Names and identifying characteristics have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
Our eyes met across the frozen food section. The pressed khakis and collared shirt with monogram said “suburban” while the selection of sugary cereal and frozen pizza screamed “bachelor.” Score. Our carts slammed into each other as if by remote control. As I bent down to pick up a wayward package of peas, he said, “Hey! Do I know you from somewhere?” It was the oldest line in the book followed by the realization that this type of thing only happens in movies. Boy meets girl. In the grocery store. They fall deeply in love, get married, have babies and live happily ever after. Except this was my real life and it was actually happening.
After I snapped back from my Bridget Jones-like daydream, I scoffed, “Is that the line you use on all of the girls?” I don’t remember his answer because I was mesmerized by his dimples and I was already planning our early fall wedding in the mountains overlooking the….
And the next thing I knew, I was giving him my number and making plans to meet at Starbucks the next night.
Over iced coffee and lemon pound cake we started to get to know each other. First, he was wearing the exact same outfit that he had on the night before. I didn’t want to call attention to his attire, so I ignored it. Big mistake. Then, he admitted that he didn’t have a phone. I tried to hide the look of shock on my face, so I looked down at my own cell phone and glanced to see that Alexander Graham Bell just tweeted “BS.” to me. My suitor continued to tell me he has two kids he hasn’t seen in two years, doesn’t have a car, lives with his grandmother (cool, I love my family, too), has a criminal record (like, a felony?), is a former Marine (semper fi!) and works at McDonald’s for $8 an hour. Hence the replicated outfit. The khaki pants had a French fry in one of the hemmed cuffs. The monogram was a golden arch. Our mountainous glitter-themed wedding turned into a 10-minute ceremony at the courthouse, which turned into me running away. And fast. When he excused himself to the restroom, I grabbed my jacket, the pound cake and ran away.
It wasn’t my first dud experience.
On one date, a guy shut down three minutes in. I’d arranged a progressive dinner with courses at four different restaurants during the evening and after one bite of the first course at the first restaurant he declared himself full and we sat in silence for the next three hours while he watched me eat. It was a slow, painful death. I feel lucky to be here today to tell the story.
These were the best of a series of failed dating attempts in the Triad. “I know it’s not me,” says every woman. Legions of successful, beautiful, confident women across the region have littered the online dating stratosphere with selfies, group shots with sorority sisters, vacation beach stills and Halloween costumes. I’m one of them. I talk with my girlfriends about their dating experiences and it’s more of the same — only sometimes worse. Everyone has a handful of failed attempts. Every unsuccessful suitor is a story to add to the pile of misfires and wasted time. To hear most of them tell it, it’s a bleak, desolate wasteland of losers who only want you to put out on the first date or are so disrespectful and crass, it gives no hope to anyone worth their weight in gold.
Personally, I do have a glimmer of hope in finding my future boyfriend nee husband in the Triad. The internet will only tell me but so much about the “Singles in the Triad Area Waiting To Meet” me, and I’m not banking on that. I’m still a real, live person with flesh and bones, seeking to meet the same. This gregarious, easy-to-talk-to and very available single lady is ready to have a Valentine to “be mine” even if it’s destined to happen months down the road.
But seriously, as Charlotte York from “Sex and the City” says, “I’ve been dating since I was 15! I’m exhausted. Where is he?”
Nikki Miller-Ka is the Triad’s preeminent foodie. She blogs at niksnacksonline.com