“You’ll Think He’s a Stiff.”

Two years before I met Jake, I was sitting between a purple peacock and a Chesire Cat tapestry by the storage room of an Alice in Wonderland-inspired furniture shop. I was, at the time, so heartbroken, even baked brie couldn’t make me smile. A love affair had just ended between a 6’4”-tall urologist and me. Like me, he had attended a Connecticut boarding school, frequented the same all-you-can-eat sushi joint on the Upper East Side, and loved E.E. Cummings. He was also Asian.  Together, we would raise collar-popping kids who took off their shoes as soon as they entered the house. It was all so lovely. And, then, suddenly, it was over. That’s how I ended up there, with Markus, a Tarot card reader, cutting a deck of cards into three piles. He said of my future partner, “You’ll think he’s a stiff but you’ll warm up to him eventually.” I imagined a blond Ralph Fiennes who read Our Mutual Friend every Christmas and said things like, “I’ll be with you presently.” As I paid him forty bucks, Markus told me that my future He would be chosen for me. Great.

I didn’t know, then, that Markus meant that one of my sisters would be doing the picking. Myra made me sign up for Okcupid, an online dating site. I filled my profile with mostly ironic responses, and, uninterested in the venture, I gave her my password and told her to do whatever she wanted with it.  A few days later, she called: “A guy named Jake wrote. We like him.” His e-mails were well-written and he liked the movie Dead Poets Society. I was curious but that was about it: he’s a Jewish sports aficionado born and raised outside Boston. I’m a (lapsed) Catholic Third Culture Kid. I run only so I can eat cheese and  fit into tube dresses. He looked like the kind of nice man your mom would want you to date, a quality which is sweet but not necessarily desirable.  Besides, we’re both English teachers. What were we going to do on our first date? Talk shop?

Jake and I met at an Irish pub in Boston in early January. I was calm, figuring that at the very least, I was going to get a good meal. (I had looked up the burger menu.) Then, he said my name and I stuttered, “Yep.” Somehow, neither his profile nor his e-mails hinted at how hot he is.

He will tell you that there was laughter; that I was wearing a black, puffy tent with fur; and that we both ordered bacon cheeseburgers.  I showed him how to take off a coat like a film noir femme fatale.  I stared furtively at his wrists. I was nervous, so I admittedly don’t remember much laughter. I do recall literally biting my tongue a few times when I almost said, “You’re sexy,” which is what I told him on our second date and 130th.

He will also tell you he got a ticket that evening, the first of four, the first of many. Love, I suppose, makes you lose track of time on your parking meter. It also makes you sign your rent checks with hearts. And sing karaoke sober in front of her sisters. And read Sports Illustrated over his shoulder on a Sunday afternoon.

And, yes, Jake is a stiff. Stiff as in solid. Solid and dependable as oak.


Waiting For a Cab

On July 16, 2004, I met the man of my dreams and my best friend Ralph. That night I was out with my friend and some of her friends in Boston, Massachusetts. We were in Faneuil Hall where she was having a Girls’ Night at one bar with her friends and her boyfriend, a Guys’ Night at another. Around 1 a.m. my friend told me she was going to the cab line to meet up with her boyfriend and then go home. I told her I’d walk with her and then catch a cab to go home myself.

The warm, gentle summer wind was blowing as we walked, and the moon was bright that night. As we were walking through Faneuil Hall, my friend asked me if I had met anyone at the bar. I replied, “I asked some guy to dance but he turned me down. He said he had a girlfriend.”

“He must have been gay.”

I stopped, turned and said, “Excuse me?”

There were four men and one of them repeated, smiling, “He must have been gay. To turn you down, he must have been gay.”

I was surprised by the bold nature of this comment but was also quite flattered that this gentleman had spotted me from afar and paid me such a compliment. I must admit, I did feel beautiful that evening, despite feeling a little deflated after a handsome stranger turned down my request to dance. Hopeful, I told my friend I wanted to stay and talk to this attractive man for a little while. A “little while” turned into hours. My friend and his friends had left, and Ralph and I talked through the moonlit night. We laughed, shared stories, and even a kiss in the middle of Faneuil Hall.

Ralph was living in New Jersey and I was living in Boston at the time. He was only visiting his friend for that weekend. We exchanged numbers and were long distance for three years. Just weeks before I was planning on moving to New Jersey to finally end our long-distance days, Ralph surprised me with a visit to Boston.

On the evening of June 8, 2007, I got out of a cab in Faneuil Hall and began walking to a spot, where I was to meet my brother, who was supposedly going to be in Boston for the weekend for a work-related meeting. I did not know that he and my brother had secretly arranged the proposal.  As I started walking to my destination, I noticed Ralph amid a crowd of strangers in Faneuil Hall. He had located himself in the exact spot where we met three years earlier. He dropped down on one knee with a dozen roses in one hand and an engagement ring in the other. The rest is history.

Not My Type

I met my fiance on eHarmony in 2008.  He had been on it for about four weeks when we connected, but I had been going at it for a year and a half.  After my mom died in 2006, I briefly dated a very nice guy who was totally wrong for me.  When I ended that farce, I figured I had to do something serious to find someone to be in my life.  A friend suggested Black People Meet because she had gotten a lot of dates that way, and “they love big women on BPM!”  I figured I could do a lot worse than to spend time being wooed by dudes who liked big women.

Within hours of putting up my profile on BPM, I was getting bombarded by men named “SugarMackDaddy2000” and “BigChocoPoppa.”  They all wanted to do things like rub my feet, cook my eggs, and strip for me.  Most of them wanted to strip for me actually, and that was just not a turn on, so after the last message featuring a guy in satin shorts cradling a teddy bear between his thighs came in, I checked out and sprinted for eHarmony.

I had done the personality profile on a lark once but never completed my profile.  This time, I propped up my credit card and went all in.  Within a few days, I was connected to a photographer.  We chatted for about a week, then made a date for lunch.  It went well, and we made a second date for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  He gave me his website URL, so I could check out his work.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered he wasn’t very good.  Except that at the bottom of the webpage, there was a double super secret link, and it led to a page full of beautiful, artistic, well-crafted nudes.  Hmmm…can’t photograph a beach, but give him a nipple, and he’s Ansel Adams?  Trouble.  Indeed, it was.  When we met at the Met, he followed me around like a stalker, lurking just over my shoulder, then mocking all the art I favored.  I ended that nightmare at the Temple of Dendur.

The next guy showed up a year later, after months and months of IT specialists from some town in California that bills itself as the Garlic Capital of the World.  This one was a ski instructor who had broken his leg and was trolling eHarmony for friends while he was laid up.  We chatted a lot and had great conversations.  We were days away from talking on the phone when he admitted that he was moving from Colorado to Nevada to live with another woman he was chatting with on eHarmony.  Her name was Bonnie, and he was pretty sure it wouldn’t work out, but he didn’t have anything to lose, so why not?  Yeah, I was pretty sick of internet dating at that point.

I was just about to give up on the humiliation of eHarmony when I met Peter.  We had our first conversation two days before Valentine’s Day, our first date two days after.  We made plans to meet in Grand Central because he said he had a fantasy of us meeting under the clock at the info booth in the main concourse.  He got there first, and as I approached him from a distance, my first thought was, “Great, apparently ‘not my type’ is my type.”  He was not a feast for the eyes: his pants were too short, he had a big tummy, his hair was thinning, and he was wearing a messenger bag like a messenger.  But he was reading a book in a crowded train station, and I thought that was kind of sweet.  He took me out for a steak dinner, which I loved, then instead of my getting the train home, I decided we should get dessert and sit outside to wait for the lunar eclipse that was coming that night.  We got cheese pie from Juniors because we’d never heard of cheese pie, then went up Park Avenue, sat next to a car dealership with a llama in the window, ate pie and waited for the moon to change colors.  It was freezing cold and delightful, and he was funny and warm.

Love & Basketball

You know that saying, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince? When I met Matt, the frogs were everywhere. It got so bad I didn’t even want to leave my apartment.

I was in my fifth and final year of teaching at a boarding school in rural Dutchess County when I met my future husband. I loved teaching, but I had had enough of the rural part. I wanted to move to Boston, start a new life, and maybe meet a hunky Harvard literature professor who would sweep me off my feet and do the New York Times crossword with me on Sundays in our little nerdy book-filled apartment in Cambridge.

But of course, this is real life, and that’s not exactly what happened.

What actually happened was this: one Sunday in February, I got up and drove to Loomis Chaffee School an hour and a half away in Windsor, Connecticut. I was not happy about it. It was a long drive. It would be a boring meeting. Plus I would have to miss brunch, which everyone at boarding school knows is the best meal of the week. But because I was the head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at Millbrook, my attendance at this New England basketball coaches’ meeting was mandatory.

The meeting was as dull as I thought it would be, and I spent most of it staring at the chocolate brownies on the table on one side of the room. Apparently, Matt spent most of the meeting staring at me.

We like to say we met at the brownie table.  There was just something about his eyes that made me want to know more. When I met him, I thought he had the loudest laugh I have ever heard, and on our first date, I was completely embarrassed by it. Now it is like a GPS — I use it to locate him in a crowd.

He was nothing like I had pictured for my future husband – hunky, sure, but not the Harvard literature professor /crossword-loving nerd I had originally thought I would spend my life with. He is a Boston-accented, wedding-reception-dance-floor-starting, I-majored-in-English-because-I’m-fluent athletic director/football coach who tried to kiss me on our first date and missed, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.