I “met” someone online a few years ago and it was one of the worst dating experiences in my life. It was so bad, I never told anyone about it. This person’s name was Adam and he knew Patty who knew Marcia who knew Samantha who knew me. I don’t know any of these people except Samantha, who still hasn’t heard the end of my wrath for putting Adam in contact with me.
I was turning 50 and was looking forward to it. I truly mean this; I actually like getting older. Adam was given my email address, with my permission, and that is how we met. I figured since it had been awhile since I had dated, meeting someone new would be a great birthday present to myself.
Even though I enjoyed getting older, there were a few surprises about it I hadn’t expected such as my metabolism shutting down completely and finding 20 extra pounds were added to my hips, butt, stomach and thighs overnight. Some fat fairy came, waved a wand while I was sleeping and I woke-up, unable to fit into my jeans. It took a year to lose that weight because in addition to waving a wand to make me gain weight, the little bitch fairy also decided it would be fun to have my metabolism start to work in reverse.
So I began my workouts and walking and watching calories and nothing changes. Not one damn thing changes for over 6 weeks. Then one day, I saw the scale (all scales are evil) actually move a billionth of an inch to the left! Oh Dear God! One year later I am back to my fighting weight.
I had not dated in a few years because I hate it. I hate it so much I can’t describe it. I hate the awkwardness of it, I hate the fact that I am actually hoping someone likes me and that drives me crazy because I never care if someone likes me. If they don’t, it bothers me for about 1 minute and then I’m fine.
I hate getting ready for a date and finding myself feeling like I am 13 years old again and no one wants to be 13 again. I hate finding out that the person I am spending all evening with isn’t someone I want to spend all evening with. I suck at small talk and I hate spending hours trying to behave myself, not snort when I laugh, not be able to eat my food really fast (which is the way I eat) and worrying if something is stuck in my teeth. I never worry about these things when I am at home. I like being alone. I like spending time with myself and my pets, watching a good movie and talking on the phone. I like sitting in bed all morning, reading and drinking coffee and not having to close the bathroom door, ever.
But Samantha tells me about this guy and based on 3 other women’s opinions, I agree and give out my email address.
A few days later, his email arrives and I read it. His name is Adam and I see his picture attached to his email. Shit! I realize. I have to send a picture back and don’t have any. Maybe he won’t ask.
So the mating ritual starts. He tells me all about himself and I can see his face, but then he tells me he is 5’3” tall. What? I think. I am 5’ 7”! And I love wearing high heels and I’m not changing my ways this late in the game.
I pride myself on accepting people “just as they are” and I can hear the thoughts in my head about how short he is. I remind myself not to judge people but he’s so short! I tell myself that it’s all about “the person inside” but he’s so short! I tell myself that it’s good to get out once in a while and meet people but he’s so frickin’short!
Why didn’t anyone tell me he was so short? Probably because they are better people than me and can see past how short he is!
I decide to be a good person and not let this bother me. I mean, lots of men have dated and married taller women, right? Besides, we are just talking about maybe meeting one day and nothing more, right?
We begin a lengthy email and phone relationship over the next few weeks. He lives in Kansas and seems to be a very nice man. He begins calling me almost every night and this starts to bother me. I start to get a sense of obligation to him as if I have to be home or available every time he calls. It’s not that I mind talking to him; it’s that I mind him just assuming I am always around.
So I start not answering the phone every time he calls. Not to be mean, just to get out of this habit I have become to him. He starts leaving messages and sending more emails. I respond once in a while and this prompts him to decide to come out and meet me. This I did not expect, but I guess this is how this whole email dating goes.
He tells me he wants to come out for a weekend and we could meet and spend time together. I agree because, well the truth of the matter is, I am bored. We agree on a weekend and he makes his travel arrangements.
“There is something I should tell you about myself” he says one night. I feel myself get tense because it does not sound good.
“Yeah? What is that?” I ask. I know at this point he is about to tell me something horrible, like he is a Nazi or a convicted felon. I hold my breath and wait.
“I have this problem with my nose.”
Huh? I think. What the hell does that mean?
“I see. What do you mean? You have a nose, right? I saw your picture and I distinctly remember seeing a nose.”
He chuckles. “Yes, I have a nose. You are really funny!”
I feel my eyes rolls up. “Thanks” I say.
“Anyway, years ago when I was little, I broke it. Ever since then, smells really bother me. It’s like my nose is overdrive and I can’t tolerate most smells, like perfume and cigarettes.”
Cigarettes? I think as I look at the lit one I am holding in my left hand.
“I’m really glad you don’t smoke.”
This is the exact point where I hit the crossroad. It’s the crossroad I dread. It’s the crossroad where I have to decide to truly be myself and talk honestly or where I decide to try to be the person this guy is looking for.
It’s the crossroad where everything I have believed I throw out the window because here I am sitting in my tiny living room, 50 and alone with no prospects or where I tell myself that my situation doesn’t bother me and I love my life just the way it is. It’s where I make the decision about whom I really am and what I want or do I take door #2 and try to “get with the program” and find someone to be with.
“Hey, you still there?” he asks.
“Yes, sorry, the cat just did something funny.” Cough. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
“You have cats? That’s too bad because I’m really allergic to them.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take them out tonight and shoot them.”
Long pause. Then he laughs and tells me again how much he enjoys my sense of humor.
“Yes, so you have said before” I say as I quickly stub out my cigarette.
I suddenly feel as if my Dad has just caught me smoking and I’m 16 again. I forgot for a moment that I am on the phone and he can’t see me. Just my dog and cats, which are staring at me reproachfully. They are the only ones that can do that and get away with it.
He then proceeds to tell me all about the problems he has with being so sensitive to smells. He doesn’t use anything that is scented and goes to great lengths to stay away from anything with any type of scent, such as perfumes, deodorants, shampoos and conditioners, all cleaning products, lotions and he says he can’t even tolerate the smell of make-up on women.
Make-up? Oh dear, I think.
“Wow” I say, “that must be really tough on you.”
“Yes, it does make things more difficult for me.”
So, this was my warning shot. This was the red flag. This was knowing that there would be no way in hell I could stand to be around this man. As nice as he is, I would never in a million years, give up my make-up, heels and beauty routine for anyone. I’m in my 50’s!
I proceed the chain smoke throughout the rest of the conversation, being very careful not to have the phone near my mouth while I inhale and exhale.
He then tells me when he can come out to California and I light up another cigarette and tell him that works for me.
I hang-up and throw myself down on the couch, rub my eye and heave a deep sigh. I am so screwed now.
For a few weeks before he arrives, I air out my apartment, scrub the walls, wash the curtains and wash every piece of clothing that I own. I keep the windows down in my car to air it out and the day before he arrives, I have it detailed.
I meet him at the airport on a Saturday morning. When I see him, he is even shorter than he said. He said he was 5’3”, but he is closer to 5’2”. He waves and he also looks 15 years older than his picture.
He is hauling his suitcase and I am tempted to carry it for him, but I resist. I go to shake his hand as he leans over to hug me and I poke him in the eye. He says he is fine and we walk to my car. I am wearing tennis shoes and still looking down on him. I feel horrible for what I am thinking and the more I try not to think that way, the more I do.
We get in the car and I ask him where he is staying. He gives me a blank look and says he hadn’t thought about it. I realize that he planned on staying with me! No way is that going to happen, but I let it pass and say “Well, there are plenty of hotels and motels around here. Let’s go find you one.”
We spend the next 4 hours driving up and down El Camino Real so he can go and smell the rooms before he decides to register. He finally finds one and only after I told him I was tired, hungry and unwilling to spend another moment going to hotels and smelling their rooms.
I did not know at the time that this would be the high point of his visit.
We go out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, but he had me wait in line for him so he could go stand in the parking lot because someone who was also waiting for a table was wearing perfume.
He took 45 minutes to order his dinner and kept the waitress standing there the entire time as he asked very detailed questions about each item on the menu. Every time she would answer his question, he would nod his head and then take another minute to ask the next question. She would look at me, pleading for me to do something, but all I could do was shrug my shoulders.
He brought his own bottled water and had to wipe the entire chair and table with a handkerchief before he would sit down. I didn’t know what to say and in hindsight, there wasn’t anything to say.
I did the best I could to keep the conversation going, but it was useless. We had great conversations on the phone, but when actually faced with meeting him and spending time with him, I had nothing to say. I could never remember meeting such a prissy and feminine man before in my life and any initial attraction was gone. In fact, I found him very annoying and unfriendly. He appeared to be attracted to me and this increased my annoyance and displeasure, but I decided to make the best out of a bad situation and tried to be as polite and friendly as possible. But I was so disappointed that this wasn’t turning out as well as I had hoped.
I know that when you are single, you make the best of it and it is often a relief to be out of a bad marriage or relationship, but there is always a part of you that wishes for the real thing. We tell ourselves that we like being single (and very often I do) but in the back of your mind, there is always hope and that’s why we date. We date because we haven’t completely given up and curiosity will get the best of us when there is a possibility.
So I sat there, disappointed and a bit sad, but not hopeless. Just felt like I was wasting my time.
With dinner over, we walk back to my car and he takes my hand. My first thought was to pull it away, but I didn’t. I just smiled and kept walking. As we drive to his hotel, he asks me to come in. I am dying for a cigarette and don’t want to spend another moment with him, so I tell him I am exhausted. Just then I realize that he is here for the weekend to visit with me and I am stuck with him. There is no way to get out of this, so I tell him I need some sleep and I’ll see him in the morning. He leans over to kiss me and I turn my face so he ends up kissing my cheek.
I get home and immediately go across the street to the store and buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke several outside my apartment. I am dreading tomorrow as we are spending the day in San Francisco.
He calls me later that night to say goodnight.
“I had a really nice time tonight and I’m glad I came out to see you” he says.
“Yeah, me too. I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning at 9:00. How does that sound?”
“Sounds great. I miss you already” he says and as soon as I hear that, I light up another cigarette and pray for a hurricane so that I don’t have to see him tomorrow.
I pick him up the next morning and he tries to kiss me again.
“Would you please just stop trying to do that?” I ask. I can’t believe how some people just can’t take a hint.
“Gosh, I guess you got up on the wrong side of the bed today” he says and walks over to my car. I decide that if I am going to kill him, this would not be the right place. Too many witnesses and I’m not sure he’s worth going to jail for.
We take off and hit the freeway. He kept giving me detailed instructions on what lane to drive in because the car in front of us had too many fumes coming out. About the fifth time he did that, I held up my right hand and made a fist.
“You see this fist? If you tell me one more time how to drive, what to do or anything else, this fist is coming across and hitting you on your nose.”
“I just love your sense of humor! Hey, move out of this lane, will ya? That truck is really making me sick.”
We go to Fisherman’s Wharf but can’t stay there because of the smell. He didn’t like Pier 39 because there were too many people wearing after shave or cologne. He didn’t want to eat at any place I picked because it smelled. We ended up getting hot dogs and eating on a park bench and only because I insisted and was starving.
I realize this is one of the worse days of my life but it is almost over. A couple more hours and he is back at his hotel and I’ll never have to see him again. I am thinking this just as a young girl walks by with a cropped top and showing off her perfectly flat stomach. He watches her walk by and then turns to me.
“I have a question for you. How long would it take you to get your stomach to look like that?”
Without missing a beat, I say “About as long as it would take you to grow 6 inches” and I get up, grab my purse and start walking away. He jumps up and starts to follow me.
I turn around and stop. “I don’t think so. You are on your own. Have a nice flight back” and start walking again. He keeps running after me, apologizing and begging me to stop and talk to him. I was deaf to anything he had to say.
I get to my car, unlock the driver side, and get in. He is banging on the passenger side, asking me to please open the door and let him in.
“I can’t. My stomach is too fat to lean over and unlock the door” I say as I drive away.
Within a minute, he is calling my cell phone. I ignore it all the way home. I am fighting back tears and bouts of rage. If ever I could be violent, it was now, so I figured the best thing is to just get away from him and write it off as a bad day.
I finally turn my phone off because he won’t stop calling. I can see he is leaving messages, but I don’t care. I never want to hear from him again, I never want to hear his voice and I don’t want to know him.
I finally listen to his messages 3 days later and heard all his crying. He left over 5 messages while in San Francisco, 1 from the taxi home from San Francisco, 2 from his hotel room and 1 from the plane.
I am assuming he made it home
But ask me if I care.