Meanwhile back at my computer! After the rough start with Man Meet #1, I decided to check out more options on the singles site. OK, let me check on available men closer to home, yep, that would be more convenient - a quick meet for coffee, then dash off to whatever else I had planned for the day - no harm, no foul. I thought maybe I could get this down to a science and when the right man showed up, I'd be a fine-tuned relationship machine - there would be no more mysteries for me about how to be in a strong, loving, healthy relationship. I'd have it down pat. Oh my, the things we can delude ourselves into thinking are endless!
So, after culling through men that were too old, too young, who didn't post their photos, and men whose photos were, shall we say, not appealing to me, what else could go wrong? Oh, and did I mention men that couldn't write a complete sentence or spell the easiest words correctly. (Is this where I mention that my judgmental snob rears her ugly head over errors in the spoken and written language? Remember, I already admitted my obsession with the power of words).
"Am I being too picky?", I asked myself.
"Of course not," I answered. "You want someone who's at least your level of intelligence and education. It's your right to ask for what you want."
I began replying to emails I received from men who were interested in me. They were dropping like flies! Fewer and fewer were qualifying to be in the running for my perfect match. I was disqualifying them based upon how quickly they responded, how interesting their replies were, how expressive their emails were - my head was getting bigger and bigger - after all, I was a real catch! So my list dwindled down to a couple of guys who were local and met my stringent requirements. After all, I have a right to ask for what I want, don't I?
Here was one that seemed appealing: a retired psychologist who's quite the poet with his emails. Hmmm, he sounded interesting. There he stood in his photo with a huge grin on his face (I like smiling faces) and it's a friendly face - so he looked interesting, too.
He emailed me his number and I dialed him with my number blocked, but his phone wouldn't accept blocked calls! OK, now I had a real decision to make. My list had narrowed to two guys and this one seemed more intriguing, so should I call him with out blocking my number so his caller ID would give him not only my number, but my name, too? Be brave, Toni, take a risk - so I called him anyway and he answered the phone saying hello to me by name. That shook me up a little but I regained my composure and started hitting hard with my probing questions after a little small talk to break the ice.
As it turned out I started hitting hard but I didn't have to continue my questionnaire - he completely dominated the conversation. He would ask me a question but before I could answer he would divert the attention to himself and begin another monologue. Don't ask me why, but I agreed to meet for coffee at 11:00 the next day, wondering what had happened to the strong, communicative woman who had the right to ask for what she wanted because what she really wanted was to hang up and delete this guy from her 'possibles' list.
So as I prepared for a meeting the following morning I took extra care with my clothes, makeup, hair, and scent all the while knowing I was to meet a man I didn't even want to meet. I wondered what was up with this attention to detail, but cast it from my mind as I rushed out the door. Like Blanche DuBois, I'd think about it tomorrow.
At 11:00 I arrived at the coffee shop and placed my order. He was nowhere in site, so I decided to check my voicemail. In a moment of weakness I'd given him my cell number just in case there was a problem with either of us on the way to our meeting place. I was hoping I wouldn't regret this because this guy now had my full name and both of my personal phone numbers. If he was a stalker he could easily find out my address, too and I could become a victim of my desire to find my life partner! I cleared my mind of any fears around this and listened to the five (yes 5!!) messages from him within a 20 minute time frame.
Message #1: 10:30 - Problems with starting the car: couldn't make it to the coffee shop. So sorry...
Message #2: 11:00 - No problem - AAA arrived and jumped the battery - he'd be 10-15 minutes late - please don't leave.
Message #3: 11:10 - On his way, should be there in 10-15 minutes.
Message #4: 11:15 - Was only 5-10 minutes away.
Message #5: 11:20 - Was just down the block and hoped I was still waiting.
Exhausted from all of his messages, I quickly checked my home and office numbers in case there was something I need to address quickly. OMG! There were 3 voicemails from him on my home phone, too! Fortunately he didn't have my office number so I had one safe haven from his voice.
I sipped my coffee, read the paper and watched for him to arrive, the whole time wondering why I was waiting. (I suspect it's just my sense of common courtesy - my Mom really pounded that into us.) I saw him drive up and park and emerge from his car. I was stunned - it was another old man! He wasn't dressed like an old man but he moved like an old man and looked like an old man - how old was that photo anyway? And he was only about 5'3" - I'm 5'4" and was wearing high heels, making me about, say 4" taller than he. (I have a real issue about men shorter than I am. My first husband was significantly shorter than I and had a bad case of short-man complex so he was obnoxious and rude and pushy to everyone to compensate for being height challenged. I wasn't ready to take the risk of having another man like that in my life so I avoided short men.)
I took a deep breath and told myself to just relax and ride this one out - hug, hello, no it wasn't a problem to wait a few minutes, etc. He then launched into about a 50 minute monologue about how he was a perfect match for me, complete with prints of his contributions to blogs to prove his politics were similar to mine (something I requested in my profile)and very poetic compliments about my beauty, intelligence, and desirability.
He proceeded to go into great detail about his history - professional and private, and how he would treat me as his partner. He explained everything like I couldn't understand what he was talking about without his elucidation. It all sounded great except for the part about where I never get to make a decision, speak, think for myself, or have an idea of my own. This guy would definitely be the expert in the family - he knew everything, just ask. Oh wait, you didn't even have to ask - he'd tell you anyway. By now there was a metaphorical axe hanging over this guy's head. Giving up my role as family expert would have been nearly impossible, that alone would have disqualified him.
I interrupted him long enough to look at my watch and make a grimace about the time - I had to go back to work - sorry. Yes, it was real nice, ok, maybe we could go to dinner some time - I looked up and to my horror, he was heading towards my mouth for a kiss! I quickly turned my head and he caught my cheek. He actually tried turning my face towards him to score on my lips with the second effort. I pulled away just in time and jogged to my parked car.
There was yet another voicemail waiting for me when I got home telling me how much he enjoyed meeting me. That evening there was a very long email full of poems to me and points about how we were such a great match. The next morning I sent my "Dear John" email - which I had now saved as a draft.
I was beginning to notice a pattern that reminded me of something. I had now met two men who were willing to turn themselves into pretzels just to be with me (their idea of me) and I couldn't get away from them fast enough. What was the pattern that was a smokey feeling in my memory? OMG! I had come face-to-face with my old me! I had an overwhelming feeling of sorrow for how sad I was and an equally overwhelming feeling of forgiveness for every man I'd met who didn't call me back or return my calls. I'd hated them all for leaving me and not loving me enough but now realized that they couldn't love me because I couldn't let them. I was too needy and clingy and traumatized, full of anger and fear. Just being with me was toxic and now I had a feel for what that must have been like. Those poor men! I forgave them and forgave myself for not knowing any better. I'd just been doing what I knew how to do, stubbing my toe and cursing the darkness as I stumbled around hoping to be rescued.
I spent the next couple of days wondering why I hadn't just told him "No!" "No" to the meeting, "no" to my cell phone number, "no" to the monologue, a huge "no" to the attempted kisses. If I had a right to ask for what I want, why did I still act like I couldn't say "NO"?