Vanilla, with a Hint of Melancholy

For weeks now, I’ve been hoping for a “vanilla” date. Someone who may not be THE ONE, but isn’t intensely weird either. All of my dates have bordered on the extreme and intense in one way or another. Whatever happened to simply grabbing a drink with someone and enjoying the conversation, without feeling like you were in the Twilight Zone the entire time?

M first contacted me three years ago, immediately following my separation. We emailed and chatted and it was friendly and light-hearted. He continued to ask me out, yet I had a great deal of reluctance to accept. For one thing, he is six years younger than me. For another, I was simply in a terrible place emotionally and mentally. I ended up in a relationship with someone else and we, of course, lost contact.

So, here I am back in the online dating scene. I’m seeing many of the same singles that I saw three years ago. We are like hungry fish, all circling the same tiny pond. So when M messages me, I’m not incredibly surprised. He expressed delight at discovering me online and single; I respond with the same friendly and light-hearted conversation that I did originally. This goes on for about a month, while he continually expresses interest in meeting.

While M seems sweet, I am reluctant (again) to go out with him. The age difference is STILL six years (funny how that doesn’t change).  I just get the feeling that he is a sweet guy who will bore me to tears. Plus, there is a lingering humiliation over a half remembered phone call between the two of us.  I was drunk and barely able to focus on his words and kept nodding off, while he earnestly discussed his past relationships. It wasn’t one of my best moments. After several weeks of emails, I finally get an email from him that says: “Aren’t you ever going to make time for me? You might even like me.”

I feel like a jerk. The kid (oops…man) has been pursuing me, off and on, for three years and I can’t given him a couple of hours of my time to at least give him a chance? So I take the plunge and agree. We set up a plan to meet at a local pub and he sweetly and enthusiastically emails: “I don’t want to wait! I wish we could go out right now!”

We agree to talk on the phone the evening before the date and when he calls, I get a sinking feeling after only a few minutes of conversation. I suddenly wonder if my inclination to nod off during our phone conversation three years ago was due less to my drunken state and more to his monotone delivery and choice of topics. I now fear the date, which I feel honor-bound to keep, is somewhat doomed.

The afternoon of the date I receive the knowledge that my youngest child is going to need an invasive medical procedure in just a few days. I’m rattled, to say the least.  I consider canceling for the evening, yet realize that will leave me alone to contemplate complications and ramifications that I don’t want to dwell on. Not to mention the fact that this date has been three years in the making and I don’t want to reschedule. I am discouraged by the fact that I feel more resignation about the evening than enthusiasm. The worry for my child has also lent a heavy feel to the evening. Still, I try to put on a happy smile as I enter the pub, realizing that going into the date in a morose state of mind is not fair to anyone.

What I get is surprisingly pleasant. M is sweet and earnest and is able to carry on a conversation quite aptly. Of course, he also looks eighteen and reminds me somewhat a small, Irish leprechaun; or perhaps a cocker spaniel, with his huge brown eyes and dark eyelashes. After an hour and a half, I let him know that I need to call it an early night. He sweetly asks to walk me to my car; I decline and tell him I will be fine.  At which point he kisses me goodbye, a sweet kiss, despite the lack of butterflies on my part.

On my way home, I think of his big brown eyes and know it is going to feel akin to kicking a puppy when I have to tell him that I don’t want to go out again. I briefly consider accepting a few more dates, wondering if the blow will be easier that way. Of course, I know it won’t be. This is the part of dating that sucks completely.

It occurs to me the vanilla date that I was hoping for may be the worst date of all. Extreme weirdness, attempted groping and offers to spray artificial cheese product on my body are all very easy to turn down. A sweet, brown-eyed boy (oops…man) who continues to text me with enthusiasm for an hour after our first date is not.

I suddenly remember a very bad profile that I had happened upon the day before. One sentence jumped out at me and tugged at my heart: “I just want to find someone to love me.” This very basic human need, to find someone who thinks we are special and funny and beautiful and amazing, is what is driving every single person out there searching for someone.  It is the desire to be loved and cherished and held, despite our flaws and quirks of personality.

Suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed by melancholy.  M, with his sweet smile and puppy eyes, did not have the power to move me the way he indicated I moved him. Yet I wished at that moment, profoundly, that he did. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we always wanted the people who want us? It is a cruel joke of life that it can’t be that simple; that love and attraction and desire is so cursedly complicated and confusing.

My heart was aching with regret for the hearts that I’ve bruised or broken, as well as the ones that have done the same to me. I was overwhelmed with worry for my child and the ordeal that they would have to undergo, as well as what the results might reveal; I also felt an intense desire to be held and loved, yet recognized the irony of having just left someone who was interested in doing both.

I text L, who’s arms are loving and can often offer sweet solace. No reply is forthcoming and the boundaries of our relationship leave me uncertain if calling at 10:00 at night, when he is clearly otherwise occupied, will be an infringement.

All these thoughts swirl through my head and the only clear thing I can latch onto is the need to remember that every single person I come in contact with during this journey deserves at least the respect of acknowledgement. They may be weird, or distasteful…they may be sweet and earnest. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Everyone just wants to find someone to love them. I may not be able to offer that; the least I can offer is the courtesy of a response, some kindness and the willingness to acknowledge that deep down, we might be searching for the same thing.

2 Responses to “Vanilla, with a Hint of Melancholy”

  1. Hope you can soon meet an intelligent, handsome, stimulating man, who won’t be a child or a freak, or a fan of cartoons and video games, in his mother’s living room. Good Luck, my dear, your Prince will soon arrive.

  2. I like orange stuff.

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