Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Curious Case of Vanilla Robbins

Post that ghosting dipshit, Walter, I returned to Tinder in late-March. The Single Dad was making his last pleas. I saw him so often that last we saw each other was the last week of February and last we spoke was just after I returned from Cozumel the end of April in a conversation that ended like this: 

Him: I really want to see you. You should skip yoga on Thursday so I can come over.
Me: Oh really? You should get a sitter on a day I don't have yoga.
Him: Yea, I can probably switch a day with his mom.
Me: Yea. Do that. 

I was very heart broken about our end and before the last lack of hurrah [sarcasm], I had been swiping on Tinder looking for a new hook-up/meal; nothing serious having just sworn off men thanks to Walter. (Now, here you have the choice to either judge me for saying it's nice a man pays for food or applaud me for being honest about it. Your choice.) A Tim Robbins-looking man I gave a courtesy swipe to - it's a rule of have to not swipe a man with a tribal tattoo or with a picture of a car and he had a photo with a car - messaged me. A few benign messages passed, including him talking about lifting. Sweet bro! My eye rolls were nearly audible. He asked for my number, then asked me out.

We met once before I went to Mexico. After putting off meeting a couple of times, one Sunday, mid-April, I woke up hungover and probably half drunk, rolled over to my phone and decided that would be a good day to finally go out with him after he asked for a couple of weeks. Exhausted, I said coffee would be good. I thought the date was going horribly - as I was dressed wretched and he wasn't saying much of anything - until he asked if I wanted to grab food. Of course I wanted food.

Now, I was fairly certain of my plan to leave the area by then and was not looking for anything involved thanks to my paradigm shift, and thus made little effort to sugar coat anything. Perhaps it was an experiment, perhaps I wanted to make sure this didn't go far so I could keep focus on me, so when he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was bluntly honest: "happy and a mother." Still thinking men in their 30s are like they are in their 20's, I expected him to recoil. Instead, his eyes lit up and he asked how many kids. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck. I think he named our children right then and there. 

Fast forward to Mother's Day. (The day I learned the most interesting fact about him, which tells you how interesting he is: His mother was featured on an episode of Hoarders. Although, to be fair, that's pretty interesting.) Neither of us live near our mothers, so he asked if I wanted to go to dinner. And yes, I do, because I'm as poor as a South American banana farmer and trying desperately to save to become homeless. As we sit down to dinner, he says, "Happy Mother's Day."

I can't even imagine what kind of facial contortions I made, but he quickly added, "Like negative four years, right?" Apparently, I had been more honest than I recalled and said I wanted to have kids in four years when that conversation was happening on our first date. 

"Uhhhh," I grunted and paused, "more like seven," I lied, trying to get him to not see me as the mother of his children, then changed the subject (which lead to learning his most interesting fact). This wasn't the only time something like this happened. The following week, he put on a baseball cap and - slightly graying - I told him he looked like a middle-aged father of four. 

"I'm practicing," he quipped without laughing. Oh man. This was new territory for me and a fucked-up double standard that a man decides he's ready for a marriage and a family and he's 'mature', a woman: desperate. But I digress.

Immediately into us "dating," he started to invite himself to sleep over, even though I gave no indication that was okay aside from him sleeping on my couch on our second date because we went hiking for four hours and then he had claimed he had too many margaritas during a post-hike dinner to drive. The following day over lunch he deemed that "officially his longest date ever." (I must have a knack for this or something.)

A week or two later, he invited himself over for a movie and pizza after he called and I said I was at Redbox renting a movie. My response? "You can come over, but only if you leave when the movie is over." He agreed. Before he came over, he asked if I wanted to get pizza. "That's fine," I responded, assuming as an offer, he was paying and put my frozen Ellios back in the freezer. When he got there, he asked me to order it. (I need to be in this to save money, not spend it. I am not in a financial position to be my normal sort of kind.) So to make a point and encourage deattachement, I responded, "No. I'm not going to do that. I'm in a really selfish place and I don't like to do anything that doesn't serve me" as popped my Ellios in the oven, offering him one.

My freezer pizza not enough for his refined palette, he responded, totally coolly, "Okay, mind if I order it?" 

WHAT?! WHO IS OKAY WITH SOMEONE SPEAKING (TO THEM) LIKE THAT?!?! Well shit. 

A couple of weeks later I let him sleep over again, but this time I had a caveat: "You have to keep your shirt on." The first few times he invited himself into my bed, he stripped down to nothing but boxers. His forwardness had forwardness, particularly for a guy that hadn't even gotten to second base yet. 'What a bro,' I thought, 'Presumptuous as his saucy texts of words he'd never say to me in person.' (Those stopped once I call him out on it.)

His immediate response to the shirt caveat was, "Are you serious?"  I was, I am. No one likes to sleep with their face in the crook of armpit hair - and he was really into cuddling. This conversation about him sleeping in a shirt went on for a good 40 minutes, about 64 are you serious's, and seven I'm leaving threats. It ended when I came back from brushing my teeth and he was laying on my bed in just boxers, smiling at me like the Cheshire Cat.

"I think its time for you to leave," I said tersely, yet surprisingly calm - considering I was, at this point, incredibly livid. To answer yet another are you serious, I reiterated all of my previous arguments: "You are at my house and not respecting my wishes. This is my bed and I want you to wear a shirt because it makes me comfortable. I don't have to give you a reason. My asking should be reason enough. This is incredibly disrespectful." 

In a huff, he put all his clothes back on to leave, waited for me to stop him, and when I didn't, he removed everything but his shirt and boxers, plopped down on the bed and grumbled: "I'm too tired to drive home." Ten minutes later, he rolled over and complained that I wasn't affectionate enough. This man was proving to be incredibly high maintenance. The next time he slept over, he kept on his shirt, but after texting an apology the following day for something benign I did (but felt I should take ownership of), he (for the second time) took at as an invitation to air his grievances against me. He complained that I slept with the television on (which I do for anxiety) and the contrast didn't work for him and I should turn the television off or try sleeping with the light on if the television is on because that's how he sleeps. 

"I sleep with the lights off, thank you," as I made note to never apologize again.

"Also, I really don't like sleeping in a shirt." Yep, definitely done apologizing ever.

My patience was wearing a bit thin as weeks went by. He'd ask me to hang out, I'd say okay. Or maybe I wouldn't and then he'd offer to buy food. Clever girl; he knew where to hit me. He was boring, but well enough. "Maybe he'll grow on you," my mom said in May when I told her about him. By June, to my surprise, she was becoming kind of right. He was milk toast and vanilla, but he was coming around to understanding he had to adapt to a partner, not change them. And I began to see that he wasn't a 'bro' like he tried to portray; he meant well. And he was putting up with my antics - whatever they were (still trying to make sure he got out of this unattached and unscathed). Still, I wasn't comfortable telling him I was leaving; it hardly seemed worth it to tell him. I was still had moments of wavering, plus, I didn't want another aggressive reaction like The Turk and his 'I'll make you fall in love with me so you can't leave approach' after I warned him last fall. All Robbins knew was that I was going on a camping trip of some sort, still skirting around his other inquiries.

I figured, I still had months to go so I had time for him to organically drift away before I left. I mean, nothing on Tinder lasts longer than three months anyway, right? Six months, tops. Then we hit July. He asked if I wanted to go with him on his family vacation to Nag's Head in September. 1. Family vacation?! and 2. September!! That's months away! Around that same time, he was at my house before we were heading somewhere and got a call from a friend to which he replied, "She's like three feet from me." Fuckity fuck, he's talking to his friends enough about me that they're asking where I am. That's when it got real.

Suddenly, I realized I was in trouble. What was supposed to be a summer Tinder fling for food and company (and a rooftop pool), turned into a man who tells his friends about me, wants me to not only meet his family, but go on vacation with them. And even more startling was the discovery that I really cared about hurting his feelings, as that was never my intention. I never thought it would get this far.

Sure, he's Vanilla, but he is nice. He is as exciting as his condo refinance being his animated topic of choice for weeks, but stable and structured. He was frustratingly set in his ways, but learned to be willing to adjust to meet my demanding comfort. (A helpful tip he can take to his next relationship.) Through this, he has made me understand that whole comfortable life thing. I get the appeal now of marrying for children and contentment: He would offer me the attention I crave, provide for the children I want, and give structure to my flailing limbs of a life I lead. But while there would be provision, there would not be passion, nor adventure. And that is not the kind of life I envision for myself right now; perhaps in five years, that would be more than appealing.

But for now, as time winds closer to September, I'm wracking my brain. I'm trying to figure out a good way to let down a man who is so infatuated that all of my tactics for not letting him get attached, where turned into endearing little quirks. A guy that grew on me a little more than I thought he would and, while he still drives me nuts sometimes, is an incredibly good sport about absorbing my wisecracks and putting up with my shit.

None of this is what I expected. It leaves me speechless to his spellbound. I'm out of tactics; frozen in half-truths and the potential to hurt someone. I'm unsure how to traverse the course from here, but I hope it turns out okay. It is a curious case indeed.

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