He wrote to me first, a rarity in online dating, where I find most men who write to me are awful. His name was Edward and he seemed pretty normal which means I could check all the boxes – job as an international economist, divorced, one seven year-old and shared custody. He talked a lot but after being married to a narcissist and brought up by one, I have learned to tune them out.
He had long hair – down to almost his shoulders and a handsome face – kind of like those high school senior pictures from the 1970s, the hair was combed, parted in the middle and shiny. When we first spoke, I was in Buffalo on business for the third time in two months, in a large hotel room not practicing my presentation for the next day. So I let him talk.
Following internet dating protocol for a first date, we agreed to meet at a local pub on Friday night. The pub has tartans of different Scottish clans hanging from the ceiling (purchased from a catalog and wished I hadn’t asked), old beer signs on the wall, the faint smell of decaying beer in the bar, decent food and half price bottles of wine on Monday nights. Two of my neighbors daughters and a number of roommates work there as well. I knew they would protect me.
Getting dressed was hard. Usually I just wear dresses or skirts to these things but this guy required jeans. So I went out and bought the only low cut pair of jeans on earth that didn’t make me look fat and $150 later thought I looked pretty good. Heels were impossible because of my knees.
I was late as usual, almost half an hour, and my Blackberry ran out of power so I just had to hope he hadn’t left yet. I walked in with reapplied lip gloss. He was standing at the bar and I heard every Jewish comedienne’s voice in my head saying “Oh my God,” in the harshest of Brooklyn accents.
He was short – maybe 5’7” with long blonde brown hair that hung halfway down his back and landed on a faded paisley Huck-a-poo shirt that in the 1970s had been shiny. His hair looked like he had just washed it – which in retrospect is probably the best thing I can say about him. His chest was puffed out like a body builder’s but he was so slight that he looked like a peacock preening before it closes its feathers. He wore black jewelry with silver studs around his neck, wrist and fingers and each one looked like it would cause pain. He also had an oozing cold sore the size of a small island nation on his upper lip.
There is a scene in the movie School of Rock where Jack Black has snuck his students into an audition for Battle of the Bands. One of the kids – who are fourth or fifth graders from an exclusive private school that he is pretending to be a teacher at – has disappeared. He goes outside and sees smoke coming out of a van, yanks open the door and sitting there is his missing student – smoldering with anger. Behind him is the leader of the alternative rock band that will eventually win the rigged contest. He is covered in tattoos and body armor. That was my internet date.
“Sorry I’m late I had to drop my son is at a sleepover and my phone has no power.”
“Would you like a drink?”
“Grey Goose and cranberry.” I drank half of it in one sip.
“So how was your day?” I said expecting little.
“My fing boss, what an asshole. He said he didn’t like the way I did this report and I told him to f off and got in his face and I almost hit him. He came back later and apologized.”
“So you don’t get along with him?”
“He’s a fing idiot – they gave him my office and now I have to sit in a cubicle. The federal government does that sometimes – you have a windowed office and then they move you to some internal space where everyone else is on top of you.”
“So what do you think of the value of the dollar versus the Euro?”
“I don’t want to talk about fing work.”
I looked at the clock above the bar –it was now 7:20 and I needed 10 more minutes to not look like an absolute jerk.
“I thought you would be Goth,” he said.
I kept staring at the cold sore. I remembered a British movie from the 1980s about an advertising guy who was trying to write a commercial for a pimple cream, and how he got so obsessed with the zit that it turned into a second head that was his evil twin. Was that possible with cold sores? Could this one turn into another personality that didn’t say ‘f’ in every sentence?
He was talking – something about the ex-wife tried to keep him away from his son but he went to court and got some custody rights which amounted to a few days a month. She accused him of abusing the boy.
“She did what?” Now I was paying attention.
“Told the judge that I touched my kid and his friend. . . . “
I had to get out of there even though I was tempted to stay to see if it became a better dating story. He offered me another drink which I took – drank half of and went to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and whispered into the phone to my babysitter Kiri. She knew I was on a date, as did my eight year old daughter. She answered on the second ring.
“Kiri my date is a disaster, the guy is scary – I need to get out of here. Can you call me on my cell in five minutes and tell me that something bad has happened and I need to get home right away.”
I went back to the table and had another sip of my drink. After two vodkas men start to look better to me, but not this one. I asked him about his son and he started to talk, more softly, and the word ‘f’ went away.
“He is my everything.”
The phone rang. “Angie, Angie,” she sounded frantic and it made me realize how easily teenagers lie.” Kate fell down the stairs and hit her head and she’s not breathing.”
In the background I hear Kate yelling “Mommy I’m hurt, I’m hurt.”
I looked at him – “I have to go, my daughter’s hurt, bye.” and ran out the door towards the parking lot and went downtown to see a movie.
The next day I got a very polite note from him saying “I really enjoyed meeting you but I don’t think we’re a very good match. Good luck in your search.”