Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part VIII

Being set up on dates by loved ones..

After my divorce from Jonah was final, I hated men. I was absolutely, positively sure that I was never, ever going to want to welcome anyone into my life again. However, as we all know and as the John Mellancamp song so truthfully states, “Word gets around in a small, small town”, and that’s exactly what happened. Everyone who had ever met me, it seemed, had the “perfect man” to set me up with. Friends that I hadn’t talked to in years began contacting me, telling me tales of some great man with whom I should go out on a date. Even my family eagerly got involved, as they would scan the population of our town for prospects.

It began when my favorite grandmother (my Dad’s Mom) tried to set me up with my grandpa’s physical therapist. “Oh honey,” she began, “he is tall and well, sort of handsome. But, never mind looks. He has a job and is a nice man!” When she described him as “sort of handsome“, however, I knew that perhaps I should pass on this particular subject. Not that I base solely on looks. No, by now, you know me better than that. I know looks are only a small part of what is important in a man. However, I still just didn’t feel ready.

My other grandma was taking bids from anyone who seemed interested (I am surpised she didn’t make fliers with the title, “Desperate! Single! Lonely single Mom seeks husband!”). She was quite hilarious because she tends to have a flair for the dramatic and a lack of tact when dealing with anything. She would talk avidly to other senior citizens at her center where she went in the afternoon for lunch and tell my story to anyone who would listen. Even when I would take her to the grocery store, she would grab anyone who would listen and tell them of my woeful tale. I sat there one day, as she pulled aside a poor high school kid in the produce section and went on for about twenty minutes to him that she was worried I would never find anyone. How, she was convinced that if I tried hard enough, I could get my ex-husband back. As we continued on through the store, and the poor worker in the produce section ran as soon as my grandmother’s head turned, she found a woman whom I have never met. Her words, after her quick synoposis of my tale were, “Helen is a single Mom with a baby to raise and without a man, how in the world will she ever get by?” (And I wonder why in the hell I have so much to tell my therapist some days. Lol) As she spun my tale around town, people would look at me with piteous glances, shake their heads and think of someone, anyone they could set me up with. Soon, my “dance card” as she called it, was full.

Even though I would protest every time when she showed me a high school photo of a man with whom she wanted me to go out, she would just reply with “Honey, you can’t die alone. If you don’t get back out there in the dating world, you never will. (Like she would know?! The woman is 90 years old and has been widowed for fifteen years!) I mean, look at you. You are no spring chicken anymore and you’re not getting any thinner as the years go on.”

“Grandma, I just had a baby a few months ago,“ I would say, knowing better, but still feeling the blow to my ego. “This photo is from ten years ago. This man could look very different than he did in high school.”

“You are going to give me a heart attack, Helen. Do you want that on your conscience when I die? If you don’t, then I suggest you get right back out there, take the bull by the horns and stop whining. But, if you don‘t care about me, remember my purple suit that I want to be buried in is hanging in the back of my closet.”

I know with some people, you can never change how they are going to think. So, instead of replying with some smart-ass remark like, “Don‘t worry grandma, the evil never die,“ I bit my tongue and we continued looking at the pictures. Eventually, she enlisted the help of my cousins and we found my first prospect with whom I would go out on a coffee date.

He was a thirty-nine year old teacher who worked with my uncle. On the phone, he sounded very nice. We spoke of the usual things, what we did, where we worked, what our hobbies were, etc. After being convinced that he wasn’t an ax murderer or anything, I agreed to meet him for coffee.

As I primped for our coffee date, I didn’t know what to think. Was I supposed to be nervous? What do I say? The only lines I could think of to say were, “Hi, I’m Helen. I’ll have a decaf, soy coffee because I am still nursing my infant son and he is milk intolerant and can‘t have caffeine. Yes, I have serious relationship issues because my ex-husband really did a number on me. I have a lot to offer someone, but may be rather apprehensive when trying to trust someone again.” I laughed to myself, as I tried my best to put my make up on. Finally, after a half an hour, I nursed my son and got ready to leave. The drive to the coffee shop was pure agony, as I answered potential questions aloud in the car. As I stopped at a stoplight, the person in the car aside mine looked over at me and probably thought I was completely insane. Nonetheless, I continued on with my questions, as I slowly approached the coffee shop.

When I finally got there, I ran my fingers through my long, blonde hair again as I fixed my lipstick and let out a little groan as I got out of the car. Boy, I didn’t want to do this. Any chance of possible rejection again was not going to be good for my self esteem. Either way, I held myself up high and walked into the coffee shop where we were to meet.

I looked around when I walked in and didn’t see anyone there yet that looked like they were waiting for someone. So, rather than wait and see if he was going to pay for my coffee or not, I strode up to the counter and paid for my own. As they handed me my decaf, soy latte, I turned to look around. Someone had come in while I was ordering, but he was rather old looking. He had to be at least forty-five, was almost bald and was so short and skinny that I could have picked him up and swung him around like a kid.

“No. No…that can’t be him. Henry (my cousin) said that he was at least as tall as I was and reminded him of Michael J. Foxx. No… that can’t be.” I thought as I sat down in a chair to wait for my date. However, as luck would have it, the man rose out of his chair.

“Holy shit.” I muttered under my breath. “Seems as if Henry needs to see a picture of Michael J. Foxx.” But as he approached me eagerly, he reached his hand out and I smiled as I already knew I would probably never go out on another date with this man.

However, we sat down and I found that he was a very, very nice man. My story came spilling out of my lips before I could catch it because he brought up the fact that my cousin had “debriefed him” on what had happened. Overall, the coffee date was nice and I have to admit, it was nice to talk to another adult. However, the sparks were not there for me, but I didn’t have the guts to deny him my phone number. After all, the poor man had to sit and listen to my tale for a half an hour. How could I say, “Mmmm… actually, no thanks. I really am not interested.”? I simply couldn’t. He called after that, but I shamefully did not answer his calls or go out with him again. I know, I know. I am holding my hand out right now, so my dear readers can slap it. Go ahead. Go ahead.

After my coffee date, it seemed everyone wanted to know how it went. I was the talk of the town. Even when my mother ran into my old pediatrician in town, he told her, “Don’t fix Helen up with anyone just yet. I have the perfect man for her.” He went on to describe the man as handsome, successful and single. After talking, my mother discovered that he was tall, had hair, could read, and had all of the characteristics I was looking for! My mother said that she was so happy to hear that someone finally had a prospect I might be interested in. The man happened to be his best friend, who just never had found the right woman to devote his life to. As he fished a picture out of his pocket to show her, she said she almost fell to the ground laughing. There, staring her in the face, was a picture of my second cousin. My family and I had a good laugh at the next get together as my brothers assured me that it is ‘totally legal’ to date a second cousin and that we would just have to get papers signed for permission if we ever got married. All I could do was put my head in my hands and sigh.

A couple more months went by, before I agreed to go out on another date. However, through this whole process, I continued to have hope that there was someone out there for me. However, for some of us, the word hope is something that continues to get us into trouble. For me, the hope part is what obviously has gotten me this far into the dating world and has given me so many disastrous stories to tell. Trust is another attribute that I have that has thrown me a few mud pies in the face, as well. For example, trusting friends or family members to keep their eyes open for a potential mate only leads to trouble. You think that since they know you well and they hopefully know the person they want to set you up with well, that things will go swimmingly.

So, when a friend approaches you and tells you that they have the perfect match for you, you want to believe them. A new little fire gets lit inside of your soul that gives you hope that perhaps your friends know you better than you know yourself. In this instance, my friend Samantha was one of those people. Time and time again, I would complain to her about men as most women do. She knew that I was on the quest to find someone that I could be with, happily for the rest of my days. In my mind, it seemed really quite simple. They had to be someone I was attracted to, educated, like kids, want kids, had to be tall-ish (you are all aware of my criteria) and had to make me laugh. Easy, right? Okay, I hear you laughing and you can just stop that right now!

Rather than giving up after the first blind date, I agreed to try it again when Samantha mentioned she knew of someone that I might be interested. Since she knew my criteria well by now, I trusted her. I had hope in her, ahhh… that sweet little word again, hope.

She said that she knew a man very well, who was sweet and adorable (that should have been my sign only dogs or children should be described as adorable) and he just had the worst luck with relationships, like me. He was so nice that often, they would walk their dogs together.

After begging my brother to baby sit my son for an hour (yes, I said beg. Explaining my family will take another book and quite possible years and years more of therapy) I finally agreed to have coffee with Mark. I had no idea what he would look like, but trusted my friend Samantha so very much that I knew he would be good looking.

He and I agreed to meet at a coffee place just around the corner from my brother’s house, as an hour barely gives one time to talk, let alone time for a first date. I was feeling very guilty for only allotting an hour to this subject, but after five minutes, an hour seemed like an eternity. If this sounds at all shallow, please read on to see what I am talking about.

As I walked into the coffee shop, I felt like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. I was looking around like mad trying to see who would be looking for someone else. I had butterflies in my stomach and could barely breathe. I had primped and as I caught my reflection in the glass of a picture frame in the coffee shop, thought that at least my date wouldn’t run away screaming.
Just as my head turned from my reflection, a bald, middle aged man with a hockey jersey and the most scarred face I have ever seen sprang forward and reached out to shake my hand. Yes folks, I said sprang. This was a person that should never ever get near caffeine because he would make coffee beans nervous.

After I ordered my latte and was wondering whether or not I should bolt for the door without explanation or fake a call on my cell phone saying my grandfather died again for the fiftieth time, I decided just to stay. Besides, what would I tell my friend? She had so thoughtfully set me up with this man, who obviously had some good qualities or else she wouldn’t have seen the possibility of us being together. Right?

Wrong. As soon as we sat down, he anxiously began asking me about news articles as he opened up his newspaper, closed it, and flattened his newspaper that he brought with him over and over. He said that since there was so much to read, he just didn’t know what to start with first. He stated this as if he were dealing with making the decision to use a nuclear bomb on an opposing country and grabbed the sides of his hair in frustration as he looked out the window. I sat there in awe of this man who obviously had a very different perspective on life than me.

I continued to sip my latte calmly and look at my watch as the hands of it seemed to waltz by slower and slower and he slipped into more and more nightmarish tales of what made him nervous. People, driving, cats, cellophane, clowns, public restrooms, cell phones in public places, all of the choices that you have to make just to get a cup of coffee in a coffee place, you name it, it made him crazy. In fact, he looked as if he wanted to climb the walls when he was saying all of this. I was just waiting for his head to come off and steam to come out of his ears like they do in cartoons.

I actually at this point in my dating career wouldn’t have been surprised. Give me a fire extinguisher to put out that fire and I will not so much as blink. I will move onto the next subject and throw back my latte like a fat, oiled politician in his twentieth year in congress without blinking. What the hell? Look at what I have gained in return from giving these precious moments away to creeps. I have gained enough information to write a book and the peace that comes with appreciating what I’ve gained instead of crying about what I haven’t.

I nearly ran to my car that day, appalled with my friend Samantha’s choice. Perhaps she will just get a Christmas card this year and I will eat the box of chocolates that I bought for her. I couldn’t help but almost laugh, as she called me on the way to my brother‘s house and asked, “So, what did you think of him?” I wanted to ask her for a picture and make sure it was actually the right person or if I had just met the wrong person all together. Because surely, this man could not be the one whom she thought was “adorable, funny and sweet”. I could most definitely assure her also, that he didn’t just have “bad luck” when it came to dating.

I decided not to get into specifics with Samantha because she was my friend. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. As result, I told a little white lie that day, telling her that he and I were just on different wave lengths. That perhaps he and I were searching for something different and I didn’t think that another date was in our future. I thanked her for thinking of me enough to even warrant a set up and turned her down graciously when she said she had another friend in mind for me.
When I walked into my brother’s house that night, all we could do was laugh when he asked me how things went. I believe that my life is on a big screen up in heaven and the angels are watching my life as if it were the Super Bowl. Only, when they watch my life, the females don’t have to sit through it and pretend they like the program just so that they can see the hilarious commercials. Because guess what? I AM THE DAMNED COMMERCIAL!

1 Comment on Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part VIII

  1. Adventures in Dating: Helen – Part VIII : Adventures in Dating … - Dating Tips and Tricks

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