6. fish: two truths & a lie

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I had fallen asleep around 2:30 in the morning, after the flounder of a second date with fish, but was wide awake by 6. Around 8:30 I heard my phone ding. I had dropped my phone in a Dairy Queen parking lot earlier in the week and had a Genius Bar appointment around lunch to replace the glass. The morning was supposed to include breakfast/brunch with fish first, the operative words here are “supposed to”.  What you’re about to read is the verbatim text message exchange that I caused me to entirely emotionally check out with fish:

Fish: omg your screen. 3 hours til fixaroo
Me: Yeaaa. Just doing my hair. U readying?
Fish: I was thinking about it … starting to get bored laying here for the last 40 minutes

Fish sent me a yelp review of a local greasy spoon saying it looked good. I told him I’d been there and the coffee was delicious (it literally tastes like bacon grease is mixed in).

Fish: If u just slept over everything woulda been so much easier.
Me: Ur cute. Get ready.
Fish: Whats the plan.
Me: I’m almost ready. Lets go.
Fish: Where
Me: Breakfast. At that spot.
Fish: I dont even have a coffee in me yet. 😦
Me: They have coffee there.
Fish: Oh

25 minutes went by … twenty … five … minutes.

Me: Are you ready yet?
Fish: Prit near just have a coffee watching sports
Me: If you don’t wanna go it’s aiite.
Fish: I’m not amped to but I would. If we’re being honest haha
Me: Thats alright!
Fish: If u were already here wed already be waiting at a table
Me: Sorry.
Fish: Thatll bug me for weeks lol

So I told him the truth:
Me:
I don’t know what to say. I assumed when you said “you can leave” you meant you wanted me to. So I did.
Fish: Kicking a girl out of bed you crazzzy.
Me: Well we don’t know each other super well.
Fish: I know you. (Uh, no you really don’t.) It’s good though! I’m not actually upset.
Me: Ok!

At this point I had already ended up on the patio of a Starbucks and was sipping a passion tea, with the warm summer sun kissing my face as my inspiration to be a little nicer than I wanted to be. Fish continued to text me incessantly about complete and utter bullshit like how he’s watching tennis, my favourite (it’s not but ok) and then he circled back:

Fish: If ur set on going out for brekky im down
Me: I can find something else to do, its aiite.
Fish: Lol that doesnt sound cool
Me: It’s all good! Enjoy your am!
Fish: Ur so angry at me
Me: I’m not promise! Its your weekend, you gotta do what you wanna do!
Fish: Is that so

I waited almost half an hour before sending this, I wasn’t going to reply but I thought he deserved the truth for what it was worth anyway:

Me: If you’re upset I didn’t stay just know I wanted to and I would. Mid week even if thats what you want (he’d asked me to before). But you need to be super direct with me otherwise I’ll second guess it and bail. We haven’t talked at all about what we’re looking for from each other which is going to make things uncertain.
Fish: Oh I’m not upset and all understandable
Me: Today felt like a blow off. Which is ok if it is. Just say so.
Fish: Its not i just was tired a hour ago now Im fine. Can still go out. Or ill just making something. My stomach is still growling.

In my head, my truth was: Go fuck yourself maybe?

The truth is I wasn’t mad at all that he bailed on breakfast – I was mad about the communication, or lack there of. He sent me a yelp review which to me implied his intent to go, I told him I was getting ready which showed my intent to go. But somewhere in those texts – he changed his mind and that was the only thing I cared about … that he wasted my time. Twenty minutes is nineteen too many, sorry. As he continued to text my phone he threw around the idea of us going for breakfast yet again, “quickly” before my appointment. I told him I was already at a Starbucks, some other time, and that shortly I’d be out of reach. He told me it was “dumb” that I was taking the genius bar appointment time so seriously (um ok, truthfully, again, fuck your opinion of how I spend my time, bud) and then he said:

Fish: Well I dont want to make u late!! I promise we can hang out anytime! Super didnt try ditching you today I tend to be lazy in the morning without a coffee at least. U were up and attem too early. Cuz youd be totally off if you think i dont want to see you again. Ur awesome! You have no worries atm. (It’s um, cute, that he thinks I’d worry about whether or not he likes me after all this.) Id like to do all kinds of activities with you.
Me: Fair enough. Just be direct with me. My instinct is to bolt. I’m working on it but it’s still a thing I do. And make a list on your phone.

He continued to text me, asking if I was interested in a meteor shower Sunday. I told him my daughter was coming back Sunday am from her fathers so I was unavailable. I was attending a BBQ later in the evening, and fish was going to be with his friends so no plans on the horizon with him made sense. He did ask me something I wasn’t expecting before I said goodbye – he asked about my ex.

Now listen, my ex is tall and handsome, with a big beard and thick head of hair. He basically has all the physical features guys would be insecure about but honestly, no amount of him being a good dad or good looking ever made up for his shortcomings: respect, compassion and honesty. I’m literally looking for everything that he was not and I couldn’t care less about everything that he was. Fish creeped my ex on social media that afternoon – I didn’t care. Fish would’ve seen photos of me at 195lbs – I didn’t care. The truth is, if you ask me a question – I’ll do my damnedest to be honest – no matter what it costs me. Another truth is though that later that night – I would make a choice that certainly felt like a lie.

I had gone about my business: got my phone screen fixed, had lunch in the quaint little hamlet just outside of town, and was wrapping up at the BBQ with my cousins when my phone went off but this time, it wasn’t fish, it was a guy I call gosling/elf/LB/green and workguy, because, yes, I work with him (yes that’s bad I know). I had this to say about him in the 4. fish blog:

Guys you’re “talking to” will assume you’re banging your guy friends, so just keep that shit under wraps especially if, like me, you are in fact banging your guy friends. (I can’t wait to write the blogs about one of my best friends – a guy who nicknamed himself LB – its short for little bitch. We lowkey ruin each others lives – it’s a good time.

To summarize LB: He’s one of my best friends. We work together, we go out for lunch and we text all day daily. We are each others confidant’s in ways that we don’t let anyone else in. We know each others greatest fears, insecurities and wishes. But we cross boundaries, we sext, we get jealous, and when we’re really stupid, we sleep together. But in a lot of unconventional ways I love him. I might’ve loved him the day I met him. We know it’s impermanent; circumstance and us finding real love will end how we are with one another. So when the bell tolls (my phone dings), and its him, I have to go. He and I have always been running on borrowed time.

So when my phone dinged a few times as I stood around a backyard BBQ, I looked down to see two texts: one text from fish, who’d blown me off for breakfast and one text from my LB/gosling, whom I hadn’t spoken to in two weeks. I’ll end this blog here and let you guess who sent which:

“Id let u just pick me up! Its fun but I have mimi fever.”

“I need you.”

… and then I made a choice. And then I told a lie. But that’s another story. Until next time.

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5. fish: ps he loves beer

After a week of getting blackout drunk poolside and landing back in Canada, fish told me that he was “going to need a few days” before he’d be “ready” to see me. All week he had texted me from the resort with a fervor I assumed the time he needed was for doing chores or errands and catching up with normal life or work responsibilities. But mid-week he dropped a bomb, so to speak when he told me “I don’t want to tell you what I’m working through – you take Imodium for it.” It’s not romantic but it’s a good a place as any to start the story of our second date; in short, it’s shit:

Fish: Whats up for the weekend? Im free fri, sat up til 4 and all sunday.
Me: Dunno. Pick your poison.
Fish: Fri would likely be ok.
Me: Just ok?
Fish: Haha well ya it will hoping my tiredness and the Imodium works again
Me: Oh you’re saying you’re hoping to be ok.
Fish: Its nice to be chatting on the regular again though pen ole buddy ole pal
Me: Yea? I was surprised you texted me from Punta Cana.
Fish: U came across my mind time to time

Another little exchange of texts I’m fond of happened when I was approached by an older gentleman while at a work event attending the Rogers Cup. He was friendly and handsome but significantly older than my dating range, he looked to be at least 20 years older than me. As he reached out to touch my arm to ask about my tattoo I looked around for reprieve in my peer group – no luck – and just then, my phone dinged loudly. I excused myself to check the message; on my screen was a notification of the fish asking how the matches had been and if I was heading home yet. As I took my seat on the shuttle bus I replied to fish scolding him for interrupting and dashing my potential love connection with a retiree.

Fish: Im glad I take priority over a creep
Me: Should I bump you higher up? Over who? My mother?
Fish: Haha well I wanna say yea
Me: Done. She’s dead to me. What mother?
Fish: Lol you’re such a babe.
Me: A babe? Heartless you mean. I just disowned my mother.
Fish: Well u melted my heart.

We stayed in regular contact. He chided me for not liking enough of his new Instagram posts; which somehow was endearing to me, maybe because I’m a mother. He texted me a photo of his two “free tix” to the movie theatre and said “Someday … one for me one for you.” We talked about movies he liked and he said one of his favourites is PS I love you; when I admitted I’d never seen it he was horrified. We set our date for Friday and he asked me to “chillingly pick something to do” (because I’m so chill) but we knew the plan was dinner+ (find something to do on the fly).

Friday after work he texted to say a patio spot seemed smart since it was so nice out and asked if I wanted to be picked up or meet at his place and head there together? When I arrived, he was so proud to show me his outfit – coral shorts and a white linen button-up shirt and dock shoes. He kissed me hard before we left for dinner saying he wanted to greet me properly and that kiss is probably the only time I’ve felt anything close to a real connection since my ex.

The patio was just a block or two down the road and when we were seated we unwittingly (at least on my part) ordered unnecessarily over-sized beers. I watched him open his mouth and pour the entire thing down his throat, and after they took our food order he ordered another that came while we ate. His voice grew more boisterous but not unpleasant in any of the ways you might expect. But it’s worth noting, we were in a restaurant geared to an older crowd and people had started to cast a few glances our way. We mostly talked about his trip, he told me little stories and showed me a few photos. When we finished eating, I quietly asked for and settled the bill. He was reluctant but I insisted and he thanked me. As I gathered my purse he what remained in my beer, two thirds of an unreasonably large beer. I didn’t love it. We took a stroll through a sidewalk sale on the way back to his house.

When we settled onto his couch, he apologized for drinking so much and admitted he does it when he’s socially intimidated or nervous. He asked if I wanted to watch Jurassic World (finally) but finding a stream proved difficult. His followup offer was “PS I love you” and almost immediately I found I had zero interest in it, so you’ll have to forgive what comes next: We started fooling around , talking and laughing, and it was apparent we were both escalating, so I eventually sputtered out a “Ok, let’s go” and we headed off to his bedroom. After sex he apologized about the size of his dick (it’s average), lamenting he wished it was bigger for me. We went back to the living room and he put the movie back on back on. I lasted less than ten minutes before I literally just pulled his torso on top of me out of sheer boredom; this happened three more times that night. He’d put the movie on, I couldn’t stand it, we’d have sex. After the last time he looked at me “Do you want to just stay in bed and watch something in here? You can stay the night? We can go get breakfast in the morning if you don’t have anywhere to be.” And because of my own baggage and reasons, immediately, I’m on edge.

I have a weird thing about sleeping near men – I’ll say this about it in hopes you can understand me a little better: In the last few months of my relationship with my ex, he pressed my thumbprint onto my phone while I slept to gain access to the entirety of my text messages, diaries, and poetry. He admitted to doing it multiple times weeks later; I had no idea until he told me and I haven’t been the same since. When I wake up next to a man, I feel instant panic of what’s happened while I was unconscious.

So when fish asked me to stay over – a feeling of dread sunk deep in my stomach. I told him I’d stay for a while and then meet up with him in the am for breakfast.   He asked me several times over the course of the next movie, as we watched in his bed, but the final time he said defiantly “Or you know, you can just leave.” And something about the way he said that last bit – it was like the starter pistol of terror for me. I don’t blame fish at all, he could have no way of knowing. But something in his tone, I just remember thinking “he’s telling me to get the fuck out of here – he’s done with me.” I think I laughed out “yeah, I should go” gritting through what felt like being punched in the stomach. I’ve never gotten dressed that fast ever in my entire life. I was at his kitchen counter collecting my purse and car keys before he even realized what had happened – he was throwing clothes on following me scrambling for an explanation and offering retractions on whatever he said. I caught the look in his eye for just a second – he looked like he felt some combination of bewilderment and horrified. I don’t ever remember what I said, my brain was screaming “get the fuck out of there before you crack”.

I cried in my car as I drove home. It was 2am. My phone dinged as I parked:

Fish: I cant believe I scared you out of bed
Me: I like you fish. No joke no bullshit. I spook easy. Brekky/Brunch if you want.
Fish: I actually made plans. Kidding ya I’m down. That was lots of fun thanks. Im back in bed with the AC howling thinking of you.
Me: I like holding your hands a lot.

If he had left the conversation there I’d have been OK … I think. But he didn’t:

Fish: Can we do that position b4 brekky?
Fish: Shoulda slept over u b
Me: Shhh. Goodnight you b.

All the softness the night could have rendered between us hardened as I slept that night. Those last few texts are what gave me pause, and in the next blog, I’ll tell you two truths and a lie: broken breakfast, inarticulate intentions, and a choice made between two second-night-stands.

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“Ay you sexy thing.” – fish, when I sent him this before a game.

4. fish: check-ins & chatter

The aftermath of that fateful Friday, the first official o-fish-al date with my little tuna was interesting in that he was leaving almost immediately for a week in the Dominican Republic which was going to force a nice little chunk of time out of touch, allowing us to reflect on our own, or so I thought. The format for this part of the tale is best told with the days of the week in mind – bearing in mind I was working a full week plus overtime while fish got blubbered poolside at a resort in the Dominican Republic.

Saturday, the day after our first date, I was out of town on a day trip to visit a girlfriend in the city a few hours away, something I had told fish several ties. I came home after dinner to join a pub crawl with friends. Fish texted me sporadically throughout the day, ending with “if ur ever bored the doors open”. This happens semi-frequently – fish will know I have plans and he will suggest I rearrange them to see him – and yet he hasn’t offered up the same kind of commitment to wanting to see me.

Sunday fish was in his packing mode and getting ready to tuck into bed early for his flight. I had been out shopping and made a gentle suggestion we could meet up for coffee at Starbucks – but the timing didn’t really work out – plus he didn’t want to have any caffeine (weak excuse or weak man?) We texted about his trip to Punta Cana and he said to me that he would “miss ya a tad though!!” Unintentionally (but maybe sub-consciously) I responded like a meme of a girl who’s shlubbing him off: “Aw … thats niceeeeee (6 e’s oof). When you’re back we’ll get togeth. Brew up some good stories to tell me!” He assured me he planned on forgetting most of what he did for the week by way of getting blackout drunk.

Monday morning, from the airport, he sent me a photo of the Starbucks sign (my favourite, he’s a Tim Hortons loyalist) asking what to order. By the time I saw it he had boarded his flight and I assumed, was out of touch, until …

Wednesday morning as I sat at my desk my phone dinged and I was surprised to see fish’s name. He was texting to let me know he was “2/2 for blackouts and had lost a pair of Oakleys”. I asked if he was having fun and suggested the silver lining was getting to shop for new sunglasses when he came home. “Lets make it a date. ;)” he said. “Obviously.” I agreed.

Friday morning I woke up to a drunk text from the wee hours of the morning. When I replied a conversation occurred that I think succinctly summarizes how fish and I are. You’ll see him say anything and me ignore everything. When I said in the first fish post, I’ve been flopping on his fish deck forever – this is his flip and my flop. Please enjoy:

Fish: Prettty babe.
Me: 😘 when are you back?
Fish: Monday
Me: 🙂
Fish: I wish we were cuddling right now.
Me: Same. … Just grabbed my coffee and heading to work. I work all weekend too.”
Fish: Horrible! And im just super horny. I wish I had a pic at least
Me: Haaaaaaaaaaa
… nonsense texting about my weekend at work …
Fish: I woulda delivered food and kisses for sure
Me: We get double time in lieu. I need to book more holidays. You hate it there right? You’re coming back early?
Fish: Yes you should. Book us a retreat to New York or Niagara. But u do make me miss home a little. not home but u. u made me crush on you. 😊
Me: Oh pffffffffff
Fish: We shoulda hung out aftttter my trip. damn mimi keeps popping in my head.
Me: You said before.
Fish: Mistake by me I guess.
… nonsense texting about how much sunscreen he was using and beach day plans …
Fish: When do you wanna spare some time with me next week. Or we booking that weekend gettaway
Me: Any day. Whatever you wanna do. Things and stuff.
Fish: I just wanna spend time with u
Me: Whenever you want I’m avail.
Fish: Okay great! :):):) Fishing was sweet yesterday Got a barracuda mahi mahi and tuna

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Over the remaining time of his trip we texted randomly, usually in the morning after he’d had breakfast before he went to the pool. He was alaways nursing an upset stomach or hangover – and he’d occasionally talk about how he wanted to “touch himself”. He’d suggest next trip he wanted me there with him so he wasn’t rooming with his brothers – which made being horny difficult. He’d also text me after dinner shows and before he went to the nightclubs or to bed. One night he decided to tell me about how his really good friend is a girl, and I told him, unwitting of the implication, that a lot of my friends are dudes. He sent me a photo of him and his best girl friend, he suggested I should come with him to her birthday party the following weekend, and that I should be his wedding date for her wedding in 2020. I ignored all of that and I told fish I don’t typically take photos with my dude friends. He said he liked photos of just me better anyway. Well yea, duh, sometimes the internet gifts us with irrefutable truths. And this next thing is something I’ve come to learn is irrefutable. Ladies – guys you’re “talking to” will assume you’re banging your guy friends, so just keep that shit under wraps especially if, like me, you are in fact banging your guy friends. (I can’t wait to write the blogs about one of my best friends – a guy who nicknamed himself LB – its short for little bitch. We lowkey ruin each others lives – it’s a good time.

Saturday and Sunday came around – I was working. Fish and I continued to text throughout the remainder of his vacation. I told him to write my name in a heart in the sand. He asked me if it would “get me under the sheets quicker.” I said “Ha. I guess you’ll find out.” I didn’t love this text – I thought it was a little disrespectful. But also – I remind myself that not every guy I meet, talk to or sleep with is going to be a romantic interest and I would be annoyed if a dude held it against me if I wasn’t wanting to commit – but liked them enough to carry on casually. So I resolved myself to be ok with the direction it felt like fish and I were going. From the mall, later Sunday afternoon I texted him a photo of luggage and said “You can buy me these for our trip.” He suggested New York again – I suggested Ireland – he told me to start smaller – I said why even leave town then – and he said “you won’t be needing that suitcase then.” That made me laugh – I told him regardless of that – he got brownie points for not tossing out the idea altogether. He was finally coming home after a week of drunk check-ins and chatting. Late Sunday night fish sent me one last slightly-sloppy sweet nothing:

Fish: The staff here say “U had very many beer” to me
Me: You’re an impressive drinker
Fish: We can become drink friends/lovers
Me: Mmhmm?
Fish: Fine we wont, just lovers
Me: We’re friends already I think. And I don’t need to be drunk to chill with you?
Fish: U sure don’t. I like the way you operate
Me: Mmhmm?
Fish: U talk walk and perform well

I didn’t reply to that last message because – well I don’t know why for sure, other than I had instincts, rightly or wrongly, that fish did not want to be caught, at least not right now, but more specifically not by me. And because of that I was only going in with one foot – I decidedly didn’t care what he meant by my talking, walking, and performing well. But luckily for the sake of the story, fish is persistent in his efforts to reel me in, so in the next blog those “free tix” for the movies will make a reappearance, he says “ps I love you” and we’ll go on a second date.

3. fish: bourbon & a blanket

In the many months we’ve been doing whatever we do, I’ve learned to ignore almost everything fish says except for the last thought during conversations. Why? Because that is where intent and reality lives for him. So I knew not to get my hopes up after offering up my Wednesday night to finally meet him. “I gotta run around a bit but perhaps. Weekend would be better.” He texted. I told him my weekend was tricky since my entire Saturday was booked early til late. I knew he had to be up for his flight at 3am Monday so Sunday also seemed off the table. But this time, fish was a little more persistent. After telling me he had just stuffed “three wieners down the gullet” and sent me a photo of his BBQ, he asked what I had for dinner then doubled back to the weekend with more specificity, “Ur busy friday too?” I told him I wasn’t. “Well well well” he replied. He offered up his entire weekend for me to choose from including Sunday. For the first time we actually had options and thus the first date was born:

Me: Am I keeping Friday or Sunday free? Or penpal?
Fish: Friday night or Sunday morn/aft or anytime Saturday haha
Me: Friday?
Fish: Friday
Me: Weird! Meeting the fish IRL. What do we want to do?
Fish: I’d like to get food.
Me: What kind of food?
Fish: Anything for me. Going to places I haven’t been is neat. Where you wanna go?
Me: Oh I haven’t been to (the new spot downtown for southern fare).
Fish: Neither.
Me: I’ve heard good things.

24 hours later fish texted me to tell me about his volleyball game and asked if we were still on for tomorrow. It dawned on me in this moment, that even after what felt like a lifetime of texting, guys still fear that a girl won’t show up (dudes, I’m so sorry that happens.) I confirmed we were on with a “Yep!” and the next day asked for specifics “Whats the plan penpal? Timeframe? Meet there or pick me up? Call it off and text for a few more months?” He told me he’d “be ready by 7 if that’s cool”. He then let me know he only lived 5kms from the restaurant and suggested I could stop by his place for a drink before or offered to pick me up. I told him a pre-drink was good (because nerves, duh).

At 6:30, after nailing the perfect wing of my eyeliner he texted to let me know I could come anytime, and gave me his address. Fish lives in new suburban subdivision that is pretty dense with condominiums and town-homes. “Once you find the visitor parking just call if you need help.” he said, and I did, so I called him after parking and his voice was … well … I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, it’s SO weird hearing someones voice for the first time, I’d barely heard a snippit of his voice on social media, so talking on the phone I found it was gentler and slower than I thought it would be. And the almost southern drawl I told you about – by golly gee he has it.

I had bought a 6-pack of his favourite beer meant as a friendly gesture since he’d told me his fridge was barren before his trip and in my little backpack purse I’d tossed two tallboy Radlers, just in case of adventures.  I got out of my car, beer in hand, and as we spoke on the phone I looked up the street to see him strolling towards me. I can’t remember how we hung up but I remember us sharing a bashful grin before genuinely sharing the loveliest hug. It just felt natural and emotionally safe, I think, for both of us. It was clear we were both nervous, him more-so than me, but it was also clear we knew we were in good hands with one another. I handed him the six pack and told him it was to tide him over until his trip, he thanked me looking positively giddy and started telling me about the cocktails he’d mixed up for us: pineapple juice and rum with cherries.

We got to his door, went inside and I found myself in an open-concept decidedly-bachelor condo townhouse: dark woods, marble counters, black leather seating, fireplace a beer fridge smack dab in the middle of the room, and Canadian-themed artwork on the walls. He sat on the couch while I set my bag on his table, and he told me our cocktails were in the fridge. In my head I thought this was weird, but ok, I’ll go with it. I opened the fridge door and on the top glass shelf sat two glasses, one with a paper heart stuck to it with my name written inside. I don’t know if I blushed or not but I grabbed the glasses and joined him on the couch shaking my head in disbelief. “Oh my god. As if you did this. I’m keeping it forever. That’s so sweet.” He apologized that his handwriting wasn’t the nicest and I clucked my tongue at him. We drank our drinks and chatted about how his packing for the trip was going and it honestly was so easy for me. We both text the same way we talk so it felt like we’d done this before. I think us knowing each others families just made it easy. I’m sorry to say in our rush to get to dinner (we were both starving) I completely forgot to keep my paper heart, but it remains one of the sweetest first date gestures I’ve ever experienced.

We went to the restaurant downtown and went inside. It was dimly lit with candlelight on each table; it’s trendy and hipster and all walks of life are there – the vibe of the place is just chill. The restaurant is known for crazy cocktails and they didn’t disappoint. Fish, a smoker, ordered a stiff bourbon infused with coffee vermouth and tobacco bitters and I ordered a mule made with brandy, vermouth and a flaming lime with vodka. Mine was refreshingly enjoyable; fish, however, seemed out of his depth with his gnarly bourbon, stifling a wince through every sip. I ordered a caesar salad for dinner and he asked for the chicken and waffles with a habanero cane syrup. Again, he’d overdone it. A bite of the spicy syrup, sniffle, sip his drink, throat clears; he almost looked like he was in pain. The tab would have been pretty pricey but he insisted on paying which is always a gentlemanly thing to do. The conversation throughout had flowed pretty well. There were a few times I could tell he didn’t know what to say so I gave him the crutch and steered us towards work, trips, and work-trips which opened him up. When it was time to go he flicked my backpack and said it was cute and asked if I minded if he had a cigarette. I told him I didn’t and we leaned on the trunk of his car and I pointed out some other restaurants downtown. Suddenly it started to pour rain – we dove into the car and it was coming down so hard that even the high speed wipers couldn’t keep up. We went back to his house and he offered me his coat.

fish4

At some point we’d agreed to go back to his house to watch a movie. So when we got inside we popped a Radler and beer and sat on his couch. He turned on the fireplace and looked at me sheepishly as he sat down and said “Don’t laugh, but I like to have a blanket when I watch shows, it’s just a comfort thing, my whole family does it.” And he offered me half – though we weren’t sitting too close. Then he did something bizarre. He tucked his feet up under the blanket and onto the couch, trying to interlock our legs. I’m still sort of weird about the “comfort/bonding” side of intimacy, I remember thinking why omg stop! He showed me an Apple Note where he keeps a list of things he wants to watch (yes, you read that) and we settled on a super hero movie. Luckily the movie was totally ridiculous so we were able to enjoy it and keep chatting throughout. After the movie ended I thanked him for dinner and said I better get going for my early morning; he hadn’t made any real moves all night so I wasn’t sure what to think. He said ok and smiled and the next thing I knew he had pounced on me on the couch and we just started making out. After a while I thought to myself, wow, he’s a great kisser, and immediately laughed when the followup thought to that was “I’ll have to tell my mother”. He called me a “cute little thing” and asked what was funny and I told him. After a while we chilled out and said our goodbyes.

When I got home I sent him a text “omg penpal we met.” He replied back “hiphip!”

2. fish: tix & texts

I matched with fish on Bumble not long after my separation (ironically, I had just got off Plenty of Fish since it was, well, a swamp). My first message to fish was uninspired, something along the lines of “Hey we’ve never officially met but I’m Xxxxx Xxxxxxx’s daughter.” He replied quickly, “No way … you are?” Since Bumble day 1 fish and I have never been out of touch for more than a day or two. In relatively short order, he sent me his phone number and told me “it was easier to text” (inaccurate flex but ok – I’ll bite). I shot him an SMS letting him know mine in return.

Now, if I’m going to do this verbatim thing with some of fish’s standout texts, be forewarned: he loves abbreviations and taking phonetic liberties in his spelling and grammar. Also if you’re like me and appreciate the smaller details to help round out your understanding of a person’s unique features, know this: the small adjacent rural town that fish grew up in is known for having a slightly affected southern-esque drawl to their speech, which adds a certain flavour to fish’s first SMS text: 

Fish: Gonna take ur mini me to Jurassic Park or is that outta the age range? Thatd be a good theatre movie for my free tix.

While I did appreciate that he took my daughter into consideration in that small way, I remember being very fixated on the “free tix” aspect of the invitation. On one hand, does broadcasting free tix in the invitation seem cheap? On the other hand, I really appreciated the chillness of it all, somehow almost takes the pressure off of the date, like “it’s not big deal, it’s just free tickets”. Two other thoughts on the above: A) Fish has met my daughter in passing, with my mother, around age 4. This notion still sort of weirds me out. And B) Fish’s entire family is OBSESSED with movies and television. The longest and most in depth conversation my mother ever had with fish was on a two hour drive together to a work event was entirely about TV shows. Both of them have since told me about that conversation; apparently Shameless is a really good show and they both think I’m an idiot for not watching it but I digress.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how I responded to that Jurassic Park movie date thing request? Well I dodged it, duh. Why? Because I was too busy waffling over whether or not I thought the “free tix” statement was awkward or not. Over-analyzing and coffee are my main vices in life. One make me mentally vibrate into nigh catatonia and the other costs $3 at Starbucks. But at any rate, rest assured dear readers, there’s lots of callbacks in the comedy-of-errors that is fish and I. 

In all of the back and form messages, Fish and I came to realize as time wore on that our calendars were perfectly at odds with one another, and as it usually goes, the longer you text, the more unsettling the idea of actually meeting in person becomes. Weekends would come and go and we’d rattle off our respective social commitments, and setting a date never worked out. We resigned ourselves to a nickname for one another “penpal” and even now, we still use it. We both play more than one team sport, have active social/travel calendars, and put a priority on seeing family and getting sufficient me-time to recharge from our jobs that we both take seriously. I do however suspect that fish has, at best, a tepid attraction to me – much the same as I feel about him, which could also be in play for why we’re often unable to nail down dates with finality, examples to follow. 

One text exchange during this pre-first-date period that I was particularly fond of came when fish told me he had a friends wedding to attend out of town:

Fish: I’ll be up by Casinoland.
Me: Dancing!
Fish: Never know what the night brings.
Me: Bridesmaids 😉
Fish: is pretty funny ya
Me: Lol
Fish: Would you be jelly or something
Me: Of what?
Fish: Ahh nothing
Me: Bridesmaids spend so much money on the hair and makeup and nails. It’d be a shame if it went unnoticed. Toss em a wink for the good of humanity.

This won’t be the last time fish brings up the concept of jealousy with me. And this won’t be the last time I demonstrate an unwillingness or inability to emotionally invest in him. Maybe all for the best though, because what I didn’t know at the time was that fish was attending this wedding as a +1 with a girl he would later refer to as “his last fling”, and who will make an unexpected appearance later in our story. If I’m correct in my understanding of their timeline, they had already decided to call it off between them and attended the wedding as friends.

fish3

I was always pleasantly surprised by the types of texts fish would send me on weekend mornings. The Sunday routines for fish generally involve being hungover, chores and what I refer to as “domestexts” aka the shmoopy texts he sends me when he’s doing laundry or making dinner. He’d tell me what new recipe he was cooking for dinner, what sports he was watching and then seemingly out of nowhere the conversation shifts abruptly and I’d receive messages like “I’m crushing hard on you Xxxxxxx” (my last name) or “your personality is prime”.

When I took inventory overall of the type of texts he sends me in order to write this blog, I came to realize he is not often crass or overtly sexty, but there have been a few select times he’s been very tongue in cheeky about masturbation which I found genuinely funny (knuckle children was a new one for me). He does drunk text me things like “U sweet little babe” and“Hheeeyy babbay!” Verbatim innocuous nonsense he stumbly-thumbs into his phone screen before passing out iPhone-in-hand.

To get the story back on track: after he had attended the wedding and after I had received a proper scolding from my mother for leaving fish hanging on the movie date, I texted him with two emojis: TRex & Film Reel. My attempt to get us to Jurassic Park fell flat because he was too hungover. Then I left for a week of family cottaging, he checked in. Then he got sick for two weeks, but still checked in.  All of the aforementioned texting habits formed and one day he saw on social media that I had gone to a drive-in movie, checked in AND offered up Jurassic Park again, but alas, the calendars just would not jive at all.

Fish was about to leave for a week-long trip to the Dominican Republic for a family wedding. We joked about how I was coming with on the trip and what sort of dress I would wear to match him. The next exchange offers a bit of foreshadowing:

Fish: Sorry if I dont penpal u down south
Me: Oh don’t be sorry. Enjoy your damn vacay like a champ.
Fish: Haha maybe if we chilled once b4 u could be on my mind though
Me: The goal of Dominican should be zero on your mind, plastered af poolside.
Fish: Its nice to have a girl to think of
Me: I mean, I’d vote for Sandra Bullock but I’m cool too I guess.
Fish: Yaa I’m building a little crush

We’d been texting almost every day for weeks; some of which included jokes and references to being together in the future, none of which seemed like it would actually come to fruition. And yet, we are at the point in the fish tail tale where in the next blog I’ll tell you about how, rather unexpectedly and about 28hrs before he got on a plane, fish and I have our first kiss. Until next time dear readers. Glub glub.

1. fish: un prologue pour le poisson

Sleep with the fishes they say – and oh boy have I ever. I have zero clue what kind of creature fish is; he’s either a run-of-the-mill fish-with-benefits or I’m accidentally somehow fucking up the early stages of what could be a boyfish. For reasons still unknown – fish has successfully bamboozled a relatively long term and consistent standing in both my iMessages and my anatomy despite all our emotional flip flopping. Luckily yours truly is a special kind of emotionally unavailable, and the fish seems to be as well, so when it’s just us two it’s relatively smooth sailing.

Let’s dive right in shall we, here’s what you need to know to start this next series:

Delayed debut: Fish and I have known of each other since we were about 14. We’ve stood in the same room, without introducing ourselves, countless times. Our social circles cross in weird ways – I’ll write about those as they come up organically in the story. But this is more of that “big city but everyone knows your name” stuff. The people I blame (other than us) for the delayed debut? Our parents. Yes, you read that.

Family familiarity: I’ve met, saw, spoke with, dined, and partied with all of fish’s family members (his parents and 3 siblings), like, more often than a handful. Fish spent hours with my mother almost every single day for 10 years. Yes, you read that.

Business buoy oh buoy: My mother worked for fish’s family-owned business for her entire career in this city. Not to worry though, what you’ll read here takes place after her retirement. Fish, the eldest son, will take over ownership upon his father’s retirement. As a teen I babysat all of the tradesmen’s children.

Peculiar particularities: I don’t know if the proverbial they settled on “opposites attract” or not, but honestly fish and I couldn’t be more different. He’s social calendar is planned out weeks in advance. I fly by the ass of my jeans. He’s immovably independent when life gets hard. I lean hard on my support system including my mom, sisters and friends and colleagues. He shops with coupons or he doesn’t shop at all. I know where the best deals are for things but if I want something – I generally just buy it. He cooks a lot. I fast most days of my life, and eat out a lot. He gets blackout drunk regularly. I drink socially and don’t usually love it. He gets so paranoid when he smokes pot he cant sit still. I smoke pot and you would never know I was high as a kite.

Fish Lips, Facts & Other Features. Fish has a kind face, a contagious smile, and blonde silky hair long enough up top to run your fingers through, and lord jesus it’s soft, but it’s not what I’d describe as long persay, floppy maybe? He’s handsome though in a way total goof sort of way. He’s taller than me, even in heels, so that’s a check. Fish is fit but on the leaner side; when I’m naked with him I feel sort of like a whale. He always smiles with his mouth open and top teeth showing. He dresses well for dates – which I didn’t expect. He’s a Pisces … L-O-fucking-L. His Instagram is full of photos of him fishing, cottaging, bro-ing out, plus like a hundred groomsmen selfies.  He likes cheap beer, uses coupons and cooks one new recipe every week. He’s painfully shy and self deprecates a lot (about things like his couch or his dick size, which is perfectly fine but I digress). There’s zero predictability to his emotional intimacy. He says the nicest things about his dad, he’s super independent, mostly straightforward, financially stable, hard working, and insanely popular. In addition to the excessive drinking, I’ve come to learn that he’ll do mushrooms and cocaine on his “weekends away with the boys”.

fish2

The first time I thought I was going to meet fish was at a staff family event.
I was very young, close to 14, and they had arranged a laser tag party for staff and their kids. My mother had told me a fish my age would be in attendance. All I knew was that he was blonde, taller than me, and our parents were friends (ergo, we’re totally betrothed duh, right?) But fish wasn’t there. I ended up spending the night with his three siblings – getting to know them in all of the awkward ways teenagers interact in forced social situations.

My earliest recollection of seeing fish was at a house party years later.
Fish has an unmistakable nickname in real life and I heard someone yelling it loudly. We were maybe 17 and at an absolute rager of a house party. Fish had been dared $20 to drink gutter water pooled by the curbside. I watched in horror as he obliged. And because I’m neurotic my only concern was getting out of his vicinity so it didn’t get back to his dad that an employee’s daughter drinks underage. Yes, you read that right.

My most recent experience with fish was shopping for sheets at Hudson’s Bay.
It’s about as much of a cliffhanger as I can leave you with while also being a succinct example of one of the weird limbo’s of casually dating. Where we are today is best described by the following direct quote I said to my mother: “He’s not my boyfriend; he just wanted to know what duvet cover I liked best.” Did he buy the one I liked? Yes, he did. But who knows – maybe he just really likes my taste in interior décor.

Until next time dear fishies.

meet cute: pave the way

If I’ve learned anything about romance in 2018 it’s that dating apps are a misnomer. I think a lot of people, including me, go on dates, but it doesn’t often result in the conjugation of dating. So when I’m out in public – I’ve been practicing – flexing my meet cute muscles. Seizing the opportunity to linger in glances a little longer than usual and in general just flirt for flirting’s sake.

Meet Cute: (in a film or television show) an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.

I’ve said it before but I work in advertising and I’m very good at what I do. My employers have referred to me as “walk-on-water” staff; I can do no wrong. My particular department consists of just myself and my boss. We shared an office for 7 years so he’s been privy to my maturation: I was in my early twenties when we met, since then I bought a house, became a mother, got engaged, legally separated, sold my house, and now started dating again as a single mother. He’s heard my ex scream at me over the phone before; he’s watched me burst into tears many times.  He provides a lot of advice and support and I, in turn, rat him out to his wife over text message if he’s eaten anything that will cause flatulence or cholesterol complications.

Our firm moved into a beautiful new industrial chic space slightly outside of the downtown core last year, and my boss and I are now in offices side by side. In order to stay apprised of each others personal lives and ongoing projects alike, we are oft found visiting one another. He sits in the guest chair across from my seat. I sit in the window sill of his office, soaking up sunshine rays like a cat (I love a good window seat).

Part of my glow up since divorce has included dressing more youthful. I’ve mentioned my new weekend uniform of ripped jeans and converse. I’ve adopted a new way of dressing at work as well. New body/new clothes; basically, trendier and tighter compared to pre-divorce depression wardrobe. On this particular day I was wearing what’d I’d describe as pale pink genie pants, black Timberland heeled boots, and a tucked in fitted black sheer and lace long sleeve blouse. I had let my hair air dry the day prior, leaving a wild beachy wave in it’s wake. I felt good, soaking up the last of the autumn’s afternoon sun, perched in my bosses window.

paver
As I sat there with the right side of my body pressed against the glass, the conversation I had been in lulled; my boss became distracted scrolling through his emails. I watched a paving construction crew laying new asphalt. There were a lot of men outside of the window, two paving machines, two rollers, and a crowd of men waiting for the time that their task was to be done I assume. One such man strolled down the fresh asphalt, with a small toolbox in hand, and stopped directly in front of the window. He’s tall and fit with broad shoulders and his walk prominently lands on the heels of his boots, scuffing the smooth black road. He set down the toolbox and absentmindedly glanced up and down the work site obviously waiting for his job to begin. In my window seat I looked at his toolbox, trying to figure out what sort of task was his to complete, I settled on marking the road for the paint truck to come through – but I couldn’t be certain because what happened next was almost an adorable meet cute:

As the construction worker scanned his surroundings he looked up at our office building. We’re only two stories high but the footprint of the building could span a city block if we were downtown. The entire exterior is dark grey brick and lined with windows. A girl with wavey blonde hair is perched in one of windows, and she (hello, me) is totally staring at him. He did one of the most rom-com worthy double takes I’ve ever seen in real life, his eyes snapped back to me instantly. I watched as a smile crept across his face and I grinned back. He looked down to his feet. As he looked back up to my window he waved; I lifted my hand from my knee and formed a peace sign with my fingers. He laughed. And that dear readers, felt totally like a meet cute.

Whatever my boss said next I didn’t really hear. The sound of my name had snapped me out of my nonsense. He needed some sort of file from me and I left the window and went back to my desk to forward it along. About an hour later, I was seated at my desk, where my back faces my own window, just two panes of glass from where I had been seated earlier. My boss and another colleague involved in that day’s project were in my office with me. The pavers had mostly progressed past the line of sight from my window. My boss and colleague commented that they could see another coworker of ours jaywalking across the road, through the construction site on her way back to the office from lunch. I swiveled my chair and looked out to see her walking behind a roller as it made it’s way up the street. She waved up to us, I smiled and waved back, and my peripheral vision picked up a movement from the seat of the rolling machine.

My meet cute paver from earlier was waving again, as he drives down the new road. Now here comes me at my diddly-doodliest. I’m with my boss, a colleague, looking at a construction worker, and waves meant for different people have just been exchanged. I smiled at the giddy paver and I blew him a kiss; he blew me three back as he roared by at a snails pace on a asphalt roller. And all three of my colleagues burst out laughing, two inside with me, and one outside with him. I laughed, he laughed.

When I told my girlfriends this story via text my last message was “and later this afternoon a bouquet flowers showed up at the front desk addressed to the girl in the window.” “WHAT?!” Ok, ok, I’m totally making that part up. I never saw the guy again since – their jobsite had moved on by the next day – and he looked like he was my age which means he’s totally married. But honestly, I just really enjoyed experiencing mutual attraction/flirtation without agenda.