Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Better Men

Two days before Christmas the Turk texted me to wish me a Merry Christmas ‘before he forgot’, asked how I was and told me he was going back to Turkey on the 25th because apparently that’s really relevant stuff to someone you haven’t spoken to in 48 days. I don’t know what the fuck is up with that kid. But it doesn’t particularly matter anyway at this point, as I have since move on and so far it’s working out very well, in part thanks to a number of better men.

Back in mid-October Southwest was announcing they were having a sale. As I am wont to do post break-up or what-nots, I decided I wanted a trip and I took that sale as a chance to plan one. I posted on Facebook that there was a sale and “Who wants a visitor in January/February?!” taking note of the fine print. And that guy I met in a bar last summer left a comment saying it was 70 and sunny in Arizona in winter. That sounded incredibly appealing and I asked if he was offering a place to stay; if so, I was in because I like free. So, I went ahead and booked a ticket. So I’m going to Phoenix, which is nice, since I’ve never been. And I'm rather curious to see him again - and for more than 30 minutes. He seems like an interesting fellow.

A few people have expressed concern about this, but I just quickly remind them (as someone pointed out to me) that I had a ticket on reserve to go to Turkey, two weeks after meeting the Turk. (Can you believe I almost went to Turkey?!) So some guy who seems super nice, normal, sweet, lives in the United States, and wouldn't try to claim me as "his property", seems remarkably safer. And that seems to calm their fears. Besides, I’m a good judge of character: See: how I didn’t go to Turkey: Exhibit A. So that should be fun – and warm. Fuck the cold.

Speaking of cold, it brings me to the hunt for a winter bed warmer; also known as (having just learned this term last week): a cuffer. After the Turk fucked with my head and ego a bit, I decided I needed someone who thought the sun shined out of my ass. Re-enter: Goomba. I started texting with him again and we ended up going to a concert. The concert was fucking fantastic. The company was good too. I had a good time and I didn’t feel like each step I was making was wrong. I like spending time with him, but – I don’t know – that shoe doesn’t quite seem to fit. And we stopped texting for the most part – although I’m not entirely sure why. He probably started dating someone. (I do wish he would make it less awkward to just be friends though.) So that left me still cufferless.

Conveniently, the evening following the concert, I got a Tinder message from a guy who I told back in early June that I would go out with. Back then he told me he had a kid and I generally fell off the Tinder wagon so we never went out. I hadn’t been on Tinder for a while, but there seems to be total lulls and also total influxes in which, even if you’re not active on the app, old guys come back to ping you. This guy also texted me again around that same time; it didn’t work out:

very stupid men still exist past 30 (click to enlarge)

So the other guy (the single dad, not 'maximus') that I stopped talking to in June, messaged me again in August. I didn't respond; he tried again mid-December, citing persistence sometimes paying off. He won me with that: I do love me a persistent man. And I figured, I’ve got the international Muslim, the divorcees, the Jews, the short guy, the hey guys, a man with four fucking Chihuahuas, the FWB-turned-feelings, and all the other fails under my belt, why not try on single dad for size. I mean, I’m here to educate: Got to be well-rounded, right?

So we planned for a date on the 19th. He had a cool-ass date called Escape Room Live: where we get locked in a room together and have to search for clues and figure out puzzles to find out who is the spy out of the files we find in the room and where the key is to let us out. The website said it might be stressful (and we may be locked in with strangers) so 1. I said we needed a safe word so we didn’t kill each other (since we were strangers too) and we chose “kumquat” since it's likely to elicit a giggle and 2. I decided the date needed to began with drinks. As it happened, I was 30 minutes late which he let slide (which is good since I'm always late) and he was drinking a pineapple lady drink (or seven) that I let slide. I also let it slide that he has horrible tribal tattoos – a huge no-no in my dating book - but he was a good sport in allowing me to make fun of it and also partook. He knows they are awful, so it seemed mildly acceptable; had he said “these are cool” I would have gone home after my third bourbon and ginger.

Although he talked a lot - a lot - I used the word “KUMQUAT!” for silence; I didn’t feel the need to coddle him, perhaps it was because he was also from my hometown of Pittsburgh and I know our kind is okay with being forthright. Or perhaps it was our texts the previous week establishing that I’m a ball buster and he can handle his balls being proverbially busted. So when he needed to shut up, after the second bourbon and ginger, I let him know. It was an odd start.

And then it got a little odder. On the way to the Escape Room, I got a text from one of my favorite college friends: She was in town for the night passing through and did I want to meet up. I hadn’t seen her in ten years and when I told him that - and with the excitement in my voice - he said of course we had to go. (I'm not sure had the roles reversed, I would have been so gracious.) So fine, he was a Chatty Charles, but he was also a really good sport. We met up with my college friends, I shared that he was a Tinder date, they laughed and welcomed him, and in loo of standing in line at a club, we all went back to my place for drinks and games.

A few hours later, college friends left and the two of us went to bed: no kissing, no touching; just sleep. The next morning we got up and he asked if I wanted to watch the Steelers game with him. He said he was supposed to watch it with his son and I was hungover and lazy, so I passed. He asked again. I said maybe. This went on for two hours, until nearly kick-off then he mentioned food and I was hungry and he wouldn’t get home in time for the game so we went to a bar and watched the Steelers game ate and had some more to drink. The Steelers won and then played pool for five hours.

28 hours after we met, and six hours after he declared it was his longest first date ever (I could not make that same claim), I dropped him off at the metro. We kissed – a good kiss – and he went in for another, declaring, “damn, I wish I’d done that earlier.” We texted through the holidays - incredibly attentive (high on the list with persistence); he came over last night to watch a movie (and talked less). He slowly made his way from one end of the couch to my end, spooning – it rang with the innocence of youth; the growing anticipation of super snogging, a spooning sleep after the calm of abounding sexual tensions (trying hard to keep it playfully innocent). I realized that Chatty Charles, the single dad (that I told my mom probably wouldn't last more than three dates) had been upgraded from 'meh' to 'mildly keen.' (Mom said it's mean to lead someone on, I said it's mean to not give them at least three dates to pass/fail.) An upgrade likely aided by his plan for our (now) third date: He’s taking me to the Steelers playoff game this weekend in Pittsburgh, since I said I’d never been to an NFL game the Sunday after we met.

He asked in the days after meeting: What do I have to do to win you over? I didn’t know how to answer that, but I’m fairly certain that is what courting is; this is what courting is. So far (especially if this Pittsburgh road trip/Steelers play-off happens) I’m really enjoying it. Sure, it may be a complete disaster, but it is still why I didn’t let some douche just claim me without the courting. Because apparently the way to win a Pittsburgh girl over is through her football. If this is courting, fucking volley, man. It's refreshing to know that better men still exist.