Part 3 – Sandra Grows Up… and Down. [or Sandra Consumes the Whole Internet.]
What better place for a bitter, cynical twenty-something than the Internet?
After a successful, or at least eventful, personal ad [it’ll make ya famous!], I took the next logical step. I created a profile on any Internet site where I could possibly meet someone. I’d post obscure quotes or lines from songs along with just enough, but not too much, personal info. The quotes acted as my ‘cool filters’. If a man couldn’t identify my carefully chosen Cure lyrics, he was out. If he never heard of Morrissey, he was dead to me.
And so the games began. Again. But this time, I was not going to be the wild sex-crazed girl I was during college and the years following. I was not. I was looking for love. Determined to find it… to find him. I wanted love… and fun. Or love then fun. But I didn’t want just fun. That’s a lie. I wanted just fun, too… but I knew that if I continued down my current path, I would be single and having ‘fun’ for the rest of my life. And that wasn’t good enough. I wanted all the love, all the sentimentality, and still all the sexual adventures. And if I was really impossibly lucky, romance.
The emails rolled in. I don’t know how it is today, but back then, Internet ‘dating’ was new. I kept my method of securing dates a secret. We were still living in a time when some people, such as my mom, thought the only men trying to meet women on the Internet were psychopaths and murderers and rapists. I never told her I met anyone in person from the big bad Internet back then.
But I met many men. I was cautious, not stupid. Initial meetings were always at coffee shops or restaurants or other such public spaces. I never shared my address before at least three or four decent dates. I became overwhelmingly busy. For a few months, I was venturing out on a date an average of four nights a week. The ratio of men to women was hugely in my favor. I had no trouble getting dates. I was a smart, pretty girl with great taste in music and lovely blue eyes. [I suppose I shouldn’t say was – I’m the same girl now… just… a tad older.] Most men thought I was cute and funny and they appreciated my curves [some in a more hands-on manner than others]. But the ratio of good dates to bad dates… oh…
How about some highlights [lowlights]?
[This is a small sampling. Honestly, I think I went out with about 50 guys.]
Emmett worked at a bike shop. I met him there. Sweet, unique, bike grease stains on his hands [not unlike my college years of printing-ink-stained hands], great taste in music, great hair… and he wore red jeans. And he was the only guy I’ve ever met who ended a date with a sweet kiss on my cheek and this sentiment: ‘You’re awesome and I had a great time, but I think I’m too grubby for you.’ I kid you not. I wouldn’t have called him grubby! But I did know we weren’t exactly a love match. Still, I enjoyed our dinner, our walk around the city, our chat over coffee.
Drew was not my ‘type’ at all. We had little in common, but for me, that wasn’t a deal-breaker. I think maybe it was for him eventually. He was into sports, which is almost expected of New Englanders – going apeshit over the Red Sox or the Pats [or Tom Brady, for that matter]. But I just don’t care. And I think Drew wanted a cheerleader [about as far from my personality as you can get]. Despite his amazing music collection and his sweet nature, after a couple of dates and one very nice kiss, we parted ways.
Sean was possibly the worst date I’ve ever had in my life. Over dinner, he talked himself up the whole time. He thought he was great – and I was lucky to be sitting there with him. But, my God, he was far from great. He was an ass. When the server left our dinner check, he further proved it. I have no problem at all splitting the check. On a first date, I always offered to do so. But this ass – he grabbed the check, literally added up his dinner and drink to the penny, laid that exact amount on the table, and pushed the check to me. Obviously, I paid the rest… and the tip. I wanted to go home, but when I couldn’t think of an excuse fast enough, we went across the street to see a movie. I was miserable. I excused myself to the ladies room. And I ran the fuck out to my car and drove home. Ugh.
Paul took me out to dinner and made it clear, on our very first date, he wasn’t looking for a fling. I thought, Awesome. Me neither. He was smart and tall [I love tall] and we had fun together. I thought we clicked and he must have agreed because I remember that first kiss goodnight. And I remember seeing him again days later for more kissing. And stuff. And then more dates and more stuff. I stopped going out with other guys. When he invited me to have dinner at his apartment one lovely Friday night, I didn’t return home until the next afternoon. But I had a strange feeling. Somehow, I knew. Within a week, he called and told me things were ‘going too fast’ and he wanted to slow down. To a halt apparently. I never heard from Mr. I-Don’t-Want-a-Fling again. I guess we just had a fling.
Matt was a relief after some of the weirdos and asshats I had met. He was a nice guy. Respectful, interesting, smart, cute… and he was a gentleman. But not so much of a gentleman that he wouldn’t touch me. By the end of our first date, we were walking around the city holding hands. Soon after we met, Matt moved from his tiny city apartment to a larger one a few towns away. The day after he moved into his new place, he called me and invited me over for dinner – he cooked. And when we sat together on the couch after dinner, he sneezed. I had a cat… and he was allergic. He never came to my apartment [due to cat] but he called and invited me to his place often. And he’d ask me to shower beforehand to wash off cat.
I’m not sure what to call the relationship Matt and I had. It appeared to be moving along nicely, but in the midst of heavy messing around and the removal of some clothing, he told me he didn’t want to have sex. He wanted to do pretty much everything else, but not the specific act… no insertion. Maybe he wanted to save that for when we’d been dating longer. I never really knew. But for a couple of months, I frequently drove my freshly-showered, cat-free self to his place to talk and eat dinner and watch movies and have not-sex. Then… one night while we were rolling fajitas [not a euphemism – it was our actual dinner], he raised the topic of friends with benefits [benefits still likely not including penetration]. While I was all for some benefits, this was pretty much the kiss of death for our relationship. I didn’t want a fuck-buddy. Or a not-fuck-buddy, such as it was. Farewell, Matt.
Failure and despair.
My track record and my prospects sucked. I had stopped the physical-only escapades [with a few deviations]. I wanted something more… something real. But the more I grew up, the farther I fell down. I began to believe love just wasn’t in the cards for me.
I was on the path to becoming the oldest, loneliest woman on earth. My life felt like an extended series of disappointments.
The first boyfriend I ever had [back in high school] never actually broke up with me. After nearly a year, Glen just disappeared, never called again, and started dating someone else. I was his first girlfriend and I’m sure he had no idea how to handle any of it. But this was crushing for me. High school… first boyfriend – of course I thought it was true love.
My most serious college boyfriend and I were together for 4 years. We were very close friends before we became more. Before we fell in love? I do think we were truly in love. David had this way about him… I’m not sure how to describe it. But… he told me he didn’t believe in marriage and didn’t want children. I was never sure if I could live with that. But I never had to decide. We began to fade. We were living together when it happened… and we remained roommates for a year after the fade. It wasn’t even particularly awkward because we were such good friends before… and during… and, well, the whole time, really. But we also never really ‘broke up’. We just became not what we were. I don’t think we ever stopped loving each other. We may not have ever even truly stopped being in love with each other. I think we just weren’t ready for what we had. Oh, by the way, he is now married and has a child. When I found out, it broke my heart. He’s my one who got away… the one I let get away…
No other relationship after these two came close to feeling like love. I had conquests and countless dates from the personal ad and the Internet. But no love. I gave up… fell into deep sadness… crippling loneliness. I did some very stupid things. I put some potentially harmful and quite illegal things into my body. I wanted to be numb.
I had zero hope of ever finding love. People kept telling me to stop looking. You’ll never find it if you’re looking. And I would think… then I guess I’ll never find it… because fuck that! Who the hell ever isn’t looking for love? Everyone wants love.
But I also still wanted to be numb. As time dragged on, I forgot about all those profiles I’d created all over the big fat Internet. They only attracted more disappointment. I thought of deleting them all, but I was too apathetic to bother. And where the hell were all those passwords anyway? I didn’t care enough to look. And it didn’t matter anyway because no one was finding me anymore. So it was a bit of a shock when, after months of barren, lonely nothingness, I received a message through one of those sites.
It was from some guy named John.
Part 4 – Uncomfortably Numb