Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Man and a Frog

Last night I went on my first date since breaking up with my boyfriend.  It was with a guy that I met on Match.com. Based on the e-mails we exchanged, I had really high hopes going into this date.

Most of the guys who write me on Match are way outside of my age range (like in their mid 50's) or they are not my type physically. And some of them give off an overall creepy vibe that causes me to not want to write them back. So on the rare occasion that a normal looking guy sends a sincere and grammatically correct message, it is worth considering.

This guy was 42 years old and he was from the Dearborn area. He was recently divorced and has two daughters. From the way he talked about them, he seemed to have a good sense about parenting. Not that parenting skills are an essential quality I look for in a partner, but it can be an indicator of other personality traits, such as patience and emotional maturity.

In my experience, there are two main styles of e-mail on Match.com. There are the guys that treat it like a text message with abbreviated responses and often lacking punctuation. And then there are the guys that write more thoughtful messages, responding to questions and asking new ones in every e-mail exchange. This guy was one of the good ones.

We discovered that we grew up in the same neighborhood and even went to the same high school in Grosse Pointe, although he was a few grades younger than me. And he was quick to explain that even though he grew up in Grosse Pointe, he was in no way attached to its materialistic lifestyle. Which is funny because that is exactly what I do when people ask where I went to high school. I try to distance myself from it as much as possible because that place has nothing to do with who I am as a person.

We e-mailed back and forth for about a week and the more he wrote me, the more interested I became. I was excited when he finally asked me if I wanted to meet in person.

The romance writer in me immediately started to outline the Hallmark movie in my head. A woman moves on from her high school past where she never fit in, only to discover years later that her true love was right there in her own backyard all along. The movie would follow the man and the woman as they lived parallel lives, going to the same high school and college and even re-locating to the same city as adults, yet they never met until one day he stumbled across her profile online.

It sounded like a perfect way to meet my potential future husband. We both like to take long walks so we agreed to meet at a park in the neighborhood. I wasn't even nervous as I drove to the date. I had a calm feeling inside and I was confident that it would go well.

I pulled into the parking lot and he was standing there waiting for me. He was wearing jeans and a white linen shirt. I smiled and waved as he walked toward my car.

As soon as he spoke, there was something in his voice that just didn't feel right. The monotone sounds coming from his mouth did not seem to match up with the cheery banter that flowed so easily from his e-mails. Of course, I am always quick to size up romantic potential within about 15 seconds of meeting someone. I reminded myself to give the guy a chance.

We walked in the neighborhood for about an hour and shared polite conversation. Then we sat out on the patio at a local restaurant and had a drink. As we continued our discussion, I was participating in my own inner dialogue as well. Still trying to figure out whether I was attracted to him and categorizing everything he said into a giant pro/con list in my mind. That is definitely a part of my brain that I wish I could just turn off sometimes!

As we walked back through the park, I was still undecided about a second date. I noticed a rustling sound coming from the gravel path alongside us. I thought it might be a small animal like a chipmunk or a bunny. When I looked down I saw a tiny brown frog sitting on the gravel. (Technically I think it was a toad, but I will just keep referring to it as a frog anyway because that is pretty much what I did on the date.)

I had never seen a frog that close before. He almost blended in with the rocks. As I leaned in to check it out, my date reached down to try and catch it which in turn, caused the frog to start jumping around. I proceeded to freak out and started shouting at him to stop as he continued his pursuit of the frog along the gravel path.

"No, it's really cool," he tried to explain as he gingerly stepped on the gravel, with the frog always one step ahead of him. "I can pick up the frog and rub his belly and he will fall asleep."

I am not sure why he thought I would want to see him put a frog to sleep on our first date, but he was convinced that it was a great idea. "Come on, please stop," I asked again. "Let's just go."

Finally he gave up and we started walking back to the car. I immediately felt bad for crushing his spirit. Clearly he was excited about the frog and was trying to show me something new.

"Sorry about how I reacted to the frog," I told him as we walked along a paved road back to the car. "I was just a little freaked out by the idea of you touching a frog. They are so slimy."

"It's ok," he said. "At least I am one of those guys who can listen and take a hint!" Just as he said that, we stumbled upon another frog sitting right on the pavement in front of us. Before he said anything, I was pretty sure what was going to happen next.

"Would you mind if I picked him up?" he asked cautiously. I just nodded my head and motioned for him to go ahead and do it. With one swift motion he scooped up the little brown frog into his hands and turned him over.

He started rubbing the frog's belly but it wouldn't fall asleep. Instead I watched as he stepped backwards with a startled expression, still holding the frog in his hands.

"Oh man, I think he just peed on me!" my date exclaimed. Either that, or the frog just really enjoyed that belly rub.

"Well, I guess that eliminates the potential for a handshake at the end of this date," I told him. He stopped to wash his hands in a drinking fountain and then he walked me back to my car.

We stood there for a moment in that awkward silence that occurs at the end of every first date. Then he asked me if I would like to go out again. I smiled and thanked him for our date and told him that I would think about it. It might not have been the best way to handle it, but it was an honest response. And in that moment, it was all I could come up with.

I know they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, but this is getting ridiculous. This morning I got a note from him that said:
I had such a nice time walking and talking with you last night. Hope you enjoyed it also. Thanks so much for meeting me in person. I really like how you think and I admire you for pursuing your dream. Your smile is absolutely fabulous. I would really love to see it again. Today I am staying away from all toads.
Sometimes I wish you could just date people via e-mail. It can be so much better than the live version.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hillarious! At least the frog got some satisfaction?! You're totally right, that email would do it for me, too

Anonymous said...

Interesting quote attributed to Grey's Anatomy
"And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy, maybe it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just moving on."