The professor + me + London Fogs on a Sunday morning.
Two weeks after receiving the first message from the professor on a Sunday morning I put on high-waist blue jeans, a pale pink knit sort-of cropped sweater, and maroon heeled Timberland boots arriving with enough time to grab a table and second guess (re: wipe off) my bold lipstick. I saw the professor in the parking lot adjusting the collar of his coat looking noticeably nervous but as he walked through the door he smiled brightly. I stood up and hugged him before he removed his coat revealing a buttoned shirt and fitted jeans.
We sat down across from one another at a table with two chairs in the middle of a Starbucks, my Starbucks in fact so while I felt at home, I also felt just a little on display. My baristas see me every day (sans gentleman accompaniment), recognize my daughter, and know our orders upon sight. The tables are oft filled with faces I’ve seen a hundred times one of which, a white-haired businessman, was seated beside us with a quizzical brow in piquedly eavesdropping. I consider the 12-year gap when I see the white-hair’s gaze dart away sheepishly as I catch his eye. I don’t feel the gap but for just a second, I wonder if others see it.
Context, chemistry and consideration.
Before we met, I’d told the professor I had a knack for interpersonal context, an ironclad memory, and explained to him that I use language and anecdotes to help inform the way I communicate and understand the people in my life. Thus far the professor had opted to share his experiences as a father and of travel, so I wasn’t surprised when he pulled out his cellphone to show me videos of his ski trip; as we chatted, cheek to cheek over his phone I mobile ordered two grande London Fogs. I would eventually reciprocate and scrolled through my Instagram sharing my own sort of context. We drank our teas and chatted without pause from 9:30 until about noon. It was plainly apparent that we had conversational chemistry. Agreeability aside, I wondered what minutiae might make us incompatible.
Our lifestyles are similar, but 50% custody of one child and majority custody of three makes for a very different level of “availability” for dating. I decided to ask him bluntly, “You’re very busy. Is how your schedule has been since we started talking fairly typical for you?” He seemed to know emphatically what I meant. “No not at all … I swear.” He looked me right in the eye so I believed him.
Good manners, good intentions, and goodbyes.
The Starbucks tête a tête ended as the professor smiled warmly across the table at me and lamented that he should get back; I remarked on the thoughtfulness in his coming all the way to me. He suggested he’d like to take me to “dinner soon” and I agreed (for the record, he pumped his fist in a winning gesture, it was adorkable). He asked if he could call me on the phone that evening and I agreed. He walked me to my car, we hugged and he shyly kissed my cheek, insisting we’d be talking later.
And I felt really good about it … until I didn’t, like 10 hours later.
Because? He didn’t call that night. Or the next. Or the next. Or the next. What did he do? He texted without making plans, asking my schedule, or offering his availability. He texted what he was doing, where he was, who he was with. Each text a tiny little green bubble of contraction. The assurance that he was never normally that busy was demonstrably false.
I know myself better than ever before – I just hadn’t put my mouth where my mind was.
I’m learning if I want to have any sense of self, I should be able to define what “my terms of engagement” are.
- First, without clearly expressing exclusivity and monogamy, sex a nonstarter. I told this to the professor week 1 of chatting on Match, which is to say, I give exactly zero fucks if it’s inconvenient or unrealistic of me to have such a rule.
- Second, within reason I would need to see a person once per week and two weekend days a month to consider our investment in romantic interest (time, emotions, money) worthwhile. Basically, I have enough friends and hobbies plus I’m the proud owner of a really good vibrator, so I’m no longer entertaining friendships or text messages from failed dates.
That’s not to say my expectations or requirements aren’t malleable, they are if and that’s a big if, I’ve got a good vibe about the whole situation. And I can tell you, at 10pm, three days after an unfulfilled phone call, and about 500 texts exposing a man’s true availability and/or intent, I didn’t have a super good vibe when I received yet another non-committal suggestion at the potential of seeing each other “sometime”.
Perhaps we’d both literally and figuratively met our match.
Prof: … just hang with me sometime or let me take you for that burger.
Me: Let’s do something weirder than eat. Something bucket listy that your friends will say is totally random.
Prof: Let me consult my nonexistent bucket list … or do we work from yours?
Me: One day I’m sure you’ll hear about something and think, that’s weird, and you can tell me about it. Dinner is fun but a story is priceless.
Prof: Can I still talk to you until I find said priceless thing in my thought cave?
Me: I want you to … listen, I have my own money, I trust you, I’m trying to learn to not be so sheltered … it’s just an idea. I’m going to crash. Have a good night.
About 24 hours later I (unexpectedly) had my first kiss with the professor.
Until next time.