"Carolyn's stories are like a cozy blanket, a pair of stretchy pants, a lifetime movie, and a pint of ice cream to come home to after a DUMB! dating experience. It makes you breathe a sigh of relief and think "Phew! Its NOT just me!!!!!!". -- Ozlem (my hairdresser)

Love the blog Carolyn!! Just read every entry - it's all great! really interesting and a lot I could relate to-- it's hard for me to imagine you having any trouble meeting guys, but I love the honesty and openness of your voice.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"I See You, But You Don't See Me"

"I See You, But You Don't See Me" is what Steve, the self-described "Jewish Richard Gere," texted me while I was trying to spot him at United's baggage claim. Bad sign, I thought. I'm really good at spotting people in a crowd, but I guessed he probably didn't look much like his profile pic on Millionaire Match. An uneasy feeling grew in my stomach. I wondered why I had been driving my car around LAX, picking up a total stranger in the first place.

My girlfriend Sandy called, asking if there was any chemistry between me and Steve. "I don't know yet," I said, "I haven't seen him. United lost his bag, so I have to keep driving around the airport until they find it," I told her. "You're picking him up Carolyn?" she exclaimed, "The kind of guy you want to meet, is the kind of guy who gets his own car and picks you up". She was right. I shouldn't be picking up random strangers at LAX, who I met online.

This was the first time any man had flown to L.A. for the sole purpose of meeting me, so I didn't know what the proper etiquette was. I figured if a guy was buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel room, the least I could do was pick him up. Steve never mentioned getting a rental car and had always assumed I would pick him up anyway. His email had said, "So.....How do you want to arrange the airport? Curbside? Meet me at the gate with flowers and...dark chocolate (my favorite), marching band (a little too much maybe)?" his 'humor' foreshadowing a potentially tragic weekend, I thought.

Ten minutes went by. Another text appeared. "I am ready for a cocktail now." Hallelujah! Surely this was code that Steve's luggage was found and I was closer to a stiff martini (or four). I pulled up to baggage claim, but still no sign of Steve. I texted him, asking where he was. "Still waiting for my luggage," he wrote back. Oy vey... this "Jewish Richard Gere" better be great.

Uh oh, he's reading my mind, I thought as I read his next text. "I'm worth it," he wrote. The traffic cop flashed his light on me yet again, and motioned me to move on. I found a place to pull over and park. I sat quietly for a few moments, took a deep breath and told myself that everything was going to be ok. Maybe the recent corny emails and texts were because Steve was nervous to meet me too. And I was going to do my best to have a positive attitude and a nice evening.

"You miss me?" he asked. I had not noticed a tall, lone figure approach my car. Steve leaned in my window (a little too close for my taste) and took my hand. I looked at him. Steve said he was 55, but I thought he was 60 and looked nothing like Richard Gere. He wore business slacks, a grey henley under a black v-neck sweater, a blousy tan jacket and thick soled Florsheim's. His clothes were baggy, most likely hiding an out-of-shape physique. Steve got in and buckled his seatbelt. I wanted double olives in that martini.

I have a strange man in my car. I am not initially attracted to him and I'm supposed to entertain him tonight and tomorrow.

As we drove along, I found myself working really hard to have a pleasant conversation. We made it to Cecconi's, one of my favorite restaurants in L.A., in record time. I ordered a sour apple martini and wondered if they offered it intravenously. He ordered a kamikaze and took careful sips. He was hungry and ordered the eggplant parmesan. He took a bite and said, "Oh this is good, you've got to try this" insisting on feeding me. As the spoon neared my face, sauce dripped off the sides, landing on my jeans.

How was I going to spend the whole next day with this guy? I waited for the alcohol to take effect. I ordered another and tried to remember what we had in common and what originally drew us together.

We both had reached out, looking for a connection that could possibly lead to a nurturing, long-term relationship. We each had made significant arrangements to finally be sitting next to each, after our initial contact one week prior. "Chemistry" I thought, "you're an elusive beast." Steve reached over and put his arm around my waist. I then watched his hand as it slid down my hip onto my thigh. He was testing the water and I wasn't jumping in.

The next morning I picked Steve up from his hotel and drove to the beach for brunch. "Did you want to get coffee on the way," I asked. "No, thanks. I had chamomile tea. I have so much energy, I didn't want to be too much for you today." Steve often spoke of his athletic prowess and high energy, but I didn't see it.

Once at the restaurant, we had a pretty interesting conversation about our families. But, he started repeating some of the same stories he had told me on the phone. "Yeah, I remember that story. You told me that one on the phone." I said. "Well, maybe I did tell you that story, but I didn't tell you the part about the encyclopedias. That part was new." "Oh, right, tell me more." Is it noon yet?

After brunch, we decided to go back to Hollywood and see a movie. As I was driving through the Wilshire corridor, Steve mentioned that this was the area where one of the women he previously met online lived. She had invited him back to spend the night at her condo, even though, according to him, she was bitchy to him during their date. "I turned her down," he said. I wasn't completely sure of his purpose in telling me this. "Is this the woman who didn't want you touching her $2,500 golf bag or the one who wasn't happy you showed up wearing Birkenstocks?" I asked.

At dinner that night Steve asked me how he thought our date was going. I reviewed his qualities in my head. He was nice guy and he was very pleasant. He was a gentleman and he was also somebody's father. I wanted to be honest with him in a respectful way. I told Steve that he was very easy to talk to, and that I had had a nice time with him, but ultimately I didn't feel any chemistry with him. "Ok," he replied. "So where do we go from here?"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder if there's Something Wrong With You...

Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with you that I don't know about since you're still single," said Peter. I was hurt by his comment since I've known him for ten years and we've had many honest conversations about relationships. Not to mention, I have spent countless hours listening to his various marital problems. "Would you consider me normal if I was in an unhappy marriage like yours?" I replied. "Good point," he admitted. "Sorry."

Since I have never married, the question I am often asked is, "Do you think you're afraid to commit?" I didn't think so, but honestly, I don't know. Maybe I am afraid to commit, or maybe I just haven't met the right guy yet. Admittedly, now that I'm getting older (and my life span shorter) committing to someone for the 'rest of my life' doesn't seem so daunting. "How will I ever know if I'm truly in love, and with the right man?" My sister-in-law told me once "well, you just know when you know, and I knew with your brother." They were were married for 14 years before they divorced.

I wondered if maybe I had passed up an opportunity to marry a good man. I thought back over the handful of relationships I had early in my dating career. My very first was "Rick". He frequented the restaurant, where I worked as a hostess during my senior year of high school. It was a conservative eatery where the pudgy manager often rolled his eyes when I wore outfits he thought too fashion-forward for conservative St. Louis. He threatened to make me a busboy once, when I wore a black Norma Kamali sweetheart top, white pleated skirt and red stiletto pumps (topped off with big 80s hair and jewelry). However, it was this particular outfit that captured Rick's attention.

Rick was 25, divorced, had thick auburn hair, not much of a chin and a big nose. Frankly, he looked like a totally buff, but younger Barry Manilow. He sat at the bar each night, stealing glances each time I passed. I could feel his eyes on me and I liked it. I was 18, a virgin, and my hormones were raging. I fantasized about him seducing me... his breath on the back of my neck as his hands grabbed my waist and pulled me in close, kissing me deeply, just like a bad romance novel. "That will be $18.75," I said to a father paying the dinner tab, eyes half-mast, jarred out of my fantasy. Dreaming of Rick seducing me made tedious work hours tick by.

After a week of unrequited desire, I approached Rick and asked if he would like to take me out sometime. Two nights later we had many drinks and ended up on the floor in his office, narrowly escaping a security guard doing his rounds. I was nervous as he looked deep into my eyes and took me. The next day, Rick sent flowers to work with a card that read "thank you". The waiters gave a nod by leaving a small dish of maraschino cherries on the hostess stand. I never saw Rick again... end of trashy romance novel.

Next was Pat, a big drinker, pot head and failed screenwriter I met in NY in my early 20s. He was my roommate for 6 months before he wore me down into being his girlfriend. Our relationship ended after I hit the redial button on the phone, thinking I was dialing my mother and, instead got an answering machine with a young, female voice talking in a thick Chinese accent, "Hello, me not home right now (giggle) peas leave message and I call you sweetie". I didn't think much of it at first, but then came home the next day, the day after that and the next and was greeted by the same message each time I checked the redial function. I wasn't sure if Pat had another girlfriend or was seeing a prostitute. I didn't stick around to find out.

Then there was Tom, who was on the cover of TV Guide as one of the "Hunks of Hollywood" during the late '70s. He had been on a huge hit TV show, but was now doing musicals on Broadway and recording a country album with his band. We dated for a year and I was the love interest in one of his music videos. But, while he was on the road touring with his band, he got some girl pregnant, married her and didn't tell me, until she was nearly in labor.

"Maybe you're just too picky," said an unpleasant woman recently at a dinner party, who is married to a drab man with deep pockets. Well, shouldn't I be picky if I'm looking for a man to spend the rest of my life with?

Maybe there is something wrong with me, but for two hearts to want the same thing, and follow the same path is truly a miracle. I can't just make that happen. However... I do dream of having a relationship with a man, that no matter how much or how little we have, we still have each other.