Right guy, right date remain elusive

Roxanne Sadovsky

I’ve been here three months, and already my mother is calling from Los Angeles asking if I’ve settled down with a nice (Minnesota) Jewish boy. “It’s a huge campus,” she said (as though I don’t go here). “There are lots of nice Jews on campus” (as though I haven’t been to Hillel). “You should put yourself out there” (as though I don’t).

When I lived in Seattle, these calls would come on a weekly basis, even if I told her the last date with a Jew seemed like something out of film noir. “The guy said that paprika made his knees hurt,” I would complain. “He told me the produce department at Corner Market was after him.”

Nevertheless, she still wanted to know if I would give it another shot. “Maybe he was just having an off night,” she said. “He’s running for office for God’s sake.”

When I finally convince her the date was a miserable failure because the guy tried to get me to give up eating anything orange in color, she told me if I’m going to date, I’d better be careful. Oy.

Now that I’m in a new city, she’s back at it. The other day, she called and we went through it all again.

I met Joe at a dinner party two weeks ago. It was a singles event disguised in religion, yet all in all, a lovely “progressive dinner.” The idea is you eat each course at a different table, making mental notes along the way of whom you’d like to sleep with.

Joe and I met over dessert. We talked about our work (“You gotta do what you gotta do”), our dreams (clichéd), our time management techniques, all the while trying to shut out the internal dialogue which was busy judging the other’s bad hair.

At first, I was intrigued by the rhythm. He had a sense of humor, dressed OK, was nice enough. I disregarded my inner critic, who judges every Jew by his looks in relation to Jerry Seinfeld, by reminding myself that we can’t be both funny and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I did notice he talked a lot, and even though he acknowledged it, he still did it. It’s an awkward position to be in when someone says he talks too much. I usually shrug it off and say something supportive like, “Eeeh, who doesn’t?” before I go back to being quiet. Really, what are you supposed to say? “Yeah, you do and could you just refrain from finishing any sentence beginning with ‘Oh, and that reminds me of the time IÖ’?” The other thing I could tell was he was eager to meet someone. Who isn’t, but when it shows that much, it’s kind of uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, by the time our date rolled around, I forgot about all that. I should have realized it wasn’t a match when he sent me an email of his face scanned next to George Washington’s on Mount Rushmore, accompanied by lengthy tales about why he can justify being the only straight man with a rolling pin. Or that he wrote me a song about being a vegetarian to the tune of “Yesterday” (“all my Big Macs seemed so far away Ö “). Or that he repeatedly called me from his cell phone one night until 12:30 a.m. because we talked about getting together for homemade blueberry pie.

I could go on and on about the date itself, but I have no right to be mean or unfair, especially since he is likely saying the same thing about me (“and that hairÖ oy vey schmeer!”). Nor do I want to say things at his expense – truth be told, I would have no reason to. He was much nicer than anyone I will ever end up with. I think we would both agree it was a disaster. I’ll tell you why.

There’s something odd about sitting in your own home in a flapper hat and false eyelashes with someone you don’t find remotely attractive. The plan was to get a spooky, fruity drink before heading to a Halloween party, but instead we sat on my couch for an hour or so in our costumes making small talk.

“Nice costume,” he said scrutinizing my rings “Do you shop at estate sales?”

I blushed, realizing he might not have thought I was in costume. “Oh, well, this is all my grandmother’s stuff. She was a flapper.” I pointed to the fishnets. “Get it? Flapper? Wanna Charleston? Ha.”

He remained quiet and then brought up the painting on my wall, a kitschy depiction of a tribal male. “Is that a self-portrait?”

He was dressed up as a pilot. He literally topped it off with a rainbow beanie with a propeller that later kept getting caught in the spider webs at the Halloween party. “I don’t know if I can go to this party,” he confessed, “you look so Ö normal.”

I wasn’t sure how to take that, so I assumed he was being funny. “Yes,” I said. “You should see me teach Shakespeare in my corset Ö Ha. I like to dress kind of ‘out there’ Ö Where’d you get that hat?”

Normally, this type of self-deprecating banter is right up my alley, as long as the other can play. After a while, it began to feel like the antithesis of self-help. He would counter only with silence or by drastically changing the subject. “Do you like cruises?” he asked after I told him I had surgery last February.

To make a long date short, we talked, ate some candy corn at the party, spent an awkward silence in the car and came home. Describing the details of the evening would do no good. What I will say is it started badly, progressed badly and ended with me stretching my arms and saying, “and speaking of tamales, I’m pretty darn tired myself” and practically pushing him out the door.

It’s not that he wasn’t nice. Or funny. Or thoughtful (He named a pie after me, for God’s sake). It’s that I’m a sucker for fun, and I wasn’t having any. I also like in-depth conversation. I don’t mean the kind where the guy tells you about his agoraphobic mother on the first date. I mean the kind when you talk about something substantial, like your favorite Halloween memory or what you wanted to be when you were growing up. If all else fails, I at least like to get drunk and trick myself into thinking I am having a nice time discussing stocks.

Essentially, he was there and I was here. As usual, he was an adult, and I was an adult with attention deficit disorder. The easiest way to say it is that our rhythms were off. I’d say something and he would miss it. He’d say something, and I’d start thinking about checking my email. It was like being in a dubbed movie or talking to someone on the phone in Alaska where the pause makes you talk over each other, or conversely, not at all. It wasn’t so much about what was (or wasn’t) said, but the fact everything seemed to be following some kind of B movie script. I waited for Jason to pop out of the pie.

“How could you not like him?” mom screams into the phone. “He wrote you a song. He drives a Porsche. He baked you a pie. What do you want?”

I tell her it’s not worth discussing.

“You need someone stable,” she says, as though it’s my fault the guys I fall for are bipolar. As though I want to end up with a paranoid schizophrenic. “Where’d he take you to dinner?”

My idea of a successful date has changed. I don’t ask for much. I’m too old to care how much the guy looks like Bruce Willis. And I’m too immature to follow grown-up topics about money. My idea of a perfect date is drinks at Nye’s, followed by a game of pingpong or a walk around the lake singing old TV theme songs. Maybe that’s the problem.

 

Roxanne Sadovsky’s column appears alternate Thursdays. She welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]