DATING EXPERIENCE 9: Dedicated to Dickens: My Non-Date with a Gymnast




MY OUTFIT: BLACK GAUZE WITH VELVET FLOWER OVERLAY SHIRT & PANTS (it’s good to wear pants on a first date)

AMOUNT OF TIME BEAUTIFYING: 25 MINS (whole lotta good that did me!)

FOLLOW-UP DONE BY: HIM, 2 DAYS LATER (offering some food he made before he went out of town)


NARRATIVE: I just can’t seem to get away from this guy; seeing him over and over has the conspiratorial coincidences of a Charles Dickens novel:

#1: Waiting for the bus on a freezing cold day several weeks ago; standing by a bush instead of with the mob of pushy people on the sidewalk. I look over to see someone looking at me–a short guy, little creepy-ish mustache, but on the plus side dark hair, olive skin, and soulful brown eyes. He approaches and asks if it’s better to stand by the bush and I say, “Yes, because it seems to be a wind break,” and explain my philosophy about not trying to crowd onto the bus. He responds favorably, we start talking.  I’m thinking this guy must be interested in me (no one ever talks at the bus stop). We continue the conversation throughout the bus ride and I discover that I like him. His car is parked at the end of the route and he asks if I would like a ride home as we have discovered we live in the same apartment complex. I say, “Thanks, but I’m used to walking,” don’t really know this guy and don’t want him to know EXACTLY where I live or accept a ride. I figure I will see him again anyway since there’s a good chance that we will be catching the bus often more or less in the same place.

#2: A week later, I’m sitting by my bedroom window with the curtains open looking like shit (no shower, pjs, crazy hair, glasses, and streaked makeup from day before) and he ends up walking his dog right outside. Oh geez. I hear him go up the outside stairs and discover that he lives in one of the two units more or less above mine, the odds of which are about 1 in 500.

#3: I keep seeing him around the complex for about a month, but we are not near enough to be forced to acknowledge each other and I just feel really shy and awkward so I decide to leave it; plus, I’m overly weirded out that we’re neighbors. It’s like, “Ack! I actually like this guy but I don’t want him up in my personal life yet.” He seems to notice me but says nothing as well. I’ve noted by this time that he does in fact live directly above me.

And I’ve coined a name for him:  The Gymnast. I’d just started complaining to friends about this crazy dude who lives above me (right before realizing it was him). Said dude likes to get up at 3:00AM, tromp around as loudly as possible, apparently doing cartwheels, summersaults, moving furniture and dropping lead weights.  Every time I start to drop off asleep, the ceiling sounds like it’s going to come down over my head, and that’s not all, The Gymnast has another skill of stopping his perambulations directly over my head and then starting again and circling through his ENTIRE apartment, like he’s caged or something.

#4: I go out of town for a couple weeks of beauty rest and return to find a small blanket with girly pink and purple designs hanging over my patio railing. Either there’s an 11-year old homeless girl who’s been sleeping on my patio or it’s blown down from the balcony above, which means it belongs to The Gymnast. This makes me wonder, since he seems to be neither a decorative Drag Queen nor an 11-year old girl–I hope it belongs to his small poodle. Now I have a dilemma: do I a) throw the blanket out into the landscaping (hoping he’ll see it and retrieve it) which seems rude; or, do I b) knock on his door like a normal grownup and ask if it’s his? Instead I do c) stare at it with annoyance for over a week as it does not match my décor and chicken out on knocking on his door

#5: Problem solved: he’s out walking the poodle when I pull into a parking spot. I have to cross his path to get inside, so we finally greet each other and play the “Oh, is that you, did I meet you before on the bus?” etc, etc game even though we both know very well that we’ve recognized each other about a zillion times since then. But it’s a good opening to inquire about the blanket, establish that we are in fact neighbors, and to exchange numbers. He invites me to his apartment “for Persian tea sometime.”

<<<Dickensian-style coincidences will be put aside momentarily until I have finished describing THE DATE.>>>

So, I get tired of waiting for those brown eyes to envision me sitting in front of him and I text a week later to see if he’s up for getting coffee/tea. Going out seems a wiser decision relative to entering the apartment of a guy I still hardly know.  We set a date.

#6: Wait, one more in honor of the D-man: The very day that we are go out on the date, he’s boards the bus with a colleague (when I haven’t even seen him since that first fateful day). He says “hi” and introduces us but it’s awkward, as they talk shop while she stands right in front of me and he next to her, as  we’re squished in like sardines. I just feel shy all over again and I don’t want to see him like this, when I look like crap after a hard day’s work–I want the Romantic-coffee-shop-gaze-into-each-other’s-eyes-experience. But by the time the main mob has left the bus (and the Colleague has as well) he sits next to me and we talk and then I allow him to give me a ride home this time from the bus stop. It’s weird when he drops me off and we’re like, “Well, see you out here again in 2 1/2 hours!” Dating your neighbor is certainly convenient.

Ok, so the actual date: We went to a coffee shop more or less in our neighborhood–old wooden flooring, eclectic chairs, hipsters and hippies, students staring at laptops, a few people chatting intently here and there as we ended up doing.

We talked for about two hours, the time going by quickly yet feeling like an expansion as the girth  of subjects we discussed covered politics, government, ethics, literature, and music. The conversation came easily, felt like we were seeing eye-to-eye.

Gazing into his soulful, deep eyes didn’t hurt my general feeling of well-being either, although it may sound trite.

Toward the end of the “date” a bomb dropped in my lap in the form of the words, “my girlfriend.” Included in a sentence with his accent throwing me off (or my wishful thinking), I heard what could’ve been “my past girlfriend.” If it really was just “my girlfriend,” why be here with me? And more importantly, why did I pick up the Interest Vibe from him in the first place? For him, it must’ve just been friends going out for coffee–apparently I’m just too intense, reading too much into it. His life sounds pretty busy and as an immigrant, he’s probably homesick and perhaps lonely. He should be able to go out for coffee and conversation with his neighbor, right? If I picked up a more-than-friends vibe it could be more my fault than his. On the other hand, am I making excuses for him? Is it a universal principle that when a guy singles you out at the bus stop to start a conversation, he is hitting on you?

I reacted in the moment by taking the girlfriend  comment in stride and the conversation went on. But then in the car on the way back he said that he is thinking of asking her to immigrate so they can be together; well, there could be was no wishful thinking for me to toss this aside!

Part of our coffee shop conversation included how we are very similarly troubled by making decisions, even big ones. Then in the car he referenced this in saying that he was having trouble with the decision to invite his girlfriend into the next phase of their relationship by trying to get her to immigrate to be with him. Oh geez! Now what the heck should I think? Maybe he thinks I’m a safe bet to allow him some companionship because he’s seen me in the parking lot with Lawrence and knows that he comes over, figures he’s my boyfriend. Who knows??

Of course, there’s a thought in the back of my mind about if I were That Girl who would try to use my obvious geographical advantage over the Girlfriend to steal his heart away. (Evil laugh, rub hands together.) But, I’m not, which maybe makes me a little sad because he is nice-looking and smart.

Might as well admit, I’ve been a cheater and been cheated on, and worse yet, lied to. And I’ve been the Other Woman. If I can’t trust someone’s honesty and personal integrity, it’s a no-go at this point in my life. As long as he isn’t asking me in the future to aid and abet cheating and is just going for intellectual discussions; that could be okay, I guess we’ll see.

On an interesting side note, he did ask me about his noise level tromping over my head and I told him my experience diplomatically, without of course telling him that he is The Gymnast. What I really want to ask is, what has he heard coming from my place, but it somehow seems inappropriate (not to mention personally mortifying) to ask someone on the bus if they’ve heard, for instance, any strange vibrating noises coming from your apartment. Maybe there’s a lesson here about dating your neighbor.

There’s certainly a lesson about keeping one’s mouth shut until you know who’s in a public place with you…and this my absolute Last Shout Out to Dickens:

#7: Today, which was exactly two days after my Date-Non-date with The Gymnast, I went out to lunch with my co-worker near work.  I told her about him: that’s he’s cute, what country he’s from and how I like him but he has a girlfriend. And of course as soon as all those words are out of my mouth, I see him two tables over!! He’s at lunch with a friend as well; why should I even be surprised at this point?? I can only hope he didn’t hear anything because he would surely know I was talking about him. I don’t actually know that he even saw me. It was noisy and crowded and I couldn’t hear him talking so it would stand to reason that he couldn’t hear me either. Please, oh please, I don’t need to feel any more dumb.

Rating Him:

Face shape: 9 (he has a very nice nose)

Body: 7

Eyes: 8.5

Hair or lack thereof/Facial hair or lack thereof: 5 (better off without the stache, but at least he’s got a nice hair color)

Voice: 6

Sexiness: 7.5

Overall Physical Attractiveness: 8

Fashion: 6

IT-ness (the IT factor, you either have IT or you don’t): 8

Deportment: 9

Charm: 7

Amiable: 8.5

Polite: 7

Interesting: 9

Kiss-o-meter: Ha!

Rating Myself:

Face: 3.5 (got home, looked in the mirror and realized that I looked like a ghost because of how I’d done my makeup: awesome!)

Body: 7

Smell: 8.5

Fashion: 8

Overall Physical Attractiveness: 5

Deportment: 9

Amiable: 8

Confidence: 5

Polite: 8