It took exactly 121 first dates, but I found him in February 2013. He was my #121 first date, and I was his first date (after being married for 24 years). That's right, the dating expert broke all the rules for the newly divorced guy.
And they all lived happily ever after.
You want serious entertainment? Read my dating blog journey to see what it can take sometimes just to get to "the One." Or click on "for the rest of the story" link above.
Just because I've stopped writing about my dates doesn't mean I've stopped dating. #106 but who's counting?
I'm working on my book this morning - you know, cleaning it up for the public so they don't end up with this massive brain-dump of a blog that you've been subjected to for the past few years. But as I work through the manuscript this morning, I decided to do some arithmetic.
I started writing this blog two years ago with date #51. I was crazy about him. And after that - 54 dates later - here we are. Fifty-four first dates, and of those I've had a total of six men who I thought (on the first date) might be a potential for a real match.
For women who want to find "the one" and don't like dating, I'm sorry for the bad news. It looks like one out of every 10 has potential, and then the two of you have to sort out if you have your timing right.
His Age: 46
His City: San Francisco
Setting: “Writers With Drinks” at the Make-Out Room, Doc’s Clock, and The Beast & The Hare -- Mission district, San Francisco.
Can we have a little appreciation and acknowledgement for what I just accomplished, people? I completed what seemed to be impossible – 101 first dates. And this one was definitely worthy of my time and attention.
Our date was set for my favorite event, “Writers With Drinks” at the Make-Out Room. You might consider it a test date. If a man can’t hang here, he probably isn’t going to be able to hang with me. The writers are irreverent, bold, edgy, and usually read their books on sex, BDSM, or lesbianism, and sometimes on lesbian BDSM sex, in the case of this evening.
On 22nd street, in front of the old marquee, I stalled to read his texts to see he was already inside, had covered my admission into the club, and had secured two seats. A minute later, a new text: “You’ll be able to spot me easily – I’m the one with the jitters.” Learning this new information began to calm my trembling hands and wobbly legs. How could this be? How could I be so nervous? I just had to remind myself, I’ve done this before (100 times already).
I spotted him holding our two coveted barstools – cute! He quickly bought me a drink, and for the first few minutes he was unnaturally quiet – it was nerves. Sweet. We both relaxed pretty quickly and started exchanging stories before the show started. I found him smart, insightful, interesting and really funny. We both laughed at the same things when often other people didn’t – always a good sign.
He looks like Hugh Laurie, my go-to crush. He is so my type I considered not even attempting a date – chemistry is like crack, after all. My saving grace is he doesn’t sound or act like Hugh or, more importantly, his character, Dr. Gregory House. Having his very own personality gave me a shot at being myself instead of some odd and contorted version of something that might resemble me.
His formative years were spent in New Jersey, which gives him an accent. It’s slight, until he gets animated in storytelling, at which point it fills out. Then he talks about this mother and I wonder if I’m not sitting in her kitchen in Hoboken.
As the show wrapped up, I made quick introductions to old friends of mine, one of which was the bar owner. And I got to say “hi” to the world’s most adorable MC, Charlie Jane, also a highlight. And as everyone poured out of the club, we realized we weren’t done with each other - not quite yet.
Our next stop, Doc’s Clock. A woman looking much like Susan Sarandon’s twin sister with a little bit of Shelly Long thrown in for good measure asked what she could get us to drink to start us on what turned out to be the storytelling portion of the evening.
As we’d stumble onto taboo topics I’d get tentative and back off. Finally, he told me to knock it off – to trust him. That maybe, just maybe he wouldn’t judge me for what I wasn’t saying. So I went for it, often. We had all kinds of treacherous first-date conversations that should have killed any potential for a second date, and it all turned out just fine.
I feel safe with him. We talk, look into each other’s eyes, and kiss, then talk, look at each other, and kiss some more. We repeat this cycle several times. I love my life. Eventually, I look at my phone to check the time. It’s 1:30 AM. In horror, I realize the parking garage I used closed at midnight. BART stopped running at midnight as well.
“Can you drive me to my friend Melissa’s house? She has four children I’ll probably wake them all up. She won’t mind.” I say.
“I could, but I’d rather you stay with me. Don’t worry – we won’t have sex. I just want more time with you.”
What’s a girl to do?
In the morning, he told me I looked pretty without makeup. No one had ever said that to me. In that moment, it felt like one of the best compliments I’d ever gotten.
He was kind enough to lend me his red Converse sneakers, because I couldn’t bear putting on my knee-high, 6-inch-heel stripper boots for the “Walk of Shame,” which we renamed the “Walk of Pride,” on a Sunday morning. So in my short black dress, black tights and borrowed red Converse, I fit right into the Mission on a late Sunday morning.
After a tasty breakfast of chicken and waffles, he walked me to my car, kissed me goodbye and we parted ways.
Broken Rule #1: We discussed taboo topics I would normally save for much, much later: Things like I lead workshops about relationships and sex; I teach dating classes; he’s first date 101; I dance on a pole at the Power Exchange.
Broken Rule #2: I stayed the night at his house – on the first date (yes, I did). Hey – I was stuck! Don’t judge, and if you do, judge how pretty I look in the morning without any makeup.
P.S. An equally if not more successful second date has already taken place. I see a very nice little friendship here.
"Hi, would you be interested in taking my virginity? If you are and want to see a picture of me then reply back I will send my pic over on here. I am a college student at UC Berkeley and I am a good looking white guy but am a virgin when it comes to sex and want to get some more experience. I am messaging you because I am seeking out a woman who will be more understanding. You are really beautiful btw"
I write: "Okay, thank you so much - how completely sweet! I have this rule, though. I call it the "uterus rule" and it goes like this: If you are young enough to come out of my uterus, you don't get to put anything of yours in it.
Sorry. I am sure there are many women out there who would love that chance to connect with you. You may do better in a bar, though.
(What he doesn't know is that in my family, he could almost be my grandson.)
Slowly I slide my finger atop a tall stack of crisp, new one-dollar bills. I draw the first one into my palm and crush it into a small wad, as if it were a soiled Kleenex. I toss the crumpled greenback into an eagerly waiting toilet bowl. Flush. I crouch and watch with great enthusiasm as the whirlpool swirls and sucks it down. I grip the next one, crumple, crush and repeat the process again, and again, and again… two --- thousand --- six --- hundred --- times.
This fantasy is vivid in my mind. Living out this daydream would have given me more joy and satisfaction than the six-month contractual agreement I just completed with It’s Just Lunch (IJL).
I signed up for IJL upon the urging of my good friend in Seattle, who has membership there. In Seattle, IJL customers average one date a week and sometimes more. I thought this was what I was buying.
I gave them a month to get under way before letting them know I wasn’t getting my weekly date. My matchmaker did all she could not to laugh – at which point I revealed my expectations that the two IJL offices act similarly. To this day, no one at the San Francisco IJL office will admit customers have an expectation that chains or franchises operate in a similar fashion – you know, like a Big Mac in Seattle is the same as a Big Mac in San Francisco? When I tried to make this point to the General Manager, she treated me like I was a crazy person for having that point of view, and thought my expectation of chains being similar was outrageous. Huh!
People of the Bay Area, if you think the online dating sites are a waste of your time, and you’re considering It’s Just Lunch, consider this:
With IJL, a six-month membership is $2,600 and you go on five dates. That’s $520 a date.
A Match.com six-month membership is $119.94. If you’re like me and average five or six dates a month, it’s roughly $3.63 per date.
But we all know the price isn’t the problem. When spending our hard-earned money, we consider the value of the product or service, the patient and responsive customer care, and the skills and expertise of the professionals servicing us. In a matchmaking service, we hope for one that deeply understands our needs and works with us in partnership to help us find a desirable and compatible match. IJL failed miserably in all categories.
I’m not a high-maintenance woman. I originally had three requirements: 1) His age range be between 2-11 years older than me 2) His location be within 30 minutes from my house 3) His height be at least 6’ (since I’m tall and I like wearing heels)
Week 1: Nothing – crickets.
Week 2: They call with my first “match.” He’s 13 years my senior, lives 120 minutes from my house, he’s 6’ tall – um, no. I pass.
Week 3: Next Match – 6 years younger than me, lives 90 minutes from my house, and he’s 5’10”. Nope.
Week 4: Next match – same age as me, lives 115 minutes from my house, and he’s 5’10”.
I reiterate my three needs at this time, at which point I’m told that even though I stated my preferences up front, they don’t match by height. Great.
A few days later, I get another call. My next match is 14 years my senior, and lives 60 minutes away. I cave – I give up – I have them set up the date. He was the worst match ever.
After this failed date, a month after I joined, I knew I was had. I wanted to be released from the contract so I made the General Manager of IJL a very generous proposal. I offered the company $600 as compensation for the first date if they would let me go. Of course they declined. No refunds. No guarantees. No satisfaction.
IJL touts that they have professional matchmakers looking out for you. Don’t believe it! My matchmaker, while a nice person, was absent, and certainly not matching to my personality, preferences or needs. The coordinators that “take care” of clients were usually unavailable and often remiss in returning calls.
Women of the Bay Area, don’t do it – don’t be suckered in. If you’re unconvinced, and you crave more details, you can read the blow-by-blow of every date, along with a detailed scenario of dealing with this company firsthand, on my dating blog, WendyDates.blogspot.com.
For a demonstration of their less than stellar customer service, be sure to read the post “It’s just a drag” (April 17, 2011).
The five IJL dates, for quick reference, are:
Date #89 - April 17, 2011 Date #90 - April 27, 2011 Date #95 - June 2, 2011 Date #99 – August 2, 2011 Date #100 – October 20, 2011
Over the past few years, I have been on exactly 100 first dates. Three out of five of my IJL dates were literally, and without exaggeration, the worst three dates of my life.
The IJL dates couldn’t have been more of a mismatch if a troop of blind, half-crazed monkeys went out into the streets to find my man. While on an IJL date, I often wondered if I was secretly appearing on an MTV dating reality show.
So, my readers, if you’re single and looking for your mate, good luck out there. I don’t know what the answer is; I’m still gathering data, but I can certainly testify that it’s not It’s Just Lunch!
If you enjoyed this review.... please forward it on.
His Age: 48
His City: Walnut Creek
Setting: Lunch at Montclair Bistro – Oakland
I’ve never experienced what people call “writer’s resistance” (more commonly known as “writer’s block”) before this moment. It wasn’t a block so much as it was resistance: because it was so uninspired, I just couldn’t bring myself to explain to you that date #100 was – despite its numerical significance – utterly insignificant.
Our original date was set for September 1; he cancelled the same day due to work.
We rescheduled to September 8, a week later, and I cancelled. I was tired from moving, I was about to lead a workshop, and frankly, I just didn’t care.
The third attempt was rescheduled for September 15, a dinner in Berkeley. I dressed, I drove, I parked, I waited in the restaurant lobby, and after about 15 minutes learned he needed to cancel due to traffic. Whatever.
The fourth set date, September 18, we met at a quiet, little restaurant in the hills of Oakland. All that effort, and within two lunch date topics, I was done. “It’s Just Lunch” is certainly consistent, if nothing else, in providing some of the worst matches of all time. By the appetizer, I was asking questions and telling stories only to entertain myself. The two most significant pieces of information I obtained from this date is he has a very close relationship with his aging father, and his last girlfriend broke up with him after four years because she was bored with him. I get it: four years to get bored. It only took me four minutes.
I did that magical dance of being as pleasant and as nice as possible, while also clearly indicating there would not be a repeat performance. I feel it’s the kindest way to go if one isn’t going to actually out and out call off the date. I hate being surprised at the end, you know, when I learn they aren’t interested after they faked it all date long – sometimes for HOURS. Ugh.
And when the bill came he said, “So I have your number! I’ll call you and we can do something next week.”
Oh no!! I was completely caught off guard. I couldn’t believe what was coming out of my mouth as I said, “Uh, okay.”
I raced home and immediately wrote the email.
Thanks for meeting me for lunch today. I had a nice time getting to know you a little bit. I don't think we're quite a match. And since we're both in the search to find a partner, I don't want to waste your time.
His Age: 53
His City: San Francisco
Setting: Dinner at Straits – San Francisco
It’s Just Lunch served up their fourth date - Lucky #99.
Our meeting place, a (tasty) restaurant in downtown San Francisco. What would have normally been a 30-minute commute for me turned into an hour forty in rush-hour traffic, so I was 40 minutes late. Always impressive.
I called ahead to let the maître d’ know I was sitting in a parking lot called the Golden Gate Bridge, and to please pass along to my date that I’d be there 30-40 minutes late, if I was lucky. On arrival, as it turns out, he seemed very happy to see me face-to-face and was very kind about my tardiness. In other words, he either liked me or was being gracious. I was going with “liked me.”
We ordered what I would imagine to have been the two best dishes on the menu – they were de-licious! We shared. Romantic, right?
We both talked, him a bit more than I, but not by too much. The timing and pace of the conversation was easy and connected. It reminded me of first date #74, a good thing – I liked first date #74.
He’s a technical trainer teaching companies how to use his company’s software. He’s sick of traveling for a living – who could blame him? I was subjected to multiple travel nightmare stories, each worse than the previous, all making me feel really sorry for him. Then he moved on to all the places he’s lived: L.A., Chicago, London, Madrid, D.C. and more, all completely fascinating.
He asked what I did for a living and I spun it, as I do on most dates. I find it’s never a good idea to tell a first date that I lead workshops for women about men, relationships and sex. It tends to change the dynamics of an evening. So instead he learned I own a travel company, and I plan 150 meetings annually for a company out of Los Angeles (all true).
We talked about the failure of the travel industry for a while. Then we moved on to my Las Vegas trip, gambling (or lack of it), my dogs, and other basic first date conversation. We had fun – it was lively, light and banter-y. I could tell this one was kind of a slam-dunk.
He looked a little like a middle-aged Nicholas Cage – oh wait, Nick is middle-aged. Yeah, so he looks like Nicholas Cage. Charming, smiling, engaging, very smart and a bit whimsical. I liked him. He showed promise, at least worth a few dates to learn more.
Walking through Westfield Mall after dinner, he’d pull me to one side to peer at odd things in storefront windows and in self-help kiosks. At the main exit, he asked if he could walk me to my car.
Completely not expecting that in San Francisco, I said, “Sure, but I parked in the Tenderloin.”
“Okay, now I have to walk you to your car! I have to protect you.”
As we walked, I continued, “Okay, if I’m going to make you walk into the Tenderloin, would you like me to drive you out of it? Russian Hill is on my way to the Golden Gate Bridge. I could just drop you in the vicinity if you’d like – I don’t need to know exactly where you live.”
He agreed readily, and the date continued through the Tenderloin, to my car, and then to the driveway of his lovely home on Russian Hill. As he popped out of the car, he asked me one more quick question, and thanked me for the ride.
As I was leaving I thought – wait! He forgot to get my number! Oh no! He forgot…. And then, I realized in that moment, no, he didn’t forget. He purposely didn’t ask! Not such a slam-dunk after all.
Very confusing. If you’re a loyal reader, you already know it’s a rare moment when the date gets that far and I still don’t know I’m not his type.
So tomorrow I’ll call It’s Just Lunch as that’s part of the agreement of working with them, and I’ll do my due diligence of reporting on how the date went and what I thought of him. I think the only thing to say is, “Yes, I’ll take another one, just like him – just like that one – only next time have him like me back.”