worth it to find out whether a paid professional can mismanage my dating life as expertly as I have.


  1. Oh Miz... Yikes! What a creepy guy! Can't wait to hear how the Groupon deal works out! Crazier things have happened! Luck!

    1. Here's hoping i have exceeded my maximum lifetime allotment of creeps - only one way to find out! :) BTW, watch this space for a posting about my brother and sister-in-law's very questionable decision to let me babysit Brooks for a few days while they go to New York.....

    2. Ha! I heard about that... and we'll be out of town that week so... Good luck! Can't wait to hear all about the SPLAT from your time with your nephew!

  2. What I really want to know is: Were you wearing a thong when you wrote that entry?

    1. Ah, you have to buy the Platinum Membership to find that out.

  3. Oh my gosh! This is awesome! I can't believe you didn't tell me about this. Hysterical!

    1. I can't believe I didn't either! It was, um, memorable. :)