With some online dating candidates, there is an obvious and clear reason why a hope of any kind of further relationship is null and void. For example, as I have dated, I have added ‘still married’, ‘alarmingly bad teeth’, ‘inappropriate removal of clothing items’ and ‘gross misrepresentation of actual age’, among other things, to the list. But, more frustrating, there are the guys that have nothing obnoxiously wrong with them, they don’t, for example, kick dogs or still live at home, but there is just nothing…there. Something doesn’t click although, on the surface, the guy seems like a decent enough prospect.
Aaron, from the very start, seemed like a great catch. He was my age, worked at a huge technology company in Seattle (don’t they all?), lived within 10 minutes of me, had two kids and was, allegedly, happily divorced. I could tell he was whip smart and he sent me crazy fun emails, links and internet meanderings that always made me laugh. I definitely looked forward to his dispatches and, when he asked if he could buy me a drink at a local bar so we could meet in person, I was totally game.
I arrived before Aaron by a good ten minutes so I ordered a cocktail to loosen up. I was excited to meet this guy, a little more than usual. When he did arrive, I was more than happy with the results. Aaron was a little taller than me, had kind of reddish hair, glasses and, much to my appreciation, a very nice physique. And the teeth. When he smiled, Aaron had quite possibly the nicest dental presentation I have come across. Good, good, this was going to be good! The teeth don’t lie.
The bartender came over to get Aaron’s order and, kind of oddly, he ordered a Diet Coke. I asked him if he didn’t drink on work nights or if he was just warming up but, kind of curtly, he responded that he didn’t drink. I thought that was kind of odd since he had suggested we meet at a place whose primary function was dispensing alcohol but Aaron did not look the least bit interested in talking any more about it. That was fine because he didn’t seem to care if I drank and we had a pretty decent conversation. He was kind of shy and withdrawn at first but then he totally opened up and we were laughing and having a great time. It was a work night so we didn’t stay out too late, one more drink for me and one more Diet Coke for Aaron, before he walked me to my car. Hugs were exchanged and, as I drove home, I was crossing my fingers I would hear from him again.
I got an email from Aaron the next day asking what I was doing the following Tuesday. As he had mentioned on our first date, he was a former Mormon and he was part of a group of people from work that got together and talked about not being religious anymore. Was I interested in going with him to the next one? Hmmm…big group setting with his co-workers along with heated religious discussion? What could go wrong?
As apprehensive as I was, the dinner went amazingly well. Everyone there was cool, it wasn’t strange that Aaron had brought a seemingly random girl along and the conversation was not heavy or heated, at all. Until we left. Aaron walked me out to my car and, somehow, we started talking about high school. When I mentioned the name of my school in a Seattle suburb, Aaron stopped dead in his tracks. In the next twenty minutes, as we stood next to our cars in the empty, cold parking lot, Aaron disclosed that his marriage had ended because his wife had cheated with a guy I knew from my high school who was, coincidentally, now dating a girl that had written me from Match for dating advice (see Sandra). It made my head hurt to try and even make sense of the tangled web but I started laughing because, what the hell? What were the chances of that? A bazillion to one?
The laughing was all on my part because Aaron did not find this crazy coincidence funny or entertaining or interesting, not one bit. I could understand, extra-marital cheating is rarely a hoot, but we could at least talk about it, right? Apparently not. Aaron gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, a hug and was off. I really thought that was the last I would hear from him. My knowledge of people involved with the end of his marriage could quite plausibly be the ultimate dealbreaker. It was a bummer ending to a pretty stellar evening.
I was surprised the next morning to find an email from Aaron asking me to go to a cabaret show that Friday at a bar in Seattle known for their absinthe cocktails. Did my ex-wife taint not matter to him? Was he positive he didn’t drink? Did he just like being tempted? Either way, it sounded like fun and he surprisingly seemed to want to continue to hang out with me. The show was fantastic, the club was dark and intimate, the cocktails (enjoyed by me) were excellent and, admittedly, I was crushing on Aaron for suggesting such a fun outing. He offered to buy me one more drink at a bar next door (he was really a glutton for punishment) so I agreed.
As I ordered my third adult beverage, I got up the nerve to ask how a guy our age came to absolutely not drink. There usually seems to be a story that goes along with that decision. And there was. Aaron proceeded to tell me about his awful heroin and alcohol addiction, his long stint in rehab and his daily struggle to keep completely clean. I totally appreciated his candor but I was curious why he wanted to keep hanging out in bars? Wasn’t that a horrible temptation? I did not get an answer because, as soon as I started to try and talk about it, he was done. Subject closed. He motioned for the bill, paid it and headed for the door. The ride home was uncomfortably quiet and I got another cursory peck on the cheek when he dropped me off
What was with this guy? He had all of these monumental events in his life but, when we started to even scratch the surface, Aaron turned off and shut me out. I felt like I knew more details and facts about him than we first met but I had no clue as to the emotion that went along with them. I wanted to know the real guy. We had all of these things in common but I wasn’t online dating to make friends. That was not what I was in it for, to be a professional companion.
I went out one more time with Aaron. We went and saw a great concert and then had some sushi afterward. While we were eating, he tried to get into debates about theological beliefs and moral compasses and competing explanations of fate and…nothing at all personal. On the drive home, Aaron revealed he was leaving in a few weeks to go to Thailand for a couple of months. What??? Is that not something you would possibly mention to someone that you are kind of dating? Might that not come up in one of our conversations? I half-hardheartedly said something about missing him while he was gone and he just turned and smiled at me and then continued talking about how awful the food would be there. Done, done, done.
I was not interested in dating a talking robot. I knew, or guessed, that Aaron had thoughts and emotions like a human being but I had yet to see them. He seemed so cool and we had so much in common, on paper, that I really, really wanted it to work but, alas, he was not going to let me see the man behind the green curtain so I clicked my heels three times, went home and never talked to him again.