“How did that hour go so fast?” he exclaimed. Just seconds earlier, my thought was, Thank God for parking meters.
Yeah, you know it’s bad when you see a coin-sucking parking meter as your friend. It was my Get Out of Coffee For a Small Fee card. Why monopolize this guy’s evening?
I should back up. There’s a fine line between Faint Hope and Realistically Negative. When Benny sent me a message a week and a half ago, I had reservations. Sure, I’d recognized the photo. I’d even clicked it to skim his profile. But I did not linger and I did not contemplate ever initiating an online message. Benny’s main photo was a beach shot of his buff body in a swimsuit. It was a fine body, to be sure. But my guard goes up when a fifty-two-year-old man picks a Sports Illustrated cover shot that to say, “This is me!” (My own selection is dubious as well. It’s a windblown image of me riding the Mad Hatter tea cup ride at Disneyland. I blame my own poor choice on the fact I don’t collect photos of myself. Delete is a wonderful option on digital cameras.)
Back to Beach Boy Benny, he did have several other photos online. He wore gym gear in each shot, one even taken mid dumbbell curl.
Benny is proud of his body. As he should be. He has successfully repelled the middle age beer belly. Kudos. I just prefer a little subtlety. Let the muscle show in a nicely fitted (not tightly fitted) shirt.
His listed interests consisted solely of physical activities: weightlifting, going to the gym, rollerblading, skiing. Each item seemed redundant. (See aforementioned photos.)
But Benny messaged me, referring to my thoughtful profile. Faint Hope beat out Realistically Negative. You have to put yourself out there. You just need one match. There’s no harm in a quick reply. If it leads to coffee, your dog will appreciate the downtime.
So I replied. Short exchanges went back and forth. We were in the same profession. He grew up in Atlantic Canada. (That is almost always a positive.) I even pushed for depth in my third message:
“It’s great that you treat fitness seriously. What other interests do you have?” He replied with a vague beauty pageant answer: “I also enjoy travel and reading.” I was a little disappointed he left off world peace and finding a cure for athlete’s foot.
I overlooked the fact that each successive message from him contained more spelling and grammatical errors. Are we really in the same profession? I cut to the chase. Let’s do coffee before your inability to distinguish between your and you’re completely repulses me.
As soon as he sat down, Realistically Negative showed up. I needn’t get into specifics. I just knew this was not a match. For an hour, I politely conversed. I followed up on his remarks and went through the motions. When I asked how he’d spent his day, he said he started out as he always does—wait for it—going to the gym...until noon. That must impress someone.
For his part, he asked nothing about my dog or my writing, key topics I raised. His most animated response to anything I mentioned came five minutes in, after I said I’d lived in Los Angeles. He practically screamed, “How did you ever live there?! I’ve traveled all over the world and it is without a doubt the most hideous place!” I could have been mean and embarrassed him by saying I hoped to move back there, but I sat quietly, satisfied that Realistically Negative got it right.
It’s all okay. Sixty incredibly slow minutes, but it is over. I have another date on Friday with a guy who kept his shirt on in all six of his photos. He has a variety of interests, most of which complement mine. I plan on bringing Faint Hope along for dinner. Fingers crossed. After all, the restaurant is in a Vancouver neighborhood not yet adorned by friendly parking meters.