~Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting to Know More

I got this response from a guy on eHarmony and it made me laugh. I actually really liked his profile. He's a fellow writer.

Why did you join eHarmony?
Well, I only joined last week. I did it because they kept emailing me and finally broke me down when they said I'd get 3 months and some sort of upgrade for just $30. Figured it's worth a shot. I've met girlfriends in the past all sorts of ways, but I figure this beats blind dating or finding some random drunk girl at the bar. I just turned 31 a couple of weeks ago. I'm a little past the trolling bars scene. My experience thus far has been ... well, you're pretty much it, so congratulate yourself. As such, it's been pretty good. You seem cool, as far as I can tell from a few pictures and some words. Looking forward to hopefully meeting up sometime in the not-too-terribly distant future, which I imagine is the goal here.

~Monday, October 25, 2010

Phone Calls

I received a phone call from a guy from eHarmony last week. He was a guy that I apparently went to middle school and high school with, but I have no recollection of him. Neither did the three classmates I e-mailed. Our graduating class was over 600 people, so this may have seemed forgivable, but even people in the same clubs as him couldn't remember him. And about 5 minutes into our conversation, I could see why.

I always thought I liked nerds, but I'm beginning to think I don't. I like TV nerds: Seth Cohen from O.C. and Noel from Felicity. But they were also cute and socially adept, so I think TV has tricked me with his whole nerd thing. I love the brainy aspect, I even find the nerd look endearing, but I cannot, cannot get past the social deficits.

We're approaching 30 in the coming months and everyone should have, by now, learned to carry a conversation and acknowledge social cues.

He spent the majority of the conversation telling me about his recent foray into absinthe. And I never thought I would say this, and I still feel a little hypocritical for saying it, but aren't we a little old for absinthe? It was only mildly interesting in college when we were poor and liked the idea of getting drunk without drinking much. The U.S. version is only a cheap knockoff the European kind anyway. And he said he bought the cheapest bottle they had, so who knows what was in that. I swore off drinking any liquor that is packaged in a plastic bottle about 5 years ago. And is absinthe stories really the gateway to a meaningful relationship?

Then he made a sweeping, generalized and unintelligent remark about my alma mater's football coach. That was the moment I quickly got off the phone with him.


A wind has shifted with Government Mule. Not sure what happened but he stopped returning my e-mails Thursday and didn't return my phone calls trying to plan next weekend at his parent's house. At the party Saturday night, he didn't say two words to me. I must have unknowingly crossed some boundary with him.

Now I feel really awkward about spending next weekend sleeping in his childhood bed with the other girls for our weekend in Jacksonville, FL. I even tried to get out of going, but everyone else in the group assures me it's going to be the same dynamic as all of our other weekends away. But I haven't mentioned the whole Government Mule and me not talking thing. Then again, no one else seemed to notice, so maybe I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm just going to back off and not e-mail him anymore and maybe that will help things next weekend. And even if it is awkward, a lot of people will be there so we don't have to talk to each other if he doesn't want to.


Saturday afternoon I put down my blow dryer and impulsively picked up my phone and called Schmoozer. I was heading to Harvey's in about 10 minutes to watch college football. If he wanted in with my group of friends, he could have in. We've traded a handful of text messages before, but this was the first phone call.

Schmoozer already had plans that night, but I was surprised at the intensity in which he was upset that he couldn't make it. Then he told me all about his day and told me I had to see some video he took. "I'll e-mail it to you," he said.

And once again, talking with Schmoozer is easy. It feels like we're comfortable friends and not people who have only played kickball together 3 times. Especially with on-line dating, it feels good to have one relationship with a new male that isn't awkward.

Too many people from our team showed up to the kickball game on Sunday. Schmoozer sat next to me on the grass for a few innings while other people took the outfield. He asked how my night was and told me about his. Easy. So easy. I stretched my legs out before me. I realized he wasn't making the same effort with Harvey or Katie or Jenna or even Harvey's husband. Of the members of my group of friends, his attention was on me.

Another girl on my team hollered at the pitcher of the opposing team for incorrectly rolling the ball to the kicker. It's not supposed to bounce above a certain height. "You wouldn't know 6 inches if you saw it," he shouted back to her.

"Yeah, she only knows 12!" I shouted back. My team erupted in laughter and booed the pitcher. He didn't have a come back for that.

After the game, Schmoozer was waiting for me to walk off the field with him. I jogged to catch up with him. "Feeling feisty today?" he asked.

"Yeah, I must be in a mood."

He said he couldn't meet us for beers this week. He wanted to go home and relax and watch what was left of the Browns game. He didn't wait for anyone else in the group, nor tell them. "I'll see you later, Sarah" he called over his shoulder as he headed back to his car.

Maybe I was too quick to assume he just wanted my friends. But my plan is the same as it is with Government Mule: lay low, not worry about it and see what the outcome will be.

~Thursday, October 14, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Kickball went better this week. We still lost, but this time it was only by 4 runs, so a win actually felt obtainable for a few innings. Yours truly bunted and got on base for the first time ever. At first base, I jumped up and down and cheered for myself. At every base, I told the baseman, "Hey, this is my first time here." Schmoozer was playing third-base running coach.

"If the ball pops up in the air, stay on the base to see if it's caught or not. If it's a ground ball, just take off running," he instructed me.

I kept my left foot on the base and crouched low.

"Two outs!" the referee shouted.

I looked back to Schmoozer. "Two outs? That means run on anything, right?"


The kicker popped the ball into the air and I took off running for home base. Behind me I could hear Schmoozer shouting, "No! Come back!" He obviously forgot the run-on-anything rule. The outfielder dropped the ball and I crossed home plate. I had scored my first run.


No one wanted to go to the bar after the game because we had just spent the weekend drinking our weight in beer at Jenna's lake house. I was feeling fine despite a cough I developed from skinny dipping in October. I actually only had three beers on Saturday because I didn't want to be hung over and puking in the kickball field. But Schmoozer wanted to go to the bar, so did the other guy on our team that I don't really care for. I agreed to go with them.

We sat with the two other teams that were present at the bar. Each team had about three representatives. Every team complimented me, saying they noticed how much better I have been getting at kickball. Schmoozer sat next to me and we split a pitcher of beer. But this time, things were different. There was no flirting outside of the friend's zone. Being from the Midwest, he said he wanted to go through a corn maze which I didn't even know we had until I saw a few advertisements this fall. But he was very clear he wanted it to be a group thing. As in my group of friends.

This is a problem I continually run into. I know firsthand how fabulous my group of friends is and how great it is to be a member of the inner circle. During the game, Schmoozer was regaled with stories of the lake: the skinny dipping, the hot tubbing, the speed boating and tubing and the beer mustaches. Who wouldn't want to be invited to a weekend like that? Then he heard that we were going to miss the kickball game in a couple of weeks because we're driving down to Florida for the world's largest outdoor cocktail party: the UGA/FL football game. He heard the stories and he wants in. Which means he doesn't want me.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Through a series of events, I learned that 5k Guy wanted in our group. He used my list of 30 things to do before 30 as a means to get involved with the group. He sent me an e-mail on the 4th of July for me to pick out a 5k that he and my friends could all run together. I took that to mean he wanted to do the 5k with me, but in reality he wanted to do it with Harvey and Katie and everyone else. Same for the whitewater rafting trip and zipline that he also said he was interested in.

Christopher did the same thing by flirting with Katie last Thanksgiving.

Jack, a boy I dated back in 2007, was more excited about spending time with Helen, my tall and extremely beautiful friend who could pass as a model, than with me.

So what's the solution? When I do finally meet some guy that I like, do I keep him from meeting my friends for as long as I can? Schmoozer is not guilty of this like the others, but how do I keep myself from being a pawn? The sucky part is, I feel like my group of fabulous friends is something I have to offer in a relationship: it's my social life keeping me from becoming needy and clingy, it's a built-in calendar with fun activities in which he can participate, and it's always fun people having a fun time.

How do I keep the greatness of my friends from overshadowing my own greatness?

~Thursday, October 07, 2010

Date #2

What I liked about Savat is that he called me on Monday and left a voicemail suggesting three places we could go and two times, with the final decision left up to me for my comfort. I don't think I've ever had a guy properly call with a pre-made list of places to go.

The list included an intimate wine and dessert place, a sports bar and a hole in the wall known for its tattooed staff and great cheeseburgers. I, of course, chose the sports bar. I didn't realize the mistake I made in setting up yet another situation where the guy could watch the game instead of talking to me until the day of our date.

When Savat joined me at the bar, he smelled of cologne. He was cute; he was dark skinned with a short black hair and a small scar that ran along his upper lip. He wore a green, checkered Ralph Lauren button down and dark-wash jeans. I wore a royal purple button down that was buttoned below the breast and allowed a white cami to show through and dark-wash jeans. I laughed when I saw the polo horse embroidered on his shirt matched my purple. We matched.

We matched in a lot of ways. We both spend a lot of time at the same coast. We knew of the same restaurants and the same tourist traps. We both have elderly grandmothers who have massive farms in the Carolinas. We live practically on top of each other. He lives two streets away in the building across the street from Christopher. We're both of the same denomination. And we both have worked in pizza places.

"So you're a Clemson man," I asked.

"I am."

"What was your major?"



"It's a marketing focus," he explained.

"And you graduated from there?" I probed. I was going somewhere with this.

"I sure did."

"Well your profile says you have an Associates degree." ZING!

His face dropped. "It does?"


He chuckled nervously, "I must have checked the wrong box! I told you I went to both GA Southern and Clemson. Neither have 2-year programs."

"I know."

He continued laughing, clearly mortified. "Oh, man. My friends are going to think that is so funny. Have you just been waiting all night to ask me that?"

"Nope. Ever since we started communicating." I grinned. "My next question was going to be, 'How's the refrigerator repair biz going?"

He cracked up.

"Is your unmarked white van out back?" I continued, thoroughly pleased with myself.

"My sister is going to love this story," he chuckled.

The other highlight of the date was when I asked him what he did for fun.

"I scuba dive and snorkel. What about you?"

"Oh, I also enjoy out-of-town activities that can't be proved in this bar," I quipped.

He laughed again. "Like digging for gold and hang gliding?"

"Actually it's base jumping," I corrected.

I had a nice time. I'm not sure if a spark was there, but he said he would call next week to set up another time for us to get together.

~Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Last Firsts

The first day of my senior year of college, I illegally parked at the Baptist student union and headed towards North campus where my college of arts and sciences was located. Being an English major was easy: I no longer had to pay for text books—all of my required reading could be checked out from the library. There were no cram sessions for finals because no one was going to re-read a novel. Scantrons and number-2 pencils had been traded for blue books: college-ruled sheets of paper stapled together with a cheap blue cover. I pressed the button to illuminate the pedestrian crosswalk, and took a deep breath. "This is my last first day of school," I thought.

I remember that moment clearly because I repeated it the first day of second semester too, only this time my truck got towed for parking illegally and my last semester of college actually took 3 semesters to complete, so I had a whole slew of last first days.

The little ritual I play with myself has carried on. Only now I'm standing in the mirror making sure my hair is acceptable. Then I pick up the lip gloss from the counter and apply it before one last inspection. "This could be my last first date," I think. I've had a whole slew of last first dates as well.

And I'll be thinking it again tomorrow night before my date from Plenty of Fish.

~Monday, October 04, 2010

Game On

When my cousin moved 650 miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the year of our Lord 1995, the biggest difference for him was our highways. "Back home, it's only 2 lanes in each direction." He peered out the window and counted, "One, two, three, four, five, six! Six lanes in each direction! This is a 12-lane highway!"

And he's right. I've driven the streets of Philadelphia, Manhattan and up the Jersey Turnpike. I don't remember seeing a highway wider than 2 lanes in either direction. It makes Southerners bad drivers when we drive up North. We're not acquainted with the 2-lane etiquette of staying out of the left lane except to pass. We're lazy and we're used to having too many options.


Sunday we had another kickball game. It's only our second game since the previous week's was cancelled due to rain. We lost again, but this time the margin of loss was smaller, so I consider it an improvement. I contributed to the game twice: I played first base and got a player out and I sacrificed my kick so a male player could score. I'm really enjoying kickball and think I'll play the spring league.

But the real fun of the game is meeting up at the team bar afterwards. We had a couple of new players this game, one of which I had previously e-mailed on Facebook when I saw that we both friended the kickball league. I introduced myself to him and told him a little about our team that he had been assigned to. He responded and we shared a couple of friendly e-mails before meeting yesterday.

I was giving the waiter a hard time at the bar because I wanted to eat chicken wings, but the 10-piece serving was too big for me. Harvey asked the table, "Will no one share some wings with Sarah?" The guy offered to split the wings with me and then traded seats so we could sit next to each other.

Our conversation was easy. I can't say that for very many people I meet. But he and I had instant rapport. He teased me for grilling another new teammate, which then got him grilled with the questions. A Northerner from Cincinnati, he was surprised I didn't have a Southern accent.

"My parents are Northerners and every time I spoke with a Southern accent growing up, my parents would tease me until I cried, so, no, I don't have much of a Southern accent." There are several words I say differently than my parents, who speak Pennsylvania Dutch. They may have mocked me for my "heel" instead of "hill," but my father's "garage" sounds an awfully lot like "crotch."

"So, Schmoozer, what are your emotional feelings on beer pong?" I asked back.

He laughed. "I'm okay at beer pong, but I'm a champion at flip cup."

"Flip cup! I haven't played that since college!" I exclaimed.

"I'll have to have you over for some flip cup," he offered. "I've got a house with a grill. My roommate, she's cool, but she's with her boyfriend most weekends," he quickly added.

It was good. It was easy. It was natural.

It was time to leave. I got in my car. Schmoozer got in his white vintage convertible. It was an Alfa Romeo. Everyone headed home. I followed Schmoozer on the highway. Despite the six lanes, I could always spot him in my rear-view mirror. After about 10 miles on the highway, I saw him make his way to the exit as I continued straight back into the city. As he headed up the exit ramp, our cars were parallel to each other. I felt like a stalker until I saw his face was turned towards me. I looked ahead to the road and looked back at him. He was still facing me and stuck his hand up in the air and waved goodbye before heading out of sight.

It was the most action I've seen in months.


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