Monday, May 25, 2009


I had four dates scheduled this weekend. I was trying to motor through a few to get a breather on the other side. One was with Seven on Friday, one was with a new Craigslist dude Saturday Morning, one was with Al for Saturday afternoon, and one was on Sunday morning with another new Craigslist dude. Shortly after the weekend began, I decided to postpone the two new guys and concentrate on the repeat offenders.
On Friday Seven picked me up at roughly 7:45, and we decided to go to the Farm CafĂ© before going to the Laurelthirst to see a band. On the way to the Farm, I was attempting to ascertain if Seven had read my blog, and thusly, found out I liked Al. I was a bit worried that he would be hurt by this, though he knew the deal. He admitted that he had, and told me that he thought it was cool and that Al sounded great. I was completely relieved; Seven once again proved to be super cool and completely supportive, and it of course made me like him that much more. As we drove, we passed this little Ethiopian place on 52nd and Division, and Seven mentioned he wanted to try Ethiopian food, which sounded like a great opportunity as I freakin’ love the stuff. So we changed our plans and went to eat at the Ethiopian joint. It was a very nice place, and our waiter was absolutely hysterical, which of course Seven played off of well. Seven is hilarious. There is always at least one point in our evenings together when I am clutching my side laughing or rubbing the smiley-pain out of my cheeks.
We both had the vegetarian combo, which was served to us on a giant platter. It was a great dinner. After, we went to the Laurelthirst, drank beer and danced. It was a great date; Seven even tried to teach me how to hula hoop on a band break. The next morning as he was getting his stuff together, he was talking about what he had to do before a birthday party for one of his daughter’s friends. This included getting something together for a potluck, which pretty much sent me into hysterics. This was a topic Seven and I had discussed on our first or second date. I have an issue with Potlucks. If you are going to have a party, feed your guests. Why ask everyone to bring a dish? This sends a bad signal in my estimation, in addition to the fact that you end up with lots of bread, chips and salsa for dinner. I have heard the argument that potluck parties help to create a sense of community, but I would argue that if you want a community, feeding people at your party is a faster way to make friends than asking that they bring their meals with them. Before I moved to Portland, I had not been to or heard of such things. Maybe it was the crowd I was with at that time, but generally, when you went to a party, sure, you brought a little thoughtful something for the hosts, but in no way were you expected to feed yourself. In addition to the absence of a reasonable dress code, I would say this is another thing the people of Portland excel at; creating events in which you are expected to feed yourself. Ridiculous to my way of thinking.
So, Seven left, and I decided to hang, take a bath and watch Sense and Sensibility until I was ready to go to Al’s. It was a bit weird to be finishing one date and planning to go right to another, but I figured, as long as I mellowed a bit between them, it would all work out. I decided to shoot for a 2:30 arrival time at Al’s. Al lives in the Pearl District in a large-ish condo down the street from PNCA. His condo is empty for the most part, some furniture, a few very beautiful things hung up on the walls, but mostly, it seemed as though he used this place as an in-between; a place he went to in-between going to other places. Two of the beautiful things he had on his walls were line drawings by Van Gogh. Before he told me who had drawn them, he asked me to guess who the artist was. I hate guessing games. Especially when there is no way you could guess the correct answer to the question being asked. Al seemed to love this type of interaction. Of course, one hung in his narrow and darkened hallway and one had a lamp positioned directly in front of it, but he seemed very proud of these items, and told me that Van Gogh was one of his favorite painters. He also had some woven textiles hanging, and a picture he took of a waterfall in a cave in some remote area he had visited once while he was living abroad. Even with these items, the condo was spare. I could never have guessed what kind of person he was by the place he lived in.
Soon after I got there, Al told me that he was becoming possessive of me, and felt strange knowing that I was with Seven the night before. I offered no apology or explanation, but it did not seem as though he needed one. In retrospect, his statement was the beginning of the end. I had told Al earlier that I was not in a place to be serious about anyone, and that I wanted to go through with my twenty dates in twenty weekends, and he told me that he knew what he was getting himself into because I had been honest about everything, but the whole conversation just didn’t sit that well with me.
Later he threw out the hypothetical situation where I would learn to play bridge, be his bridge partner, and we would travel across the country in a van and play bridge at tournaments. That was pretty much the end. Though I know next to nothing about bridge, I can tell you without a doubt that I am not one to sit still in one place playing cards with a bunch of geriatrics for hours on end. In fact, sitting still for me is in itself hard enough; I plan trips across campus at work every half hour just so I don’t have to sit behind my desk for too long. While in every other way this date was amazing, these things he had said basically told me that he had ideas for me which would drastically change the course my life was taking presently, and going his way would mean giving up control of the wheel once again. I had just regained control of the wheel and was white-knuckled at present, trying desperately to stay on my path. No matter how smart or self-aware Al was, I could not bring myself to consider altering my present course. The problem with Al was that I was excessively attracted to him. There was something about the way he spoke, his mannerisms, his smile, that just drove me out of my mind. It also sucked that he was amazing in bed. Bastard.
The next morning, we grabbed some doughnuts and juice, and then Al went to a bridge tournament. I called my friend Annie before I left his place, discussed the present unpleasantness, and she agreed that my decision to break it off was sound and then told me to start volunteering or something. She reminded me of who I was, told me to start making things again, then told me all about the changes she was making to her condo in Oak Park. Good friends are invaluable; they remind you who you are and are honest with you about their perspective on your life, all the while loving you no matter how ridiculous you become.
The next day I called my brother David in Dubuque to ask him for advice on breaking up with Al. I wanted to break up with him on the phone, but wondered if it was better to do it in person. David suggested I send an email or rattle card which he thought was very hilarious, but then told me that it was early enough that I could break up with Al on the phone. Immediately after hanging up with David, I called Al and broke up with him. He was completely cool about it. It was very early in our dating process, but you just never know how some people are going to handle rejection. I am not good at it, but then again, I don’t recall a time I have ever been broken up with. Al said he wondered how this would get written up in my blog, and I admitted I was not sure it was going to make it in. He then suggested I write it and just send it to him, which seemed to me to be a waste. Earlier in the conversation, he had critiqued a bit of my blog, telling me that my summaries were less satisfying for the reader than the actual dates were. While I am sure this is true, it made me think of the relationship between the maker and the viewer, or the writer and the reader, and I realized that while I am very excited to be blogging, the dating experiences and the writing have all been done with only one person in mind: me. After all, no matter how crazy Vincent Van Gogh became, I am sure he would have preferred his drawings end up in a place where they could actually be seen.
I ended up deciding not to count these as dates in my experiment and accepted the fact that I had ten new dates in front of me. As much fun as the first ten have been, I am thinking the next ten will be even better, in one way or another.

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