Monday, June 21, 2010

Post-Romanticism with a dash of Modern Surrealism

My parents were visiting for about a month but that didn’t mean I could take a complete hiatus from dating (now it really sounds like work!). I just made sure I met the guys in between their other travels or in the second case, the evening of their departure.

The first chap was very nice in a wholesome American apple pie kind of way. An only child from Midwestern Americana, he combined his father’s scientific genius with his mother’s artistic talents. But we were interested in one another on other levels, too and when he brought me chocolate from his recent business trip in Europe, I had to say, “Aww.” So we ate at a Spanish tapas place and he paid (and no, he still hasn’t asked for my portion of the bill). We walked around the charming neighborhood, browsed the Apple store and then had gelatos (“a girl after my own heart,” he remarked after I agreed to that one). On the way to the Metro, we sat on a bench and continued to talk for quite a while before a slight drizzle interrupted us. “It’s one of those things we’ll end up remembering for a while,” he said as we ran towards cover. He even waited for my train to come – even as he missed his own – so we could spend more time together. We promised to keep in touch and texted our thank you messages within the hour. Sounds pretty romantic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s all it was, folks. It was a really nice treat and after that not another peep or squeak from the guy. Do I have time to sit and hold my breath – ermm, I don’t think so. Who’s next?

I was running about 10 minutes late for this one. But he was easy to find in the near-empty Starbucks, skulking behind his Aviators. It turns out he used to be in the Indian Armed Forces, so wearing those sunglasses were absolutely mandatory inside a dark coffee shop. After preliminary introductions, he laid down The No. 1 Army Rule for me i.e. always be on time. Aye, aye, sir. Then he proceeded to inform me that he had flown a plane, jumped out of a plane, scuba dived, parasailed and god-knows-what-else. In other words, he really wanted to make it clear he was really, really cool. Honestly, I would have been impressed if this was an Army dude who had fought in the foothills of the Siachen glacier or had flown a MIG-29. Turns out he had done neither – he was an engineer who was posted in random places before he quit to go to B-school – and I know I’m supposed to say they all make sacrifices, no matter what kind of work they do. He was nice, gracious and seemed to have an edgy sense of humor. He certainly took my barbs well. But, but, but. I could recognize that cloud of desperation hanging over him (been there, done that)… as if he needed someone to fill that void, it could be anybody. There is also the little fact of the matter that as he walked me home, he decided to cop a feel by saying, “Hey! Let me show you a cool self-defense tactic in case someone grabs your arm,” while grabbing my arm. Then proceeds to do some Heimlich Maneuver for the arm. Needless to say, that did not impress me the least bit. Can I go to Court Martial for that?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Myself Bhavra, You Phool? - Part 2

I swear I did not have the slightest clue what I was getting myself into when I agreed to meet this guy. Let me warn you, that when you hear the phrase "coffee at 7 pm," there is a strong likelihood of things going a bit off kilter. So first off, this guy calls to say he is stuck in traffic from hell. It was fine since the coffeeshop was literally a hop, skip and jump from where I live so I told him to just call me as he was parking in the vicinity. In the meantime, I hung out at home. Sorted my holiday pictures. No call yet. Then I made a new itunes playlist. Still no call. Now he was running over an hour late and I was more pissed than a grizzly got her salmon picked up by some damn tourist. Finally, 80 minutes later than proposed time, the call comes. “Parking was a bitch, man,” he says. You don’t say. But I take a deep breath, walk over, and think perhaps all could be forgiven if he was Just. A. Nice. Lad.

He was nice enough – he held the door, he apologized profusely, and insisted why don’t we have dinner instead of coffee (it was late and besides "finding parking here made me hungry"). So on his insistance I ordered a glass of wine and salad while he settled for a beer and a steak tartare. When I came back from the rest room, he had already got the check. “Let me get the tip, at least,” I said. “No, no. It’s the least I can do for showing up so late,” he said. “Besides, we men gotta do this kind of stuff to impress the ladies.” OK then.

Cue 24 hours, several texts and a voice mail later. He had a great time, wanted to see me again, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was flattering, I admit. But I had thought a great deal about it and the whole experience – well, something did not feel right. I could not say what. I won’t say sparks because I believe you hit it off immediately with some folks and with others it takes a slow, natural course to get to a great place. I decided I didn’t want to see him again.

Since we met through a matrimonial website, and he had been honest about why he got divorced, I felt it would be fair to send him a polite, thanks but no thanks, note. "Thank you so much for the dinner. However, I don't think we're a good match for each other. I feel we have some differences in our upbringing and background. I wish you the very best." The following is his actual reply, word for word:

"I have noticed that you have no desire to be maintain a friendship. That is perfectly fine. If you were uncertain about things then why did you invite me to a restaurant for a meeting. You could have invited me to simple coffee shop. You are old enough and also smart to know that it is not wise to make other people spend money if you are not sure. Your portion of the bill was $28 including the tip. You can send me the check in the mail (address given). Let me know how you want to do or I can come by and collect it from your place."

The next day I sent him 28 one dollar bills in an unmarked envelope. There are 4 critical lessons here:

1. Rejection is always a bitch.
2. For every nice guy that you meet, there are 5 weirdos.
3. It’s a cliché, but your instinct is your best friend.
4. Always have coffee at 11 am or 3 pm i.e. whenever you actually *need* to have caffeine, so you don’t care if the guy is late/no show/boring.