Tuesday, 09 December 2008

Vanessa and I originally met at a Mensa gathering. We got to talking and seemed to hit it off. I had a great time, and was intrigued, but still too shy to trade phone numbers. Lucky for me, Scott was more bold.

A week or so later Scott called to say that Vanessa was having a Hanukkah party. She had made a special point that I should stop by. Normally I would have avoided any party where I didn’t know most of the people there, but something about the tone of the invitation compelled me to go. And, boy, was I glad I did!

The party was a blast; hours went by in seconds. Vanessa and I talked occasionally throughout the afternoon and I was still there long after everyone else had gone. We talked easily, almost like old friends catching up after a long absence. I finally left around midnight, but not before we had arranged a dinner date.

The next few months were a bit of a whirlwind. We spent most evenings together, weekends too, and talked on the phone at least twice a day. I was smitten – there’s no other way to describe it.

We would talk about our hopes and fears, dreams and disappointments. On walks together we’d point out how ours would be different than the house we were walking past, and what our wedding would be like. It was during those conversations, on one of our walks, that talk about “the one” came up.

I believe that each of us has a someone out there, but you may not find them right away. Sure, there are the high-school sweethearts that stay together forever, but other couples take longer and my not even meet until later in life. If you love someone and you grow apart, no matter how much you adored them, they were not the one.

Vanessa, on the other hand, was convinced we each have only one true love, and that hers was in a former boyfriend. Since they couldn’t be together, she could never really be happy. She refused to believe anything else and would let it short circuit parts of her relationships with other guys. I think that’s part of what happened with us.

I’m not entirely blameless either. It’s not like I really knew what I wanted at the time. I was bored with my job, my consulting business wasn’t taking off, and I still had a piece of carry-on baggage left from my divorce. But those are just excuses.

We started off strong, but she just wasn’t into the relationship – not as much as I was – and I wasn’t strong enough to fight for it. We simply drifted apart.

For a while I thought that she might possibly have been right. What if my one true love had slipped by? And did that ever hurt. But the more I thought about it, the easier it was to accept the fact that she wasn’t my “one.” I remember her and the relationship fondly, but it was apparently not to be. I remain hopeful, and convinced, that my true love is out there somewhere. When I find her, she and I will both know it.

That’s what makes the love true.

Monday, 12 May 2003

Vanessa and I had been dating for a little over a month when she decided it was time I cooked dinner for her once. Until then, either she cooked or we went out whenever we got together. Not this time. In spite of my warning, she insisted and we made a date for Saturday.

I spent all day getting ready; cleaning the living room and kitchen, dusting furniture, straightening the mess that was my office.

I decided on pasta because it’s fairly easy and I make a mean red-sauce. Early afternoon I went shopping. Italian Sausage, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, rigatoni noodles, cheese from the deli, garlic bread, a few other bits, and a decent bottle of wine.

My plan was to have dinner ready for when Vanessa arrived at 6 o’clock. I set about making the sauce, which would need to simmer for about an hour. I opened the tomato paste and tomato sauce, dumped them in a saucepan, and added a touch of oregano and a little something else to give it some zip. After that, I put the sausage on to brown and started water for the noodles.

Checking the sauce, something was off. Way off. It was runny and tasted horrible. Turns out I got the wrong stuff and had something closer to tomato soup than spaghetti sauce. Maybe I can recover.

The sausage needed a few minutes more, so I started the oven on low, put the bread in, and tried to find something that would save the sauce. Rifling through cupboards turned up nothing useful and there was no time for another trip to the store.

Right about then, Vanessa called to see if we were still on for dinner and if there was anything she could bring. Unwilling to admit defeat so early, I lied, “No thanks. Everything is fine on this end.” There was no turning back now.

It wasn’t enough that my kitchen skills weren’t the greatest—and I knew it. I really had a thing for this woman, so I had to complicate matters by trying to impress her. On top of it all, it had been a miserable week at work and I wasn’t feeling well. I wrote off the queasy stomache to simple nervousness and started thinking about what music to play.

To me, the right music is almost as important as the right food or the right wine. Choose wisely, and it helps make an entire evening. Choose poorly, and it can ruin your night, leaving it a crumpled, tattered mess.

Somewhere between The Cocteau Twins and Elvis Costello I was wrested from my musical reverie… What’s that smell? A sense of dread washed over me and headed toward the kitchen. Oh my God! The stove is on FIRE! As if to drive home the point, that was about when the smoke alarm started screaming. Thankfully I had the sense to cover the pan and get it off the heat before any real damage occured, but not before the room was completely hazed over and the sausage was beyond ruined. Opening a window, I tried to calm down and thought “OK, we’ll go meatless for the sauce.”

With cleanup operations underway and less than 15 minutes to go, I was getting desperate. I put the noodles on and made a quick check of the neighbors. Two not home and the third with nothing more than sauce in a jar. “No thanks, but I’ll Keep it in mind.” A call to my brother and my mother, both excellent cooks, for advice was no use; nobody home either place. I was on my own.

The noodles were doing fine and the smoke was cleared with help from a good size window fan. Looking in on the bread revealed no progress. No heat. No pilot light. Oven broken. Great. Wonderful.

Moving the noodles off the stove and over to drain them, I dropped the pot. Boiling water and rigatoni noodles exploded everywhere.

What I should have done was give up, but I was determined to see things through. Vanessa was supposed to be there any minute, so I had to think fast. There were regular spaghetti noodles in the cupboard, so I got the water going again and put them in, then back to the neighbor’s for that jar of sauce.

I had just finished dumping the jar into a pan when Vanessa arrived. In an effort to catch my breath and to hide my frazzled nerves, I sat to chat for a just a minute. One minute turned into five and then ten. All the while I didn’t let on what had transpired. “Is every thing OK? I think I smell smoke.”

“Not to worry,” my keen sense of understatement running full-tilt, “just a small problem with the stove earlier.”

Then she asked how long ago I had started the noodles and that should probably check on them. Too late; they were already over-done.

There it was, my abject failure on a plate. Sticky spaghetti under mediocre sauce with cold garlic bread and a passable salad. To top it off, the wine wasn’t very good either. Culinary disaster in three courses. Make that two–I completely forgot about dessert.

Awful as it was, Vanessa still found something nice to say. With as much sincerity as she could muster, considering the tears rolling down her face from trying not to laugh, she said “The sauce is good.”

“Here’s the thing,” I confessed, “it’s from a jar.”

Thursday, 09 August 2001

She was articulate and strong willed. Sure of herself and unwilling to let anyone get in the way of that. I had a thing for her from the moment we met.

She worked with a friend of mine and occasionally showed up for our Wednesday night Mensa gatherings. We would crack jokes and have a great time. I loved her brown eyes with the impish twinkle. And damn, was she cute!

A grad student, she was working on a degree in social work. Every so often she would need help with her computer and I was always willing to lend a hand. We put in a couple late nights and two or three Sunday working on her master’s thesis. It was interesting and I actually had fun.

In all honesty, it was not for entirely unselfish reasons. I had hoped we could get to know each other better and perhaps go out on a date. I never actually did get up the nerve to ask her out. My excuse was that I could never tell if she was the least bit interested.

I would call her just to chat and see how she was doing. She would call when she needed help. I didn’t think much of it since she had two jobs plus school to contend with.

Finally, graduation rolled around. After the ceremony, her mom and her friends gathered at a nearby restaurant. When it came time for presents, she noticed there wasn’t one from me and asked about it. In front of the group. Flabber-gasted, I admitted that in my haste to get there on time, I had forgotten it at home. To my amazement she added that I had her address and could send it to her.

Ummm. No. I took it back it instead.

It finally dawned on me that the only time she called was when she wanted something.

I called her once after that. Ended up leaving a message on her answering machine…which she never returned. About six months later she did call, saying she was just on vacation and had a question about her computer.

This time I didn’t call back.

Wednesday, 25 July 2001

She was sitting alone at the bar and had been for nearly twenty minutes. I sat down next to her and asked, “What’s the worst pickup line a guy has ever tried?”

“Excuse me?”

Thinking I had just made a complete fool out of myself, I blushed and repeated the question.

With a mischievous grin she replied, “Why? Are you trying to pick me up?”

“Maybe. It would depend upon whether you shoot me down or not.”

After a long pause she said, “What’s your sign?” She saw my confused look and continued, “That’s the worst one. Or maybe the one you just tried. I’m not sure.”

“It can’t be.”

“Why is that?”

“Because it seems to have worked. Would you care to grab a table?”

SWM

Friday, 18 May 2001

Some day I’ll meet the right woman and live happily ever after. The thing is, waiting for her to come along doesn’t work. At least it hasn’t so far. So I started thinking about ways to make it happen, or at a minimum, help it along.

I considered the usual routes:

  • Work: I’m a computer geek…do the math.
  • Bars: Yeah, right. I’ll go dust off my book of pickup-lines.
  • Church: I’m not religious, so it really doesn’t matter, but does this actually work?
  • Grocery store: Who on earth came up with that idea?

All of the ideas I came up with had a common drawback. They all require that I put myself out there too far before I find out if I stand a chance.

Then I thought “What about a personals ad?” There is still risk involved, but it’s manageable risk.

You see, the main problem with any of the face to face options is face to face rejection. With a personals ad, the worst part (for me) doesn’t happen in person. A woman reads the ad, if they’re not interested, they skip you and move on. Anonymous rejection.

The question then turns to what the ad should say. How to be honest, but at the same time intrguing? I’d like to avoid the nut jobs, but not come off as some stark raving madman.

DWPM, 34, enjoys good food, good film and good company. Seeking good woman to share good times and good life. What’s the word I’m looking for here…LAME?
Mid-30’s, right-wing, hippie seeking same for dinner, theater and world domination… Perhaps that’s a little out there.
1966 model, single owner, some milage. Starts and runs great. One or two small dents but no rust… Nope. I don’t know enough about cars to pull it off.
Fat, dumb and happy… Ummm. No. Nothing good can come of that.

Thirty-something, bit-head seeking witty, intelligent woman who prefers dinner out and theater in, long conversations, evening walks and autumn leaves. I’d rather find a summer romance over a spring fling.

Hey! Now that’s not half bad. It’s honest and sincere, but not smarmy or creepy. I wonder what kind of response it will draw.

Sunday, 12 November 2000

I was sure I’d made a mistake by coming to the party — I was too self-concious to dance or have a good time. I got sick of feeling sorry for myself and decided to join the fun. After a few strained attempts at conversation, I shrank back into the shadows, content to watch from a safe distance.

Looking across the room at the crush of bodies, I wonder… How I can feel so alone, so disconnected? Why is it so much easier for everyone else to get involved? Why can’t I just relax and enjoy myself?

I was completely lost in my thoughts when I felt as if someone was watching me. I looked up to find the most brilliant pair of green eyes watching from just a few feet away. She turned away, blushing, obviously wishing she hadn’t been caught.

She brushed past and I caught the faint smell of her perfume. She said something as she walked by, it sounded like she said “follow me,” but I couldn’t tell for sure. Had she really said anything at all, or was it just my imagination? By the time I turned around, she had dissappeared.

I eventually found her on the patio with her back turned to the door. This time it was my turn to watch. Although I’m sure she knew I was there, she didn’t turn around at first. Several minutes passed before she looked at me and smailed.

She said she wasn’t sure I would follow her, but was happy that I had. I replied that I was powerless to resist her beautiful eyes…so mysterious but at the same time familiar.

We made the usual small-talk and seemed to hit it off. We both hated these huge parties for the same reasons — too much noise, too many people and not enough intelligent conversation. We each preferred small groups over large, unruly crowds.

It was starting to get noisy as people started trickling onto the patio. The louder it got, the more quiet we became. Soon we both fell silent and just looked at the stars. Finally, I took her hand and suggested going for a walk.

We talked about anything and everything. The decline of civilization, politics, war, medicine, past lives, loves, triumphs and defeats. Two hours later we returned to find that the party was winding down and there were just a few stragglers.

Not wanting the night to end, we sat on the couch and continued talking. She leaned over and put her head on my shoulder and snuggled in to find a comfortable spot. It felt so right, almost like we had been together for years. I put my arm around her, drawing her even closer.

I’m not sure how long we sat, curled against one another, before we both fell asleep. When I woke up, she was gone. Only the slightest hint of her perfume remained.

I also found a note in my shirt pocket. It said, “Maybe parties aren’t so bad after all.” That was it. I never even got her name.

Thursday, 09 November 2000

When I was about 1-1/2 or 2, I didn’t have much choice but to go shopping with my mom. I could sit quietly in my stroller for hours, armed with only a rattle or some other play-thing to keep me occupied. Of course it helps that I had a hobby.

It seems that, even at the ripe old age of two, I was quite the ladies man.

When a good-looking woman would walk by, I’d lean out of my stroller as far as I could, crane my neck if I had to, and check her out as she passed. I only paid attention to the stereotypical college co-ed types. Twenty-something, decently dressed, good body, and of course pretty. For some reason I wouldn’t pay any attention to the old, ugly or overweight ones. Apparently I had a marked preference for blondes too.

Unfortunately, being so young, my technique wasn’t terribly refined. I’d almost always get caught, but the women didn’t really seem to mind. They’d stop, tickle my chin and make baby noises at me. They’d even tell my mother how cute I was. Of course I’d smile and giggle at the extra attention.

While I’ve honed my skills considerably, there’s no chance I’d get away with such blatant ogling now. And don’t even get me started about the droolng. A mere glance will have to do. Anything more is likely to get me slapped, arrested or sued. Then again, a boy has to grow up some time. But I really miss being tickled under the chin.

Saturday, 04 November 2000

If you only knew what I see what I can’t say and remains unspoken.

If you only knew what is hidden kept inside and out of reach.

If you only knew what I think how I feel things might be different.

If you only knew…