Carlo and the Pussy Cat

From the second I saw him standing in the middle of the sidewalk turning in every direction, looking as though he was begging to get accosted, I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I was on the phone with my mother as I stood a few feet away explaining my discontent in his proverbial lack of height and masculinity that he accentuated in his profile pictures on match.com. “Oh stop whining and give the guy a chance,” Mom said, and hung up.

I approached Carlo and we made our awkward introductions. Away we went to a small café he knew of a few blocks away. It was a really nice place with a good menu and a pretty quiet atmosphere. Once we sat down and had a drink, I remembered that I did like the way he carried on a conversation, how open and comfortable he was. Well, perhaps he was a little too comfortable. Since it was an Italian café, most of the staff seemed to be from Italy, and our waiter spoke in broken English. I had ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad, and offered Carlo some of it. Behind his glasses, I saw his eyes open up really wide and before I knew it, he screamed on the top of his lungs, “MY COMPLIMENTS TO THE BUFFALO!!!” across the room. I guess he really liked it. While I turned bright red from embarrassment and the Italian waiters all looked at each other trying to figure out what happened, Carlo went back to his own plate.

So at this point I knew he was a little animated and random. That’s not the end of the world. We soon started discussing past relationships. Yep – one of the topics you’re never supposed to talk about on a first date. That’s how we rolled. It started getting interesting when Carlo mentioned a few details about his most recent relationship. He proceeded to tell me that his last girlfriend, that he dated for over two years, was divorced, a mother of 3 and was 42 years old. Carlo and I were about 25 at the time, so I was very curious about his long relationship with a woman nearly two decades his senior. As it turned out, the woman was not too mentally stable and Carlo spent much of his time in the relationship trying to make her happy. I started comparing this ex-girlfriend in my young and naïve head to myself and was baffled. I couldn’t even begin to understand how someone would be interested in a mother of 3 and then want to date a child such as myself. We talked a little bit more about it and with no real cause, Carlos declared that his ex was the “GREATEST, STRONGEST WOMAN [HE HAD] EVER KNOWN!” There were tears in his eyes, and he was using the same volume in his voice that he used for his buffalo outburst, but this was a lot more … um…emotional.

So with the nonsensical screams in the café out of the way, Carlo then asked if I wanted to walk around a little bit and maybe get a drink before parting. I figured there was no danger in that, but once again, I was wrong. During our stroll, we were chatting like friends and trading sarcastic comments back and forth so when we were about to pass a store called the Pink Pussy Cat, Carlo thought it was a good idea to go in. I guess I didn’t want to look like a prude and probably thought it would provide some good laughs. The problem I had was that we ended up looking like an established couple to the Pink Pussy Cat employee. And Carlo was more than happy to comply with that assumption. She ended up showing us some “devices” that were kept behind lock and key and while I must admit, she definitely knew her stuff, I wanted to die. After the word “stimulation” was mentioned to us for the third time in a 2 minute period, I was ready to go. And Carlo wanted to know why I was so uncomfortable.

Carlo really was (probably still is) a very nice guy. I hope he found someone who can keep up with his free spirit and extreme volume.

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Dave from Philly – Part 2: Nobody’s Perfect

Continued from Dave from Philly – Part 1….

After the weekend we first met up, Dave* and I kept in touch and texted daily. Most of the texts coming from his end included self-portraits of him doing exciting things like driving to work, or coming off of the treadmill, which got old after about 3 consecutive days. I did ask him at one point why his hair was so different than it was in his profile pictures. He explained that since his mother had passed away from cancer, he had decided to grow it out to cut and donate to chemotherapy patients. Obviously, that is a very sensitive and caring move to make… but I still think he could have posted more recent pictures online. This was several months of growth – the difference between a bald head and an anchorwoman’s haircut.

When we spoke on the phone, I tried so hard to somehow impair my hearing so that Dave sounded masculine, but I just couldn’t avoid squirming every time his falsetto voice squeaked during a particular animated story or strong comment. I figured I could somehow get used to it, especially if we got to see each other in person more often. We started planning on the next time we would meet up. It went something like this:

Dave: I was thinking that maybe you can come here next time and we can go for dinner.

Me: That sounds good.

Dave: Yeah, I got a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory a few months ago.

Me: Oh…so you’re going to use it soon?

Dave: Yeah, silly, for when we go to dinner.

So if you can imagine that phone conversation with two female voices, and a lot of awkward silences, that’s pretty much how it went. I now had the long hair, high voice, the aversion to drinking, the incessant photo sending, the obsession with sale searching and the extreme frugality well-noted.

With all of that, I still thought I should see Dave again just to make sure we had no hope. In a fit of ridiculous decision-making, I had confirmed with him that I would come to Pennsylvania the next weekend and stay over his house. Luckily, two very well-balanced friends talked me out of that choice. They feared that I would have no way of getting out of a stranger’s house outside of the metropolitan area if and when he pulled his machete out. They definitely had a point, so I told Dave that I couldn’t stay by his house quite yet. I offered to simply come to his area and we could spend the day together. His reaction was not very positive. While I stated my position very gently in the hopes that we can move slowly and I was not ready for any overnight dates just yet, he felt that I had accused him of being a bad person. I received a two page e-mail that declared that while “nobody’s perfect” (just like his profile headline), he is a good person and doesn’t deserve to be treated the way I was treating him. It was quite detailed and a bit dramatic and accusatory, considering we were just getting to know one another. I had no reason to feel guilty and to this day, I really don’t know why I did this, but I ended up apologizing for upsetting him and asked if he would want to spend the day with me.

Apparently, he got over the pain of my insulting actions, and agreed to a daytime date. I took the 2 hour train ride to New Jersey to meet Dave, who lived about 40 minutes from the station. The plan was to (you guessed it) go shopping at a well-known mall and see what the day brought for us. Well, here are a few things that day brought for me:

– Someone that looked very much like Dave showed up at the station to pick me up. He had his trademark feathered-hair, now a bit longer, along with his periwinkle shorts on. Yet, he also had grown a beard, let more than a few hairs between his eyebrows collect and seemed to have stolen Sally Jessy Raphael’s eyeglasses. He said something about his contact lenses when we first greeted one another, but I was too busy wiping my face where his beard had stabbed me and wondering if the giant red frames on his face could get any bigger.

– I learned that Dave drives a giant, beat-up royal blue mini-van. While we were supposed to go to some places in Pennsylvania that day, he opted to stay in New Jersey, where he picked me up, to “save miles.” He also pays for his gas with change. All change.

– I got to experience not one but three different malls of New Jersey. We went to every Macy’s to look for the same Affliction-brand t-shirt to see which one had it at the best price. If you guessed that he didn’t buy it at all, you would be right.

– I got to buy my own soda, as well as his. However, he did spring to pay for lunch at Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse – where he couldn’t rave enough about their free salad bar. The 75 year old woman next to us who couldn’t stop sneezing seemed to agree. It was a good thing we went there, he told me, because we had enough left over for his dinner that night. I know what you’re thinking. I was a bit torn up about not being part of that Cheesecake Factory gift card at the time as well.

– I also learned that if any man with the voice of a 5-year-old female rabbi who wears accessories that Bruce Valanch could have easily lent to him tries to touch me in any sort of friendly manner, I start laughing uncontrollably.

– To make up for the dismay I endured throughout most of the day, I did take advantage of Dave’s keen sense of deal-finding and coupon clipping and ended up with a great summer wardrobe.

– Most importantly, I had concluded that Dave was definitely not the guy for me. But apparently he didn’t get the hint.

I received another photo of him on my blackberry the very next day, taken from the now familiar-looking front seat of his mini-van. He asked how I was doing, and I told him it just wasn’t working between us, which couldn’t have been more obvious to me, or anyone else on the planet.

His reply: “Well, don’t expect me not to be surprised by that.”

Okay, I won’t.

*His full name is David Berkowitz. He assured me when we first mentioned our last names in person that he was not the Son of Sam, but I am pretty sure that there might be a crime spree documented about him some time soon.

Dave from Philly – Part 1

J-date told me that he lived near Philadelphia, and as I was living in Manhattan at the time, I felt I can travel anywhere easily, especially for love. I saw a great smile, beautiful blue eyes and a short buzz cut. Paired with the headline, “Nobody’s perfect!” – I was already besotted. I was thrilled when, after taking a chance and sending him a message about how distance didn’t matter and I thought we would “mesh quite well,” he responded, saying that he happened to be coming to New York City for the weekend! It was clearly fate. We agreed via e-mail, and then text messages to meet the next day (Friday) at a café downstairs from the apartment where he was staying.

After freshening up from work, I was on my way to the Upper West Side to meet Dave. Turns out, the café was closed, but I stood there anyway, figuring that it is a nice Friday afternoon in Manhattan and there were plenty of places we could go. A muscular guy with a sandy-brown mop of hair approached me and in a questionably feminine voice said “oh, I guess it’s closed…bad choice.” Once he smiled, I realized that he was, in fact, Dave.

“Oh hey, how are you?” I answered, internally questioning the long hair and high voice but acting as though I knew it was him immediately. We started walking around while we chit-chatted about his bus ride to NYC with his friend. I quietly noted his fitted graphic t-shirt, wide chest and feathered hair as he went on about “Jon,” who sounded like a horrible travel companion.

We were near Lincoln Center, a cosmopolitan area of Manhattan, so the obvious place we ended up spending the next hour at was – you guessed it – Best Buy. He wanted to compare prices for video games, and a first date was a great time to get that accomplished. After doing that, Dave and I sat in the demo living room in the TV section and discussed our hopes and dreams. I pretended his voice was deeper and his hair wasn’t longer than mine…and that we were not in a retail store. As he set up my blackberry to receive BBMs, I noted his beautiful face and smile. I found him charming, in a high-pitched, cocky sort of way.

Once the appalling looks from employees and customers who realized that we were not, in fact, shopping for TVs got to be too much for me (he was totally fine with it), we wandered around a bit more, and ended up in a clothing store, where Dave was astonished by the prices of pretty much every item they had. He told me how much he loved to shop – that it was one of his favorite hobbies, and it seemed to me that statement was only true if he knew he was getting a good deal. After a short runway show, Dave purchased a pair of periwinkle pleated shorts they had on clearance.

It was still light out, and it being a Friday evening in the summer, I was very conscious of the valuable Happy Hour minutes burning away. Meanwhile, Dave somehow got me back to the apartment he was staying at. It was there that I didn’t get beaten to death as you may expect from such a poor decision, but met Jon, the travel companion. They were staying at Jon’s girlfriend’s studio. The girlfriend was “away” for the weekend. In the cozy apartment, Dave smiled at me, while brushing his brown layers away from his face as Jon and I got acquainted.

“Want to see the best tits ever?” Jon asked me from the kitchen counter, across from the couch I was tucked into, trying to look cute and breezy in front of Dave, who I still liked. Weren’t we sitting in Jon’s girlfriend’s apartment while she happened to be away for the weekend?

“Yeah, so?” he said to me as he clicked through a variety of profiles of different women on plentyoffish.com who he was in the middle of setting up meetings with for the weekend.

I couldn’t sit in the apartment anymore, but I still found Dave to be charming. As a self-proclaimed “work-out nut,” he wasn’t much of a drinker, but classy Jon made himself useful and helped me convince him to join me at the bar. Of course, Jon joined us and the whole situation was just as awkward as the apartment. I had purchased my own drink, as well as Jon’s. I went home soon after that, but promised to see Dave again the next day.

We met early the next day and I had a great time showing him different stores on 5th Avenue, where he wanted to “shop” some more. I thought I had hit the jackpot. I found a straight guy who loved to work out, wander around the city and shop! Dave did tell me that his mother had passed away a few months earlier, and shopping was one of the pastimes they used to share, so he felt closer to her when he went to stores. Okay, that is bittersweet, and I had no right to judge. Browsing for and pricing out pieces of menswear seemed to be a source of great enjoyment for him. Breaking him away for some coffee was a challenging task. As a nice gesture, I offered to pay for his water (no coffee for him), which he eagerly accepted, and then proceeded to take a few dozen photos of the two of us together. A bit awkward? Sure was. Especially when he sent each one to me later via BBM. I think I was supposed to save each one for the photo montage of our blossoming love.

[To be Continued]