Honestly, there are some great things about being single. Putting the leftover garlic shrimp stir-fry in the fridge and knowing it will be there when you go back for it, buying toilet paper and knowing exactly how long it will last, wearing the same drawstring Capri yoga pants for three days straight (I work from home, don't judge me!). But yes, I recognize that we are moving into "the season of love" so I am cautiously dipping a pinky toe into the dating waters to see what's what. Not just anyone will do. Many apply, few are chosen. J As I review the applications for Mr. He-Better-Be-Right, I am checking those qualifications against my list.
Requirement #4: Chemistry. Ah yes, that elusive hard-to-define spark without which a relationship is dead-on-arrival. One TV show called it the za-za-zoo; I call it the sizzle. Attraction is a palpable thing that can be generated by words, looks, circumstance and a vibe. It is hard to create and even harder to ignore. Whatever that magnetic thing that attracts Person A to Person B on a mental, physical, emotional level has never truly been definable beyond some scientific formula involving pheromones or serotonin (I don't know people, look it up). It's that tingle when they're near and the promise of heat when they get nearer. The issue with chemistry is that if allowed, it can overrun everything in its path (common sense, logic, truth) but that doesn't stop us from wanting it. I've always been a huge fan of the sizzle and think it's a magical thing when you actually find someone you can vibe with who is feeling you and you're digging them too… absolutely magical. Allow me to share a BougieTale of eHarmony gone wrong to illustrate my point.
One of the remaining contenders from my eHarmony search was a cardiologist whom we'll call Alex. Alex lived in a state not so far away, was divorced from his first wife and had two grown children. We exchanged witty "getting-to-know-you" emails which evolved into witty "getting-to-know-you" phone calls. Oh ya'll know those phone calls. Those giddy breathless two-hour phone calls filled with laughter and excitement. It's the "this could really be something" feeling that sweeps you up and take you for a ride. His name gets dropped into sentences, "Oh yesterday Alex said the funniest thing!" We had a lot in common: we were both unapologetically bougie, we grew up in households with two professional parents, we were both the third child out of four and our views on politics, religion and pop culture aligned fairly well. Inevitably, the time came for a face-to-face meeting; he was travelling and had a brief layover in Dallas so I agreed to meet him at the airport for a drink. Due to flight delays, our one hour drink date was cut down to a ten minute meet and greet. It went… okay. His looks didn't match his voice and for a cardiologist he dressed extremely poorly (ratty t-shirt, saggy sweat pants with some sort of slipper loafer) but I was so enraptured with the personality that he had displayed up to this point that I "back-burnered" any minor reservations.
A few more weeks of great conversations ensued before we meshed our schedules again. This time he planned to spend three days in Dallas and wanted to spend every single second with me. There were a few logistical hang-ups such as the fact that he did not want to rent a car since he hated driving in strange cities and (against my advice) he chose a hotel near downtown which in traffic was at least forty minutes from me house. But I was willing to overlook minor irritations because this could.be.the.one! Our troubles began on the way to dinner Friday night. I don't know whether we were just nervous or our energy was low but there was no sizzle, no spark. It was like hanging out with a good friend (that you know will never be more than a good friend). During dinner at the bougie PF Changs midway between his hotel and my house, the first "issue" cropped up. He was hypercritical of the service and at one point uttered something so unnecessarily rude to the wait staff that I literally froze with a piece of Garlic Shrimp suspended in mid-air. "Umm-" I started to say and he cut me off, "Sometimes you have to put people in their place." Uh-oh.
Chele I tell myself – just hold your peace. You've got all weekend, maybe he's having a bad night. We got through the rest of the night without any more major blow ups and I chalked up our lack of chemistry to the end of a long day and the "letdown effect' of finally being in each other's company after so much build up. The next day we went shopping and he admitted that he had not shopped for himself in over fifteen years. His wife did all the shopping and after her – his nurses shopped for him. "Clothes?" I asked. "Clothes, groceries, everything. I don't even pick out my own toothpaste." Uh-oh.
Chele I tell myself – he's a busy man, it's not so bad. We step into the men's department of Macy*s and he stops dead. He turns to look at me and I stare back at him with a raised brow. He says, "You know what we're doing the rest of the weekend so why don't you pick out my outfits. I need shoes too." Ooo-kay, this is OneChele going with the flow. I held my hand out for his credit card and went to town. Jeans, shoes, polo shirts, sport coat, dress shirt, tie, cufflinks, dress pants. Thirty minutes later that man was exhausted and had quite the balance on his platinum card. I took him on the obligatory Dallas tour (Kennedy Memorial, Cowboys Stadium, uptown, yada-yada), dragged him through Costco since I had things I needed to get done and then dropped him back at his hotel. Not a bad day but it was like shopping with one of my BougieBros. Uh-oh.
Dinner that night was a disaster. Di-Sas-Ter! I looked ravishing in a silk emerald green wrap dress and matching sky high sandals (if I may say so myself). He looked pretty good in the outfit I had picked out for him. We went to one of the best steakhouses in Dallas (this place will turn a vegetarian carnivorous!) and ordered some drinks. This is where the trouble started. We were already a little awkward what with the stilted chemistry and then it was revealed that Dr. Bougie cannot hold his liquor… at all. I warned him off the pomegranate martini when he told me he wasn't a heavy drinker. "It'll be like juice!" He argued. "No, it'll be like five liquors swirled together to taste like juice." He shot me the "woman be quiet look" and proceeded to slurp (yes slurp) down three martinis before we had finished the appetizer. I shoved the bread basket at him after his fifth attempt at stabbing the calamari caused it to fly forward and land on my silk-covered bosom, smearing marinara sauce on dry clean only fabric. "I think I might be a little drunk." He slurred and I literally yanked the martini glass out of his hand, replacing it with a tall Coke which he also knocked over. Uh-f'in-oh.
The rest of dinner was just painful. His level of inebriation was such that he slopped food every whichaway, allowed food to fall up out of his mouth and licked things one doesn't lick in a five-star restaurant. He talked faster and louder the entire time. I was a little bit adrift. I hadn't been on a date with a drunk man (while I was stone cold sober) in years. I literally had to take his wallet out, pull out his card and sign the check for him. Then came the good time of having the maitre d' help me get him to the car. I pulled up in front of his hotel at 9:00pm. NINE PM and the date was done, son. Reaching across the seat he smiled fuzzily, "You wanna come up, babe?" **crickets** "Umm- not tonight." I may have left skid marks pulling away, but I'm not sure.
The next day he was quite ticked off. He had never been so insulted in all his days as when I booted him out of the car at 9:00 pm. He said I was comparing him to men I had dated in the past was making him feel inadequate, he swore he was not the drunk. (He did a damn good imitation of falling down drunk apparently). Anyway, we still had movie and a jazz bar to get through. At this point, I felt obligated since he flew to Dallas to see me, knew no one else in town and I was basically his entertainment director. And bless my heart, I was still holding out hope that we could get back to the fun, animated people we were on all those phone conversations. We saw whatever the latest Will Smith movie was and headed to the jazz spot for early dinner. I made attempts to resurrect our banter until I realized he wasn't making an effort. I started watching ESPN on the TV over his head. As we sat in uncomfortable silence he finally said, "Let's just call it a day, I have a flight early in the morning." I probably didn't do a great job of hiding my relief.
The next afternoon he sent me a seven (yes, 7!) page email documenting what a letdown the weekend was. "It was like a guided Dallas tour with my sister as a hostess." I agreed. He then went on to say that he wasn't used to dating and especially not a woman of my caliber (?!). He said he hadn't expected me to be so attractive and put together (seriously though?) and he said he may have felt intimidated and wasn't sure he could be who I wanted him to be. He had also Googled my ex-boyfriend (FAIL) and deduced that if that was the kind of guy I was used to, he just wasn't a suave with the words, always on kind of guy. And that was just the first three pages. He spent another three describing how he was going to make a move but knew I wouldn't be receptive, how he just didn't know how to date anymore and how maybe it was too soon after his divorce and he needed more time to pull himself together. He wrapped by saying he was chalking this whole up to a failed experiment and if I didn't mind he would just prefer to forget he ever met me.
Le Sigh. I responded that we hadn't even gotten to the "heavy lifting" portion of the relationship and he was already cracking under the strain. However, if he truly didn't think he could be what he thought I wanted so be it. BUT, I emphasized, wouldn't it have just been more truthful to say that whatever chemistry we had via phone and email did not translate in real life? Whatever the snap, crackle and pop! we thought we manufactured fizzled to zap, whack, not! in person. It happens. He wrote back to say he would have guessed based on calls and letters that we would really sizzle together and he was so disappointed that we did not. I simply wrote back to wish him luck in his future endeavors and chalked it up to lessons learned. The lesson that I learned is that you have no idea how compatible you are with someone until you are in their company checking out the entire vibe. What was dignified and privileged on the phone came across as pompous and pampered in person. My natural reserved "I'll relax once I know you" persona no doubt came across as stiff and awkward to him.
SO! In review of the wish list, OneChele is going to need a healthy dose of the zip, zing, sizzle… oh, I'm also going to need a brother to know when to say when on the drink orders… that was downright painful. By the way, next week we will be on to other things but you will see the return of the requirements list as fall continues.